This week in Tampa: Bruno Mars, Backstreet Boys, Toni Braxton and more
Pop wins the week ahead in Tampa Bay, with some of the biggest pop stars of the past 20 years -- Bruno Mars, Backstreet Boys and Toni Braxton -- leading the way. But don't sleep on Chick Corea, Bela Fleck, Fitz and the Tantrums, Jars of Clay, Aaron Carter, Mickey Avalon, Chico Mann, Rich Homie Quan, MC Chris, Don Walrus, Jesse McCartney, DJ Pauly D, Adventure Club and more.
Here to walk you through it all is Ray Roa...Bruno Mars
With Fitz and the Tantrums
WEDNESDAY 7:30 p.m. Tampa Bay Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $37.25-$81.25.(813) 301-2500.
Bruno Mars is considered a unique 21st century singer-songwriter-producer — even though half of the Honolulu native’s music pays homage to the style of others. Wiggly synth cut Treasure, yet another smash from latest album Unorthodox Jukebox, is a dead ringer for circa-1982 Prince. The reggae-rock of Locked Out of Heaven was a jaw-dropping nod to the early work of Sting and the Police. Mars started out as pure pop guy (Just the Way You Are, Grenade), but he’s become obsessed with his encyclopedic music smarts. No one seems to have a problem with it. For all his myriad influences, Mars, who can dance as well as sing, is routinely compared to someone previously incomparable: the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Whether that high praise is justified isn’t the issue; no, the fact that he’s even in the same breath is impressive enough. — Sean Daly
WEDNESDAY 7:30 p.m. Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $45.50-$99.50. themahaffey.com.
It’s been five years since a lupus diagnosis sidelined R&B singer Toni Braxton’s career. Just before the diagnosis, she was performing nightly at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino to crowds of adoring fans. She said doctors told her illness meant she may never be able to do that again. So she left the stage behind to seek treatment and raise her two son, Denim and Diezel. Since then, she became a part of a hit reality series about her family of singing sisters, We TV’s Braxton Family Values; finalized her divorce from Mint Condition’s Keri Lewis; and began recording a new album of duets with songwriter Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. At this tour stop, she plans to bring her hits (Un-Break My Heart, You’re Making Me High), flair and deep soulful voice to gauge whether her body can withstand the rigors of touring. If she holds up, Braxton said she could be back very soon. — Robbyn Mitchell
With Jesse McCartney, DJ Pauly D
FRIDAY 7 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $45.50-$133.25. (813) 740-2446.
Everybody, Backstreet’s back. Alright? After reuniting with oldest boy Kevin Richardson last year, BSB have returned with a headlining jaunt and a brand new album that finds the boys’ ooey-gooey offerings dressed up in the thumping production of today’s club-ready pop. Sure, new stuff like Breathe and Trust Me kind of blends in with everything else on Top 40 radio, but classics like Everybody, Quit Playing Games and I Want It That Way are sure to send the screams of vintage BSB fans (most of whom are now parents and responsible adults with jobs, mortgages, etc.) deep into that Florida State Fairgrounds air. BSB baby brother Aaron Carter has a post-show performance and DJ set the Hard Rock, so expect babysitters to be pulling major overtime on this Friday night.
With Awkward Age, Station Cases, Camp Kidneys
THURSDAY 8 p.m., Epic Problem, 4215 E Columbus Drive, Tampa. $7. (813) 382-3477.
Gainesville would have a long, storied history and permanent place in the annals of a hypothetical Punk Music Hall of Fame. The little college town plays host to a world-famous festival (Fest, now in its 12th year) and its 62 square miles of swampland have birthed some of punk’s greatest bands. Don Walrus (formerly known as Assassinate The Scientist) add another colorful page to those chronicles, and a new, self-titled 7-inch is undeniable sonic proof. The offering clocks in at just 10 minutes, but the songs — bouncy and rife with boundless energy, peppy riffs and breakdowns — beg to be listened to over and again. They pretty much make us want to get sweaty, then pull a double backflip off of a roof and into a refreshing pool of water.
Chick Corea and Bela Fleck
FRIDAY 8 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Rd., Clearwater. $45-$62. (727) 791-7400.
Bela Fleck was just 17 years old when a live performance by jazz pianist Chick Corea inspired him to explore the limits of his own instrument. “I remember having a magic moment when I realized that the notes that were playing were all on my banjo too,” he once said. “I had to go find them.” Fans of the accomplished 55-year-old plucker know that he ended up doing way more that, and they will surely be at Ruth Eckerd, where fellow appreciators of jazz and bluegrass are going to wet themselves over a bill that pairs two virtuosos who will pepper cuts from a 2007 collaborative album, Enchantment, with experimental, groundbreaking, improvised jams that are the Petri dish of sonic evolution.
With Saskatchewan, The Pass
SATURDAY 9 p.m., Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $11-$14. (813) 241-8600.
The last time Tampa saw him was for an outdoor, late-night Cuban Club bandshell set in front of a thin crowd during the waning hours of Tropical Heatwave 2011. While there was a lack of bodies at that performance (we blame alternative rock favorites Cracker, who were playing the same time slot), Chico Mann — a.k.a. Marcos Garcia of genre-bending outfits Antibalas and Daktaris — should play to a much more packed room for this tour stop. The Jersey City producer takes the afrobeat and Latin influence of his other endeavors and blends in sensibilities of disco, electro, soul, hip hop and funk to create songs like Estan Llamando, His Favourite Thing, and Power (Baby, You Got It) that possess a dank, sultry sound that’s almost impossible not to get sweaty and dance to.
SATURDAY 7 p.m., Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $16-$40. (813) 248-9500 or theorpheum.com.
Depending on who you talk to, Mickey Avalon is either the worst or realest thing to ever happen to hip hop. The oddball Los Angeles MC says he’s a convert to Orthodox Judaism and spent time prostituting himself for drugs. He even claims to have dealt pot alongside mom when he was a child. In a more utopian world, that rough life would make for a pretty poignant artistic output, but Avalon’s most well-known songs contain similes about his penis (My Dick), lines about fornication set to ’80s glam-rock riffs (Stroke Me) and stories about bulimic girls obsessed with nice cars and designer clothes (So Rich, So Pretty). A few cuts (Rock Bottom, Waiting To Die) do explore the darker side of addiction and excess, and Avalon has a pretty loyal following, so rolling the dice and making it out to this show might actually be a good idea.
Jars Of Clay
With The Last Bison, A Friendly Reminder
SUNDAY 7 p.m., State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $18. (727) 895-3045.
Ever since their genesis at Greenville College in Illinois way back in the early ’90s, Christian rock outfit Jars Of Clay have spent their career amassing a following of devotees addicted to the band’s uplifting sound, which marries the anthemic, moving qualities of modern praise and worship music with the listener-friendly ideals of the best alternative rock on the radio. Jars’ 16 LPs, live discs and compilations hold enough hits (Love Song For A Savior, Eyes Wide Open, and Two Hands, to name a few) to make them mainstays at Christian rock festivals like Disney World’s Night Of Joy, but they’ll stuff as many bodies as possible into St. Petersburg’s State Theatre for this relatively intimate performance.
Rich Homie Quan
THURSDAY 10 p.m., Club Underground, 802 E Whiting St., Tampa. $TBD. (813) 221-3582.
Dequantes Lamar has Drake feeling some regret as of late. The 23-year-old MC better known as Rich Homie Quan has a hit song, Type Of Way, plastered all over the radio, and Drizzy (who called the cut the “song of the summer”) recently told MTV that he is pretty much face-palming himself after not taking an opportunity to submit a verse to the track. Drake’s loss is everyone else’s gain, however, and the rest of Quan’s output is laced with a whole load of Southern drawl (Difference), hard rhymes (Living For Today) and subtly humble braggadocio (Investment). It’s the fast-rising Atlanta native’s second area appearance in as many months, so expect a packed house at this Labor Day weekend kickoff party.
With Dr. Awkward, Jesse Dangerously, Tribe One
THURSDAY 8 p.m., Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $13. (813) 241-8600.
The sonic bed of MC Chris’ compositions may be rooted in hip hop, but lyrical matter from the 37-year-old nerdcore icon is immensely cerebral, even at its most basic level. His output includes raps from the perspective of different members of the Batman and Justice League comics (Friends and Superfriends EPs), scratch-happy trip hop about failing to impress Alex Trebek (I Lost On Jeopardy), and a 2010 kids album (Marshmellow Playground) that sets a Smashing Pumpkins sample to lyrics about digging in cereal boxes, tiptoeing to the toilet in the middle of the night, and loving mommy and daddy.
Adventure Club Fri. 9 p.m. Amphitheatre, 1609 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $.15 and up (813) 873-8368.
Aaron Carter Fri. Midnight. Hard Rock Cafe, 5223 Orient Road, Tampa. $5-$15. (813) 627-7757.
Francesca Lombardo Fri. 10 p.m. Hyde Park Café, 1806 W Platt St., Tampa. $10 (free for ladies). (813) 254-2233.
Daniel B. Marshall Fri. 8 p.m. Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $7-$10. (813) 971-0666.
Hate Tank Fri. 8 p.m. Brass Mug, 1450 Skipper Road, Tampa. $5. (813) 972-8152.
Steve Arvey Fri. 8 p.m. Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $12-$15. (727) 822-3590.
Romany Passion Fri. 8 p.m. St. Petersburg Nights, 6800 Sunset Way, St. Petersburg. $15. (727) 363-3832.
Supasunk Fri. 10 p.m. Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café, 5119 N Nebraska, Ave., Tampa, Free. (813) 234-1000.
Domino Effect Sat. 9 p.m. Dunedin Brewery, 937 Douglas Ave., Dunedin. Free. (727) 736-0606.
The Meditations Sat. 7 p.m. Jannus Live, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg. $15 and up. (727) 565-0550.
Denise Moore and Then Some Sat. 8 p.m. The Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $16-$21. (727) 822-3590.
Fort Lonesome Sun. 5 p.m. Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $7-$10. (813) 971-0666.
DJ Aze-One Sun. 9 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N. 17th St., Ybor City. Free. (813) 241-8600.
Quincy Mumford and The Reason Why Mon. 7 p.m. Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $8. Facebook.com/thelocal662.
Ex-Breathers Wed. 6 p.m. Mojo Books & Music, 2540 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. $3-$5 suggested donation. (813) 971-9717.
Jason & The Punknecks Thu. 10 p.m. The Hub, 519 N Franklin St., Tampa. Free. (813) 229-1553.
Flagship Thu. 8 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $7. (813) 248-4969.
Kersey Williams Thu. 8 p.m. Fubar, 658 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $3. (727) 424-1809.
-- Ray Roa, tbt*