ODD BIRD: EARL SWEATSHIRT
At some point, Earl Sweatshirt had to show up. For years, his mysterious backstory — exiled as a teen to a boy's academy in Samoa, MIA as his rap crew Odd Future rose to stardom, plagued by addiction and health issues that kept him out of the public eye — threatened to overshadow anything he might have to say as an artist.
But here he is, touring again behind acclaimed new LP, I Don't Like S---, I Don't Go Outside, and back on the road to Tampa. Sweatshirt had to postpone an April show at the Orpheum due to illness, but he'll make good on that date Tuesday.
The delay has given fans a few more months to digest and memorize I Don't Like S---, one of the year's weirdest yet most compelling rap releases. Self-produced under the moniker randomblackdude (an alias for an alias; how very Earl), it's loaded with noirish samples and instrumentation — deep-canyon pianos, sparse drumbeats, groaning bass wobbles — and paced not for a party, but for a long, dark night of self-reflection.
Lyrically, at least, Sweatshirt has always been an open book. The son of a law professor and a poet, he wrestles with his existence in nearly every verse — his addictions, his image, his family, his friends, his fame. On the austere Grief, he raps: "Focused on my chatter, ain't as frantic as my thoughts / Lately I've been panicking a lot / Feeling like I'm stranded in a mob / scrambling for Xanax out the canister to pop." Dark stuff, but that's Earl.
Tickets ($30) from Sweatshirt's April concert will be honored at this show, although his original tourmate Vince Staples won't be on hand. Instead, he'll be joined by East Coast up-and-comer Remy Banks at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. theorpheum.com.
X APPEAL: GERI X
Fifteen albums in, Geri X is finally opening up.
Not that she was a closed book before — the Bulgarian-born singer-songwriter is one of Tampa Bay's most visible musicians, thanks in part to her passionate, confessional songs. And her packed performance schedule over the past decade means local music fans have had plenty of time to get to know her.
But her new EP The Low Road is "a collection of songs that are new and songs from eight to 10 years ago that have never left my bedroom," said Geri, 26. "I think I've only played one of them live, ever. It's sort of a passion project."
The Low Road partly chronicles a dark year in Geri's life, during which she struggled with anxiety, alcohol and the pressures of touring. "I suppose a decade on the road eventually catches up to you," she said. "I lost my s---, just lost my marbles completely — a lot of drinking, a lot of not sleeping, no personal space."
She took a year off touring and stayed at home in St. Petersburg, "enjoying the fact that I have my own bed and my own shower." The resulting EP, she said, is one of the most personal things she has ever done.
"The panic and anxiety attacks have gone down significantly," she said. "I'm happy. I've finally been able to make friends. I'm close to my family. It's nice to feel like I have a sense of belonging now. Every time I come home, back to St. Pete, I feel like I'm a part of a community, as opposed to just visiting (or) being elusive, always on the road, never really having any roots tied down anywhere. I feel a lot better."
A limited batch of 150 hand-made copies of The Low Road will be available starting at an album release show at 9 p.m. Saturday at New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. Shawn Kyle and the Black Coast Royals are also on the bill. (813) 248-4969.
For more with Geri X, click here.
TAYLOR REMADE: 7TH AVENUE BAND SLAM
We're a little more than two months from T-Day — the day Taylor Swift parachutes into Tampa for a show at Raymond James Stadium. But we see no reason not to go ahead and start pregaming. So, head to the Ritz Ybor on Saturday for the 7th Avenue Band Slam Homecoming, a Swift-themed celebration of the venue's long-running battle of the bands.
Each year, local artists are given different artists to cover as they compete for cash and prizes. Multi-instrumental jam-rockers Dropin Pickup, for example, took home the 2013 trophy by covering Foo Fighters' Let It Die in the opening round and Bon Jovi's You Give Love a Bad Name in the championship. In addition to cash and prizes, they won a distribution deal, which helped get their music on streaming services like Pandora. "We've gotten our first royalties, which is nice," singer Mike Farrell said.
Saturday's show isn't a competition, but four past winning bands — Mighty Mongo (2010), Rising Down (2012), Dropin Pickup (2013) and Supros (2014) will return to perform original tunes plus at least one surprise Swift cover. Farrell refused to let slip which song Dropin Pickup is tackling. "We're trying to find something that we all agree on, and something that stays true to our message, and trying to make it sound like us," he said.
The show is at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Ritz, 1503 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. General admission tickets are $10-$15; VIP tickets are $30 and include two drinks. yborbandslam.com.