Tampa Bay's best concerts of 2012, Part 1: Fun., Coldplay, Fiona Apple and more
(All week on Soundcheck, our contributors are looking back at the best local concerts of 2012. Up first: tbt* and Soundcheck editor Jay Cridlin.)
In a lot of ways, this year was defined for me by one concert: Radiohead at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. And while it was a great show, I can’t in good conscience put it on my best-of list for 2012, because I saw them just five months later at Bonnaroo, and I have to say, that was a much more satisfying concert experience.
Instead, I’ll choose these six (okay, seven) local shows as my most memorable from 2012 (click the links for the full review):
Fun. (March 7, State Theatre): It’s a testament to Fun.’s lightning-fast rise to fame in 2012 that at last year’s 97X Next Big Thing concert, they took the stage at 11:30 a.m. Three months (and one mega-hit song) later, the State Theatre was already too small of a venue for this headlining show. The venue rattled and hummed with all of Fun.’s joy and theatricality, from the chest-pounding Some Nights to the boot-stomping One Foot. It was a rousing, electric and fascinatingly intimate look at a band on their way to the top.
Mutemath (March 17, House of Blues, Orlando): Mutemath have always been a dynamic live band, but with their blues-tinged third album, Odd Soul, they took things to a new level, performance-wise. On this St. Patty’s Day show, the House of Blues exploded in lights and confetti and pure electrified rock ‘n’ roll. Very few drummers can match Darren King for sheer animalistic intensity, but singer Paul Meany has a few cool tricks in his back these days, too — such as taking a flying leap from the stage onto an inflatable mattress held aloft by the crowd, then surfing it to the back of the house. Mutemath’s next trip to Tampa Bay can’t come soon enough.
Coldplay (June 28, Tampa Bay Times Forum): Having witnessed two concerts on Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto tour, I believe we may never see another arena-rock show like it. The synchronized lights, the mysterious inflatables, the glowing wristbands, the colorful confetti, the life-affirming scream-alongs of Every Teardrop is a Waterfall and Viva La Vida, the crazy energy of Chris Martin and company — every bit of it made you wish the night would never end. They found a way to out-U2 U2. Say what you want about Coldplay, but it’s tough not to fall in love with them live.
Fiona Apple (Sept. 29, Ruth Eckerd Hall): From the moment Apple walked onstage in an oversized hoodie, then proceeded to deliver a soon-to-go-viral rant against Perez Hilton and TMZ, you knew you were in for one of those nights. Looking more possessed than fragile, she performed a career-spanning 90-minute set that ranged from jazz to acid rock to delirious chamber pop. She left the stage somewhat abruptly without playing Criminal, but when you buy a ticket to see Fiona Apple, these things are bound to happen.
Rubblebucket (Guavaween, Oct. 27, Czar): I don’t think I’d be alone in saying this year’s inaugural Guavaween music festival was a flop. The music was fine, but few of the partiers on Seventh really seemed to care. Well, if they missed indie-jazz-funk outfit Rubblebucket at Czar, it was their loss. The Brooklyn-based group fully embraced the Guavaween spirit, dressing in costumes and having giant monster puppets roam the crowd. By the time they ended the show with a second-line march through the crowd, horns blaring, everyone there was a believer.
TIE: 97X Memorial Day Backyard BBQ, May 26; and 97X Next Big Thing, Dec. 1; both at Vinoy Park): Someone has to give credit to 97X for the amazing year they’ve bestowed upon local rock fans, with multiple free shows across Tampa Bay and these two blockbuster festivals in Vinoy Park. The May show (which was free!) brought a mountain of noise from Middle Class Rut; massive alt-rock anthems from Imagine Dragons; and the shamelessly wild strutting of Foxy Shazam. And in its first year in St. Pete, Next Big Thing was infused with warm and friendly vibes throughout — Grouplove’s cheerful hippie dance party; the warm embrace of Of Monsters of Men; the triumphant return of Fun. Sorry, haters, but this is one giant, corporate-owned radio station that actually does have your back.
Honorable mention: Sleigh Bells (Feb. 4, Ritz Ybor), Radiohead (Feb. 29, Tampa Bay Times Forum), Gasparilla Music Festival (March 10, Curtis Hixon Park), The Naked and Famous (March 28, State Theatre), Machine Gun Kelly (June 27, Hawaiian Village at Stadium Green Iguana), Weezer (Nov. 9, Mahaffey Theater).