Review and photos: tbt*'s Ultimate Music Showcase takes over Skipper's Smokehouse
Well, that concert didn't happen. But the local equivalents of those bands -- GreyMarket (Muse), above, Sons of Hippies (Metric), and the Grecian Urns (Bright Eyes, but happier) -- did all share the same stage Saturday night at the tbt* Ultimate Music Showcase in Tampa.
The Semis, the Jim Morey Band and King of Spain rounded out a lineup that started coming together in December, when we here at SoundcheckCorp. began the process of picking some of our favorite local bands for our annual Ultimate Local Music Guide.
If you're a fan of the local music scene, you already know all about these bands. Our Local Music Guide -- and the annual Ultimate Music Showcase, of which this was the fourth -- is designed to give Tampa Bay's more casual music fans an idea of the sort of great music that's being produced right in their own backyard.
Which is why I'm cool with the Muse/Metric/Bright Eyes comparisons. To paraphrase our music writer Carole Liparoto: Local does not always mean amateur. These six bands really are the cat's pajamas. And if you dig those three international headliners, you will also dig GreyMarket/Sons of Hippies/Grecian Urns.
I'm biased, of course -- I helped pick the lineup, though all the credit for the show goes to our marketing and events team, particularly Marti Galloway, Shannon Breen, Lynette Gryniak and Kerry O'Reilly -- but I thought top to bottom, all six bands killed it.
Given a larger stage to play around on, the Jim Morey Band kicked off the set by sauntering through a set of bluesy N'awlins jazz and swing, with a little of their hallmark dixieland quirk thrown in for good measure.
On the heels of a three-day mini-tour with Sunbears!, King of Spain brought a cool chill to the muggy evening air with a set of atmospheric, electronic-acoustic musical hugs -- even channeling Peter Gabriel, I thought, on the lovely Animals Part One.
The Grecian Urns -- who drove all night and day to get there from their respective colleges -- won over the crowd with a wildly eclectic, energetic mix of indie folk, rock, soul and country. With eight members onstage -- playing trumpet, trombone, flute, fiddle, cello and often all singing together in harmony -- it was a set of unbridled enthusiasm.
Despite a short rain before their set, the Semis -- including a recently debearded Billy Summer -- rocked faces off with their blend of Nada Surf-y, Fountains of Wayne-ish early-'90s feel-good power pop.
GreyMarket -- who had the neat idea of letting fans pick their setlist -- brought the biggest fan base of the night, and delivered a typically sweaty, incendiary performance, complete with killer light show. They've spent a ton of time touring the East Coast and Midwest over the past year, and all that stage experience shows.
And fresh off a Record Store Day performance at Mojo Books and Music in Tampa, Sarasota's Sons of Hippies closed out the night with a set of blazing psychedelic alt-rock, complete with thunderous drum and bass, trippy vocals and screaming guitar licks from singer-guitarist Katherine Kelly. Like GreyMarket, this is a band that needs to tour the U.K. soon. They'd slay the Brits.
Like I said, I loved all six of these bands before Saturday's show, and I like them even more now. I cannot possibly pick a favorite.
But I will say this: The house was simply brimming with joy when the Grecian Urns were onstage. They blended rollicking, toe-tapping folk with a thrilled-to-be-here stage presence. Lovely musicians all, these mostly college and high school kids performed like seasoned pros, even pulling several couples onto the dance floor with a cover of The Band's The Weight, featuring multiple members swapping lead vocals. At the end, they called fans up to the stage to wave a Grecian Urns flag and the Florida state flag. When they return to Tampa Bay this summer, you simply must catch them live.
The best part? The Urns were the youngest band on the bill. Which is proof of what we've been saying for four years now: Tampa Bay's local music scene will be in good shape for many moons to come.