WORK CUT OUT: RIHANNA
Is this a make-or-break moment for Rihanna?
On the surface, it would seem the singer has it all going on — a chart-topping new album, Drake on speed dial and, as of February, the third-most No. 1 singles in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, surpassing Michael Jackson and trailing only Mariah Carey and the Beatles.
But this year hasn't gone totally as planned for Ms. Fenty. Start with the messy rollout of her new album Anti, which leaked briefly on Tidal before a wider release. Then came her last-minute dropout at the Grammys due to bronchitis. Then she had to postpone the start of her Anti World Tour until this weekend, when it'll kick off in Jacksonville before hitting Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sunday.
At 28, is Rihanna already being taken for granted? For all those No. 1 hits — including her latest, Work — she's not dominating the cultural discussion like her peers Adele or Beyoncé. Which is a shame, because Anti is her strongest and most experimental album yet, exploring territories like jazz, indie pop and psychedelia.
For a full review of Anti, click here.
Rihanna's got a lot to prove on this tour, and Tampa's among the first cities to see how she does it. What happens next is up to her. She performs with Travis Scott at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $31.75 and up. (813) 301-2500. amaliearena.com.
INNER SPACE: Coheed and Cambria
Coheed and Cambria's career has always rewarded the patient, those obsessive fans who followed their vast and complex space opera through a series of comics and prog-rock concept albums. But if you want to jump in late, their new album The Color Before the Sun is a good place to start.
The album deals openly and emotionally with singer-songwriter Claudio Sanchez's family life, particularly the 2014 arrival of son Atlas. More than a decade after breaking through with the 2003 hit A Favor House Atlantic, it's the most nakedly personal thing he has ever done.
"It was hard to put my personal self out there," Sanchez said. "It was easy to create these fictional characters that would play out in this space opera, and allow a mass to be created to basically hide behind."
It's worked so far for Coheed and Cambria, whose cult fan base obsesses over the band's sci-fi themes and throughlines, known collectively as the Amory Wars. Sanchez, the band's frizzy-maned, helium-voiced figurehead, said the Amory Wars aren't dead. But after seven albums' worth of conceptual songwriting, it was time for a quick break.
"I definitely think we will return to the conceptual format," he said. "It's just nice to know that The Color Before the Sun can exist in our DNA, and we can do it when we feel like it."
Coheed and Cambria perform with Glassjaw and Silver Snakes at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $27.50 and up. (727) 565-0550. jannuslive.com.
For more with Claudio Sanchez, see tampabay.com/soundcheck.
GLAM BAM: Adam Lambert
As American Idol winds into oblivion, it's time to salute the show's most successful alum. No, not Kelly or Carrie, but Adam Lambert, who according to Forbes was Idol's highest-earning alumnus of 2015. That'll happen when Queen decides you're the singer best suited to replace Freddie Mercury. He may not have his own Since U Been Gone or Smoke Break, but Lambert still might be the purest showman Idol has ever produced, a shape-shifting human glitterbomb who lives and breathes glam rock. Since David Bowie's death, Lambert has written and spoken passionately about his idol, and has funneled that inspiration into his recent performances. He's overdue for a concert here, so his gig at 8 p.m. Monday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road in Clearwater, should be packed with diehard Glamberts. $40 and up. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.
FINAL STRAW: Florida Strawberry Festival
The Florida Strawberry Festival has once again saved its best for last. Nothing against Donny and Marie, of course, but this weekend brings the biggest names to Plant City. Thursday brings Christian rock superstars Casting Crowns (7:30 p.m., $20-$25) and Elvira quartet the Oak Ridge Boys (3:30, $15-$20). Friday brings Chillin' It chart-topper Cole Swindell (7:30, $35-$40) and Delta Dawn siren Tanya Tucker ($15-$20). On Saturday, it's soul veteran Charlie Wilson (7:30, $35-$40) and Kris Kristofferson (3:30, $35). And things wrap up Sunday with smash trio the Band Perry (7:30, $40) and Cool Kids Echosmith (3:30, $20-$25). Each show is on top of festival admission ($10, $5 ages 6-12, 5 and younger free), though about 3,000 seats for each show are handed out on a first-come, first-served basis. It all takes place at the festival grounds, 303 N Lemon St., Plant City. flstrawberryfestival.com.
ALTERNATE TAKES: Florida Bjorkestra and Radio-Ed
If you love experimental mash-ups of symphonic chamber pop and '90s alternative rock — and who doesn't? — head to St. Pete's Hideaway Cafe on Sunday for a one-night-only performance by the Florida Bjorkestra, a nine-piece ensemble performing orchestral arrangements of Bjork. It's an all-star local lineup, including keyboardist Jeremy Douglass, guitarist LaRue Nickelson, guitarist Ed Woltil, singer Jamie Perlow, cellist Tom Kersey, bassist Daniel Navarro, saxophonist Austin Vickery, drummer Dave Hamar, violinist Rebecca Zapen and trombonist David Hope. "They're such great people, professional musicians, all of them," said Douglass, who arranged most of the songs. "Really, it's a labor of love." Douglass and Woltil will open the show as Radio-Ed, a two-man band performing the music of Radiohead. Doors open at 5 for the 6 p.m. show at the Hideaway, 1756 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Tickets are $5 via ticketfly.com. (727) 644-7895.