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Review: Merchandise crash the Hub for defiantly wild Tampa album release party

Merchandise celebrated the release of their album 'After the End' with a record release party at the Hub in Tampa on Aug. 29, 2014.

Photo by Brian Mahar.

Merchandise celebrated the release of their album 'After the End' with a record release party at the Hub in Tampa on Aug. 29, 2014.

Soaked in PBR and perspiration, Carson Cox surveyed the rowdy crowd at a jam-packed Hub Friday in downtown Tampa.

“There’s a lot of sweat, a lot of beer, a lot of love, a lot of hate,” he slurred. “I feel how I look right now.”

Those words, like so many Carson Cox soundbites, can be taken so many different ways. He’s the singer for Merchandise, a DIY punk-turned-indie New Wave band that in some corners of the world is considered Tampa's hippest musical export in years. Their new album After the End was released this week on vaunted British label 4AD, and they’ve been tracked and profiled by publications ranging from Pitchfork to Spin, NME to Interview, Billboard to Vice.

And yet swaths of the Tampa music scene could take Cox or leave him, thanks to a string of interviews with out-of-town press that suggest he has little to no regard for his homeland. The most recent and prominent example: A lengthy interview with London-based Dazed magazine in which Cox called Tampa “super corny,” “a cultural wasteland” and “a place where they just don’t want anything intelligent.”

Bitchers and moaners Merchandise may be, at least when it comes to the press, but so be it: Rock ‘n’ roll history is littered with the like. Those who give zero f---s how Tampa comes across to the readers of Dazed magazine only truly care about the music and the moment, and those were the souls who packed the Hub on Friday. Full Story

Artist of the day: Consinity

Consintiy are a ruckus-heavy rock/metal band on a mission to entertain and enlighten. They’ve been very busy as of late, releasing a shocking video for their song Piece of Me, recording a heavy cover of Katy Perry’s E.T. and releasing their debut album, Awaken the Fallen. This Saturday, they will celebrate with a CD release party at Pro Star Recording Studios in St. Petersburg.

Consinity are Beau Brady, vocals; Mark Kievit, drums; Ryan Sunagawa, guitar; Jack Rose, bass; and Chris Schupe, guitar. Rose filled us in on all their current goings-on.

How long has Consinity been together?

As far as the current lineup is concerned, about a good three years, except with the addition of the new guitarist.

What is the band’s origin?

That’s a really good question. It’s hard for me to say, since I wasn’t there at the starting point. As far as I know, the story goes, the band started a good nine years ago. There have been member changes and hiatuses. I remember when I joined; I was pretty much the final piece of the current and most long-lasting lineup. One lead guitar player left and we replaced him. The new guy’s (Ryan Sunagawa) first show is gonna be this Saturday. …

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Jay Leno, Demetri Martin, Russell Peters, Celtic Woman, more coming to the Straz Center in Tampa

Luis Santana

In this week's edition of Ticket Window, we noted that a big batch of tickets to the Straz Center's 2014-15 season go on sale to the public this Saturday. That includes long-since-announced shows by folks like Ron White, Rick Steves, Anjelah Johnson and the Hit Men.

But it turns out the Straz is sliding a slew of new shows into their Saturday box-office bonanza, including three by big-name comics: Demetri Martin on Dec. 13, Russell Peters on Jan. 18 and Jay Leno on March 29.

Martin and Peters are top draws in their own right -- the Canadian Peters, a much bigger name outside the U.S., has a legit claim to being the world's most popular stand-up -- but Leno is certainly the biggest new show. He performed a series of gigsat Clearwater's intimate Capitol Theatre in February in March, shortly after ending his run as host of the Tonight Show, and all sold out well in advance. Tickets to see Martin start at $39.50; Peters, $45.50; and Leno, $49. …

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James Taylor coming to the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa

Willie J. Allen Jr. (2010)

Watching FXX's "Every Simpsons Ever" marathon the other day, we caught one of our favorite episodes: "Deep Space Homer," in which Homer goes into space and nearly strands the shuttle crew there after opening a smuggled bag of potato chips, cracking an ant colony and causing the equipment to malfunction.

"Ants, huh?" says guest star James Taylor, listening in from mission control. "We had quite a severe ant problem at the vineyard this year. I had Art Garfunkel come by with his compressor, and we created a total vacuum outside the house, and we blew the ants out the front door. But I'm sure you high-tech NASA people could care less about our resort-town ways." Turns out that unkempt youngster saved the day.

This is all a longwinded and nerdy way of telling you that Taylor is returning to the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Nov. 14. Taylor and his all-star band will perform an "evening with" concert that should cover every era of his celebrated career.

Tickets are $31.75-$96.25 and they go on sale Sept. 5, with a special pre-sale for fan club members starting Sept. 2. Click here and here for details.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

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This week in Tampa: Drake, Lil Wayne, Uproar Festival, Umphrey's McGee and more

Happy Labor Day weekend! There's some great music happening around Tampa between now and Monday, but the holiday week's biggest party won't take place until Sept. 4, when Drake and Lil Wayne bring their Street Fighter-themed co-headlining tour to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre.

Until then, look for headlining shows by Umphrey's McGee, Young Thug, Merchandise, Arrested Development, Shock G, Alien Ant Farm, Tonic's Emerson Hart, Paper Diamond, Beres Hammond, Laidback Luke, Baby Anne, the Mojo Gurus and a pair of fun festivals -- Summer Jam, featuring Reptar, Millionyoung, Roadkill Ghost Choir and some of the area's best local bands; and the Uproar Festival, featuring Godsmack, Seether, Buckcherry, Pop Evil and more.

Here to walk you through it all is Ray Roa...Full Story

UPDATE: ZZ Top, Jeff Beck suspend tour, including Sept. 10 Tampa show, due to injury

Bad news, classic rock fans. Your guitar gods are not infaliable.

ZZ Top and Jeff Beck have suspended the remaining dates of their "Beards 'N' Beck" Tour, including a Sept. 10 date at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, after ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill suffered a hip injury aboard the band's tour bus.

"As a result of Hill’s injury, which requires immediate attention, ZZ Top performance dates have been temporarily suspended while he recovers," the band wrote on Facebook. "Tour dates affected by the suspension include all of the scheduled concert bills shared with Jeff Beck through September 13."

All hope is not lost, however. While USA Today reported that refunds are available at point of purchase, the band notes that fans in those cities should hold onto their tickets "pending the possibility of rescheduling these concerts."

Said Beck: "While we are very disapointed to not continue this tour with ZZ Top, our thoughts and best wishes are for Dusty to have a speedy recovery."

We'll keep you posted, but in the meantime, it doesn't look good that you'll get to see those sharp-dressed Texans anytime soon.

***UPDATE*** Live Nation has announced that the Sept. 10 Tampa show has been moved to Nov. 13, and that previously purchased tickets will be honored then. A Sept. 9 date at West Palm Beach's Cruzan Amphitheatre has been moved to Nov. 14.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*Full Story

Review: Slash goes acoustic for exclusive unplugged set at Tampa's Hard Rock Cafe

Guitarist Slash performs at the Hard Rock Cafe inside Tampa's Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on Aug. 27, 2014.

Jay Cridlin

Guitarist Slash performs at the Hard Rock Cafe inside Tampa's Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on Aug. 27, 2014.

Top hat? Check. Ray-Bans? Check. Solid-body Gibson Les Paul?

Actually that's the one piece of the classic Slash ensemble we didn’t see Wednesday at Tampa’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The iconic guitarist and his vocal partner in crime, Myles Kennedy, took a break from their tour with Aerosmith for an invite-only acoustic performance at the Hard Rock Café.

While the concert was open only to VIPs and contest winners, Slash offered hope for a future gig for the rest of us, saying: “We’ll come through here next year. We’ll be here sometime in the spring.”

Odds are that show will be classic, electric Slash. So the rare glimpse he offered the Hard Rock of his skills on an acoustic hollow-body Gibson was quite a treat indeed.Full Story

Ticket Window: Jo Dee Messina, Ty Dolla $ign, Shaquille O'Neal's All Star Comedy Jam and more

This week's Ticket Window is headlined by a new announcement: Shaquille O'Neal's All Star Comedy Jam on Oct. 4 at the USF Sun Dome, with Mo'Nique, Gary Owen, Michael Blackson and Tommy Davidson. Our favorite part of the announcement was the line, "Shaquille O'Neal is not scheduled to perform." Bummer! We were so hoping for a live rendition of What's Up Doc? (Can We Rock)! Maybe the Fu-Schnickens are just too busy these days.

Other Tampa Bay concerts and with tickets going on sale this week: Shaquille O'Neal's All Star Comedy Jam (Oct. 4, USF Sun Dome), Ty Dolla $ign (Oct. 8, State Theatre), Ricky Nelson Remembered with Matthew and Gunnar Nelson (Nov. 12, Capitol Theatre), Break Science (Nov. 13, Orpheum), Jo Dee Messina (Dec. 10, Ritz Ybor), Ben Vereen (Dec. 18, Capitol Theatre), the Outback Bowl (Jan. 1, Raymond James Stadium), Dave Mason's Traffic Jam (Feb. 18, Capitol Theatre), Michael Amante (Feb. 21, Capitol Theatre) and Melissa Manchester (March 5, Capitol Theatre).

Also going on sale this week are numerous shows for the 2014-15 Straz Center season, including Tiempo Libre (Oct. 11), Gaby Moreno (Nov. 7), Margo Rey (Nov. 8), Mediaeval Baebes (Dec. 6), Gregory Porter (Dec. 18), Zap Mama and Antibalas (Jan. 22), Black Violin (Jan. 30), the Piano Guys (Feb. 4), The Hit Men (Feb. 11), Irwvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (Feb. 12), Rene Marie (Feb. 25) and Celtic Roots with the Celts (March 19).

Click here for this week's edition of Ticket Window.Full Story

Michael Jr. talks clean comedy, converting to Christianity, humor in the Bible and more

For the comedian known as Michael Jr., his standup career happened by accident.

Three decades ago, he went to see a movie and the film projector broke. When a friend dared the 17-year-old Michael Jr. to entertain the crowd, he accepted the challenge and started telling jokes.

"I knew I was funny, but that was the first time I stood in front of people and tried to make them laugh," Michael Jr. said. "Luckily, I was successful. Otherwise, I'd be a plumber or something right now."

On Sunday, Michael Jr. will cut it up live at the Crossing Church in Tampa. General admission is $18. VIP passes are available for $30. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

For more of Sarah Whitman's interview with Michael Jr., click here.Full Story

Photos: Bea Miller swings by Tampa's 93.3-FLZ, covers Sam Smith's 'Stay With Me'

Bea Miller performs at the performance studio of 93.3-FLZ in Tampa on Aug. 26, 2014.

Jay Cridlin

Bea Miller performs at the performance studio of 93.3-FLZ in Tampa on Aug. 26, 2014.

Teenage singer Bea Miller dropped by pop station 93.3-FLZ in Tampa on Wednesday to perform a couple of acoustic songs -- new single Young Blood and a cover of Sam Smith's Stay With Me (hear a clip here) -- and meet and take questions from fans. She talked about singing through pain, her bucket-list dreams of skydiving and getting a tattoo and the pride she felt in watching her X Factor 2012 castmates Fifth Harmony win a Video Music Award. Check out a couple off photos from the performance by clicking the headline of this post.

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Reggae Rise Up Festival: Rebelution, Steel Pulse, Collie Buddz, more coming to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa



When Rebelution sold out a two-night stand at Jannus Live earlier this summer, it was clear: Tampa Bay was becoming a national hub for the new American reggae-rock movement.

Need more proof? Tampa will host two giant outdoor reggae-rock festivals on back to back weekends in September.

The latest addition is the Reggae Rise Up Music Festival, set for Sept. 27 at Raymond James Stadium. Rebelution will headline that show along with Steel Pulse, Collie Buddz, Zion I, Ballyhoo!, Rootz Underground, Los Rakas, Stranger and more. Tickets are $35-$55 for general admission, $100 for VIP. Click here for details.

Reggae Rise Up will take place exactly one week after the inaugural Chillin' Music Fest hits Curtis Hixon Park with Michael Franti and Spearhead, Pepper, Stephen Marley, the Expendables and more. Click here for details on that one.

Anyone else doubt that reggae rock (or hybrid reggae, or progressive reggae, or whatever you want to call it) is becoming a force to be reckoned with in American music?

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

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SoundBytes: Method Man and Redman, Jo Dee Messina, Ty Segall and more

-- When it was announced that prodigious punk Ty Segall was playing Tampa's Epic Problem at the Skatepark of Tampa on Sept. 12, we thought: Man, that seems like a small venue for a guy with a lot of big buzz. Turns out we were right. After tickets sold out, his show has been moved from the black-box space into the actual Skatepark of Tampa to accomodate more partiers. The day will start with a lineup of punk acts at Epic Problem -- Sonic Graffiti, Orange Forest, Cretin Girls, the Gun Hoes and Plastic Pink -- before moving into the Skatepark around 7:30 for Segall, Wand and Jensen Serf Co. Tickets are $13-$15, and if you missed them the last time around, you'd better not delay getting them now. Click here.

-- In other Ty news, rapper Ty Dolla $ign is coming to the State Theatre on Oct. 8. Tickets are $21-$25 and they go on sale Aug. 29. Click here.

-- A pair of hip-hop greats are coming to Jannus Live on Sept. 12: Method Man and Redman. Tickets are on sale for $27-$40. Click here. …

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Review: Southern Darkness Fest brings Pelican, Primate, Black Tusk, much more metal to Ybor City

Black Tusk performs at Southern Darkness Fest in Ybor City on Aug. 23, 2014.

Jimmy Geurts

Black Tusk performs at Southern Darkness Fest in Ybor City on Aug. 23, 2014.

It’s hard to imagine that in a city with such a huge metal history, and one that’s increasingly music festival-crazy, there hasn’t really been a metal festival in Tampa.

There was Scion Rock Fest, which chose Tampa as its location two years ago. And there have been traveling tours like Mayhem Festival, which might earn you scowls from metalheads if you call them metal. But Tampa hasn’t had a metal festival we could truly call our own.

Until now, that is.

Southern Darkness Fest held its inaugural run Saturday in Ybor City, with nearly 30 heavy music bands across three stages. And in its first year out, the event already proved impressively ambitious, with a well-curated lineup headlined by Chicago instrumental group Pelican.

As expected for a first-time festival, there were a couple of snags. A few sets had technical difficulties, and Pelican went on 30 minutes later than scheduled because the previous band Bongripper apparently ripped so heavily, they blew out their amp.

But largely, things ran very smoothly. And the groundwork was established for a local metal festival that seems to be thinking nationally.Full Story

MTV VMAs: 5 Seconds of Summer, Drake, Jason Derulo among performers, winners coming to Tampa Bay

5 Seconds of Summer

5 Seconds of Summer

MTV’s annual celebration of pop hits and teeny-tiny outfits, the Video Music Awards, took place Sunday in Los Angeles, and if you’re hoping to catch any of the biggest and most controversial of this year’s winners and performers live in concert – Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, Iggy Azalea, Beyonce – you’re gonna have to make a road trip. Not many of this year’s big pop names currently have concerts scheduled in Central Florida. But hey, the 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball’s only a few months away!

Until then, here are some of the MTV VMA winners and performers coming to Tampa and Orlando.

-- Drake, who wasn’t present at the VMAs but nonetheless took home the moonman for Best Hip Hop Video, is playing the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre with Lil Wayne on Sept. 4. Click here.

-- Presenter Demi Lovato is coming to Orlando's Amway Center on Sept. 15. Click here.

-- Pop singer-songwriter Charli XCX, singer of the hook on Iggy Azalea's Fancy and performer of her own hit Boom Clap on the VMAs red carpet, is coming to the Social in Orlando on Sept. 26. Click here. …

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Review: Tori Amos celebrates 51st birthday with passionate party at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Tori Amos performs at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Aug. 22, 2014.

Jay Cridlin

Tori Amos performs at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Aug. 22, 2014.

It was a beautiful and unexpected moment: The family, friends and crew of Tori Amos, leonine goddess of confession, wheeling out a cake for her 51st birthday as balloons and streamers fell from the rafters of Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Beautiful, because what does Amos do in that moment? She waves off 1,650 singing fans, some of whom brought their own party hats, and hops behind her piano, beaming, to play Happy Birthday to herself.

And unexpected, because, well, who knew Amos aged? At 51, her iconic red hair remains as fiery as her diary-honest lyrics. Save for a coquettish set of cat’s-eye frames, her elfin beauty – and command of her fiercely devoted fans – remain intact after close to 30 years onstage, preserved, probably, by whatever magical mist blows in the English forest she calls home.

Happy Birthday was as simple as the music got Friday in Clearwater, as Amos, alone but for her ivories, whipped through an appropriately autobiographical set that culled evenly and ambitiously from most of her albums dating back to 1992. It was less a pop concert than a recital-cum-revival, but even more than that, it felt like a personal two-way call from Amos to each and every fan in the house.Full Story