Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Tampa Bay Music & Shows

Rift splits Antiwarpt in two

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In 2010, a group of local concert promoters and fans came together to offer Tampa Bay music fans an alternative to the gigantic Vans Warped Tour, which landed in St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park each summer but didn't make much room for local acts.

They called it Antiwarpt, and by all accounts, it was good. Last year's event gathered 99 bands to play 10 venues in a music fest that attracted a couple of thousand fans to downtown St. Petersburg.

But after 2012's event, the team fractured amid squabbles over the festival's future. There are now two factions vying to call their festival Antiwarpt.

The first, which is still going by that name, was conceived by Anna Serena, principal organizer of Don't Stop Collective, an events coordinating company. Her event — which is split into two parts — will begin Saturday with a kickoff party and concert in various bars on the 600 Block of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg (see daddykool.com for details).

At the kickoff, Serena plans to announce one-third of her lineup for her full festival on Oct. 5. She'll also announce a new name.

"We want to put on something that gets people on board and keeps them returning to the 600 Block long after the concerts are over to patronize the businesses in the area," Serena said.

Left behind are the men of Tampa concert promotions company Brokenmold Entertainment, who say they were flabbergasted to hear about Serena's event, because as they understood it, she didn't want any part of Antiwarpt ever again.

"We contacted Anna before we announced that we were doing another Antiwarpt to clear the air and specify our intentions to use the name for one more year," said Phil Benito, co-owner of Brokenmold Entertainment. "We didn't hear from her until after we passed out fliers."

After the 2012 event, the parties had a sit-down meeting that ended with Benito and his partner, Sean O'Brien, walking out.

Serena said she told Brokenmold she would do Antiwarpt alone because their goals didn't align. O'Brien said he walked out because Serena turned defensive after refusing to participate or remain as a silent partner in the 2013 event.

The guys began planning, which included passing out fliers at the WMNF's Tropical Heatwave Festival on May 10 and 11 to advertise their new Antiwarpt date Oct. 5. Days later, Benito said he received a cease and desist letter detailing Serena's ownership of the Antiwarpt name. Serena became the operating manager of Antiwarpt LLC in 2011, according to state records. But the name Antiwarpt wasn't trademarked in Florida until May 13.

In the meantime, O'Brien and Benito are planning their own event, though no date has been set, and they stress that they will remain committed to the original mission of Antiwarpt.

"Our goals have always been to try and raise notice of the area and the great local music scene and put a spotlight on the great stuff going on," O'Brien said. "The city needs something."

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