GO BIG: THINK SMALL
There are big concerts all around Tampa Bay this week, including Big Sean at the USF Sun Dome. But if there's ever been a week to go to a club show instead of an arena, this is it. Whether you love punk, pop, folk, soul or metal, you'll find it in spades at one of the area's top smaller venues. Here are eight amazing shows worth the crowds and the sweat.
Toro y Moi
Producer Chaz Bundick, a.k.a. Toro y Moi, has had a busy year. In April he dropped What For?, a sleek and spacey collection of silvery synths and chill-out grooves. And in September, he cleared out his hard drive with the bassier and more beat-driven free mixtape Samantha, featuring collaborations with Kool A.D. and Washed Out, among others. If you're on the prowl for a hipster dance party, this is it. Check him out with Astronauts, Etc. at 8 p.m. Friday at the State Theatre. $18. statetheatreconcerts.com.
Indie rockers don't come much brainier — or with wider-ranging interests — than Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle. In 2014, he released his first novel, Wolf in White Van, which was nominated for a National Book Award. And this spring, the Goats released Beat the Champ, a concept record about pro wrestling. Whatever you're into, there's a good chance Darnielle has covered it at some point. They perform with Blank Range at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Orpheum, 1912 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $20. theorpheum.com.
Relentlessly provocative and unpredictable, Death Grips delight in canceling tours, dropping surprise albums, announcing breakups and generally aggravating the blazes out of anyone who fancies themselves a fan. Their menacing blend of punk, hip-hop, synth-rock and pure noise might be worth all the headache. If this show actually happens, it'll be at 7 p.m. Thursday at the State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $20-$22. statetheatreconcerts.com.
You might think Swedish metal band Ghost was heavily inspired by Florida death metal bands like Deicide or Morbid Angel. But there's another Sunshine State act they dig even more. "I love Tom Petty," one of the group's two guitarists said in a recent phone interview. "He's one of my favorite songwriters. Not always lyric-wise, but music-wise, it's beautiful." That sort of appreciation for the classics has helped make Ghost one of the most intriguing metal bands in the world. Their appearance and mythology have a lot to do with their appeal — their elaborate costumes; their lyrical odes to Satanism; their ghastly frontman, a face-painted anti-Pope known as Papa Emeritus III. (He's actually the only member who goes by a name — the rest all prefer the anonymous handle "Nameless Ghoul." But their dynamic new album Meliora owes a lot to classic rock and prog bands like Iron Maiden, Queensryche or Goblin. "I listen to everything you can imagine," said our Ghoul. "It's not like I dive totally into one genre and stay there. I just kind of run around a bit, see what I like, and some stuff sticks with me." Ghost performs with Purson at 8:30 p.m. Sunday at the Ritz Ybor, 1503 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $25.10 and up. theritzybor.com. For more of our interview with a Nameless Ghoul, click here..
Thrushes hail from Baltimore, but they're signed to Tampa's New Granada Records, which makes this record release show a big local deal. Their new album Exposing Seas cuts through the shoegaze haze of a lot of modern indie rock thanks to Anna Connor's dreamy voice and songs like Joan of Arc and Salt & Stone, which seem to surge through the speakers. Local faves Pohgoh and Geri X open this show at 9 p.m. Saturday at New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $9. newworldbrewery.net.
Arty St. Pete nightspot the Bends rarely hosts big national acts. But this free show got an unexpected bump when Pitchfork gave rave reviews to Empress Of's new single Standard and LP Me, awarding the album the coveted tag Best New Music. It's quite a co-sign for Brooklynite Lorely Rodriguez, whose icy, synth-driven electro-pop would be a perfect playlist fit alongside FKA Twigs or Grimes. Check her out at 10 p.m. Saturday at the Bends, 919 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Free. aestheticized.com.
Muscle Shoals rock pumps through Patterson Hood's veins. His pop, David Hood, played bass in the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, which shaped the face of rock 'n' soul through sessions with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aretha Franklin, Bob Seger and more. Patterson's Drive-By Truckers have left their own mighty imprint on modern Southern rock, grinding out barroom beauties and bawlers over 10 sturdy studio albums. They play with T. Hardy Morris at 7 p.m. Sunday at the State Theatre. $26.50. statetheatreconcerts.com.
How are these guys still so unknown? Vintage Trouble bring down the house at every show they play, whether it's on the main stage at Glastonbury or opening for groups like the Rolling Stones and the Who. Electric singer Ty Taylor is a rock 'n' blues tornado, guaranteed to leave you sweating and screaming for more. Need a bonus reason to go? Bassist Rick Barrio Dill is a Valrico native, making Tampa Bay a bit like Vintage Trouble's second home. They perform with Greg Holden at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the State Theatre. $20-$22. statetheatreconcerts.com.