Review: Family of the Year, The Mowgli's get intimate at the Ritz Ybor in Tampa
If the line of cargo trailers in lieu of tour buses outside the Ritz Ybor on Friday night was any indication of the intimate show that beckoned inside, then appearances turned out to be right.
Fewer than 100 people braved the thunderstorm outdoors and crowded into a side room of the venue. Instead of watching Family of the Year and The Mowgli's in the main hall, fans got an up-close-and-personal performance of the bands on the Royal Room’s side stage, which normally housed a projection screen for concert-goers quelling their nicotine needs.
After local band Goodnight Neverland came The Mowgli's, an eight-piece, multi-instrumental act from Los Angeles. The small stage could hardly contain them, by ways of both quantity and quality. Dual guitars and drummers plus male and female lead vocals (and cameo vocals from other members) created complex layers that filled the secluded room with uplifting tunes. Their Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes-esque vibe manifested in whistles, all-band-chorus singing and in-between-song motivations of love, overcoming and human connection. Their positive energy and obvious mutual love of music translated into a cohesive unit with undeniable stage presence. The sheer talent, authenticity and dedication spelled out stardom and left a tough set to follow.
Also hailing from the OC was headliner Family of the Year. They, too, boasted male and female lead vocalists and two guitarists, plus a set of brothers (the vocalist and drummer). The fivesome rolled through an hourlong set, inciting nonstop dancing from front-row fans who mouthed all the words.
Lots of crowd and band banter became a benefit to the arms-reach setting. It was their first time in Tampa, which led to statements like, “It’s hot when it rains in Florida.” The setlist included Stairs, Hero, St. Croix, Buried and Summer Girl. Some songs sounded better live, and others more colorful on recordings. Their cohesion came off lackluster in comparison to the air left behind from The Mowgli's.
However, the bassist carried a vigor all his own. Despite playing the same indie jams as the rest, he thrashed around his chest-length hair and stalked about the stage like he was Metallica-made.
It seemed FOTY had just found their groove when the set ended. Anyone who stuck around for 10 minutes after the show had an opportunity to mingle with the bands. Actually, they wandered through the crowd during each other’s sets and graciously spoke to fans and participated in photo ops. Their down-to-earth attitudes alongside a close-knit room allowed for unexpectedly cozy evening.
-- Stephanie Bolling, tbt*