TWENTY ONE UP: 97X Next Big Thing
How's this for a stunningly swift rise: In 2011, Ohio alt-pop duo Twenty One Pilots practically opened 97X Next Big Thing, taking the stage at 10:40 a.m. This year, on the strength of their No. 1 album Blurryface, they're closing the whole show — and ticket sales have been through the roof since Day 1. Twenty One Pilots might very well be the poster band for Next Big Thing, which returns for a 15th year Saturday in Tampa. It's an alt-rock festival that's all about showing love to new acts, then watching them skyrocket into the stratosphere. This year delivers one of its youngest and most intriguing lineups yet, with Icelandic folksters Of Monsters and Men (Little Talks), swoony Cali rockers the Neighbourhood (Sweater Weather) and good-time fun bunch Walk the Moon (Shut Up and Dance) joining Twenty One Pilots at the top of the card. Further down are red-hot rookies like X Ambassadors (Renegades), Robert DeLong (Long Way Down), Coleman Hell (2 Heads), Borns (Electric Love) and PVRIS (My House), along with fellow youngsters Saint Motel and Glass Animals. How fresh is this bunch? Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness is this year's token wily old veteran, and McMahon is all of 33. Time flies, doesn't it? Just ask Twenty One Pilots. Next Big Thing relocated this year from Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg back to Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N. Gates open at 10 a.m., and the show starts at 11. The show is officially sold out, but you'll be able to win tickets via 97X through Friday. Get details at 97xonline.com.
CHECK OUT THE HOOKS: Legends of the Old School
You can debate whether Vanilla Ice is "old school," and you can most definitely debate whether he's a legend. But you can't deny that Friday's Legends of the Old School concert at the USF Sun Dome, featuring Mr. Rob Van Winkle rocking the mic like a vandal, will be one nonstop neon party. Ice joins a slew of late-'80s/early-'90s hip-pop acts at the Dome, including headliners Salt-N-Pepa (Push It, Shoop, Whatta Man), Naughty By Nature (O.P.P., Hip Hop Hooray), Color Me Badd (I Wanna Sex You Up, All 4 Love), K7 and TKA (Come Baby Come, Louder Than Love) and a sadly Uncle Luke-free 2 Live Crew (Me So Horny). Spandex, Zubaz and high-top fades are not required for admission, but they'll definitely be appreciated. The show's at 7:30 p.m. at the Sun Dome, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. $35 and up. (727) 974-3004. sundomearena.com.
KNOW JOE: Joe Bonamassa
Could the best blues rocker in America be a 38-year-old white guy from the suburbs of Utica, N.Y.? Well, "best" is a relative term, but Joe Bonamassa might very well be the most successful. A disciple of British greats like Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Jeff Beck, he is — in addition to being a massive live concert draw — a prodigious self-marketer, hawking everything from DVDs to pedals to bobbleheads to guitar-shaped cheese boards through his website. He's no Gene Simmons just yet; most casual music fans have probably never heard of him (his store also sells T-shirts that say "Bona-who?"). But anyone who can sell tickets for $92.75 and up for back-to-back concerts at Ruth Eckerd Hall is doing something right. Bonamassa performs at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.
JINGLE BELL ROCK: Holiday concerts
It's the holiday season, which means it's time to dust the mothballs off that Krampussian nightmare you call a sweater and get yourself to a holiday concert. These yuletide shows typically feature a ton of saccharine comfort and joy from an array of rock, pop, jazz and Christian artists. But you'll usually get a few of each artist's usual hits, too, so they're not bad deals even if you're still in Grinch mode. In the last week alone, Tampa Bay theaters have hosted yuletide shows from Dave Koz, Kenny G and the New York Tenors. And there are more coming starting next week. Here's a rundown.
. Tuesday: Chris Tomlin, 8 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall. $35 and up.
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Wednesday: Jim Brickman, 7:30 p.m., Capitol Theatre. $35 and up.
Dec. 10: Peter White with Mindi Abair and Rick Braun, 7:30 p.m., Capitol Theatre. $42.75 and up.
Dec. 11: Bowzer's Holiday Party with Sha Na Na, Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone, Gary "U.S." Bonds and more; 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall. $38.75 and up.
Dec. 13: Bronx Wanderers, 1 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall. $18 and up.
Dec. 13: Trans-Siberian Orchestra, 3 and 7:30 p.m., Amalie Arena. $33 and up.
Dec. 16: Celtic Woman, 7:30 p.m., Mahaffey Theater. $57.50 and up.
Dec. 17: Rockapella, 7:30 p.m., Capitol Theatre. $30 and up.
Dec. 20: Michael McDonald, 8 p.m., Capitol Theatre. $79 and up.
Dec. 21: Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack, 1 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall. $18 and up.
Contact Jay Cridlin at email@example.com or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.