GIRLS EMPOWERED: Fifth Harmony
Before Fifth Harmony's Work From Home hit No. 1 in May, it had been 15 years since a girl group had snared the top spot on Billboard's airplay chart.
Hard to believe, right? For all the astonishing success enjoyed by solo women over the past 15 years — Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Adele, Beyoncé — it's still tough for pop audiences to swallow five women working together in, well, harmony. Girl groups have had it rough going back to the Go-Go's, as fan and media pressure threatens to tear each one apart nearly as soon as it forms.
Camila Cabello, Ally Brooke Hernandez, Lauren Jauregui, Normani Kordei Hamilton and Dinah Jane Hansen are to be commended, then — not just for sticking together since forming on The X Factor USA in 2012, but for getting stronger. Their new sophomore album 7/27 contains some of the biggest hits of their short career, including the silly but sweet Work From Home and Write on Me, not to mention a cameo by Missy Elliott on the Janet Jackson/Paula Abdul-channeling Not That Kinda Girl.
But as the spotlight intensifies, so does the pressure. Cabello has taken steps toward a solo career, including a duet with Shawn Mendes (I Know What You Did Last Summer), and Hamilton recently quit Twitter after being "racially cyberbullied" by trolls.
Fifth Harmony still face an uphill battle to buck the history of girl groups and make history with more No. 1's. But at least they're on the right track as they arrive at 7 p.m. Friday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N in Tampa, with JoJo, Jake Miller and Victoria Monet in tow. $12 and up. (813) 740-2446. livenation.com.
WALKING THIS WAY: Steven Tyler
Steven Tyler knew he was taking a risk by going country on his first solo album, We're All Somebody From Somewhere. He also knows it might not work.
"More often than not, when you feel risk, it's because people aren't thinking, they're just doing it," Tyler said about his new solo tour, which stops at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Monday. "That's kind of what I do. And interestingly enough, I p--- a lot of people off. But when it comes to music and jumping in and doing stuff like that, new stuff, it better speak for itself. Or I'm up s--- creek."
He probably shouldn't worry. As the frontman for Aerosmith, Tyler has a pretty good day job to fall back on if We're All Somebody From Somewhere falls flat. He's playing a lot of Aerosmith classics on this tour, including Cryin', Walk This Way and Dream On, and he expects to hit the road with them in 2017 for what might be a farewell tour.
Tyler doesn't often play venues as small as Ruth Eckerd, but at 68, he kind of likes it.
"I get to talk to people and be up close and personal," he said, "and tell them how the music business is a dark trench, a dark, dirty money trench."
8 p.m. 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. Sold out. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com. For more with Steven Tyler, pick up Sunday's Latitudes section or see tampabay.com/soundcheck.
BOTTOMS UP: Brantley Gilbert
Grunting and stomping like a tatted-up buffalo, Brantley Gilbert crashed through Nashville's saloon doors with his rowdy 2013 single Bottoms Up, which hit No. 1 and became a new jukebox anthem in bars across the South. With his bling and piercings and aggro-macho vibe, he stands out among Nashville's crowded crop of clean-cut studs, a distinction he's parlayed into near-rock-god status. But he's got chops as a songwriter, having penned Jason Aldean's Dirt Road Anthem and My Kinda Party, and knows his way around a lighters-out power ballad (see: Grown Ass Man or My Baby's Guns N' Roses). Judging from his crunchy new single It's About to Get Dirty, his first headlining concert at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre will be a raucous affair. Joining him at 7 p.m. Saturday are his Small Town Throwdown bro Justin Moore and Dirt Road Anthem co-writer Colt Ford. $18 and up. (813) 740-2446. livenation.com.
ACE OF BASS: Dillon Francis
With his combination of bonkers beats and gonzo visuals, DJ and producer Dillon Francis turns each concert into a fest for both the ears and eyes. From his early days in moombahton (a bass-heavy twist on reggaeton influenced by trap and dubstep) to his remixes for Disclosure and Deadmau5, Francis is a font of diverse tastes, one whose irreverent, postmodern humor comes out to play in biting, whacked-out mixes incorporating artists like the Backstreet Boys and Fetty Wap. All of this makes his show Sunday at Beach Bar, 7700 W Courtney Campbell Causeway, a good way to close out August on the water. Doors open at noon. $18 and up. (813) 281-0566. facebook.com/beachtampabay.
BE FRANK: The Vodkanauts
Ring-a-ding-ding out the summer with Tampa Bay's top "power lounge" outfit the Vodkanauts, who will cut through the hipster haze of the Emerald Bar (550 Central Ave., St. Petersburg) with a pair of swingin' 90-minute sets on Friday. The first (9:30 p.m.) will focus on Rat Pack-style pop and swing, the second (11:30) surf rock and eclectic vibes from yesteryear. Make no mistake, this will be a cramped, sweaty affair, better suited for the limber of limb than the faint of heart ("vintage cocktail attire is optional," they note dryly). But for anyone who has wanted to catch an extra-full night of Vodkanauts action in the 'Burg, this is a good opportunity. Cover is $5. (727) 898-6054.