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This week in Tampa: Sunset Music Festival, 97X BBQ, Ellie Goulding, R. Kelly and more

It's Memorial Day weekend, which means it's time for the biggest EDM event of the year in Tampa Bay: The Sunset Music Festival, with Hardwell, the Chainsmokers, Galantis and Jack U, a.k.a. Skrillex and Diplo, above.

But that also means a crazy week of concerts all over the place. You've also got the 97X BBQ with Young the Giant, Bear Hands, the Strumbellas and more. And then there are shows by Ellie Goulding, R. Kelly, Joe Walsh, Bad Company, Blues Traveler, Brandy Clark, Kirk Franklin, Magic!, Matt and Kim, Eve 6, Drag the River, Passafire, Riddle of Steel, Prince Paul, State Champion, Here Come the Mummies and more. Here to walk you through it all are Jay Cridlin and Ray Roa...

Ellie Goulding
With Matt and Kim
THURSDAY 7 p.m. Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $21.75 and up. (813) 301-2500,
The list of women under 30 who can headline arenas all across America isn’t long: Taylor Swift, Adele, Rihanna, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande ... and now Ellie Goulding, whose Delirium World Tour hits Tampa on Thursday. Since emerging into the electronic pop realm in 2010 with her debut album Lights, the 29-year-old Brit always seemed like an indie, almost folkish spirit, though one with a proven ability to write hits. On Her Mind, from last year’s Delirium, is her fourth to crack the Top 15 of the Billboard Hot 100, following Lights, Burn and the Grammy-nominated Love Me Like You Do. Co-written with Swedish pop maestro Max Martin, it’s perfectly on trend with the vague dancehall sensibility of many modern hits, from its skittery percussion and synthesizers to its slinky, hypnotic guitar riff. “It’s just a good song, just a good hook, a good melody, and I love the guitar,” she said. “As soon as I heard it, I knew it had my name written on it, regardless of it being something I’d never done before. I just knew it was for me.”

Sunset Music Festival
With Hardwell, Galantis, 3LAU, Borgeous, Audien, Seven Lions, Ferry Corsten, Tritonal, Claude VonStroke, more (Saturday); Jack U, the Chainsmokers, Cash Cash, Jauz, Marshmello, Borgore, Anna Lunoe, Zomboy, Snails, Bro Safari, Sam Feldt, Thomas Jack, more (Sunday)
SATURDAY-SUNDAY 2 p.m. Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Tickets start at $109 per day, $189 for the weekend.
During their set at this year’s Coachella, the Chainsmokers trotted out guests like Tiesto, G-Eazy, Walk the Moon and, no joke, Third Eye Blind. Things might not get that crazy when they play this year’s Sunset Music Festival, but Alex Pall isn’t worried it’ll feel like a letdown. “Obviously we’re going to plan this set accordingly to Tampa, which goes f---ing hard,” he gushed in a recent phone interview. “It should be sick. I looked at the lineup for Sunday, and it’s probably one of the best lineups I’ve seen this year.” A big reason for that are the Chainsmokers themselves, who might be the hottest EDM act in the world, with a smash single, Don’t Let Me Down, soaring up the Billboard Hot 100. Toss in fellow headliners Jack U (a.k.a. Skrillex and Diplo, perhaps you’ve heard of them), Hardwell (voted multiple times as the world’s No. 1 DJ) and Galantis (the rising Swedes behind Runaway (U & I)), plus dozens of other top DJs, and you’ve got another winning lineup for Sunset, one of the biggest events on Tampa’s music calendar. Half the fun at Sunset is dressing in outlandish costumes, peacocking and people-watching and stalking out oddballs for selfies. But it’s also known for surprise guests (Juanes, Lil Jon and Hulk Hogan have all popped in the last two years) and some of the largest, most otherworldly stages you’ll ever see. And if you’re not tuckered out at the end of the night, there are two DJ-led after-parties each night: Seven Lions at the Ritz Ybor and NGHTMRE at the Orpheum on Saturday; the Chainsmokers at the Ritz and Zomboy at the Cuban Club on Sunday. Those tickets are $20-$25.

With Young the Giant, the Strumbellas, JR JR, Never Shout Never, Bear Hands, Joywave, the Wombats, Finish Ticket, more
SATURDAY noon. Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg. Free tickets available (see for drop locations), $20 and up otherwise.
This Memorial Day weekend, let freedom ring. It’s the return of the 97X BBQ, the annual alt-rock backyard bash where entry is as complimentary as the ketchup on your hot dog. Organizers 97X have been handing out free tickets over the air and at drops all over Tampa Bay, though you can avoid the hassle and splurge on GA ($20) or VIP ($60 and up) passes through Ticketmaster. Beyond dynamic California headliners Young the Giant (My Body, Cough Syrup, It’s About Time), the lineup reflects the station’s increasingly eclectic, pop-leaning tastes. There’s the Strumbellas, who have one of the year’s breakout singles in the folk-poppy Spirits; frequent Warped Tour folkies (and emo-tween pinups) Never Shout Never; melodic rockers Finish Ticket and synth-based acts JR JR, Bear Hands, Joywave and the Wombats.

R. Kelly
FRIDAY 8 p.m. Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $65 and up. (813) 301-2500,

R. Kelly titled his most recent album The Buffet, because of course he did. His songs are all-you-can-eat smorgasbords of Caligulan desires, spread wide and glistening beneath the hot lamps of the world’s most inappropriate Piccadilly. “My sex is poetic / I’m about to get you mad pregnant,” he moans on Poetic Sex. “Let’s get away from population / Take you on a sex vacation,” he warbles on Sextime. These are real songs, by the way — and in true R. Kelly fashion, they’re as awesome as they are ridiculous. Professing your love for Robert Sylvester Kelly isn’t easy in 2016; his myriad legal troubles over the years have made too many of his sweat-laden sex jams feel uncomfortably #problematic. But on purely musical terms, if you allow Kelly to enter your boudoir, you might come to respect him for who he is: The king of ’90s R&B, whose gift for penning over-the-top booty-knockers spawned a generation of Chris Browns and Weeknds and Jeremihs. Ludicrous lyrics aside, The Buffet is a pretty good album, Kelly’s strongest in years, organic and funky and adventurous. Help yourself to a portion, and you dive back in for seconds.

Brandy Clark
With Levon, Amber Lynn Nicol
FRIDAY 7 p.m. Ferg’s Live, 490 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Free. (813) 443-8403,
Talk about an interesting culture clash. On Friday night in downtown Tampa, as R. Kelly is slinging sex and sweat across the street at Amalie Arena, Brandy Clark dish out a dose or two of hard truth at Ferg’s Live. The singer-songwriter, who’s penned hits for Miranda Lambert (Mama’s Broken Heart), the Band Perry (Better Dig Two) and Kacey Musgraves (Follow Your Arrow), will give Tampa fans a preview of her second album Big Day in a Small Town, two weeks before its release. So far, her new material recaptures the flinty fire of her acclaimed 2013 debut 12 Stories, which earned her a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. “I’ve never been to jail, but hell, I wouldn’t put it past me,” she snarls on Girl Next Door, one of the album’s many unflinching looks at love and hard living. “Love can go to hell like roses in a vase of whiskey / dyin’ for the way you used to kiss me,” she wails on Love Can Go to Hell. Considering Clark frequently plays much bigger venues opening for the likes of Eric Church, Alan Jackson and Jennifer Nettles, the chance to see her at a club like Ferg’s Live — for free, no less — is not to be missed. She might even pull a few fans over from Mr. Bump & Grind.

Kirk Franklin
THURSDAY 8 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. $57 and up. (727) 791-7400,

A gospel superstar titling an album Losing My Religion: Spiritual statement, or shrewd marketing? For Kirk Franklin, it’s a bit of both. The singer, songwriter and choir director is in no danger of losing his own faith, but he has said the album is meant to stir more thoughtful, less judgmental feelings among some members of his flock. “I wanted to talk about several subjects that sometimes get lost in people when they’re trying to be religious,” he’s said. Respect, humility, a sense of just trying to get by in a difficult world — Franklin tackles it all on his 2015 album. His message is hitting home, too. Over the last few months, the nine-time Grammy winner has found himself performing with Chance the Rapper and appearing on Kanye West’s latest album, proof that the so-called “gospel rap” movement that he helped create isn’t losing steam.

Eve 6
With Oz, Christina Holmes, Four Star Riot, Empire Cinema
THURSDAY 8 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $18. (813) 241-8600.
Put your tender heart in a blender and watch it spin around until you think it’s 1998 again because it’s going to feel that way when Eve 6 take to Ybor City for a night of nostalgia. The band responsible for Inside Out, Here’s to the Night and Think Twice are playing much stranger venues on this tour (the June 25 date at a Wisconsin sports bar stands out), but there should be nothing odd about watching frontman Max Collins lead the band through an all-too-skinny discography that hasn’t produced new music since 2012. Fans picked the band’s live set list via an online poll, so expect them to be singing loud to every word as well.

With DJ Skribble, #NOFILTER, Dosage
SATURDAY 1 p.m. Shephard’s Beach Resort, 619 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach. $10. (727) 441-6875.
Can the song of summer 2014 still kick off 2016’s season of sun and sand? Shephard’s is hoping so this weekend when they welcome Canadian reggae-rockers Magic! to Clearwater Beach for their annual Memorial Day throwdown. The band’s big hit, Rude, is widely recognized the world over, which would be bad news for a lukewarm new single (Lay You Down Easy with Sean Paul) if it weren’t for the fact that partygoers this weekend are all just looking for any reason to let loose. DJ Skribble leads a supporting bill that sets up the rest of the weekend’s activities, which include sets from Dutch EDM producer R3hab, Michigan knob-turner Elephante, Tampa country bros Soul Circus Cowboys and more. Additional information and schedule details are available at

Joe Walsh
With Bad Company, Steve Rodgers
SATURDAY 6:30 p.m. MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $20-$119.95. (813) 740-2446.
Despite this year’s tragic loss of Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey, life has still been pretty good to Joe Walsh. The 68-year-old classic rock icon is going on tour to celebrate. He’s tapped longtime friend Paul Rodgers to bring his own band — Bad Company — along for the eight-week, 25-stop co-headlining jaunt, which swings by the Amp on Saturday. Rodgers, 66, upped the ante by adding his own son, songwriter Steve Rodgers, to open the show. Expect all the hits from Walsh (Life’s Been Good, Rocky Mountain Way) and nothing less from Bad Company. “I always hoped that we would do something,” Paul Rodgers said in a statement announcing the tour, “so here we are 30 years later finally touring together. It has taken us this long, so I wouldn’t miss it.”

Riddle of Steel
With Traindodge, Auto! Automatic!!
SATURDAY 8 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $7. (813) 241-8600.
Almost a decade after their latest album (1985, released in 2008) redefined how to expertly marry power pop, punk, and metal, Riddle of Steel are dusting off the band, temporarily quitting retirement and going back on tour. The St. Louis indie-prog trio had their first rehearsal back together less than a month ago, but their body of work suggests the boys — Andrew Elsner, Jimmy Vavak, and Rob Smith — are more than up to the task of re-creating the way only they could blend the worlds of King Crimson, Fugazi, the Posies and Cheap Trick into something very easy for the ear holes to consume. Oklahoma City’s Traindodge bring the crunch of their own brand of pop-tinged, head-banging heavy rock to open this show, which features a one-off reunion of beloved Tampa instrumental rock triumvirate Auto! Automatic!!

Prince Paul
With DJ Jay A. Vee, Jinx, Mike Mass, DJ Deacon, DJ Mega, DJ Fader, DJ Qeys, DJ Blenda, DJ Lesage, DJ Casper
SUNDAY 5 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. Free. (813) 241-8600.
A whole half decade. It’s incredible to think that it’s been that long since Ol’ Dirty Sundays (ODS) arrived to mess up Monday mornings forever, but low and behold, they’ve done it. The weekly, old-school hip-hop, funk, reggae, and soul party celebrates five years of their unique block party by inviting one of the most respected names in hip-hop, Prince Paul, to man the ones and twos. The 49-year-old producer born Paul Edward Houston left his mark on countless, genre-changing projects, but none of it stands more significant than what was achieved on De La Soul’s debut 3 Feet High and Rising where he helped the band reference disco, soul and even country in a way that left rap music changed forever. Emcees Mike Mass and Jinx lead a lineup of local talent (including ODS co-founders Mega, Blenda, Lesage and Casper) that will take over Crowbar’s patio to close out Memorial Day weekend.

State Champion
With Fever Hands, Funhater
SUNDAY 6 p.m. Microgroove, 4906 N Florida Ave., Tampa. Donations accepted. (813) 667-7089.
While beach bars light up barbecue grills and nightclubs welcome big-name DJs to help celebrate the start of summer, Seminole Heights’ record store, Microgroove, is keeping things inside and air-conditioned with a show of their own. There’s no cover for this one (although they will pass the hat to make sure the bands have enough gas to get to the next town), and it’ll behoove music fans to get there early to see St. Pete noise punks Funhater kick off the show, which also includes ex-Memphibians members recollected under the Fever Hands moniker. Headlining are Louisville- and Chicago-repping quartet State Champion, who wield a ramshackle hybrid of country, punk, and rock ’n’ roll that is perfect for the kind of windows-down, sweaty drives through the countryside they’re executing on this month-long tour of the South, East Coast and Midwest.

With Jahfe, Resinated, Sidereal
SUNDAY 7 p.m. Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $10-$15. (727) 565-0550.
It takes a miserable kind of person to completely hate the new school of reggae revivalists. Sure, much of what’s out there is a long leap from the things Tosh, Marley and Coore were doing in the 1970s, but bands like Rebelution, Pepper, Sublime with Rome and Dirty Heads have all done just fine paying tribute to their genre forefathers. On Sunday, one of reggae-rock’s longest running outfits, Passafire, billows into the ’Burg for an afternoon of introspective, feel-good vibes. Miami’s Jahfe bring a more roots-based sound to the bill and Tampa Bay’s own Resinated round all of it out with their own  irie, Madeira-meets-Long Beach approach.

Drag the River
With The Tim Version, Jeff Brawer, Branden Barnett
THURSDAY 8 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $7. (813) 248-4969.
Back in the 1990s, Los Angeles punks All were a post-Descendents solution for fans heartbroken over Milo Aukerman’s decision to go to college. Chad Price got in on that action for All’s latest albums, but he’s best known as the frontman of Drag the River, an alt-country group he formed alongside folk-punk hero Jon Snodgrass. Together, Price and Snodgrass have released seemingly countless demos, 7-inches and EPs along with their two full-lengths (a 2013 self-titled effort, and 2008’s You Can’t Live This Way) all showcasing a seasoned, barroom-ready confessional style of songwriting that celebrates losers, loneliness and heartbreak in surprisingly addictive fashion. The support bill is a who’s-who of local songwriters, meaning this one is going to be nothing short of a loud, loose singalong.

Also Playing

Here Come the Mummies, Fri. With Noah Guthrie, Ari & The Alibis. 5:30 p.m. Cleveland Street, Downtown Clearwater. Free ($25-$45 for VIP). (727) 791-7400.

Kane Brown, Fri. 7 p.m. The Dallas Bull, 3322 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $10-$15. (813) 987-2855.
Tony Tyler Band, Fri. With Grape Soda. 8 p.m. Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $7-$10. (813) 971-0666.

Blues Traveler, Sat. With Mighty Mongo, Gritt, Southern Train, KEKO & Mo’ Gravy, The Tattered Saints, The Stone City. Noon. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. $20 and up. (813) 274-8677.

The Applebutter Express, Sat. 8:30 p.m. The Ale and the Witch, 111 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 821-2533.

Ignite the Night 2-Year Anniversary, Sat. With Gus Maximus, Shred, Ari Chi, HMTWN, Mighty Jai, more. 9 p.m. Pegasus Lounge, 10008 N 30th St., Tampa. $10. (813) 971-1679.

NGHTMRE, Sat. With. 10:30 p.m. Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $25-$30. (813) 248-9500.

Memorial Day Sandbar Concert, Sun. With Hal Hammer Jr. and the Cross Creek Blues Band, Ken Keller, Red Hawk, Sweet Pea and Michael McMagic. Noon. “P” Channel, 2189 Tanglewood Way NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 282-4425.

Hellmass, Sun. With Meatwound, Grave Ascension, Cult Indoctrination. 8 p.m. American Legion Hall Seminole Post 111, 6928 Florida Ave., Tampa. Donations Accepted. (813) 236-2281.

The Urbane Cowboys, Sun. With The Dram, Hurley Bois. 9 p.m. The Hub, 519 N Franklin St., Tampa.  Free. (813) 229-1553.

Naked Naps, Sun. With Big Brother, Snacking. 9 p.m. The Bends, 919 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 202-8931.

Los Bronson, Sun. With Soxx, Luxury Mane, Johnny Mile and the Kilometers. 9 p.m. The Amsterdam, 1049 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $5. (727) 623-4950.

Zomboy, Sun. 10 p.m. Cuban Club, 2010 N Avenida Republica De Cuba, Ybor City. $25. (813) 248-2954.

Taake , Mon. With Wolvhammer. 7 p.m. Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $15-$18. (813) 248-9500.

Rings of Saturn, Wed. With The Browning, Lorna Shore. 6 p.m. Transitions Art Gallery, 4215 E Columbus Drive, Tampa. $15. (813) 382-3477.

Rock the Park Tampa, Thur. 6:30 p.m. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. Free. (813) 274-8677.

-- Jay Cridlin and Ray Roa

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 4:09pm]


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