When the inaugural Funshine Music Festival kicks off at the Florida State Fairgrounds Friday, the giddy melange of rock, midway rides and a bargain $25 admission price will have a lot of things going for it. A spin on the Himalaya with a real live Cheap Trick soundtrack? Sold.
And yet that seemingly win-win recipe is no guarantee the Tampa throwdown will be a success. These are the days of large sprawling music fests, a once-novel undertaking that sprouts nationally, locally and frequently. For every Gasparilla Music Festival (success!), there is an Orlando Calling (splat!). There's a lot of competition out there, boys and girls.
Success hinges not just on the talent: Train, the Smashing Pumpkins, Phillip Phillips, Ted Nugent, Gary Allan, the Wallflowers (see Page 18). I'd give Funshine's lineup a B, with genuine concerns that the bill is almost entirely made up of men. Where are the women who rock?!
Funshine also needs to develop a natural vibe, a mood, mystique. I've been to Coachella in the California desert, and its arid locale on a polo field in the middle of nowhere is more than erased by a tangible, can't-miss-this aura. I barely remember the food or the attractions. In fact I remember only a few of the bands. But this much is true: When you're at Coachella, you don't want to be anywhere else. It's truly a rock 'n' roll wonderland.
Will Funshine be able to merge all of its intriguing parts to feel like more than just, well, the Florida State Fair with a lot more music? Will there be something special about it, some swirling magic about the whole weekend? We'll see. In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be on the Himalaya.