We're in the dog days of August, which means a lull in the Tampa Bay concert calendar before things start back up again for Labor Day weekend in September. But there's still some good music if you know where to look: Earl Sweatshirt (above), Kip Winger, Lita Ford, Audien, Tribal Seeds, Fear Factory, Rev. Billy C. Wirtz, Layzie Bone, Jauz, Dex Romweber, Remy Banks and lots of good local acts, too. Here to walk you through it all are Jay Cridlin and Ray Roa...
With Remy Banks
TUESDAY 7 p.m. Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $30. theorpheum.com.
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.
7th Avenue Band Slam Homecoming
With Mighty Mongo, Rising Down, Dropin Pickup, Supros
SATURDAY 7 p.m. Ritz Ybor, 1503 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $10-$30. yborbandslam.com.
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.
With Shawn Kyle, Black Coast Royals
SATURDAY 9 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. (813) 248-4969.
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. 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." 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. A limited batch of 150 hand-made copies of The Low Road will be available starting at this album release show.
With Kip Winger
FRIDAY 8 p.m. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $32.50-$40. (727) 791-7400.
You can't blame Lita Ford for being unable to keep her name out of juicy Web headlines. The very idea of "metal gossip blogs" was way beyond anyone's train of thought when the 56-year-old London-born, Los Angeles-raised rocker first broke through as founding guitarist of all-girl rock 'n' roll group the Runaways, and no one ever would have expected during her solo career that her nasty divorce would outshine the way she belted out tunes like Kiss Me Deadly, Shot of Poison and Ozzy Osbourne duet Close My Eyes. At this show, expect her to touch on every part of her illustrious run (which she started at just 16 years old), and do get there early to see Winger frontman Kip Winger show off his own solo acoustic chops when he opens the show.
With Shadow Laughter, NSA Boys, DJ Elsner
FRIDAY 9 p.m. American Legion Hall Seminole Post 111, 6928 Florida Ave., Tampa. Donations Accepted. (813) 236-2281.
It's no secret that Tampa Bay communities quite often come together to help out residents who are down on their luck. Still, it never gets old watching a small pocket of Seminole Heights millennials converge on their neighborhood's local American Legion to share suds, stiff drinks and good times in the name of giving a friend a hand up. That is exactly what's happening on Friday night when melodic hardcore outfit Shadow Laughter align with NSA Boys and SHOT to raise money for Elsner Nino, who broke some bones a couple months ago, forcing him into temporary retirement while he recovers from surgery. The venue is one of a kind, and if you get there earlier enough, you might be able to get in on some of the surprisingly good bar fare they're slinging at 6928 Florida Ave.
With Winta, Christian Alexander
FRIDAY 10 p.m. Amphitheatre Event Facility, 1609 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $15. (813) 873-8368.
The wub wub wub wubs coming out of Ybor City's Amphitheatre Event Facility be extra voluminous tonight. You can blame the potential noise violations on Sam Vogel. The Los Angeles-based producer better known as Jauz headlines the club's infamous # (Pound) Friday party, and if a new house and bass hybrid track with Skrillex is any indication of what's to come, expect the already popular party to be extra packed this evening. Another new collaboration — Get On Up with Pegboard Nerds, released a week ago — is an explosive house track that adds even more punchy bass to a dingy, dank sound that Jauz has been cultivating on set staples like Feel the Volume, Rock the Party, and Borgore collabo Lindsay Lohan. Locals Winta and Christian Alexander open the show.
Tampa Salsa & Bachata Festival
With Oscar D'León
SATURDAY 9 p.m. Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, 2900 Bayport Dr., Tampa. $40 and up. (813) 874-1234.
In June, Soundcheck gushed over an Amalie Arena appearance by the undisputed King of Bachata, Romeo Santos. The steamy, sold-out show lived up to all of its sexed-up, syncopated hype, and on Saturday, anyone who had an amazing time at that show might want to find themselves at the Grand Hyatt just off the Courtney Campbell Highway when the nearly week-long Tampa Salsa & Bachata Festival welcomes la Dimensión Latina and la Salsa Mayor founder Oscar D'León, whose pure joy for the Puerto Rican and Dominican musical exports shines through on every piece of his 30-year-old discography. You may be able to see Father Time's toll on the 71-year-old Venezuelan hero, but we're willing to bet his signature vocal is still wholly intact. The $40 tickets are for Saturday's concert and dancing only, but there are workshops and other parties happening if you want to spring for a more immersive experience.
With Arise Roots, The Expanders
SUNDAY 7 p.m. Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $18-$22. (727) 565-0550.
Tribal Seeds' Sunday night show might be part of a stereotypically named "Summer Smoke Out Tour," but everything else about the San Diego-based six-piece is pretty unique. Singer Tony-Ray Jacobo dutifully marries the worlds of Bob Marley and Sublime's Bradley Nowell on songs like In Your Eyes, and where other tracks like Dawn of Time and The Harvest definitely fall into the stoner-rock category, the band also drops dub-heavy rhythms (The Garden) and can even entice fans into a little "dreadbanging" with cuts like Soundwaves. A single, Blood Clot, is yet another solid cut from a 2014 LP, Representing, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard, iTunes, and Amazon.com reggae charts. Los Angeles' the Expanders (touring behind a brand new LP, Hustling Culture) and Arise Roots open the show.
'Artists Den Presents: alt-J' Screening
TUESDAY 7:30 p.m. AMC Regency (2496 W. Brandon, Blvd., Brandon), AMC Woodland Square (3128 Tampa Road, Oldsmar), Regal Citrus 20 (7999 Citrus Park Town Center, Tampa).
So this one isn't exactly a concert, but if you're an alt-J fan, then this screening of a live recorded show is going to be what you're settling on while you wait for a follow up to the band's December appearance at 97X's Next Big Thing. Put to tape at the legendary Hollywood American Legion, Artist's Den Presents: alt-J is 80 minutes long and captures the artsy, lusciously soulful UK exports performing an 18-song set for 600 lucky fans. The U.S. premiere of the film is happening at just over 400 select theatres across the country, so you can feel love with fellow fans and then make plans to go on a road trip together for alt-J's September 30 show at Orlando's Hard Rock Live.
New World Brewery Acoustic BBQ: Michelle Blades
WEDNESDAY 7 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. Free. (813) 248-4969.
You know what might go really well with some of Ybor City's finest smoked BBQ? Parisian-based, Miami- and Arizona-dwelling experimental singer-songwriter fare. That's exactly what listeners are getting with this free and early hump-day show featuring fearless folkie Michelle Blades, who has a brave new LP — ATARAXIA, released in May — in which she thrashes (Subtropical Suburban), croons (La Armada Cubana) and quietly careens (Risk Fruit) her way around 45 minutes of music that could stand confidently alongside the bevy of great albums released this year. Another Latin-influenced, jet-setting Magic City femme fatale, Womanmay, opens the show in support of her own collection of freaky, lo-fi folk (Ahi Ahi), released in July of this year.
With Ken Kong, Lenny Boi, KC Rhymes, Mr. Maze, D Greezy, Heights, Guapo, more.
THURSDAY 8 p.m. Fubar, 658 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $20-$22. (727) 424-1809.
It's 2015, and Layzie Bone is a bonfire American hero. The 40-year-old born Steven Howse enjoyed some Internet infamy in May after saving a Wyoming man who was going into diabetic shock while driving. Mr. Bone might figuratively save a few lives at this Thursday show at Fubar, too, and while the tiny space usually hosts small punk shows, this is isn't their first time hosting a full-fledged hip hop legend. Wu-Tang Clan's Masta Killa played there in March 2013, and it should be a robust crowd gathered to see a member of one of the late 1990's biggest rap groups, Grammy-winning Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, perform his solo material as well as revisit the catalog of what is still the most melodic and harmony-centric groups that rap has ever seen.
Wifisfuneral, Friday With Swamp Posse, Max P. 7 p.m. Orpheum, 1915 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $10-$30. (813) 248-9500.
Bulletboys, Friday With Demented Truth, Xplotyt, Vain Rachel, Kalus. 8 p.m. The Brass Mug, 1450 Skipper Road, Tampa. $15. (813) 972-8152.
Sean Chambers Band, Friday With No Money Down. 8 p.m. Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $10-$13. (813) 971-0666.
Hillbilly Death Match: An Evening with Rev. Billy Wirtz and Ronny Elliott, Friday 8 p.m.. The Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $15. (727) 822-3590.
Thomas & Olivia Wynn (CD Release), Friday With Andy Bray & Friends. 9 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $8. (813) 248-4969.
Keepin' D Funky Fundraiser, Saturday With Holey Miss Moley, Bath Salt Zombies, Cope, Ajeva, Row Jomah, Endless Flow, Harum Scarum, more. 1:30 p.m. The Amsterdam, 1049 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $8-$10. (727) 623-4950.
Hummingbirds (CD Release), Saturday With Rebekah Pulley & Rob Pastore, Will Quinlan. 6 p.m. The Hideaway Café, 1756 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $12. (727) 644-7895.
An Evening with the Mojo Gurus (Live Recording), Saturday 8 p.m. The Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $10-$20. (727) 822-3590.
Betty Fox Band, Saturday 8 p.m. Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $7-$10. (813) 971-0666.
Alex Retro, Saturday With Nick Jenkins. 9 p.m. Sacred Grounds, 4819 E Busch Blvd., Tampa. Free. (813) 983-0837.
Dex Romweber, Saturday With Veiny Hands, Little Sheba and the Shamans. 9 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $10-$14. (813) 241-8600.
Herd Of Watts, Saturday 9 p.m. Dunedin Brewery, 937 Douglas Ave., Dunedin. Free. (727) 736-0606.
Audien, Saturday With Basomatik, Shanta, Nasty Nate. 10 p.m. Amphitheatre Event Facility, 1609 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $15. (813) 873-8368.
Cousin Cole, Sunday With Mr. Marley, DJ Casper, DJ Lesage. 10 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. Free. (813) 241-8600.
Fear Factory, Tuesday With Once Human, Before the Mourning, Bloodline. 7 p.m. State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $16-$18. (727) 895-3045.
Black Pussy, Thursday With Ape Machine, SPAR, Cave of Swimmers. 8 p.m. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $10. (813) 248-4969.
Dean Johanesen, Thursday 8 p.m. Ale and the Witch, 111 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 821-2533.
-- Jay Cridlin and Ray Roa