By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Venue: Curtis Hixon Park, Downtown Tampa, Florida-Margarita Festival-May 26, 2018 (Canceled May 27th due to inclement weather)
Memorial weekend marked the 6th Year of the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival, which proved to be a soggy weekend in Tampa, thanks to Subtropical Storm Alberto. Usually the rainy season and stormy weather begins on June 1st with the kick-off of the hurricane season, but this month has been warm and the Gulf of Mexico has been churning.
This year’s musical lineup for the Margarita Festival, which is “one big party” for those 21 years and older, featured The Wallflowers, Everclear, Fastball, Plain White T’s, and more alt-rock bands, many favorites from the 90s. The festival was proving to be two-days of solid music entertainment and a highly- anticipated event.
All week I was on pins and needles, watching the weather, and hoping the unreliable weatherpeople were wrong again! On Saturday, May 26th, I was glued to my Weather Underground app on my cell phone and kept an eye on the Port of Tampa Skycam to see what was happening. Actually, it was mostly overcast (fine by me) with bands of sprinkles here and there.
Upon arriving at Curtis Hixon Park in early evening, the festival was actually in full swing—there was plenty of blenders of margaritas whirring, the aroma of barbecue in the air, and lots of dancing to DJ music near the Anchor Stage. Tents were set up around the park, which provided plenty of cover from the rain, featuring comfortable chairs and tables to sit. People were playing shuffleboard and Cornhole, and groups were gathered around high-top cocktail tables, enjoying themselves, despite the cloudy skies.
I arrived in time to head over to the Catania Stage to catch New York rock band The Dives. The Dives, which features Evan Stanley, released their debut EP Everybody’s Talkin’ in 2017—and are creating a buzz on both sides of the pond. A crowd gathered around the stage and seemed to be enjoying their energetic set and songs, with infectious pop-rock hooks, which harkened the feel of Tom Petty. This is no Kiss cover band as The Dives walks to the beat of their own drum.
By the time the Plain White T’s took the stage, the sprinkles of rain took on a harder pace. The crowd had swelled in numbers by this time of the evening, as concert goers traipsed to the stage area through the now muddy lawn. What a show, guys! The sound was incredible from the sound system and they played crowd favorites like “1,2,3,4”, “Hey There Delilah”, and “Rhythm of Love.” It was worth venturing into the drizzles just to hear these songs! Loved it!
As night descended, the Anchor stage took on alternating colors, which illuminated the area into a “disco dance” feel. The DJ was spinning lots of booty-shaking hits and there was plenty of bumping and grinding going on. I was able to catch a singer/guitarist and drummer which played rock cover tunes, much to the liking of the dancers.
Also by nightfall, a lot of the food vendors were putting away their goods. I tried a really tasty Korean chicken karaage dish with just the right touch of pepper, ginger, and garlic. It really hit the spot! Since most of the vendors carried alcoholic beverages, I found the lone Coke vendor which sold actual glass bottles of my fav’.
The Wallflowers hit the stage at 9:30 p.m. to a very happy yet soaked crowd of concert goers. I had to wrap my camera in plastic, put on a flimsy rain poncho, and brave the wetness—and it was well worth it. The Wallflowers played hits like “6th Avenue Heartache”, “One Headlight” and even snuck in a song from a new upcoming release. One thing that stood out about the concert was the quality of the sound. I attend plenty of outdoor festivals and this one tops it. The stage was gorgeous with rows of LED lights overhead and moving colored lights. Honestly, The Wallflowers are so underrated and seeing them live just blew me away!
It was around midnight when I found out via Instagram that Sunday’s festival day and Margarita Run were canceled due to Governor Scott’s declaration of a State of Emergency and the City of Tampa rendering the city under a Tropical Storm Warning. Bummer! My real disappointment is not seeing one of my all time favorite bands Fastball. Their latest CD Step Into Light is on constant rotation in my player. The only way I can finally see them is to go to Vegas in June (they have a five-week residency there).
Looking forward to 2019, guys!
In order of appearance
I grew up in a household full of rock music, studied journalism in college, and then became a scientist.Although my science career has served me well, music has always played a major role in my life. I grew up reading "Creem" magazine; I play several musical instruments as a "hobby";and it seems a camera has always been in my hand. Now, I am combining what I love the most--music and photography--serving as editor of Rock At Night. My motto: life is short...no regrets. Chyrisse