This week in Tampa: Chicago, Earth, Wind and Fire, Third Eye Blind, Migos, Johnny Mathis and more
It's an eclectic week of music in Tampa Bay, bringing together legends like Johnny Mathis with up-and-comers like Migos. Other big names on the calendar this week: Third Eye Blind (above), Chicago, Earth, Wind and Fire, Boombox Cartel, the Baseball Project, Chino y Nacho, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Of Montreal, Ryan Montbleau, Lil Wyte, Young Dolph, Cormac McCarthy and more. Here to walk you through it all are Jay Cridlin and Ray Roa...
With Gary Mule Deer
THURSDAY March 31. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. Sold out. (727) 791-7400.
This is legendary crooner Johnny Mathis’s 60th year in show business, a milestone few pop artists can match. A barrier-breaking teen idol whose career and influence stretch from Tin Pan Alley to the modern era (fans of Sam Smith might find much to love in his gentle, lilting tenor), the Texas-born, California-raised Mathis is one of the 20th century’s iconic vocalists, with his holiday albums and hits like Chances Are and Wonderful! Wonderful! considered American classics. And at age 80, he’s rolling right ahead with a tour that will bring him to Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall on March 31. “When the opportunities come along, you want to take them,” Mathis said in a recent phone interview. “You’ve got to leave space along the way to live, and to do the fun stuff.”
Chicago and Earth, Wind and Fire
SATURDAY 7:30 p.m. MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $18.95 and up. (813) 740-2446.
It’s surprising it took so long for Chicago and Earth, Wind and Fire to hook up for their first co-headlining tour in 2004. Horn-powered powerhouses from the city of Chicago, they’ve left an indelible impact on pop and party music over the past 50 years. Earth, Wind and Fire was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and in two weeks, after decades of fan lobbying, Chicago will finally join them. At Saturday’s co-headlining show in Tampa, both bands will play a couple of songs together, then do individual headlining sets, then reunite at the end for an all-star finale. If you feel like heading out early, Chicago will appear at a signing for their new book Chicago’s Legacy of Rock, Horns and Hits from 5 to 6 p.m. at Tampa’s Hard Rock Cafe inside the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. It’s free and open to the public, but there is one slight catch: They’re only signing copies of the book (no merch or memorabilia), and the books are $25 apiece. Still, that’s a small price to pay for the chance to hobnob with rock 'n’ roll royalty, right?
Third Eye Blind
SUNDAY 6 p.m. Busch Gardens, 10165 McKinley Drive, Tampa. Included with park admission. buschgardens.com.
Third Eye Blind fans who bought tickets to December’s Mix 100.7 Mistletoe Show in Clearwater didn’t exactly get their money’s worth. The vastly underrated ’90s rockers played all of six songs before yielding the stage to Rob Thomas, prompting cries from diehard fans for another Tampa Bay tour stop in 2016. They’ll get it on Sunday at Busch Gardens’ Food and Wine Festival, where Third Eye Blind will deliver more new songs from 2015’s Dopamine and, hopefully, plenty of old material, too. Non-fans have every right to be skeptical about Third Eye Blind’s ability to wow crowds in 2016. Many radio rock bands of their vintage haven’t aged well; a lot have simply broken up. But Stephan Jenkins could craft a memorable guitar-rock song as well as any songwriter of his generation (just try and pretend you don’t still know all the lyrics to Semi-Charmed Life). They may be playing a theme-park food festival in Tampa, but they’re also playing Bonnaroo in June — a testament to the quality and nostalgic punch of their music. Time will be kind to Third Eye Blind, just you wait and see.
The Baseball Project
SATURDAY 8:30 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $15-$18. ticketfly.com.
R.E.M. may be long gone, but at least we still have the Baseball Project. An indie-rock supergroup consisting of R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills, the Minus 5’s Scott McCaughey, the Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn and drummer Linda Pitmon, the Baseball Project is more of a lighthearted lark than a globe-conquering rock band. Instead of singing about the end of the world as we know it, they sing about America’s pastime, filling several albums with ditties about stars from Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson to Harvey Haddix and Fernando Valenzuela. They play for fun in much smaller venues than Mills was used to with R.E.M. — including Crowbar on Saturday. They’ll be hitting some spring training during their tour, so keep an eye out at Yankees, Blue Jays or Phillies games.
Blast Friday: Atlanta Rhythm Section
With Ellie Lee & Blues Fury
FRIDAY 5:30 p.m. 405 Cleveland Street, Downtown Clearwater. Free ($25-$45 for VIP). (727) 791-7400.
The term “radio-ready” often gets misinterpreted to mean “watered-down” or just plain boring, and while a lot of the Atlanta Rhythm Section’s material does come off a bit tame compared to the Skynyrds and Allmans, it certainly isn’t elevator music. The band’s late bass player (Paul Goddard, who died in 2014 after a battle with cancer) is responsible for one of the dankest bass solos in Southern rock (1978’s Another Man’s Woman), and the rest of the band still knows how to recreate the magic they started in a little Doraville, Georgia recording studio over four decades ago. The Blast Friday party is free to attend, but if you want to get a little closer to the action (and enjoy free adult beverages), VIP tickets are available for $25-$45.
FRIDAY 7 p.m. Orpheum, 1915 E. 7th Ave., Ybor City. $12-$15. (813) 248-9500.
Metal might be the genre that is forever misunderstood. There are so many subgenres, and to an outsider it might all look like a bunch of headbanging and drum kit abuse. Intronaut is a good gateway into the nuance and complexity of it all. The Los Angeles four-piece has now been at it for a decade and have constructed a bridge between hard, ear-splitting riffs and tenets of other genres like jazz and prog-rock. Fast Worms, the epic, seven-minute opener from the band’s 2015 effort, The Direction of Last Things, is a prime example. It opens with aggressive double bass and scorched earth vocals from frontman/guitarist Sacha Dunable, but quickly unfolds into a sprawling, polyrhythmic affair that features lots of silence, tempo changes, and at least one weird bass solo.
The Music Box: Tampa Bay
With Ray Villadonga & The Modified Mosquito Massive
FRIDAY & SATURDAY 7 p.m. Community Stepping Stones at Mann-Wagnon Park, 1101 E. River Cove St., Tampa. Free with ticket. (813) 974-4133 or cam.usf.edu/musicbox.
In a quiet corner of Sulphur Springs, just a short walk away from the neighborhood’s legendary Springs Theatre, a park has been transformed into a veritable musical fantasy land. Grassy berms are equipped with speakers inside of them, garden tools are also playable instruments, and a collective of New Orleans artists have created large structures that, when occupied and operated by humans, create songs and sound that promise to be as magical as the Hillsborough River that flows next to it all. The experiment comes to the impoverished Tampa neighborhood thanks to USF’s Contemporary Art Museum and is part of a month-long, interactive installation that will feature local musicians composing pieces specifically for the sonic playground and performing them live for an audience. Tampa music maestro Ray Villadonga gets first crack over the weekend. Tickets are free, but seats are limited for this one-of-a-kind event.
With Christian Alexander, Winta, $mgglr
FRIDAY 10 p.m. Amphitheatre Event Facility, 1609 E. Seventh Ave., Ybor City. Free. (813) 873-8368.
Almost like clockwork, Friday nights find kids queueing up on Seventh Avenue to cram into electronic music stronghold Amphitheatre. The venue is rewarding devotees this week by waiving the cover charge and welcoming Boombox Collective to helm the ship. The Los Angeles-based duo have locked into the fast track over the last year, releasing material on both Skrillex’s OWSLA label as well as Diplo’s Mad Decent imprint. Their 2015 hit B2U is still a club staple, and their special brand of future bass is peppered with just the right amount of dancehall (Jamba), trance (Hardcut), and dubstep (Where’s My Money). Their January mix for Diplo’s BBC Radio 1 show is the soundtrack of Spring Break, and expect it to be packed, per usual, tonight. Ladies get in free until midnight, and gentlemen should be there before 11:30 to avoid having to pay to get in.
The Smith Street Band
With Hard Girls, Worriers, Chris Farren
MONDAY 6:30 p.m. Epic Problem, 4215 E. Columbus Dr., Tampa. $12. (813) 382-3477.
Nice guys don’t always have to finish last, just ask the Smith Street Band. Tampa Bay last saw the Australian punks in November when they played a sold-out show opening for The Front Bottoms, but now the boys — led by frontman Wil Wagner — are back on a headlining jaunt of their own. The room will be much smaller this time, but don’t expect it to be any less packed with fans ready to sing along with Wagner’s sad sap, weirdly inspirational, Aussie-accented blend of folk and punk. Mikey Erg’s Worriers project opens alongside San Jose punks Hard Girls. This show has a nice hometown touch, too, thanks to Fake Problems frontman Chris Farren, who’ll be driving up from Naples to kick it all off with a set in advance of his upcoming tour with Laura Stevenson.
WEDNESDAY 7:45 p.m. Kapok Pilates and Wellness, 908 N. McMullen-Booth Rd., Clearwater. $10. (727) 365-8574.
She can’t even legally have a drink, but 19-year-old Olivia Millerschin has already achieved so much. The Detroit singer-songwriter won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2014, and she’s toured over 40 cities alongside Howie Day, Tyler Hilton and Teddy Geiger. Her voice — super clean and soothingly mellow — catapulted her to the quarterfinals during season nine of NBC’s America’s Got Talent, and now it brings her to Clearwater as part of the Listening Room Festival, which brings over a dozen Southeastern songwriters to the Tampa Bay area from March 28 - April 3. Millerschin shines on covers of Bon Iver (Skinny Love) and Sam Smith (Stay With Me), but the chance to watch her work through her own material in these early days is one that shouldn’t be skipped. (She’s also playing a few St. Pete shows — Saturday at Furnish Me Vintage and Thursday at Hideaway Cafe.)
With Pillar Point
THURSDAY 8 p.m. Orpheum, 1915 E. 7th Ave., Ybor City. $18-$21. (813) 248-9500.
For two decades, Kevin Barnes has been indie rock’s Prince of All Things Weird. Whether it’s riding a horse on stage or playing a show in crotchless britches, there is almost nothing the 41-year-old songwriter and Of Montreal frontman won’t do. He’s been accused of megalomania from time to time, and a 2014 documentary — The Past Is A Grotesque Animal — takes a candid look at the sacrifices his wife and child had to make to be in his life. But there is no denying the way Barnes has spent his adult life relentlessly chasing and cultivating the sounds and sights swirling violently inside of his restless mind. Expect this performance to cover the breadth of his career where he’s crafted masterpieces in sweet sentimental folk while also exploring a funky and experimental psych-pop side that’s made him one of the most enigmatic and beloved names touring today.
With DJ Shotgunn, DJ Black Haze, DJ Daddie Fresh
THURSDAY 10 p.m. Club Skye, 1509 E. 8th Ave., Ybor City. $30-$50 (Free before 11 p.m.) (813) 247-6606.
You won’t pay a cover if you get to Club Skye before 11 p.m. on Thursday night. There’s no guarantee, however, on how long you’ll wait to see Migos hit the stage since headlining sets start notoriously late at the Ybor City nightclub. The Atlanta trio are back at full strength this year after the December release of one of their members, Offset, who served eight months in prison on weapons and drugs charges. The boys — who famously brought the “dab” dance craze to the mainstream — are looking to reinvent themselves and evolve the rowdy, club-shaking brand of hip hop that’s propelled them to popularity, so expect them to definitely work through hits like Hannah Montana, Fight Night, and Handsome and Wealthy at this one, but also give fans a glimpse of what’s next.
Ryan Montbleau, Fri. 6:30 p.m. Craftsman House Gallery, 2955 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $25. (727) 323-2787.
DanahKae, Fri. 8 p.m. Sacred Grounds, 4819 E. Busch Blvd, Tampa. Donations Accepted. (813) 983-0837.
Damon Fowler, Fri. 8:30 p.m. The Ale and The Witch, 111 2nd. Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. Free, (727) 821-2533.
Lil Wyte, Fri. With Big Henry, Shawty Fatt, Dangeruss, Ken Kong, more. 9 p.m. The Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $15-$20. Facebook.com/thelocal662.
Bengali 600, Fri. With DJ Pete Bones. 9 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E. Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $8. (813) 248-4969.
Trigger City Trio, Fri. 10 p.m. Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café, 5119 N. Nebraska, Ave., Tampa, Free. (813) 234-1000.
Danielle DeCosmo (Album Release), Sat. With Mountain Holler, Blackbird Morning. 6 p.m. The Hideaway Café, 1756 Central Ave., St Petersburg. $8. (727) 644-7895.
Aegea (CD Release), Sat. With Sunshine & Bullets, From This Fire. 7 p.m. The Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $7-$10. Facebook.com/thelocal662.
Hellgore Fest 3, Sat. With Three Knuckles Deep, Mad Splatter, Shattered, Blood Rapture, Sledgegrinder, Contorted, Dark Disciple . 7 p.m. The Brass Mug, 1450 Skipper Rd., Tampa. $8-$10. (813) 972-8152.
Chino y Nacho Sat. 6 p.m. Busch Gardens, 10165 McKinley Drive, Tampa. Included with park admission. buschgardens.com.
One Eyed Doll, Sat. With Eyes Set To Kill, Open Your Eyes, The Cunningham Wake, The Dood, Progressive Chemistry. 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $15-$17. (727) 895-3045.
Pangea Project No. 64, Sat. With Zach Cooper, Infinite Third, DC9V, Jason Bundy, more. 8 p.m. The Venture Compound, 2621 Fairfield Ave. S., St. Petersburg $8. (901) 619-1519.
Veiny Hands, Sat. With Jellyfish Brothers, Reality Asylum. 10 p.m. The Bends, 919 1st. Ave. St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 202-8931.
Young Dolph, Sun. With Young Dro, Nino, DJ Winn, Radio Jamez. 10 p.m. Club Skye, 1509 E. 8th Ave., Ybor City. $16.82 & up. (813) 247-6606.
Cormac McCarthy, Thurs. 7 p.m. Studio@620, 1st Ave. S., St. Petersburg. $20. (727) 895-6620.
Voodoo Visionary, Thurs. With The Groove Orient. 8 p.m. Dunedin Brewery, 937 Douglas Ave., Dunedin. Free. (727) 736-0606.
-- Jay Cridlin and Ray Roa