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Taylor Swift, Imagine Dragons, J. Cole top massive concert week

Associated Press Taylor Swift seen during \u201CTaylor Swift\u2019s reputation Stadium Tour\u201D at Papa John\u2019s Cardinal on Saturday, June 30, 2018, in Louisville, Ky. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Published Aug. 8, 2018

READY FOR IT? Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift's 1989 Tour was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, filled to the hilt with special guests (Idina Menzel and Alessia Cara in Tampa!) and magical memories. Her Reputation Tour, which hits Raymond James Stadium at 7 p.m. Tuesday, isn't quite the same beast — fewer surprise guests outside openers Camila Cabello and Charli XCX — but in some ways, it's even better. It's Swift at her most theatrical, her most stadium-sized, with outlandish set pieces that will transform the field into a playground of snakes and stages. Reputation is a hit-and-miss album, one focused more on mood and 'tude than the smart, melodic hooks of Swift's earlier work. But the tour behind it will be one for the ages. $47 and up. raymondjamesstadium.com.

HIT KINGS: Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons are the biggest under-35 rock band in America. Process that while you try to come up with an alternative. Twenty One Pilots? Alabama Shakes? Paramore? Vampire Weekend? Haim? None have hits quite like these guys, including crossover smashes like Demons, Thunder, Believer and Whatever It Takes. That kind of success breeds haters who think Imagine Dragons are too pop to be rock, too latter-day Coldplay, which (A) is true, and (B) shouldn't be an insult. But you can't argue with the live power of Radioactive, one of the many reasons their show at 7 p.m. Friday is quite sold out. Grace VanderWaal opens at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. (813) 740-2446. livenation.com.

KILLING 'EM: J. Cole

There's only one feature on J. Cole's new album KOD, and it's J. Cole himself. More accurately, it's Kill Edward, an alter ego inspired by his stepfather. Fitting, since Cole's work tends to be more clear-eyed and introspective than a lot of other rappers'. There's a bit of old-school back-in-my-dayism to KOD, but that only endears him to his Dreamville diehards, who will pack out the second show on his fall tour at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Cole's intriguing cast of guests and openers includes Young Thug, Jaden Smith, EarthGang and, ahem, "Kill Edward" himself. $45.75 and up. (813) 301-2500. amaliearena.com.

LONG GAME: American Football

Seventeen years is a long time between albums. It might feel even longer when your band spent most of that time broken up, with a couple of members leaving the music industry altogether. But patience paid off for American Football, the Illinois emo group who broke up in the wake of their cult-classic 1999 self-titled debut album, then reformed in 2014. When they come to Florida for the first time this week, playing the Orpheum at 7 p.m. Friday, the venue will be packed with diehards. "We're not taking any of this for granted," said drummer Steve Lamos. "If and when it goes away, it's been pretty magical." You Blew It opens. 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $28.50 and up. (813) 248-9500. theorpheum.com.

Click here for more with American Football's Steve Lamos.

RING A BELL? The Alarm

Mike Peters isn't intimidated by playing a show in Clearwater the same night Taylor Swift plays Tampa. Not as a cancer survivor whose band, the Alarm, has been compared to U2 for decades. "I can't wait to come share the life experiences I've had, and life I'm lucky enough to live, for all those audiences who are going to shun Taylor Swift and come out and see the Alarm," Peters said by phone recently. (For the record, Peters, 59, said he has "a lot of respect for the artistry" in Swift's music.) The Welsh post-punk survivor brings the Alarm to town for the first time since early-'80s tours with U2 and the Pretenders, but fans who always believed they should have been bigger will be there singing Sixty Eight Guns or Blaze of Glory. 8 p.m. Tuesday. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St. $20 and up. (727) 791-7400. atthecap.com.

For more with the Alarm's Mike Peters, see tampabay.com/soundcheck.

VOICES CARRY Pentatonix

This bears repeating as harmoniously as you can manage: AN A CAPPELLA BAND IS HEADLINING THE MIDFLORIDA CREDIT UNION AMPHITHEATRE. Wild, right? But that's the power of Pentatonix, the irresistible vocal quintet known for viral YouTube covers and so, so many Christmas albums. They have millions of diehard fans who admire not only their talent but for taking what was once a beloved but niche genre to the Grammys and No. 1 on the charts. Check them out live, and you might start singing their praises, too. Echosmith opens. 8 p.m. Thursday. MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $25 and up. (813) 740-2446. livenation.com.

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