For the second year in a row, I surived the Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival, held last weekend in South Florida. This time, I made my main goal discovering new music and spending as much time at the stages as possible. My ambition earned me 59 live shows, at least 10 miles traveled by foot each day and a soundtrack to last me a lifetime.
Dressed in his Sunday best, Leon Bridges jived his way to the microphone at center stage. It was his first performance in Tampa Bay, and the packed house at Ruth Eckerd Hall Wednesday night was on their feet.
Bridges, a 27-year-old musician hailing from Fort Worth, Texas, has a voice as crisp as a winter morning and a sound that makes you nostalgic for simpler times. His 2015 debut album Coming Home revived ‘50s and ‘60s soul and gospel with a long-forgotten sincerity....
(Through the end of the year on Soundcheck, our contributors are looking back at the best local concerts of 2015. Today: Soundcheck contributor Stephanie Bolling.)
Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman (Feb. 14, Tampa Theatre): The one-night only gig dubbed “Heartbreak Hotel” featured music, readings and a Q&A with rock star Amanda Palmer and her husband, author Neil Gaiman. Together, they showcased their love, work and devotion to their fans (and disdain of Valentine’s Day). Palmer performed popular hits on the piano and Gaiman read book excerpts at the podium. The exclusive gig provided an insight into the couple’s personal life and art forms, making it memorable benchmark for adoring fans....
Review: Chris Cornell covers his career in stripped-down, spellbinding set at St. Petersburg's Mahaffey Theater10/31/15 Blog
Chris Cornell is a friendly man.
The Grammy-winning singer of Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog and supergroup Audioslave showed up to the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg on Friday night for a solo acoustic performance, and immediately began chatting up the audience after high-fiving front-row fans. The man is credited as a pioneer of the ‘90s grunge movement, has a 31-year musical career and 15 albums in his back pocket, yet he talked to the sold-out crowd like they were old friends....
The State Theatre on Friday night resembled the kind of a fogged-out, trippy vape den you’d want to walk into at a Brooklyn bar at 2 a.m.
Chill vibes emanated from the sold-out crowd, who all came to drink in Toro y Moi, a South Carolina-bred band spearheaded by musical visionary Chaz Bundick.
Bundick has slowly gained a chillwave cult following since his 2010 freshman release Causers of This, and has continued to garner more attention in his progressively malleable musical wizardry. With each studio album, Bundick has explored and evolved his artform across genres. Noted for his '70s soft rock vibe (minus the yacht), Bundick transcendentally fuses elements of indie electronica, psychedelia and sprinkles of rock and R&B to create an ambient sound that’s perpetually peppy....
Review: Bleachers transcend cookie-cutter pop with energy, positivity at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg03/26/15 Blog
Bleachers released their first album, Strange Desire, eight months ago, and are selling out small venues across the country. But they didn’t get to the spotlight by luck, as frontman Jack Antonoff has earned his musical clout and paid his dues as a member of Steel Train and Fun.
I must admit that I went into Bleachers’ sold-out concert Wednesday at the State Theatre a hater. Personally, the studio cuts appeared trite, cheesy catchy and cookie-cutter, aside from Antonoff’s distinct vocals....
“This is very serious,” said author Neil Gaiman, before he launched into a duet of Makin’ Whoopee with his rock star wife, Amanda Palmer.
The unlikely couple invited their crossover of fans to converge at the Tampa Theatre on Valentine’s Day for a one-night-only special occasion dubbed “Heartbreak Hotel,” where they shared their most heartbreaking stories from their repertoire, including personal anecdotes, songs, poems and book excerpts....
(Through the end of the year on Soundcheck, our contributors will be looking back at the best local concerts of 2014. Up first: tbt*’s Stephanie Bolling.)
The Black Angels (Feb. 26, Daddy Kool Records): The main gig at the State Theater did not disappoint, but it was the free, intimate Daddy Kool show a few hours before that makes the cut. The rareness, realness and unpretentiousness of a band posting up and playing five songs at a local record store, interact with fans within arms’ length and still sound impeccable ... bravo!...
Review / photos: Primus bring wonderfully weird 'Chocolate Factory' to life at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater11/13/14 Blog
What went down at Ruth Eckerd Hall Wednesday was part brilliance and part insanity. To put it simply, Primus went Willy Wonka.
The band, known for South Park’s theme song and the 1995 hit Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver, presented “Primus and the Chocolate Factory,” a live incarnation of their latest album, Primus and the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble, an homage to the 1971 film starring Gene Wilder....
There’s no doubt Jannus Live was the beating heart of downtown St. Petersburg Sunday night, with about 2,000 fans pulsing in the city’s core as they rocked out to alternative rock outfit Brand New.
Tickets to the much-anticipated gig sold out in less than an hour back in May, despite the band ironically not releasing anything brand new in five years.
And fans had to wait a little longer. Just after the lights went down and the crowd grew restless, Olivia Newton-John’s Please Don’t Keep Me Waiting comically played out in its entirety. Then the smokey silhouette of frontman Jesse Lacey appeared behind a flora-wrapped mic stand....
Electronic newcomer Chvrches (pronounced “churches”) made their inaugural appearance in the Sunshine State this week, a year after their debut album The Bones of What You Believe peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard charts.
Their bubblegum synth-pop isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but between being featured on the FIFA '14 soundtrack, covers of songs by artists ranging from Bauhaus to Prince and their ties to the esoteric witch house crew, they’ve garnered a diverse fan base hailing from their homestead in Scotland to an almost sold-out show at the Ritz Ybor Monday night. ...
Review: Local Natives warm a packed State Theatre in St. Petersburg with meaningful, memorable melodies04/17/14 Blog
Review: Avett Brothers deliver a dynamic, harmonic set of folk and rock at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa03/30/14 Blog
After seeing the Avett Brothers perform at the USF Sun Dome on Saturday night, I came away convinced that they’re the kind of fellas that’d take you out to a really nice dinner … if they weren’t so famous.
Buttoned up shirts, (mostly) neat hair, an air of southern gentlemen, these North Carolina boys knew how to shake down a room, sing a tender ballad and rock out while somehow maintaining total class....
Review: The Black Angels, Roky Erickson dive deep into psychedelia at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg02/28/14 Blog
Psychedelia is back. Not in the way that you feel you need magic mushrooms or LSD, but in the way guitar riffs bend and bounce back in reverb, followed by the echo of lyrics you can’t quite make out but somehow understand.
That, my friends, is the sound of the Black Angels, who played to a nearly full house at the State Theatre Wednesday night. Swallowed in a swirl of feedback and hallucinatory inducing projections, the Austin, Texas rockers took St. Petersburg on a journey into Indigo Meadow, their fourth studio album, in the way a pop-up book comes to life....
(All week on Soundcheck, our contributors are looking back at the best local concerts of 2013. Today: Soundcheck contributor Stephanie Bolling.)
The xx (Feb. 7, Ritz Ybor): ’Twas a big deal when the British trio announced several stops in oft-forgotten-Florida, including one in Ybor City. The sold-out crowd absorbed the delicate dream pop flawlessly delivered from a dark, moody-lit stage. Who knew that the intimate, breathy tracks would translate into surging, soulful musical pulses, reeling you into a deep, romantic reverie? Way to kick off 2013....