The top 10 Tampa music stories of 2012, No. 1: The festival lifestyle comes to Tampa Bay
(It’s the end of the year, and just as we did in 2009, 2010 and 2011, Soundcheck is counting down the year’s top local music stories as determined by your humble Soundcheck editor. We’ll be counting down two each day through New Year’s Eve.)
But this year, the festivals came to us.
For example: Two of Tampa Bay's biggest annual events, the Clearwater Jazz Holiday and Guavaween, switched to a festival format this year. Yes, the Jazz Holiday has always been festival-like, but by adding acts like the Avett Brothers and Bonnie Raitt, then charging for admission, organizers all but admitted it needed to adapt to survive. Likewise, Guavaween ditched its parade in favor of a mini-festival with the Hold Steady (which wasn't exactly a huge success, but still).
Oh, but there's more. 97X Next Big Thing moved from the 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre to Vinoy Park in a successful effort to reclaim some of its old festival vibes. Not one but two electronic music festivals, the Sunset Music Festival and Downtown Digital, launched this spring and summer. Antiwarpt has evolved into Tampa Bay's signature local music event. Pinellas Park's England Brothers Bandshell Park hosted a couple of festival-like concerts in 2012, by the likes of Sublime with Rome and Blondie and Devo.
And Curtis Hixon Park is evolving into a future iconic festival site, having hosted the Gasparilla Music Festival, the Erase Hate Festival, Summerfest and, next spring, Funk Fest 2013. Heck, even Curtis Hixon's weekly Rock the Park concert series feels like a monthly mini-festival in its own right.
And then there's all those other annual local festivals: The Florida Strawberry Festival, Tropical Heatwave, 98 Rockfest, Wild Splash, Last Damn Show, Ribfest, Tampa Bay Blues Fest, Jingle Ball, all those hippie jams at Sertoma Youth Ranch ... Are there any signs that this festival onslaught will begin to dry up? Well, yes, actually -- A Taste of Pinellas is going on hiatus in 2013. That's not good. Then again, we already have two new festivals coming our way in 2013 -- the Sunshine Blues Fest at Vinoy Park in January, and Whigfest at Jannus Live in February.
Do you have the stamina for a music festival every weekend of the year in Tampa Bay? At the rate we're going, that might be where we're headed.
PREVIOUSLY ON THE TOP TAMPA MUSIC STORIES OF 2012:
No. 10: The return of arena rock
No. 6: The USF Sun Dome reopens
No. 5: Tallhart goes national
Photo: Carolina Hidalgo, tbt*