Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Rockin' the midway at inaugural Funshine Music Festival

TAMPA — It was while I was on the skyride, zipping by my lonesome from one concert stage to another, floating in the glorious fat-fryer haze, when I totally fell hard for the inaugural Funshine Music Festival, an ambitious three-day smooshing of music, midway rides and food-truck delectables at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

Behind me on Friday night boomed the gritty rock of Georgia band Dead Confederate; ahead of me was American Idol sensitive guy Phillip Phillips belting out massive hit Home. And there I was, caught in the middle of one funky skyride mashup.

Yeah, I like Funshine. I like it a lot.

We live in a land of endless music festivals, one after another. A cynical pop music critic can get a lil' wary about yet another fest showing up on his work schedule. But Funshine — $30 at the door gets you seven stages of pretty good bill of new and classic acts, better-than-normal rides, all of it ticketless and free-flowing — is a smart, unique idea.

Is there work to be done? Sure. Live Nation organizers should mix up the lineup a bit next year, maybe get some metal, some hiphop, a few women who rock. (No offense to REO Speedwagon and Styx, who are here tonight, but aren't they always here?)

Some of the smaller stages with the coolest bands, including incandescent L.A. kids Youngblood Hawke, had teeny crowds, so planners need to figure out how to disperse people better.

But still, this a great start. Herewith, a few thoughts, scenes and coaster-nerd musings from the first night of Funshine:

• Cheap Trick sorta-kinda kicked off Funshine with a loose, loud set in the Expo Hall, where — despite it basically being a barn — the acoustics were surprisingly crisp. Safety Harbor's own Robin Zander can still wail almighty, and constantly mugging guitarist Rick Nielsen's licks rang out clean and sharp. Alas, despite me staring at him intensely for 30 minutes like a psychopath, a sidestage Billy Corgan, whose Smashing Pumpkins were up next, did not join Cheap Trick for I Want You to Want Me" or Surrender. Boo!

• Intrepid TBT music writer and all-around swell guy Jay Cridlin reports that the longest walk from any of the stages is approximately six minutes, which is just about right if you want to catch as many acts as possible. Go to tampabay.com for a full rundown of today and Sunday's music plus tips for how to enjoy, and survive, Funshine. (Psst: Wear sneakers.)

• Okay, so I tried to watch some of Phillips' show on the Amphitheatre stage, but I got antsy. So I tried out "the largest portable steel roller coaster" in the country. It's wobbly and it's, um, PORTABLE, but it's also awesome. If you're like me and you have 18 kids (okay, fine, two daughters), you get tired of spending a fortune on fair rides. So I'm digging the ticketless thing.

• Kudos to organizers for ditching a lot of the cruddy fair food and bringing in a hipster caravan of food trucks, including the ubiquitous (but delicious) Taco Bus and something called Hott Mess, which serves a "bacon-wrapped deep fried hot dog."

• The biggest crowds showed up for Smashing Pumpkins in the Expo Hall and then Train in the Amphitheatre. (Final crowd tally was not available.) Corgan's Pumpkins, still a ferocious band, brought a massive pyramid light show, which made a cover of David Bowie's Space Oddity that much more mesmerizing. And Pat Monahan's Train drew about 10,000-12,000 for a tight show of such catchy bar-band hits as Drive By and Fifty Ways to Say Goodbye.

Comments
Clearwater Jazz Holiday lineup: Doobie Brothers, George Thorogood, Sheila E. and more

Clearwater Jazz Holiday lineup: Doobie Brothers, George Thorogood, Sheila E. and more

Get ready to break out your finest purple during this year's Clearwater Jazz Holiday.A night celebrating Prince, led by proteges Sheila E. and Morris Day and the Time, will be among the highlights of this year's 39th annual Jazz Holiday, Oct. 18-21 i...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
SoundBytes: Alice in Chains, David Sedaris, Israel Houghton and more

SoundBytes: Alice in Chains, David Sedaris, Israel Houghton and more

— Alice in Chains are heading back out on the road, and they're coming to Orlando. They'll play the House of Blues on Oct. 27. Tickets are $49.50 and up. Click here.— Gospel great Israel Houghton is coming to the Straz Center on Oct. 12. ...
Published: 06/19/18
Review: On ‘Everything Is Love,’ Beyonce and Jay-Z emerge from chaos defiant, triumphant

Review: On ‘Everything Is Love,’ Beyonce and Jay-Z emerge from chaos defiant, triumphant

In 2016 Beyoncé dropped Lemonade, a culture-quaking song cycle about her troubled marriage to Jay-Z, and more broadly about the black female experience in America. It was her best and most meaningful work, and it was nominated for Album of the Year a...
Published: 06/19/18
XXXTentacion, controversial Florida rapper and singer, shot dead at 20

XXXTentacion, controversial Florida rapper and singer, shot dead at 20

The last words posted to XXXTentacion's Instagram Stories on Monday afternoon: "planning a charity event for this weekend Florida!"Whatever it was, it would have been huge. The 20-year-old singer-rapper was among the biggest — and most controve...
Published: 06/18/18
SoundBytes: Mat Kearney, Gladys Knight, Big Boi, Ski Mask the Slump God and more

SoundBytes: Mat Kearney, Gladys Knight, Big Boi, Ski Mask the Slump God and more

— Singer-songwriter Mat Kearney is returning to the Ritz Ybor on Sept. 27, with Atlas Genius opening. Tickets start at $26.50. Click here for details.— Also coming to the Ritz Ybor in September: South Florida rapper (and a new member of X...
Published: 06/18/18
George Lopez, Cedric the Entertainer, more bringing Comedy Get Down tour to Tampa

George Lopez, Cedric the Entertainer, more bringing Comedy Get Down tour to Tampa

Nothing like outdoor comedy on a mid-November night in Florida, right?Okay, so it's not a club or theater or even an arena, and it rarely hosts comedy shows of any kind. Still, the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre will bring a host of fans when t...
Published: 06/18/18
Daryl Hall and John Oates talk about becoming cool again, their creative partnership and more

Daryl Hall and John Oates talk about becoming cool again, their creative partnership and more

In their prime, Daryl Hall and John Oates were a pop-music punch line, enormous stars on radio and MTV, yet as critically uncool as they come. Maneater, Private Eyes, Kiss On My List and Out of Touch all hit No. 1, but were no one's idea of cutting e...
Published: 06/18/18
Kesha, 311, ‘Walking Dead,’ more announce cruises departing from Tampa

Kesha, 311, ‘Walking Dead,’ more announce cruises departing from Tampa

Kesha faced the camera with a gleam behind her sunglasses and addressed her fans."We're going on a cruise!" she said in an announcement video unveiled Thursday. "We should all go on this cruise together. So I'll see you on the high seas of the Caribb...
Published: 06/15/18
Hall and Oates are cool again, and they talked to us

Hall and Oates are cool again, and they talked to us

We will, in a minute, get to how Daryl Hall and John Oates suddenly got so cool. But first, Oates has to tell you about the time he almost wrestled Skrillex on stage. It happened at the 2016 Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival in South Florida. Oate...
Published: 06/14/18
Auditions for ‘America’s Got Talent’ coming to Tampa

Auditions for ‘America’s Got Talent’ coming to Tampa

Do you sing? Tell jokes? Dance? Can you balance your Scottish terrier on your nose?Then circle Dec. 10 on your calendar, because that's the day America's Got Talent auditions are coming to Tampa. The show will set up camp and judge your talents start...
Published: 06/13/18