By Anita Stewart, Journalist and Chyrisse Tabone, Photographer–Rock At Night Tampa
Venue: Curtis Hixon Park, Downtown Tampa, Florida–March 10, 2018–Review for Saturday’s Event
This weekend, Rock at Night was at Tampa’s seventh Gasparilla Music Festival at Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park, right on the riverside and at the site of the old legendary music venue, Curtis Hixon Hall. This is rapidly becoming the to-be-seen festival in the Tampa Bay. The artists are from everywhere, out west, up north and plenty of our local mainstays such as Ella Jet, the Ries Brothers and Mountain Holler. The lineup covers a multitude of genres from alt rock, to hiphop, country, Americana—there is something for everybody. The temperature was perfect in spite of the gray sky and rain was in the forecast.
Following a “giving back” model of operations, the Gasparilla Music Festival takes great pride in their sustainability accomplishments noted in their program. Some of these include: composting over 200 pounds of vendor food waste in 2017, reducing car use by offering a valet service for those using bikes, eliminating the use of plastic water bottles by offering boxed water to attendees, just to name just a few of the environmental efforts that make this event a success.
Cool for adults, families with small children, teens and even the older crowd, there is entertainment for all tastes—and including a multitude of trendy food items offered at food trucks from local restaurants, including barbecue, Venezuelan arepas, and chicken and waffles. We went back to our old favorite, the Coffee and Donuts vendor, whom is always friendly and serves hot, fresh donuts either plain or with toppings with a smile. Coffee is offered iced, hot or whatever way you like it–perfect for dunking.
Something we have not seen at previous festivals were acoustic bands playing unplugged sets in different spots throughout the grounds. We saw two of these bands, Hope and Grace, two young women singers with a great backing band, (we can’t find them on the official lineup) and the Underhill Family Orchestra that hail from Alabama. Both acts charmed us and had us wanting to know more about them and their music!
The first band in Saturday’s main stage (Frontier) lineup that we saw was The Record Company, a power rock band from Los Angeles. I can’t say enough about how amazing this three-piece act is! They reminded us of other power bands such as ZZ Top. Pure, unadulterated licks, thumping drums and bass and an incredible stage presence! The band was noted as one of the ten you need to know about by Rolling Stone Magazine in 2016. Don’t miss them.
The four-piece, all girl band, Warpaint took the stage right after; also hailing from Los Angeles. They have been through a lot of morphing over their fourteen years of existence and their genre has been described as art rock, dream pop, psychedelic. They recently opened for Depeche Mode and will also be the supporting band for some of the dates for the Harry Styles tour coming up in May. Way to go!
About midway into Warpaint’s set, it started to sprinkle and very slowly turned into a heavy deluge with people taking cover in the vending tents, up in the overhangs near the museums, and in the VIP tent. We joined the partiers at the latter as an impromptu disco began with people dancing near the DJ stand, music thumping–totally fun and blissful! We had a blast!
Spoon began as the rainstorm was maxing out and then it wound down to a slight sprinkle; a band to see…trending everywhere and with many songs to hear getting constant airplay on the radio. Their latest album is their ninth studio offering and is titled “Hot Thoughts.” Formed in Austin, Texas in 1993, the band is considered experimental rock, art rock and indie. They too have switched out members, been through changes and remain true to their music by constant touring and recording.
The Roots was the band to see! With their old school hip-hop and rap, they had everyone in the crowd moving, singing, dancing and digging their incredibly professional stage presence and musicianship! Rock At Night photographer Chyrisse was in the photo pit and observed young women tumbling over the barricade and vying for a chance to shake the hand of the lead singer. They were holding up their cell phones and videotaping the concert as this rowdy crowd put on their dancing shoes.
The Roots was the festival’s first time headlining a hip-hop act and no one on stage stopped moving for about an hour and a half; they put on quite a show! The bass, tuba, and guitar players were constantly prancing and dancing in a choreographed fashion on stage and were very entertaining to the eyes as well as visually appealing. Hailing from Philadelphia, they formed in 1987 and have ten studio albums to their credit. Their collaborations with other notable musicians such as Jill Scott are legendary. They have been the house band for Jimmy Fallon on both of his late night shows since 2009.
Rock At Night looks forward to the Gasparilla Music Festival every year, which is becoming a very solid Tampa Bay tradition. Great job, folks!
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