When to rock? When to ride? Here's our take on which bands deserve your attention — and when you should sneak away from the music for a stomach-buckling ride on the Mega Drop. One corn dog coming right up! — Sean Daly
The fest's opening day is fat with goodies, easily the best lineup of the weekend. But that's also kind of a drag, as Friday doesn't start until early evening while Saturday and Sunday both commence around noon. Yes, there are four stages at the Funshine — Concourse, Pavilion, Expo Hall and Amphitheatre — but there's so much talent crammed into the first night, there was bound to be some bummer overlap.
It's too bad that L.A.'s Youngblood Hawke, one of the newest, hippest power-poppers here, will playing from 9:55 p.m.-10:45 p.m. in the Pavilion while headliner Train plays from 9:35 p.m. to 10:50 p.m. in the Amphitheatre. My advice? Catch some of Train, then scamper over to hear YH do crazy-catchy hit We Come Running, which hopefully they'll save for an encore. (As for Phillip Phillips, I stopped watching American Idol a long time ago, so you're on your own there.)
There's another young-vs.-old conflict: Good Old War — from Langhorne, Pa., think a sturdier Simon & Garfunkel — play the Concourse the same time as Billy Corgan and his Smashing Pumpkins are jamming to Bullet With Butterfly Wings at the Expo Hall. These are some of the best acts period at Funshine. I'm torn, to be honest. Maybe see a little of each? That said, some of these stages are a decent jog from each other. Wear sneakers.
By the way, expect a big crowd for Cheap Trick's 6:40 p.m. set. The boys don't have much competition in that time slot — plus they do have a local hero in frontman Robin Zander. "I wannt youuu to wannnt me!"
There's a fair amount of head-banging, fist-pounding mayhem to be had today. Maybe not the freshest assortment of dudes, but there are some bright, bawdy spots. On the Concourse Stage, AC/DC tribute band Hell's Bells (5:25 p.m.) will be followed by radio maven Cowhead's must-see Pitbull Toddler (8:05 p.m.). Ted "the Nuge" Nugent will loose some sort of flaming death projectile on the big stage at 5:15 p.m.; yes, Uncle Ted is a bothersome loon, but c'mon, you know you're a little curious. Pop-punk mooks New Found Glory will summon the mosh pits at 9:35 p.m. on the Pavilion stage. And you'll be surprised how raucous REO Speedwagon gets (no, really) when it closes out the day in the Amphitheatre.
My don't-miss of the day is the smooth indie-rock goodness of St. Pete's own Alexander & the Grapes. They kick off the day at 12:50 p.m. on the Pavilion Stage. Seriously, you won't be sorry for showing up early.
Here's how you should plan Funshine's finale, which is geared mainly to roots-rock. Don't miss a second of "Brooklyn country" trio the Lone Bellow on the Pavilion Stage at 5:50 p.m.; that's my fave band on the entire three-day bill (see story, Page 17). Then walk briskly to the Expo Hall to see Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers at 7:05 p.m.; Bob's boy has that whiskey-and-smoke vocal and a setlist you'll know better than you think. After One Headlight, return to the Pavilion for Tonic, the shoulda-been-bigger '90s band responsible for hit If You Could Only See. Then wrap it all up with country hunk Gary Allan on the amp stage. Your girlfriend loves the Every Story (Runs Out of Rain) singer, and let's be honest: The poor woman has had to sit through a whole lot of grunty guy rock this weekend.
For full lineup, see funshinefestival.com.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.
If you go
FUNSHINE MUSIC FESTIVAL: Gates open at 4 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. Tickets are $25 per day ($30 at gate); $65 for all three days; $15 children 6-11; under 5 free. Concert tickets include unlimited rides on the midway. For more ticket options, see funshinefestival.com. (813) 621-7821.
THE RIDES: They include the 100-foot-tall LED Giant Wheel (Ferris wheel) that produces a light show; the largest portable roller coaster in the U.S.; the Fighter, with four large arms that turn high in the air; Log Flume; and Mega Drop. There are also fair-style games, a petting zoo and pony rides (extra fee) and rides on the Batcopter from the Batman TV show (extra fee).
FOOD TRUCK TERRACE: Features American Wiener, the Dude & His Food, Gone Bananas, Hot Mess, Maggie on the Move, Pao and Taco Bus.