The best Tampa Bay concerts of 2013, Part 3: Justin Bieber, Coastline Festival, Twenty One Pilots and more
(All week on Soundcheck, our contributors are looking back at the best local concerts of 2013. Today: Hannah Elliott and Max Asayesh-Brown, music critics for the Tampa Bay Times’ high school newspaper, tb-two*.)
This was a somewhat odd and sporadic year of music for me. I felt a little oppressed by school, and it kept me from being able to justify driving to Orlando to gritty music venues on “school nights” (My lameness is cringe-worthy, I know). I went to Bonnaroo for the second time in June, which fulfilled a large portion of my live music cravings for the year, and the rest was satisfied by whatever concert I was lucky enough to find myself able to attend. Therefore, I wouldn’t necessarily say these were my favorites, rather an appreciation for what I ended up with.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals/Futurebirds (Feb. 15, Jannus Live): Grace Potter graced the St. Pete crowd with her sultry voice and southern rocker sex appeal. The crowd jammed and hung on her every note. She radiated a power that was hard to resist. Covering songs such as Paint It Black and Free Fallin’, she enticed the crowd further. Her opening band, though, cannot go unnoticed. The Futurebirds brought a fresh pyschadelic twang that left me in awe. Their energy was contagious, and their passion for performing was impossible to ignore.
Gasparilla Music Festival (March 9, Curtis Hixon Park): Ever since a promising kickoff in 2012, Gasparilla Music Festival has kept growing, and it was strikingly evident at this year’s event. There were loads of people, ranging from 10-year-olds to their grandparents. For that one blissful, spring day GMF was the place to be, and it felt like it. Best Coast and Lord Huron were standouts, delivering memorable sets. This festival is on route to become legendary, and from its past successes its continued growth will be something you won’t want to miss.
Justin Bieber (Aug. 8, Tampa Bay Times Forum): It was my fourth time seeing the Biebs, and the fourth time meeting him. This concert occurred amid much of his troublemaking. It seemed as if the crowd was holding its breath, questioning if Bieber would even show up. But to the relief of some and the surprise of others, he came and performed the usual bombastic, swag-littered set and let his fans know if there was one thing he still had a grip of, it was his ability to put on a show.
Coastline Festival (Nov. 9, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater): The first annual Coastline Festival transported its attendees to a blissfully simple place where The Neighborhood could provide sweet background music for grabbing a free ice cream bar. Matt and Kim delivered a set that earned a spot on the list of best sets I’ve ever seen. The bands were happy to be there, they performed spotless sets of seamless groove, and the crowd sent the love right back to them. I’ve been to festivals at the amphitheater before where the crowd seemed completely detached from the bands, but Coastline managed to balance nicely between concrete and grassy bliss; concertgoers could go from lounging in the grass to raging to Two Door Cinema Club as strobe lights bounced from all sides of the amphitheater.
— Hannah Elliott, tb-two*
Twenty One Pilots (March 23, State Theatre): The Ohio “schizoid-pop” duo returned to St. Pete, one of their favorite locations, for undoubtedly one of the year’s best shows. Frontman Tyler Joseph and Josh Dunn treated a full house at the State Theatre to a medley of their sophisticated and incredible discography, with everything from a pulse-pounding drum battle to ukulele rap to everything in between. The show suffered from an overdose of opening acts but Twenty One Pilots’ phenomenal stage presence and emotional commitment made it all worthwhile.
— Max Asayesh-Brown, tb-two*