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The top 10 Tampa music stories of 2013, No. 1: Live Nation transforms Tampa Bay's festival scene



(Through the end of the year on Soundcheck, we’re counting down some of the top local music stories of 2013.)

Festivals seem to come and go in Tampa Bay. The Gasparilla Music Festival has proven to be a huge success, but Antiwarpt imploded in 2013, and Tropical Heatwave seems to struggle to keep up.

It was in this climate that Live Nation decided to go all-in on music festivals in 2013.

The concert promotions giant launched three huge new festivals in Tampa Bay this year -- January's Sunshine Music and Blues Festival, May's Funshine Music Festival and November's Coastline Festival -- each one serving a different market.

Sunshine was a straight-up blues festival. Not like Tampa Bay needs another one of those, right? But it was a success, and a big enough of one to merit a return in 2014 -- it'll be back at Vinoy Park on Jan. 19, with headliners Tedeschi Trucks Band.

Funshine is also coming back, but Live Nation admitted it didn't get everything quite right in the first year, and so it's changing things up with a new name and format that targets a younger demographic. (We've heard some lineup rumors, and if it all comes together, it's going to be one heck of a show.) Coastline is also expected to return next fall.

The impact of these festivals is greater than you might realize. Live Nation carries a ton of weight in the concert industry, and these sorts of collective events can be convenient and, ultimately, profitable ways to convince acts to come to Florida (just look at the job Live Nation has done running Wanee in Live Oak).

But it must also be noted that Coastline turned out to be a big swing at local alt-rock station 97X and their annual Next Big Thing concert, which relocated from the Live Nation-managed Amphitheatre to Vinoy Park a couple of years ago. Several of the acts at Coastline were undoubtedly being targeted for Next Big Thing just a month later. It'll be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out in 2014.

Finally, no discussion of Live Nation in Tampa in 2014 can take place without noting the ongoing odyssey of Tampa's outdoor shed, which began the year as the 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre, quietly renamed itself the Live Nation Amphitheatre, and eventually found a new sponsor, becoming the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. Each of those names is a mumbly mouthful, but at least they bring in some good shows.

Now bring on that Funshine 2014 lineup!

[Last modified: Friday, December 20, 2013 3:16pm]


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