When we spoke to outgoing 97X programming director Michael "Shark" Sharkey recently, he hinted that this year's 97X 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, formerly known as the Backyard BBQ, 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 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 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 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.
For ticket drop locations, see tampabay.com/blogs/soundcheck.
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Pop stars lead 'Jesus Christ Superstar' lineup
Just when you think you've seen it all, a tour comes along that makes you check to make sure it's not still April Fool's Day. An all-star production of Jesus Christ Superstar is coming to the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, with a cast that includes - get ready - former Sex Pistol John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten (as King Herod), Incubus singer Brandon Boyd (as Judas), Destiny's Child's Michelle Williams (as Mary) and 'N Sync's JC Chasez (as Pontius Pilate). British actor Ben Forster will play Jesus, a role he earned by winning the British reality show Superstar.
We'll pause here while you pick up your jaw and gather your brain matter from the floor.
There is probably no question that this event, which is June 15 at the Forum, will go down as the single weirdest musical and theatrical event of the year by far. Superstar in and of itself is a classic and crowd-pleasing show, but how will America react to seeing four seemingly disconnected pop and rock stars, and a British reality TV winner, playing major roles? Tickets to the show are $44.50-$124.50 and they go on sale Friday.
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- Usually Orlando, not Tampa, gets the lion's share of big-time Latin concerts in Central Florida. But not when Fiesta Maxima comes to town. The third annual festival will return to Tampa on May 17, this time at the USF Sun Dome, with headliners Don Omar and Prince Royce. Tickets are $24.25-$101.75, and they go on sale Monday.
- The Fray have announced a run of summer tour dates, including a July 21 stop at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. Barcelona and Oh Honey will open. According to the venue, tickets are $43.25-$195, though they aren't yet on sale.
- Hogan's Beach in Tampa has lined up another big-name DJ for its summer party series: Cedric Gervais, whose remix of Lana Del Ray's Summertime Sadness was a smash hit. The party is June 15; tickets are $18.50-$30.
- Another big-name DJ, Ferry Corsten, is returning to the Amphitheatre on June 21. Tickets are $15-$25.
- Badfish - A Tribute to Sublime will return to Jannus Live on June 27, performing Sublime's 40 oz. to Freedom in its entirety. Tickets are $10-$15.