Best of 2016: Clipping, Boris, Julien Baker among Tampa Bay's best concerts
(All week on Soundcheck, we’ll be revisiting our favorite Tampa Bay concerts of 2016. Today’s picks come from Jimmy Geurts.)
Protomartyr (Feb. 21, New World Brewery): One of the most interesting Tampa Bay music stories this year was New World Brewery stepping up its booking in a big way, with high-profile bands ranging from Screaming Females to Pity Sex to Mothers. Perhaps their biggest coup was scoring Detroit post-punk act Protomartyr, coming off two critically acclaimed records in as many years. Frontman Joe Casey alone, smoking a cigarette and clad in a black suit even in Florida weather, evinced cool.
Pity Sex/PWR BTTM (June 19, New World Brewery): Another example of New World Brewery’s strong year was them landing the Ann Arbor indie group Pity Sex on their final tour before vocalist-guitarist Britty Drake left the band, resulting in their breakup. As a bonus, the infectiously catchy queer punk duo PWR BTTM opened the show. Then as an unexpected gut-punch, the group ended their set with a cover of Somewhere Over the Rainbow in honor of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.
Boris (July 28, Orpheum): Speaking of venues, the Orpheum maintained its position as the premier place in Tampa Bay to see heavy music, featuring Sunn O))) and Napalm Death and Melvins on back-to-back nights. Yet their best, blisteringly loud show may have been Japanese noise rockers Boris, touring off the 10th anniversary for the U.S. release of their record Pink. Certainly, seeing the pulverizingly beautiful album opener Farewell performed live was a musical highlight this year.
Clipping (Nov. 1, the Local 662): The Sub Pop-signed experimental rap group playing a Tampa Bay show would’ve been noteworthy enough, but then frontman Daveed Diggs became one of the stars of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. With Diggs likely the only Tony winner to grace the Local 662, the crowd comprised both Hamilton-heads there to see him and industrial fans there to see co-headliner Youth Code, both sides seemingly won over. The group will return to St. Pete in April to open for the Flaming Lips, but you missed out if you skipped this intimate gig.
Julien Baker (Nov. 5, Orpheum): The singer-songwriter was actually an opener for Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band along with Pinegrove and Petal (frequent Tampa Bay visitors this year, also opening for Pity Sex and Somos.) But from the first notes of Sprained Ankle, Baker’s aching, confessional music commanded the stage like a headliner. She even got a full nightclub to stay silent for the majority of her set, which is a pretty major accomplishment in and of itself.
Honorable mentions: Bully/Palehound/Big Eyes (Jan. 28, Crowbar), Napalm Death/Melvins/Melt Banana (Apr. 9, Orpheum), Screaming Females/Aye Nako (May 20, New World Brewery), Toys That Kill/Tenement/others (Oct. 27, Tequila’s), Tegan and Sara/Torres (Nov. 15, Ritz Ybor).
-- Jimmy Geurts