Tampa Bay's best concerts of 2014, Part 1: Outkast, Nine Inch Nails, Brand New and more
(Through the end of the year on Soundcheck, our contributors will be looking back at the best local concerts of 2014. Up first: tbt*’s Stephanie Bolling.)
The Black Angels (Feb. 26, Daddy Kool Records): The main gig at the State Theater did not disappoint, but it was the free, intimate Daddy Kool show a few hours before that makes the cut. The rareness, realness and unpretentiousness of a band posting up and playing five songs at a local record store, interact with fans within arms’ length and still sound impeccable ... bravo!
Outkast and Violent Femmes (Big Guava Music Festival, May 2-4, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre): Fans unable to attend Outkast’s reunion show are still mourning their epic screw-up. It was that good, everything you could imagine or want and then more. A setlist spanning Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik to Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, plus solo releases and all the hits. The 20-year catalog that served as any Gen-Xer’s coming-of-age soundtrack culminated onstage in a high-energy explosive display. I’ve never danced harder at a show. This easily takes the cake for the top show Tampa Bay saw in 2014 (or the past five years for that matter). As for the Violent Femmes, their set featured no pyrotechnics or fancy to-do. It was just a simple Sunday afternoon, where the trio stepped onto a side stage and played their 1983 self-titled album front to back. Gordon Gano’s voice was unyielding and crisp, as signature as ever. They were an odd duck in the three-day lineup, but a quintessential catch for any fan.
Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden (Aug. 11, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre): Seeing Trent Reznor is like seeing Marina Abramovic. He’s an artist whose work you can follow and appreciate from afar, but can only really comprehend once you see it performed. Reznor — and by extension Nine Inch Nails — is a master of lighting, timing, audio and visual presentation. The stage of giant, movable LED panels constantly transformed to match each song. All-around captivating — as was co-headliner Soundgarden. Despite the shortness of their set, all the classics warmed my ’90s heart for years to come.
Merchandise (Aug. 29, The Hub): They’re controversial locals somewhere on the brink of stardom and apathy. That dichotomy manifested in a total celebratory s---show of music, friends and fans spilling over onto the Hub’s beer-soaked checkered floors. Whether they make it or break it, this hometown show was unforgettable.
Brand New (Oct. 26, Jannus Live): I can’t quite explain exactly what it is about Brand New’s music that ignites one’s insides, or sells out a venue in less than an hour, but it does. That same amped-up, fiery synergy electrified the pulsating crowd to resemble something like a massive beating heart full of gratifying grins. Sound, lyrics, setlist ... all was completely perfected to engineer an eruption of fandom.
-- Stephanie Bolling, tbt*