Thursday, May 24, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

A man in tune with Gasparilla Music Festival, Tropical Heatwave, Antiwarpt

If you've been to a local music festival lately, chances are good that concert promoter Sean O'Brien had a hand in it. O'Brien, 36, started Brokenmold Entertainment with Phil Benito about six years ago. Last month, they put on the Gasparilla Music Festival, drawing more than 9,000 fans. They also book Tampa's Tropical Heatwave and St. Petersburg's Antiwarpt Music Festival. Last year, they revamped Guavaween as a music festival at the request of the Ybor Chamber of Commerce, scoring bands like Ybor-loving the Hold Steady but drawing a lower turnout than expected. Brokenmold still puts on regular shows, with O'Brien recently announcing two of their biggest names yet in rapper Ghostface Killah and Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy. Times staff writer Jimmy Geurts talked with O'Brien about shows he has put on and his experiences.

What was your involvement with Gasparilla Music Festival?

Phil is on the board. He's the vice president of the board of GMF. Essentially, we book all the talent for the show, and our design guy Brad Askew designed the logo and all the signage. We kind of run the show — the backstage production area. We get all the people who set up the stage, run the sound, all the different runners and the people taking care of the bands.

How gratifying is it to see how big the festival's become?

Oh, it's amazing, us having grown up here. I got here when I was 13, and Phil's lifelong. To just see all our old friends that never go to our smaller shows because they have kids, or our older relatives all together in place, having a great time. It's kind of like throwing a huge party that all your friends get to come to.

It's been great for the city. The board's been great with using all the local restaurants and vendors and everything. It's just something that really is a good showcase for the city itself.

What was it like to see Antiwarpt, which started off almost as a joke, to what it has become now?

It's been really gratifying. That's been another thing where we see the whole music community come together. Everybody's out there, there's a bunch of bands enjoying other bands' sets. There was a little article in Vice where they mentioned us as one of the great things about the Florida music scene, which is pretty awesome.

It's been gratifying to see all these things grow from this little thing. The first Antiwarpt, like you said, was a fun little thing and we had about 700 people show up to that. Last year, we had over 3,500. The same with GMF, we had no expectation on how many people would show up. Within two years, we have over 9,400 people show up to that.

You were also asked to do Guavaween last year. What were your feelings on that?

It was a weird situation because we were brought into it really late. We had months essentially to totally revamp a 26-year-old festival. We were amazed with who we were able to still get in that time. With Antiwarpt and GMF, we usually book six months in advance. And with something this size, to only have a little less than two months to do it was quite an undertaking.

The attendance wasn't where the chamber was hoping it would be. For a first-year, totally different thing with no parade, I was happy with it. There were good crowds in a lot of the rooms, and everybody was thanking us.

Guavaween started getting a bad name violence-wise and to all the people in the community itself in Ybor. There were only three arrests last year. It's usually in the high 20s. All the restaurants did great business. They usually do no business because the vendors are out on the streets selling corn dogs and beer, so a lot of the bars don't do good. This year they all did great.

What was the process of getting Ghostface Killah and Peter Murphy, two very big but very different acts you announced within days of each other?

The Ghostface Killah thing spawned from Adrian Younge, who's touring with him. We had him at Antiwarpt last year and also at Guavaween. He had been telling us at Antiwarpt, 'By the way, I've got something pretty crazy I'm about to start doing. I can't talk about it now, but I'll tell you soon.'

When Guavaween came around, he told us about the Ghostface thing and we were like, "Man, you got to tell us if you end up touring with that; we want to do it really bad." When it came around, he was a man of his word. He had his agent call us and luckily we're the only Florida date for it, so we're really excited because they weren't planning on doing Florida at all.

Peter Murphy, we're actually doing with a friend of ours that has a similar promotion company in Gainesville. We'd been working on that forever with him and it just happened to coincide. He gave us the go-ahead the same day we got the go-ahead for Ghostface. It's rare that you get that day that you get two big shows in one.

What's your favorite concert that you've ever put on?

The festivals are what excite me the most, but a single show, I'd have to say either one of our Bright Light Social Hour shows at the Hub were pretty awesome. The Hub wasn't known as a music venue, and we started doing a lot of shows there and it's our favorite Tampa watering hole. To see a big, fun band like Bright Light with the Hub packed wall to wall with people dancing and getting crazy is pretty cool.

Since you've started, how would you say Tampa Bay's music scene has changed?

I'd have to say there just seems to be more and more people getting involved, which is exciting. There's more shows going on. When we started doing Brokenmold, part of the reason we were doing it because there wasn't as much stuff going on. If there was a band we wanted to see and they weren't coming to town, we were like, "Let's see if we can have them come to town."

Now there seems there's just more and more stuff going on. There's tons of great music for free, even — the Rock the Park events, and New World Brewery does the free BBQ Tuesdays. Almost every day there's somewhere you can go see good music now, it seems, and that's great. And there's people that want to go see it.

Sunday Conversation is edited for brevity and clarity.

Comments
Watch Kenny Chesney’s new ‘Get Along’ video, filmed entirely at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

Watch Kenny Chesney’s new ‘Get Along’ video, filmed entirely at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

Were you at Kenny Chesney's concert on April 21 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa? Then there's a decent chance you might be in his new video.The country superstar dropped the official video for his new single Get Along on Thursday, and it was appare...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sunset Music Festival, more outdoor concerts could be soaked by weekend rain

Sunset Music Festival, more outdoor concerts could be soaked by weekend rain

  Your Memorial Day weekend weather forecast is not looking good, with a big low pressure system, Invest 90L, hovering out in the Gulf of Mexico and threatening to dump several inches of water on Saturday. For music fans, it couldn't be coming at a...
Updated: 7 hours ago
An all-ages playlist of the summer songs of 2018? It can be done

An all-ages playlist of the summer songs of 2018? It can be done

Recently I was asked to create a playlist for a summer beach party. An opportunity to procrastinate and mess around on Spotify for a few hours? Yeah, totally, when can I start?I like playlists that are diverse, not just in terms of genre (pop, hip-ho...
Published: 05/24/18
Tampa Bay Margarita Festival schedule, set times: When to see the Wallflowers, Everclear and more

Tampa Bay Margarita Festival schedule, set times: When to see the Wallflowers, Everclear and more

It's anyone's guess as to whether this weekend's ugly rains will hold off long enough for the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival to crack open some 10,000 bottles of tequila in Curtis Hixon Park.But if it does, you want to know when you can see your favori...
Published: 05/23/18
97X Barbecue schedule, set times: When to see Awolnation, Dirty Heads, more in St. Petersburg

97X Barbecue schedule, set times: When to see Awolnation, Dirty Heads, more in St. Petersburg

The 97X Barbecue Music and Arts Festival — formerly the 97X BBQ, formerly the 97X Barbecue, formerly … well, who can keep track of it all? — returns on Saturday to Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, with a lineup that includes Awolnation...
Published: 05/23/18
John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn’t backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn’t backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

It’s been 50 years since John Fogerty wrote Fortunate Son, one of the most scathing protest songs from the Vietnam War era. Writing another one with that kind of impact has been a challenge ever since. "Back in the ’80s, I had a couple o...
Published: 05/23/18
Suwannee Hulaween lineup: Odesza, Jamiroquai, Janelle Monae and more

Suwannee Hulaween lineup: Odesza, Jamiroquai, Janelle Monae and more

For the second straight year, one of the most eclectic music festivals in Florida will be taking place in Live Oak.Suwannee Hulaween just announced the lineup for its 2018 edition, coming Oct. 26-28 at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, and it featur...
Published: 05/23/18
A weekend of festivals: Sunset Music Fest, 97X Barbecue, WMNF’s US Festival tribute

A weekend of festivals: Sunset Music Fest, 97X Barbecue, WMNF’s US Festival tribute

THE BEATS GO ON: Sunset Music FestivalAt last year’s Sunset Music Festival, the focus was all on crowd safety. After two fans died from drug overdoses at Tampa’s largest annual rave in 2016, organizers heightened security across the board, yielding a...
Published: 05/23/18
Review: Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Championship Tour’ brings good sportsmanship, great rhymes to Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

Review: Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Championship Tour’ brings good sportsmanship, great rhymes to Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

Do they give Pulitzer Prizes for concerts featuring golf cart rides, cartoon sports-card backdrops and a slam-dunking doggie mascot?If so, Kendrick Lamar might want to start clearing shelf space for plaque No. 2.Weeks after the rapturous adulation th...
Published: 05/23/18
Want to drink free whiskey with country star John Rich in Tampa on Friday?

Want to drink free whiskey with country star John Rich in Tampa on Friday?

Here's an offbeat way to start your Memorial Day weekend right.Country star John Rich, half of the colorful, multiplatinum country duo Big and Rich, is coming to town for a couple of promotional appearances on Friday, including a tasting of his new w...
Published: 05/23/18