Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Tampa's Coastline Festival sets sights on new indie rock fans

John Paul Pitts knows what it's like to grow up an indie rock fan in Florida.

He's driven to Atlanta for concerts. He's road-tripped to festivals like Harvest of Hope in St. Augustine and Langerado in the Everglades. He's had to explain the Florida music scene, which he describes as "mysterious to people outside of the state," countless times over the years.

So out of all the flashy young artists at the inaugural Coastline Festival, which takes place Saturday at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre and Sunday in Pitts' hometown of West Palm Beach, it is his band, Surfer Blood, that might be the most excited to play.

"It's been a long time since we've played either of those places," said the singer. "It's really weird that we're playing the Cruzan Amphitheatre in West Palm, because that's where I watched the Red Hot Chili Peppers when I was in middle school."

It's not every day that indie rock and pop acts like Passion Pit, Two Door Cinema Club, Matt and Kim, The Neighbourhood and Surfer Blood get to play the same stage as a Hall of Fame group like the Chili Peppers. But Coastline isn't your everyday concert. It's the third in a series of midsize festivals organized by promotions titan Live Nation, which is aiming to grow its already significant influence in Florida by creating new types of music experiences in Tampa Bay.

First there was the Sunshine Music and Blues Festival in January at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg. In May came the three-day Funshine Music Festival, bringing an eclectic mix of mostly mainstream artists (Train, Smashing Pumpkins, Cheap Trick, Gary Allan) and carnival rides to the Florida State Fairgrounds.

Coastline may be Live Nation's most calculated fest yet. Dubbed a "musiculinary experience," it'll feature two stages, a craft beer garden, food-truck rally and mini art festival. They're hoping to draw more than 10,000 fans — not bad for any first-time festival, particularly one whose headliners typically play much smaller venues.

"It just seemed to me that there was a void in the marketplace to try and do something to get those 10 to 12 bands that were on the up-and-coming, but hadn't broken through," said Live Nation Florida president Neil Jacobsen. "We want to make this a little different kind of an event, a little different amphitheater experience, and I think people are going to have a great time."

An underserved market

For small to midsize indie bands, touring in far-flung Florida often doesn't make financial sense. Pitts said he relished any time a group like Animal Collective or Of Montreal came to Florida, simply because those concerts were so rare. "I feel like since they weren't shows you'd go to a lot, the ones you went to see were that much more special," he said.

Here, Jacobsen saw an opportunity. Festivals have become an increasingly important part of Live Nation's growth — the company manages the Wanee Festival in Live Oak and the South Beach Comedy Festival in Miami, among others — in part because they don't necessarily hinge on which artists may be touring at any given time.

"I can't really put together Bonnaroo or Coachella," Jacobsen said. "Those are massive, massive festivals with $10 million budgets. We don't have the site or the infrastructure to do that. But we felt we could produce a number of smaller to midsize festivals that could appeal to different genres."

Take Coastline, for example. Most events at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre are "classic rock, a lot of country, the occasional teenybop/Jonas Brothers-type band," Jacobsen said. Often left out of the mix are alternative rock fans between the ages of 15 and 30, which is the demographic Live Nation is targeting with Coastline. (Not so coincidentally, it's also the prime demographic of 97X's annual Next Big Thing concert, which last year fled the Live Nation-managed Amphitheatre for St. Pete's Vinoy Park, taking 15,000 young fans with it.)

"A lot of these kids have never been to the Amphitheatre," Jacobsen said. "We wanted kids to come there for the first time and have a different experience."

Looking to 2014

Live Nation approached this new festival series knowing there would be some trial and error involved. Funshine, for example, drew between 30,000 and 40,000 people over three days, but reviews were mixed, with some complaints about the distance between stages and too many artists (REO Speedwagon, Ted Nugent, Cheap Trick, Styx) that skewed much older.

"We learned from our mistakes," Jacobsen said. "I don't think we appealed enough to the younger demographic, as far as the talent goes."

Nevertheless, Live Nation was always committed to trying to bring all three festivals back for a second year. Sunshine will return to Vinoy Park on Jan. 19, with headliners Tedeschi Trucks Band, Galactic and Leon Russell. Funshine will be back in the spring with a new name and "radically" revamped format; Jacobsen said two headliners are already booked. And as for Coastline, "I have no doubt in my mind we'll be doing it again."

Each festival, he hopes, will be not only more user-friendly, but bigger and better as well.

"We're in it for the long haul," he said. "So hopefully we will succeed and be able to prosper and grow."

     
Comments
Hernando Symphony Orchestra ends season with ‘Kaleidoscope’ concert

Hernando Symphony Orchestra ends season with ‘Kaleidoscope’ concert

BROOKSVILLE — Some are full of bluster and bravado, while others are sentimental and romantic.And when the Hernando Symphony Orchestra closes out its season this weekend with its Kaleidoscope concert, audiences will witness the wide range of talents ...
Published: 04/24/18
SoundBytes: Tracy Morgan, Nipsey Hussle, Jimmie Vaughan and more

SoundBytes: Tracy Morgan, Nipsey Hussle, Jimmie Vaughan and more

— Tracy Morgan is coming to the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater. He'll perform there on Nov. 2. Tickets are $49.50 and up. Click here.— Former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley is returning to the Capitol Theatre on Nov. 9. Tickets are $35 and up....
Published: 04/23/18
Janelle Monae coming to Jannus Live in St. Petersburg

Janelle Monae coming to Jannus Live in St. Petersburg

Janelle Monae's Dirty Computer, which drops this Friday, is one of most music watchers' most anticipated albums of 2018.Looks like the R&B star will follow it with one of the year's most anticipated tours.Monae's Dirty Computer Tour will take her to ...
Published: 04/23/18
J Balvin coming to the USF Sun Dome in Tampa

J Balvin coming to the USF Sun Dome in Tampa

J Balvin just had himself a mighty fine Coachella.On Saturday, he popped out on stage with Beyonce to perform their hit single Mi Gente. And on Sunday, he showed up for Cardi B's set to perform I Like It with Bad Bunny.Pretty soon, Tampa can get a ta...
Published: 04/23/18
Janet Jackson coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Janet Jackson coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

A mere three years after her last trip to Tampa, Janet Jackson is on her way back.The pop icon announced a new slate of tour dates for her State of the World Tour, which has been dormant since December, and Tampa's one two Florida cities (the other i...
Published: 04/23/18
Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain talks addiction, ditching the band’s ‘Christian’ label, moving back to St. Pete and more

Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain talks addiction, ditching the band’s ‘Christian’ label, moving back to St. Pete and more

HGTV fanatic that he is, Spencer Chamberlain sees a metaphor for his band in the ever-evolving St. Petersburg skyline."When you go downtown and you look at the ONE, that used to be a dirt parking lot," said the singer, referring to a 41-story condo t...
Published: 04/23/18
Review: Kenny Chesney goes big all night in Trip Around the Sun Tour opener at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium

Review: Kenny Chesney goes big all night in Trip Around the Sun Tour opener at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium

You could drop all kinds of stats trying to size up Kenny Chesney's Trip Around the Sun Tour, which launched its 2018 run at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium Saturday night.There's the end zone-swallowing stage, 180 tons thick and half a skyscraper high...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Record Store Day 2018: Vinyl lovers flock to indie record shops across Tampa Bay

Record Store Day 2018: Vinyl lovers flock to indie record shops across Tampa Bay

Record Store Day returned Saturday, and with it hundreds of early-rising vinyl lovers hoping to score exclusive records by Prince, Neil Young, Arcade Fire, Run the Jewels, the National and many others.At spots like Bananas and Daddy Kool in St. Peter...
Published: 04/21/18
Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain talks breakup, reunion, getting sober and returning to St. Petersburg

Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain talks breakup, reunion, getting sober and returning to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — HGTV fanatic that he is, Spencer Chamberlain sees a metaphor for his band in the ever-evolving St. Petersburg skyline."When you go downtown and you look at the ONE, that used to be a dirt parking lot," said the singer, referring to a...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
RIP Avicii, an EDM superstar who helped break rave culture in America

RIP Avicii, an EDM superstar who helped break rave culture in America

Here's all you need to know about this decade's explosion of electronic dance music in America.In September of 2011, Swedish DJ Avicii played a late-night show at a nightclub on Ulmerton Road in Clearwater.By June of the following year, he was headli...
Published: 04/20/18