When we spoke to outgoing 97X programming director Michael "Shark" Sharkey recently, he hinted that this year's 97X Backyard BBQ lineup could be a game-changer. "This one's going to be really, really big," he said.
He wasn't kidding. The station on Friday unveiled the lineup for its annual spring festival, and it's chock full of fresh, up-and-coming talent. Two big British acts -- Pompeii hitmakers Bastille, who recently played Saturday Night Live, and Chocolate rockers The 1975 -- will headline this year's 97X Backyard BBQ, May 17 at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg. Sleeper Agent, Kongos, Bad Suns, SIR SLY, Skaters, the Orwells and Wild Cub round out the bill.
As always, the Backyard BBQ is a free (but ticketed) show, but this year, there's a clever twist. If you can't wait for -- or are just too lazy to drive to -- a ticket drop in your neighborhood, you can go ahead and buy tickets for $20 via Ticketmaster. VIP tickets are $50, and include shade, a private bar and restrooms and closer proximity to the artists.
Here's what makes this year's Backyard BBQ lineup so intriguing: While 97X can sometimes tend to rely on the same bands to play show after show after show, year after year after year (ahem, Paper Tongues/Sick Puppies/Manchester Orchestra) this lineup is loaded with mostly new faces.
Sleeper Agent has played 97X Next Big Thing, but Bastille and The 1975 -- who had to drop out of last year's Next Big Thing lineup at the last minute -- are two of the hottest modern rock acts of the moment, and neither has played a big, feature gig in Tampa Bay. South African outfit Kongos are storming the charts with their hit single Come With Me Now, and young Chicago group the Orwells, who recently opened for Arctic Monkeys at Jannus Live, recently went viral after their performance on the Late Show with David Letterman.
Click here for ticket drop locations and more details on the 2014 97X Backyard BBQ.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*