RAVE REVUE: Sunset Music Festival
At this year's Coachella, the Chainsmokers trotted out guests like Tiesto, G-Eazy, Walk the Moon and, no joke, Third Eye Blind. Things might not get that crazy when they play this year's Sunset Music Festival, but Alex Pall, one half of the DJ duo, isn't worried it'll feel like a letdown.
"Obviously we're going to plan this set accordingly to Tampa, which goes f------ hard," he said in a recent phone interview. "It should be sick. I looked at the lineup for Sunday, and it's probably one of the best lineups I've seen this year."
A big reason for that are the Chainsmokers, who have a smash single, Don't Let Me Down, soaring up the Billboard Hot 100. Toss in fellow headliners Jack U (a.k.a. Skrillex and Diplo), Hardwell, left (voted multiple times as the world's No. 1 DJ), and Galantis (the rising Swedes behind Runaway), plus dozens of other top DJs, and you've got another fiery lineup for one of the biggest events on Tampa's music calendar.
Half the fun at Sunset is dressing in outlandish costumes, peacocking and people-watching and stalking out oddballs for selfies. But it's also known for surprise guests (Juanes, Lil Jon and Hulk Hogan have all stopped by in the last two years) and some of the largest, most otherworldly stages you'll ever see.
Saturday's lineup includes Hardwell, Galantis, 3LAU, Borgeous, Audien, Seven Lions, Ferry Corsten, Tritonal, Claude VonStroke and more. Sunday brings Jack U, the Chainsmokers, Cash Cash, Jauz, Marshmello, Borgore, Zomboy, Sam Feldt, Thomas Jack and more.
Tickets start at $109 per day, $189 for the weekend. The party starts at 2 p.m. both days at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. There are two DJ-led after-parties each night: Seven Lions at the Ritz Ybor and NGHTMRE at the Orpheum on Saturday; the Chainsmokers at the Ritz and Zomboy at the Cuban Club on Sunday. Those tickets are $20 to $25. smftampa.com.
For more with the Chainsmokers' Alex Pall, clickhere
BACKYARD PARTY: 97X BBQ
This Memorial Day weekend, let freedom ring. It's the return of the 97X BBQ, the annual alt-rock backyard bash where entry is as cheap as the ketchup on your hot dog. Organizer 97X has been handing out complimentary tickets all over Tampa Bay, though you can avoid the hassle and splurge on GA ($20) or VIP ($60 and up) passes through Ticketmaster. Beyond dynamic California headliners Young the Giant (My Body, Cough Syrup, It's About Time), the lineup reflects the station's increasingly eclectic, pop-leaning tastes. There's the Strumbellas, who have one of the year's breakout singles in the folk-poppy Spirits; frequent Warped Tour folkies (and emo-tween pinups) Never Shout Never; melodic rockers Finish Ticket; and synth-based acts JR JR, Bear Hands, Joywave and the Wombats. The fun begins at noon Saturday at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg. For full details, including a list of ticket drop locations, see 97xonline.com.
EAT UP: R. Kelly
R. Kelly titled his most recent album The Buffet because of course he did. His songs are all-you-can-eat smorgasbords of Caligulan desires, glistening beneath the hot lamps of the world's most inappropriate Piccadilly. "My sex is poetic / I'm about to get you mad pregnant," he moans on Poetic Sex. "Let's get away from population / Take you on a sex vacation," he warbles on Sextime. These are real songs, by the way — and in true R. Kelly fashion, they're as awesome as they are ridiculous. Professing your love for Robert Sylvester Kelly isn't easy in 2016; his myriad legal troubles over the years have made too many of his sweat-laden sex jams feel uncomfortably #problematic. But on purely musical terms, if you allow Kelly to enter your boudoir, you might come to respect him for who he is: the king of '90s R&B, whose gift for penning over-the-top booty-knockers spawned a generation of Chris Browns and Weeknds. Ludicrous lyrics aside, The Buffet is a pretty good album, Kelly's strongest in years, organic and funky and adventurous. Help yourself to a portion, and you might just dive back in for seconds. He performs at 8 p.m. Friday at Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Tickets are $65 and up. (813) 301-2500. amaliearena.com.
BIG DAY: Brandy Clark
Talk about an interesting culture clash. As R. Kelly is slinging sex and sweat across the street at Amalie Arena, Brandy Clark will dish out a dose or two of hard truth at Ferg's Live on Friday night. The singer-songwriter, who has penned hits for Miranda Lambert (Mama's Broken Heart) and Kacey Musgraves (Follow Your Arrow), will give Tampa fans a preview of her second album Big Day in a Small Town, two weeks before its release. So far, her new material recaptures the flinty fire of her acclaimed 2013 debut 12 Stories, which earned her a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. "I've never been to jail, but hell, I wouldn't put it past me," she snarls on Girl Next Door, one of the album's many unflinching looks at love and hard living. Considering Clark frequently plays much bigger venues opening for the likes of Eric Church, Alan Jackson and Jennifer Nettles, the chance to see her at a club like Ferg's Live — for free, no less — is not to be missed. Amber Lynn Nicol and Levon open at 7 p.m. Friday at 490 Channelside Drive. (813) 443-8403. fergslive.com.