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Tampa Bay's best concerts of 2012 (reader picks): Red Hot Chili Peppers, One Direction, Avett Brothers, Die Antwoord and more

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(For the past week on Soundcheck, our contributors have been looking back at the best local concerts of 2012. Today, we're switching things up a bit. We asked our Twitter followers on @tbtsoundcheck to name their favorite local concerts of the year. Here are some of the best responses. Click the links for reviews and photos.)

Mike Lortz (‏@JordiScrubbings): Aesop Rock in Oct at State Theater. On leave from Afghanistan and needed the break. Saw an awesome show and cleared my mind!

Zeynep ‏(@Zippy715): by far - @youngthegiant at the Ritz. They are always worth the show.

Jim Swift ‏(@bomble): Journey, live at the RNC.

Okie Tilo ‏(@Okesene): @DIEANTWOORD brought a high-energy & unpredictablely wild set to a sold-out crowd at @TheRitzYbor in October!

Mark Vidreiro ‏(@markvphotos): Rammstein. Nothing else even comes close. pic.twitter.com/AYkNm7LQ

Lindsey ‏(@lrlupfer): Definitely @theavettbros at @clearwaterjazz. They were tight, energetic, and pleased an unsuspecting crowd.

Gina Morales (@HardRockinGirl): had so much fun at the @97Xonair Next Big Thing, great vibe, great music, beautiful day.

michelle (‏@mmichelleely): One Direction ! It was amazing. 2nd largest crowd on tour and tons of energy !! plus i got to meet the boys :)

BrnzBarbie ‏(@BrnzBarbie): @ChiliPeppers ! Hall of Fame worthy and worth the wait since it was delayed by Anthony Keidis’ foot!

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The top 10 Tampa music stories of 2012, No. 1: The festival lifestyle comes to Tampa Bay

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(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.)

Soundchek reported live from Bonnaroo and DeLuna Fest this year, and DeLuna and Orlando Calling in 2011. Florida's festival boom was No. 7 on our list of top local stories last year.

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. 9: Machine Gun Kelly laces up, takes over Tampa

No. 8: The Ritz Ybor becomes Tampa's hip-hop heaven

No. 7: Metal venues play musical chairs

No. 6: The USF Sun Dome reopens

No. 5: Tallhart goes national

No. 4: Festival, national love for Zulu Wave, The Applebutter Express, Merchandise

No. 3: Surprise! The RNC actually rocks

No. 2: Juliet Simms nearly wins 'The Voice'

Photo: Carolina Hidalgo, tbt*

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Tampa Bay's best concerts of 2012, Part 6: Def Leppard, Morbid Angel, Origin and more

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(All week on Soundcheck, our contributors are looking back at the best local concerts of 2012. Up today: Local photographer, Soundcheck contributor and avowed punk and metal fan Andrew Carlton.)

Morbid Angel (above, Oct. 21, State Theatre): Seeing them perform in their standard leather-studded '80s black metal gear was great. I was also pleased that they did not play any of their new material from Illud Divinum Insanus.

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The top 10 Tampa music stories of 2012, No. 2: Juliet Simms nearly wins 'The Voice'

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(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.)

Sure, Tampa bands Tallhart, Merchandise, Zulu Wave and The Applebutter Express all found some measure of national success in 2012. But they did it the old-fashioned way. If you really want to rocket to the top in today's media landscape, you need to win a reality show.

Local singers have come close before, notably American Idol alums Jessica Sierra and Michael Lynche. This year, local singers Shannon Magrane, Jeremy Rosado, Nathalie Hernandez and the Distinguished Men of Brass did well on shows like Idol, The Voice and America's Got Talent.

But no one has repped the Tampa Bay music scene quite like Juliet Simms on The Voice.

Before she wowed the judges with a show-stopping performance immediately following this year's Super Bowl, Simms was a proud alum of the Tampa Bay music scene, having fronted Warped Tour veterans Automatic Loveletter. (Her brother, Tommy, was also a longtime local performer in groups like Win Win Winter).  …

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Tampa Bay's best concerts of 2012, Part 5: KISS, Lil Kim, Psy, MGK and more

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(All week on Soundcheck, our contributors are looking back at the best local concerts of 2012. Up today: tbt* photographer Luis Santana.)

Lil Kim and Trina (Jan. 13, Channelside IMAX): In 2012, hip-hop legend Lil Kim made her first ever appearance in Tampa (according to her) at the Channelside IMAX theaters in Tampa. Although a really odd choice for a first-time impression of Tampa the place was packed wall to wall to see her and “co-headliner” Trina, who, by the way, is no stranger to the Tampa club scene. As it was, the fine folks of Tampa Bay did not let Lil Kim down, and showed her how a hip-hop show goes down in the 813. Despite fistfights and flying wigs, bottles and shoes, the show went on. Trina’s security pulled her from the venue after the crowd became too rowdy and unsafe. Lil Kim, however, hopped on stage surrounded by her fans and did her set. She did not disappoint — she literally brought the house down. Eventually Trina came back on to a makeshift stage set up in the lobby of the movie theater and sang a few songs with Kim. After the show was over I managed to get this shot of Lil Kim being carried away by her massive bodyguard.

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The top 10 Tampa music stories of 2012, No. 3: Surprise! The RNC actually rocks

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(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.)

When it was announced in 2010 that Tampa would host the 2012 Republican National Convention, we wondered: Which big-name acts would show up for private parties and/or protest concerts? …

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Tampa Bay's best concerts of 2012, Part 4: Bon Iver, Florence and the Machine, SBTRKT and more

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(All week on Soundcheck, our contributors are looking back at the best local concerts of 2012. Up today: Carole Liparoto, who writes weekly concert picks for tbt* and the Tampa Bay Times, posted here each Thursday as "This Week In Tampa.")

SBTRKT (March 24, Orpheum): From Slipknot and GWAR to deadmau5 and Daft Punk, musicians have masked themselves for the sake of anonymity, for spooks or scares, or sometimes, just for fun. For SBTRKT, a.k.a. London producer Aaron Jerome, wearing a tribal mask suggests ceremony and celebration. And that’s exactly what he and honey-soul vocalist Sampha delivered on a spring night at the Orpheum. Pharaohs was a surefire feet-mover with a retro, acid-house style and enough swank for even the most upscale of lounges. The downtempo Hold On showcased the group’s catlike, never-grating electronic flair. James Blake and Little Dragon are fair comparisons, but the way SBTRKT’s Jerome and Sampha bounced from live drums, keys, knobs, faders and tables was one of a kind live.

Bon Iver (June 7, Straz Center): A woodsy, pillow-soft (and potentially snoozy) set was what I anticipated from delicate strummer and beardy outdoorsman Bon Iver. What I got was a sprawling, lively evening of wintry wonder. Justin Vernon, his falsetto, two drummers, horn players, violinists and a cast of other fine orchestral players brought modest, affecting tunes to a new dimension. Lanterns flickered and burlap curtains danced as the group uncorked tunes Perth and Michicant. (If you’d have told me the A/V portion of the Bon Iver show would best SBTRKT’s stuff, I would have called you crazy.) Also of note: Opening trio Staves, a British bunch of whiskey-drinking lasses with killer harmonies. Think a cross between the Dixie Chicks and Laura Marling. If there was any act worth an immediate, post-show Googling, Staves were it for me this year.

Florence and the Machine (Sept. 25, USF Sun Dome): If ever there was a woman who could a rock an arena in a dark, flowy nightie, a Victorian-era hairstyle and pasty bare feet, by God, Florence Welch is the gal. At a newly renovated USF Sun Dome, more than 5,000 fans witnessed the London siren and most gracious host bare her soul … with soul. Shake It Out and Cosmic Love were cathartic dance-alongs. Welch encouraged lots of audience participation, too. “We want to see as many people on shoulders as possible,” she said, breaking into Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up). We met the request. “Turn to each other, shake each other’s hands, embrace each other,” she appealed during the finale of Dog Days Are Over. We did that also. An evening of grace, elation and group hugs — really, what more could we ask for? 

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The top 10 Tampa music stories of 2012, No. 4: Festival, national love for The Applebutter Express, Zulu Wave and Merchandise

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(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.)

Tallhart may have been the band that signed to a national label. But three other Tampa Bay artists got some big-time, largely unexpected love on a national level.

Jammy bluegrass outfit The Applebutter Express got the break of a lifetime in May, when they learned they'd been invited to perform at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. It was an unprecedented opportunity for a local band, and the group made the most of it. Ever since they returned, they've been one of the busiest acts in town.

Indie rock group Zulu Wave was also invited to perform at a national festival this year -- and while it may not have been as big as Bonnaroo, the exposure was arguably even better. The CBGB Festival saw them performing at Times Square in New York alongside The Hold Steady, Superchunk, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Duff McKagen's Loaded.

And then there's Merchandise, the low-profile punk/New Wave outfit that found powerful new fans in Pitchfork and The A.V. Club. Pitchfork, in particular, seemed smitten with the group, publishing a glowing 2,500-word interview in July, giving their album Children of Desire a 7.8 and inviting them to perform with Death Grips and Angel Haze in Brooklyn.

Will any of these artists be the next Tallhart, or the next Blind Man's Colour (who were, at one time, the next Animal Collective)? We'll have to wait and see in 2013.

PREVIOUSLY ON THE TOP TAMPA MUSIC STORIES OF 2012:

No. 10: The return of arena rock

No. 9: Machine Gun Kelly laces up, takes over Tampa

No. 8: The Ritz Ybor becomes Tampa's hip-hop heaven

No. 7: Metal venues play musical chairs

No. 6: The USF Sun Dome reopens

No. 5: Tallhart goes national

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SoundBytes: The Rock, The Black Crowes, Dennis Miller and more

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-- When the WWE returns to the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Jan. 7, they'll get an added dose of superstar power, as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will stop in for Monday Night RAW. He'll join John Cena, CM Punk, Sheamus, Big Show, The Miz and many, many more. This could be an all-time night for wrestling in Tampa Bay. Tickets start at $20; click here.

-- The Mahaffey Theatre has hosted shows by Jay Mohr and Jay Pharoah, and now another Saturday Night Live vet is set to take the stage there: Dennis Miller. The acerbic, intellectual, politically minded comic and radio host will perform in St. Petersburg on March 30. Tickets are $42.50-$69, and they go onsale Jan. 4. For details, click here.

-- The Black Crowes' hiatus didn't last long. They're coming back with a tour that'll hit the Mahaffey on April 30, according to a release from the band. No ticket info yet, but we'll keep you posted.

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SoundBytes: The Rock, The Black Crowes, Hunter Hayes and more

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-- When the WWE returns to the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Jan. 7, they'll get an added dose of superstar power, as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will stop in for Monday Night RAW. He'll join John Cena, CM Punk, Sheamus, Big Show, The Miz and many, many more. This could be an all-time night for wrestling in Tampa Bay. Tickets start at $20; click here.

-- Country hotshot (and current Best New Artist Grammy nominee) Hunter Hayes is the final big name coming to the Florida Strawberry Festival. He'll perform at 3:30 p.m. March 10 -- the same day as Blake Shelton. Talk about a day full of quality country.

-- The Mahaffey Theatre has hosted shows by Jay Mohr and Jay Pharoah, and now another Saturday Night Live vet is set to take the stage there: Dennis Miller. The acerbic, intellectual, politically minded comic and radio host will perform in St. Petersburg on March 30. Tickets are $42.50-$69, and they go onsale Jan. 4. For details, click here.

-- The Black Crowes' hiatus didn't last long. They're coming back with a tour that'll hit the Mahaffey on April 30, according to a release from the band. No ticket info yet, but we'll keep you posted.

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CMA winner Hunter Hayes heading to Strawberry Fest

hunterhayes.jpgWell, we at last have our Florida Strawberry Festival entertainment lineup finalized and like the Plant City berry blast's signature milkshakes, it just keeps getting creamier and richer with the addition of country-blues prodigy Hunter Hayes, left, whose hit single Storm Warning makes him seem like the next coming of Brad Paisley and Keith Urban.

Hayes, winner of the Country Music Association's New Artist of the Year award and a Grammy nominee for Best New Artist, will perform March 10 at 3:30 p.m., festival organizers announced Thursday. Tickets will go on sale Jan. 7 for $15 and $20.

He joins the already impressive list of talent lined up for strawberry fest, including songwriting superstar Alan Jackson, Blake Shelton, Dwight Yoakam, Martina McBride, Scotty McCreery and more.

Here's the lineup

Feb. 28: Foreigner (7:30 p.m.), Chubby Checker (3:30), Jimmy Sturr and His Orchestra (10:30 a.m.)

March 1: Casting Crowns (7:30), Gene Watson (3:30), Caroline Kole (1)

March 2: Justin Moore (7:30), Gloriana (3:30)

March 3: Alan Jackson (7:30), Randy Houser (3:30)

March 4: Dwight Yoakam (7:30), Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis (3:30)

March 5: Martina McBride (7:30), Bobby Vinton (3:30) …

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The top 10 Tampa music stories of 2012, No. 5: Tallhart goes national

(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.)

Tampa's Marksmen have long been one of the area's most appreciated young groups -- heck, we named them a tbt* Ultimate Local Artist in 2011. So it came as no surprise that they signed to a national label in February.

Did we expect them to change their name to Tallhart? No, we didn't see that coming. But it's a good name. We'll take it.

Tallhart signed to Equal Vision Records, becoming the label's second Tampa Bay band (the first, Tarpon Springs' Set It Off, released their debut Equal Vision album, Cinematics, in September). Specifically, they signed to Rory, an imprint run by Say Anything's Max Bemis; the group toured the country with Say Anything throughout the year. They even won a big-name fan in Chris Carabba of Dashboard Confessional, who called them "one of my favorite bands." 

In January, the group released the album Sister of Mine. More recently, they released the above video for their song Drunk Kids, from their new EP Bloodlines, and in January, they'll enter the studio with producer Brad Wood (Smashing Pumpkins, Sunny Day Real Estate).

Seems tough to believe, but for Tallhart, the best could still be yet to come.

 

PREVIOUSLY ON THE TOP TAMPA MUSIC STORIES OF 2012:

No. 10: The return of arena rock

No. 9: Machine Gun Kelly laces up, takes over Tampa

No. 8: The Ritz Ybor becomes Tampa's hip-hop heaven

No. 7: Metal venues play musical chairs

No. 6: The USF Sun Dome reopens

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Tampa Bay's best concerts of 2012, Part 3: Radiohead, Andrew Bird, Antiwarpt and more

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(All week on Soundcheck, our contributors are looking back at the best local concerts of 2012. Up today: Frequent Soundcheck contributor Stephanie Bolling.)

Radiohead (Feb. 29, Tampa Bay Times Forum): Probably the best Leap Day ever. Granted, I’m not a giant King of Limbs fan, but that didn’t impede the opportunity to see one of the most significant bands of my generation. Between the hypnotic stage set and Thom Yorke’s groovy moves, the British rock stars threw the fans many bones with stretches to The Bends, OK Computer and Hail to the Thief. The sensory and audible overload made my face and heart melt right into the nostalgic soundtrack of my youth and transitioning adulthood. Hats off to these dudes for creating the musical threads of our lives.

The Ventures (Feb. 29-March 3 ,Stanleyville Theater, Busch Gardens): I know you’re all like, “What?” But, I’m like, YES. These dudes are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Playing three shows a day for four days at Busch Gardens is hardly a blowout spectacle. But it was an unlikely opportunity to snag piece of history, a representation of transitioning music, formats, venues and an era that we won’t hear live for much longer. Plus, the instrumental foursome played their top hits Walk, Don’t Run and the Hawaii Five-O theme song. Rad.

Fun. (March 7, State Theater): Riding the crest of their giant We Are Young wave, these New York City boys sold out the State and delivered a powerful, melodic and a theatrically modernized Freddie Mercury type of show. Maybe it was the energy that pop music garners, or maybe it was the love Nate Reuss dished out to the crowd, but the atmosphere and sound were solid and the setlist undoubtedly memorable. It made my heart soar like Reuss’ sopranos.

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The top 10 Tampa music stories of 2012, No. 6: The USF Sun Dome reopens

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(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.)

The USF Sun Dome has hosted some pretty major acts over the years — everyone from Frank Sinatra to Bob Dylan to the Killers to the White Stripes. So when it closed in for a $35.6-million makeover, it left a dome-sized hole in the Tampa music scene.

But over the summer, it reopened, and Tampa fans immediately saw what they were missing. Elton John, Florence and the Machine, Wiz Khalifa and others (like the MythBusters and, um, Ron Paul) immediately scheduled shows there, and USF students have taken to it. Recently, they launched a Twitter campaign, #Bulls4Babel, to try to get Mumford & Sons to play there.

True, not everything has gone as planned. There were copious sound problems at the first show, an R&B megatour featuring Keith Sweat. At Elton John, some fans were sold tickets to seats that weren’t there. And Eric Church canceled a concert there.

Still, we’ll live. As long as the arena keeps bringing in acts like Florence and Wiz, we’ll be happy.

PREVIOUSLY ON THE TOP TAMPA MUSIC STORIES OF 2012:

No. 10: The return of arena rock

No. 9: Machine Gun Kelly laces up, takes over Tampa

No. 8: The Ritz Ybor becomes Tampa's hip-hop heaven

No. 7: Metal venues play musical chairs

Photo: Daniel Wallace, tbt*

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Music scene loses iconic dive

davesaquaadmin.jpgOur colleague Sharon Kennedy Wynne reports here that iconic blues bar Dave's Aqua Lounge has closed. The location has been sold. We named this joint the "Ultimate Dive" in our 2009 tbt* Ultimate Bar Guide. If you've got a favorite memory of the place, located at 10820 Gandy Blvd. in St. Petersburg, you can take a bit of it home with you. Owner Dave Mamber Jr. is holding an "artifact sale" from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Sunday until he has to hand over the keys on Dec. 31.

From the story:

When word spread that the lounge was closing, Mamber said local musicians begged him to have one last jam on his stage. He said this past weekend was packed with local musicians. "It was so very gratifying." …

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