Review and photos: Fans get Trapt in the rain at Buccaneers kickoff party
If the rainy conditions at Friday night's season-opening fan kickoff party at Channelside are any sort of a bellwether for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' win-loss record this season, the team will probably go 3-13.
If, on the other hand, you gauge the team's chances by the enthusiasm of the fans who braved the dreary weather to check out players, coaches, cheerleaders and a free concert* by California hard rockers Trapt, their record will probably be more like ... 10-6.
Hundreds of fans were there to cheer on Buccaneers players and coaches -- pretty impressive dedication, given the truly unpleasant drizzle that persisted until shortly after 9 p.m.
"Take them umbrellas down!" Bucs coach Raheem Morris shouted from the waterfront stage. "Don't nobody worry about the rain!"
Easy for him to say. He wasn't stuck down in the waterlogged pit with the rest of us.
Among the players who showed up to toss beads and mini footballs to the crowd: Earnest Graham, Cadillac Williams, Michael Clayton, Jimmy Wilkerson, Sabby Piscitelli, Josh Freeman, Ryan Sims, Derrick Ward, Sammie Stroughter, Maurice Stovall and Geno Hayes.
"You guys are true fans to be out here in this rain like this!" Piscitelli yelled.
Indeed they were. Some of the folks in the pit were not only big Bucs fans, but big Trapt fans, and when the players left the stage, it didn't take long for them to start shouting, "Trapt! Trapt! Trapt!"
Now, a word about Trapt. This is your classic B-level modern rock radio band, known best for one big hit (2002's Headstrong), but otherwise largely indistinguishable from a slew of similar hard rock bands**. In fact, until they took the stage, I had them halfway confused with Lostprophets. I was all excited to hear Last Train Home.
That said, Trapt does seem to be a step up from last year's headliner, Saving Abel, as well as Shinedown in 2007. (Edwin McCain  and Sister Hazel  are probably a wash.) Their aggro, fist-pumping FM-radio metal seems to jive well with the no-nonsense mentality of hardcore NFL fans, folks who likely have 98 Rock and 97X programmed into their presets. In that sense ... I guess they were a good choice? If anyone wants to take bets on next year's headliner, my money's on Theory of a Deadman***.
Anyway, back to Channelside. For a while, it looked like the concert might be canceled. Trapt's main soundboard blew out (possibly due to the weather) and there was a lengthy delay while the crew hooked up a backup. Fans were getting restless.
But by the time Trapt came out -- wearing black and red, but no Bucs gear -- and launched into tracks like Still Frame, Use Me to Use You and Who's Going Home With You Tonight, the dreadful rain was gone, and the weather was just right for a concert.
In fact, I'll take it a step further -- after seeing Trapt, I believe Channelside has the potential to be a FANTASTIC concert destination. If the folks who run the place were to open a permanent venue there along the water, even just a bandshell, this could be one of the coolest, most picturesque live music hubs in Tampa Bay.
The way the temporary stage was set up -- between Grille 29 and the water -- you could see the band from any number of locations. If you got there early, you could have camped out for a prime spot on the balcony patio at Bennigan's, and this could have been your view of the stage:
Check out that nice water vista in the background! It leads to surreal moments like the one that occurred during Friday's show, when the Yacht StarShip II dinner cruise drifted by the stage, then momentarily dropped anchor so its passengers could watch the concert from the boat:
Where else are you going to see something like that?
Of course, if Channelside did ever try to establish a permanent waterfront concert venue, I can only imagine the fits Harbour Island and Channel District residents would pitch over the noise. That seems to be the way the world works these days.
But if I owned Channelside, I'd still give it a go. The complex has really made strides to become a viable entertainment destination in the past year (in 2008, critics wondered if it would ever work). With more and more people moving into the Channel District, a unique live music venue -- even if it only booked local bands -- would be a welcome addition to the area.
But I digress. The Trapt show turned out okay, even if my shoes felt like rice paddies by the end of the night. Their set seemed truncated, at least judging by the setlists taped to the stage (maybe the weather and equipment problems were a factor), but the concert did have its moments. Echo was an emotive, pumping, head-bobbing rocker, and it was tough not to get sucked in by Headstrong's Jurassic guitar riffs.
Good times to be a Trapt fan. Not so good if you were a fan of dry, comfortable conditions.
And for the Bucs? We'll just have to wait and see if they, too, are Headstrong come Sunday.
Next up in The 50-50 Club: Rod Picott and Amanda Shires, Sept. 13 Studio@620, St. Petersburg.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*
* The Bucs, it seems, aren't the only team to try to woo fans through season-opening kickoff concerts. The Baltimore Ravens got Shinedown. The New England Patriots are getting Boys Like Girls. I think we'd all agree that in terms of sheer star power, both shows fall a bit shy of the Tim McGraw-Black Eyed Peas concert Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
** Announcer T.J. Rives kept referring to the band as "national recording artist Trapt," as if to remind the crowd that this was a real band, to be taken seriously.
*** Although I do think it would be super-funny if the Bucs end up going with a band like, say, Antony and the Johnsons. I'd sign up for that.