This week in Tampa: The Weeknd, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Rob Thomas, Matisyahu and more
Two weeks from Christmas is no time to sleep, live music-wise. We've got some major shows coming to Tampa Bay in the coming week, including The Weeknd, Trans-Siberian Orchestra (above), Matisyahu, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Kamelot, Travis Scott, Halsey, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Mike Jones, Mims, Dokken, Quiet Riot, Sister Hazel, Kung Fu, Jackyl, Neil Sedaka, the Black Dahlia Murder, Loudon Wainwright, Rising Appalachia, Sutton Foster and the Mix 100.7 Mistletoe Show with Rob Thomas, Third Eye Blind, Rachel Platten and Jamie Lawson. Here to walk you through it all are Jay Cridlin and Ray Roa...
SUNDAY 3 and 7:30 p.m. Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $33 and up. (813) 301-2500. amaliearena.com.
We’re in Paul O’Neill’s busy time of the year. Even when he gets a day at home in Central Florida, he’s still working as hard as ever. “We just bought our first major recording studio in Tampa,” said O’Neill, the founder and composer of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, who bring their annual holiday spectacular to Amalie Arena for two shows on Sunday. “We have two huge (recording) rooms that we can go in 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We don’t have to wait for time. Florida is basically becoming the center for recording for us right now.” Trans-Siberian Orchestra has always been one of Florida’s grandest musical exports, coalescing around members of hard rock bands like Tampa’s own Savatage, and traveling the globe with their majestic Christmas-themed rock operas. Taking over Temple Terrace’s venerable Morrisound Studios earlier this year just cements their status in the Sunshine State. This year’s holiday tour is based on The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, TSO’s long-running, careermaking PBS special and DVD, though you might also hear songs from Letters From the Labyrinth, their first new album since 2009. But the songs they play are almost secondary to the sprawling, pyro-laden shows they put on. “Our crew is beyond-belief great,” O’Neill said. “If you have a great song, that’s great, but if you have a great production where the lights and the lasers and the pyro and everything else is going off in time, off of one nervous system, it helps to take it to a whole other level.”
With Travis Scott, Halsey
THURSDAY 7:30 p.m. Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $36.25 and up. amaliearena.com.
Three years ago, it would’ve been impossible to imagine the Weeknd headlining an arena like Amalie. He rarely toured, didn’t give interviews, didn’t perform on TV and sang mostly about meaningless sex with drugged-up club girls. Three years later, he still sings a lot about meaningless sex with drugged-up club girls — but in every other respect, he’s an all-new pop star. The Canadian crooner born Abel Tesfaye became one of 2015’s breakout stars on the strength of his painfully pleasurable hit Earned It, his pleasurably painful hit The Hills and his inescapable summer smash Can’t Feel My Face. This week the Weeknd racked up seven Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year, for his August LP Beauty Behind the Madness, and his latest hit-in-waiting, In The Night, is only beginning its climb up the charts. Can the Weeknd keep his blazing year going into 2016? Based on the last three years, we’d say anything is possible. Moody rapper-crooner Travis Scott (Antidote) and rising pop chanteuse Halsey (New Americana) open the show.
Mix 100.7 Mistletoe Show
With Rob Thomas, Third Eye Blind, Rachel Platten, Jamie Lawson
MONDAY 7:30 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $42.75 and up. (727) 791-7400.
Mix 100.7 may spin mostly safe, adult-alternative pop, but that doesn’t mean they can’t throw a heckuva holiday party. Last year’s inaugural Mix 100.7 Mistletoe Show, featuring Train, Mary Lambert and Matt Nathanson, was a surprisingly rollicking and free-spirited affair. Did someone spike the green room eggnog or something? Bet on more of the same at this year’s event. A pair of popular ’90s holdovers headline the show: Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas and cult San Fran rockers Third Eye Blind. But get there early for Fight Song enchantress Rachel Platten, who will release her major-label debut Wildfire on Jan. 1; and Wasn’t Expecting That balladeer Jamie Lawson, the first act Ed Sheeran signed to his label.
WMNF’s Frank Sinatra tribute
With Ronny Elliott, Talk to Mark, Sara Rose Band, Funny Bunny, Paul Wilborn, Vodkanauts, AB+, more
SATURDAY 7 p.m. Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $12-$15. (813) 971-0666. wmnf.org.
Skipper’s Smokehouse is better known for blues, jam and smoked mullet than classic jazz and swing. But that’ll change when WMNF-FM 88.5 hosts a tribute concert to the late, legendary Frank Sinatra, who would have turned 100 Saturday. Artists including Ronny Elliott, Talk to Mark, the Sara Rose Band and Funny Bunny will put their spins on Sinatra classics like Come Fly With Me, Strangers in the Night, Summer Wind and I’ve Got You Under My Skin.
THURSDAY 8 p.m. Ferguson Hall at David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $38.50-$48.50. (813) 229-7827.
Matthew Miller doesn’t interject politics into his music, but his affiliation with Hasidic Judaism still lands him in awkward situations sometimes. In the spring, the 36-year-old rapper better known as Matisyahu was recently barred from playing Spain’s Sunsplash Reggae Festival after he would not oblige organizers’ requests for him to write a statement supporting “Palestinians’ right to a state.” He called the ultimatum “appalling and offensive” and later asked whether “any of the other artists scheduled were asked to make political statements to perform,” but don’t expect him to harp on any of that at his Thursday night show. Instead, look for stripped-down versions of fan favorites in support of Live at Stubb’s Vol. III, an album that celebrates the 10th anniversary of his breakout LP Live at Stubb’s, which featured a very different sound than the one he’s slinging on recent material like last year’s Akeda.
With Kristopher James, One Trip Little
FRIDAY 8:30 p.m. Emerald Bar, 550 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $3-$5. (727) 898-6054.
This one is kind of irresistible. A timeless Central Avenue watering spot hosts a gentleman with a classic croon (Kristopher James, who just released a haunting take on Christmas classic O Come, O Come, Emmanuel) and one of St. Pete’s brightest gems, Geri X — a Bulgarian-born singer-songwriter who has existed at the forefront of the local songwriter scene for the last decade now. Her latest EP, The Low Road, was released just three months ago and her already-confessional lyrics are finding another gear as she digs deeper into now mostly alleviated struggles with anxiety, booze and not taking good enough of herself. No telling what kind of emotional chord the songs will take when they get released into the smoky Emerald air, but we’re willing to find out.
With Christian Alexander, Winta
FRIDAY 10 p.m. Amphitheatre Event Facility, 1609 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $15. (813) 873-8368.
Pop music’s aspiring strummy songwriters are always hoping for the holy grail — an endorsement from Taylor Swift — but in the EDM world, there aren’t many heavier stamps of approval than the one an artist can get from Skrillex. That’s exactly how it’s going for Amber Giles, a fast-rising star of the genre who emerged from the Arizona desert and utilized her “illegal copy of Ableton” to become dance music’s next big thing. Giles — better known as Mija — broke completely out of the stable when Skrilly asked her to play back-to-back sets at sunrise during Bonnaroo in 2014. It’s been a whirlwind since, and while Mija refuses to stick to the deep house formula she leaned on for ’roo, don’t expect to see her in rooms as intimate as Amp for much longer.
Onbikes 5th Annual Winter Wonder Ride
With DJ Jazzy Jeff
SATURDAY 2 p.m. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. $10 and up. (813) 274-8677.
Ten bucks. That’s all it’ll cost you to get into the party and see one of the most legendary names in hip hop and turntablism on Saturday. If you’re under the age of 25 and have no clue who Jazzy Jeff is, then curl up with some mid-’80s era Will Smith (he was a rapper called the “Fresh Prince” back then) and watch a few episodes of Jazzy Jeff’s Vinyl Destination Web series. Only then will you begin to internalize what the master of the mix has done for music at large and then fully appreciate his set that comes after thousands of elf-ed-up bicyclists take a group ride through downtown Tampa all in the name of charity. Kids under 16 get in free.
Sun Signs (CD Release)
With Redfeather, Will Quinlan’s Vesper Bell, Oxford Noland
SATURDAY 7 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $7-$10. (813) 248-4969.
If you haven’t figured it out, the song titles on Sun Signs’ debut full-length get their names from the astrological zodiac. The release is the result of nearly three years of bandom where the boys — drummer Kelvin Hampton Jr., frontman Christian Stewart, bassist Jeff Dominguez, and guitarist Jordan Chronister—- worked toward perfecting their dark, indie-leaning brand of rock 'n’ roll. Credit audio engineer Lewis Lovely, who has been at the helm of records by Black Lips and Mastodon, for capturing it all on tape, and Barry Johnson for mastering the collection then making it sound like a Josh Homme-driven freight train is speeding down the tracks headed straight for your gut where it looks to park all the pomp and strut of Stewart’s confident delivery alongside his bandmates’ weird sound-mining, crunchy guitar and screeching futuresound solos.
With QueenofEx Carter, Danny Pynes, Alma Contra, Jon Ditty, We Spoke, Rogerthomas, Wally Clark, DJ Qeys
SATURDAY 7 p.m. MF Arts Ybor, 1616 E Second Ave., Ybor City. $10. facebook.com/MFArtsYbor
Last week, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority approved a $2.5 million investment to improve the Selmon Greenway (a 1.7-mile paved walking and biking path that connects downtown’s Riverwalk to Ybor City). Over the last year, a pair of bay area arts advocates — Alyssa Hernandez and Jo Nicole — have been putting a lot of sweat equity into their own Cigar City beautification project, MF Arts, a space with rotating murals and specially curated programming aimed at shedding light on artists who might not get shine at the area’s other venues. On Saturday, the duo bring a long-ish running creative series (Basement Sessions) into the mix for what should be an eclectic evening of hip hop, dance music, folktronica and avant-garde visuals. The rejuvenation of East Ybor is well underway, and when it’s all said and done, this spot will be the gateway.
SATURDAY 8 p.m. The Ritz, 1503 Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $31.25. (813) 247-2555.
The live music gods give the bay area plenty of reminders that Tampa is the unofficial metal capital of the world. This show by Kamelot is one of those events. Born over two decades ago, Kamelot call Tampa home, but their blood contains elements of Germany, Sweden and Norway, thanks to a United Nations-worthy lineup that’s seen many players revolve around founding member Thomas Youngblood. They come home on Saturday in support of their latest full length (Haven, released in May), which finds current frontman Tommy Karevik leading Youngblood and co. through almost an hour’s worth of twisting and turning hard rock that is dipped in nearly every heavy subgenre and finished off with just the perfect amount of prog rock flair. UK-power metal outfit DragonForce — famous for their “Tetris”-meets-chiptunes-meets-steroids hit song Through the Fire and Flames — open the show.
With Holey Miss Moley
SATURDAY 9 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $12-$15. (813) 241-8600.
Just a few dozen seconds into Hollywood Kisses (the seven-minute highlight from a 2014 LP, Tsar Bomba), Kung Fu make it very clear that they are going to spread out and jam. Big ol’ horns and booty-shaking bass anchor the cut, which showcases the Connecticut-born quintet’s ability to captain their funk yacht in and out of storms that dump buckets of electro, jazz and Zappa-loving prog rock onto the dance floor. Other offerings like Bellatone spread spacious saxophone tones and drum fills over cascading organ before erupting into an Etch A Sketch of guitar noise and ambient sound. You could try to get really cerebral about the technicality of the music, but you’d be better off just freeing your mind and getting lost in the count at this one.
Sister Hazel, Fri. With The Outpatients. 6 p.m. Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N., St. Petersburg. $30-$40. (727) 565-0550.
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony Fri. With Mike Jones, Mims. 7 p.m. England Brothers Bandshell Park, 5010 81st Ave. N, Pinellas Park. $16.95 and up. ticketfly.com.
Dokken Sat. With Quiet Riot. 7 p.m. England Brothers Bandshell Park, 5010 81st Ave. N, Pinellas Park. $19.99 and up. ticketfly.com.
Jackyl, Sat. 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $20-$25. (727) 895-3045.
Neil Sedaka, Fri. 7:30 p.m. Youkey Theatre at The Lakeland Center, 710 W. Lime St., Lakeland. $22-$44. (863) 834-8100.
The Black Dahlia Murder, Sat. With Goatwhore, Iron Reagan, Entheos, Artificial Brain. 6 p.m. Orpheum, 1915 E. 7th Ave., Ybor City. $12-$40. (813) 248-9500.
Loudon Wainwright, Sat. 8 p.m. Murray Studio Theatre at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N. McMullen-Booth Rd., Clearwater. $39.50. (727) 791-7400.
Rising Appalachia, Sat. 8 p.m. Safety Harbor Art & Music Center, 737 Main St., Safety Harbor. Sold Out. (727) 725-4018.
Ummet Ozcan, Sat. With Basomatik, Shanta, Nasty Nat3. 10 p.m. Amphitheatre Event Facility, 1609 E. Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $15. (813) 873-8368.
Pangaea Project No. 62, Sun. With Michel Doneda, Tatsuya Nakatani. 7 p.m. The Venture Compound, 2621 Fairfield Ave. S., St. Petersburg $10. (901) 619-1519.
Sutton Foster, Sun. 7:30 p.m. Ferguson Hall at David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. W.C. MacInnes Place, Tampa. $35.50-$55.50. (813) 229-7827.
Whitehorse, Mon. With Aaron Lee Tasjan. 7:30 p.m. Club Jaeb at David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. W.C. MacInnes Place, Tampa. $29.50. (813) 229-7827.
Sea Cycles, Mon. With The Kind Of Joy, Infinite Third. 8 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E. Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $7. (813) 248-4969.
Mothership, Tues. With Duel, Beer Wolf, Devil Gone Public, Julia Set. 8:30 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E. Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $10. (813) 248-4969.
Jeremy Shantz, Wed. With Dan Padilla. 7 p.m. Acoustic BBQ at New World Brewery, 1313 E. Eighth Ave., Ybor City. Free. (813) 248-4969.
Dogs On Acid, Wed. With Year Of Glad. 7:30 p.m. Epic Problem, 4215 E. Columbus Dr., Tampa. $10. (813) 382-3477.