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May's concert highlights shows it's hip to be cool

A pril was a mondo hot month for concerts in Tampa Bay, what with Gaga, Buffett and those indefatigable scamps in Iron Maiden steaming up our shores. But May proves that we also reside in an impossibly cool place for live shows, as a bevy of hipster acts prepare to invade. Herewith, five must-see May gigs to help juice your chic status:

Top 5 May concerts in Tampa Bay

Cracker at WMNF's Tropical Heatwave Ybor City, May 14

Per usual, the folks at our fave community radio station have put together a stuffed lineup of smart acts for its go-go-go one-day bacchanal, including the dizzied rockabilly of Rocket 88 and the Wild Western panache of Tampa's own Have Gun, Will Travel. But make sure you catch the headliner, too: Led by David Lowery and Johnny Hickman (one of the great underrated guitarists), Cracker is so much more than a smartalecky alt-rock outfit from the forgettable '90s. Yes, you'll get Low and Get Off This, but scream for I Want Out of the Circus, and you'll see why history will remember these guys well. (

Girl Talk Jannus Live, May 18

Girl Talk is neither feminine nor a band; instead, Gregg Gillis is a one-dude sampling machine, Cuisinarting all genres, from the Who to Twisted Sister to Snoop Dogg, into bits and adrenalized beats swirling in your head. It's endlessly clever stuff, although with all the clips he borrows — especially on new album All Day — the New York Times calls him "a lawsuit waiting to happen." If you manage not to get sprayed with LSD, you should have a great time. (

Colbie Caillat, Chris Isaak, Bonnie Raitt at Taste of Pinellas Vinoy Park, May 20-22

Let's just go ahead and say this is the greatest Taste of Pinellas lineup ever. Yes, Chris Isaak and Bonnie Raitt are both classic and rockers. And Buddy Guy is a legend. But lo and behold, there's new talent here, including folk-pop cutie Colbie Caillat, American Idol Allison Iraheta and alt-rockers Third Eye Blind. Let's just hope Eddie Money isn't going hungry. (

Cage the Elephant Ritz Ybor, May 24

I wasn't crazy about this Bowling Green, Ky., band when I heard its 2008 self-titled debut. In fact, they annoyed the heck out of me. They were like repackaged Cake or something. But darn if 2010 followup, Thank You, Happy Birthday, wasn't a catchy power-pop marvel, with the fiendishly swirly single Around My Head one of the best of last year. Sorry about the Cake smear, guys. (

Jackson Browne Ruth Eckerd Hall, May 25

As a live act, Jackson Browne makes me nervous. The sweet-voiced, perpetually youthful SoCal icon has a phenomenal songbook, filled with pensive rumination and flat-out fun stuff like Lawyers in Love. That said, the No Nukes champ is always just a dark thought away from launching into a speechy tirade about the plight of (insert mistreated here). Not sure how wildly political he gets on this tour, but the setlist looks killer, with cuts ranging from Call It a Loan to Running on Empty to Somebody's Baby. (

Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at

May's concert highlights shows it's hip to be cool 04/29/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 29, 2011 8:06pm]
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