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Antiwarpt Music Festival is homegrown in St. Petersburg

What began three years ago as a passing conversation between co-workers at Daddy Kool Records now is one of downtown St. Petersburg's most successful grass roots movements: The Antiwarpt Music Festival.

Anna Serena and Manny Kool envisioned an alternative to the Vans Warped Tour and the name Antiwarpt stuck, although they have nothing against the Warped Tour itself. The timing of the festival served as an angle to bring together heaps of local bands.

The two enlisted the help of local promoters Sean O'Brien and Phil Benito and graphic artist and designer S. Bradley Askew, and together the crew pulled off the inaugural shindig in a month's time.

"We had such a response from the community that it wouldn't have been right if we didn't do another," Serena said.

The organizers hosted the second annual Antiwarpt last year, and O'Brien said that cemented it. "It started as this little thing with Warped and grew into regional and local pride."

With the third annual event Saturday, Antiwarpt has become a hotbed for up and coming Florida talent. This year's event features 99 bands throughout 10 venues in one day, all within a radius of four blocks. Ninety-five of the bands are from Florida, with 45 from the Tampa Bay area. That's a five-fold increase since 2010.

The local approach is vital to the festival's success. Said Kool: "The area doesn't have anything like this. It's something similar to Tropical Heatwave, but a minority of bands at Heatwave are from the bay area; most are national and international. This is all about Tampa Bay, Central Florida and the state."

Their homegrown idea attracted 2,500 fans last year. "I knew we were creating something different. I've been calling it 'the People's Festival,' " Askew said.

The venues win, too. Kool said alcohol sales at last year's Antiwarpt were among the venues' best nights of 2011. That success keeps the venues and bands eager to participate. Morean Arts Center wanted to participate, so they're building an outside stage in its parking lot.

"We love our neighborhood and music is part of it. It's a great thing for the city," said Wayne Atherholt, interim executive director at Morean Arts Center.

As the festival takes on a life of its own, organizers have encountered a few hiccups. This year, they've dealt with venue changes, bands pulling out and other last-minute headaches.

But that hasn't slowed them down. They hope to bring national attention to the bay area music scene, and to inspire other cities and states to follow their lead.

"It's all for the love of the music," O'Brien said.

Stephanie Bolling can be reached at (813) 226-3408 or

a taste of antiwarpt

With nearly 100 artists on the bill, it's tough to know which bands to see. Here are seven acts not to miss.

1The Mountain Goats: Folk scene favorites, John Darnielle and company (including Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster), sold out Crowbar in January. Darnielle has come a long way from his days of recording albums on cassette tapes. Expect allegorical tales, pianos and maybe a banjo (but no goats) from the California band.

2Adrian Younge: Younge is the Los Angeles man behind the original score to the 2009 blaxploitation satire Black Dynamite. He'll draw you in and keep you there with the smooth-as-honey vintage jams, making you forget what decade you're in, and then spit you out in a dark psychedelic fusion of funk.

3Jane Jane Pollock: The Tallahassee experimental pop group brings the quirkiness of CocoRosie and the fullness of the Dirty Projectors, with their own indie spice. Multi-instrumentalists. Utterly fabulous live energy. Male and female vocals. Sold.

4Florida Night Heat: The Tampa instrumental trio is a soundtrack to a perfect evening: nostalgic and sexy. Bass, electric, drums. Who needs a vocalist?

5Sleepy Vikings: This local lady-centric indie favorite will be packed from wall to wall with fans, as it's the last show with drummer Ryann Slauson before she heads off to grad school. Their musical tenderness, complete with triangles and whimsical lyrics, will match the emotions flowing during the goodbye gig.

6Jensen Serf Company: These peppy garage-rocking skateboarders roll on the mean streets of St. Petersburg. Add a little lo-fi and distortion and you get a joyfully loud foursome.

7Zulu Wave: Together about a year — with members hailing from Tampa, Washington, D.C., and Johannesburg, South Africa — Zulu Wave has gone far. The band played New York's CBGB Festival July 7 and ended up playing a free show in Times Square. They blend rock, experimental and African elements.

Staff writer Jimmy Geurts contributed.

if you go ///
Antiwarpt Music Festival

The festival runs from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 the day of show at Daddy Kool Records, 666 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, or online at For an up-to-date schedule of bands and times, visit All venues are within walking distance on Central Avenue:

• State Theater, 687 Central Ave.

• Morean Arts Center,
719 Central Ave.

• Sake Bomb, 548 Central Ave.

• VLVT, 538 Central Ave.

• The Local 662, 662 Central Ave.

• Octave, 661 Central Ave.

• Emerald Lounge,
550 Central Ave.

• Fubar, 658 Central Ave.

• Star Booty Salon,
681 Central Ave.

• Cafe Bohemia, 937 Central Ave.

Antiwarpt Music Festival is homegrown in St. Petersburg 07/25/12 [Last modified: Thursday, July 26, 2012 2:10am]
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