By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Venue: Blast Friday Concert Series, Downtown Clearwater near Cleveland Street and Fort Harrison Avenue-February 23, 2018–THE ROMANTICS
Blast Friday Concert Series consists of a monthly free concert in downtown Clearwater, Florida, held between January and May. The tradition, which is presented by Ruth Eckerd Hall On the Road and Bank of America, started in 2009 and features nationally recognized and local bands on a street stage set up at the corner of Cleveland Street and Fort Harrison Avenue, near the Starbucks. There are plenty of food trucks, vendors selling goods, and wine available to the public as they partake in the fun.
I was really excited to hear The Romantics, one of my favorite New Wave bands (I guess it is called “First Wave” now), was going to perform in the series—and with three original members. The evening of February 23rd could not have been more perfect weatherwise—balmy “shorts weather” and no humidity. I saw plenty of folks sitting in lawn or sports chairs around the stage, which was partitioned for Super VIP and VIP folks (one can pay to have an upclose-seat, meet & greet time, and beer). The price ranged between $29-$49, which is very reasonable by today’s standards, trust me.
I arrived at the tail end of a set by local band Mama’s Batch, which were playing a nice blend of blues, funk, and soul to warm up the crowd. Finally, the Romantics, came on the stage, doing their rock star voguing and the drummer tossed his sticks and made comical faces, which spiced up the whole “rock ‘n’ roll” mystique. Their brand of music is really a retro 60s or 50s sound, which was revived in the late-70s and early-80s during the whole punk, rockabilly resurgence. Since I am originally from Detroit, The Romantics have always held a soft spot in my heart—not to mention memories were created while listening to their radio hits. As a teen, we girls loved their distinctive teased up “punky” hair, their “bad boy” persona, and of course, their music.
While watching the concert, I was totally getting into their music and chair dancing, moving my arms with the beat; however, the audience, just sat there staring like zombies. I could not believe it! The audience was totally lame! I find it to be disrespectful to go to a concert and not show some sort of enthusiasm and a show of hands. Even Wally Palmer asked if “people in the back could hear the band” and finally said, “Can you help me out there? Don’t just sit there!” I noticed this “lame audience” phenomenon occurs during festival events or concerts with a broad-base of people and not “band fanatics”. When Ghost was playing at the 98Rock concert people were just mulling around, hardly paying attention, and the band noticed.
When The Romantics played The Animals’ cover “We Gotta’ Get Out of This Place” (which I’m sure they were thinking since the crowd was so dull), the concert-goers finally perked up a bit and mouthed the words. The crowd showed a little life by clapping and head-bobbing a bit when the band played their big hit “Talking in Your Sleep” which was totally awesome!
The Romantics sounded fantastic and as professionals, put on a great show! Other notable songs included “Stone Pony”, “Tom Boy”, the Underdogs’ “Judy Be Mine”, and the Kinks’ “She’s Got Everything”. They ended the evening with “What I Like About You” and finally—yes, FINALLY—the audience rose to their feet and moved.
I love The Romantics—and really, would like to see them again—in a venue with an audience of devoted fans. They played well and I enjoyed the show, but deserve the adulation and respect they earned.
UPCOMING FRIDAY BLAST EVENTS
As for Blast Friday, the monthly street parties feature food and drinks and free music, with limited VIP seats ($29-$49) near the stage. Those tickets go on stage Friday. Here’s the full lineup:
Jan. 26: Richard Elliot
Feb. 23: The Romantics
March 30: Lords of 52nd Street
April 27: 10,000 Maniacs (and before you ask, no, Natalie Merchant is no longer part of the group)
May 25: Greg Billings Band and the Black Honkeys
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