Big is Better
Like most festivals featuring a dozen-plus acts, the latest installment of 97x's Next Big Thing is a mixed bag. The Used enjoy top billing, and that's unfortunate: Their melodramatic emo metal might be the most annoying thing on the radio. Jimmy Eat World's 2001 album Bleed American is an emo classic, but the band has been in steady decline ever since. On the plus side, there's Gainesville's Against Me!, a punk quartet with a folkie's sense of social awareness. "White People for Peace," from their latest album, New Wave, gloriously recalls The Clash's best material; in a better world, it would be getting played by 97x every 60 minutes or so. The Silversun Pickups, who performed to a packed house at Crowbar in March, have had radio success with their single "Lazy Eye," and that's a positive: It's probably the fiercest indie rock offering of the year. For more information, go to 97xonline.com.
97x's Next Big Thing Seven: The Used/Jimmy Eat World/Rise Against/Angels and Airwaves/Chevelle/Paramore/Coheed & Cambria/Flyleaf/Against Me!/Silversun Pickups/The Almost/Blue October/Saosin/The Starting Line/Mutemath/Providence, 10 a.m. (doors), Sun., Dec. 2, Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa, $30-$55. —Wade Tatangelo
Since she's been gone
The first and only American Idol winner to carve herself a respectable recording career, Kelly Clarkson suffered an embarrassing setback this summer when her first arena tour was canceled due to poor ticket sales. (On a related note, Creative Loafing was pretty embarrassed, too — we listed her canceled St. Pete Times Forum show in the paper that week.) Clarkson will now play the immensely smaller and acoustically superior Ruth Eckerd Hall in support of her latest album, My December. A collection of dark, self-penned confessionals that show Clarkson's growth as an artist, it caused a public feud between the singer and bossman Clive Davis. At a recent show in Los Angeles, Clarkson was backed by a guitar-heavy band, and songs from My December dominated the set list — with her mega hit "Since U Been Gone" saved for the final encore. In a favorable review, the L.A. Times' Ann Powers noted: "Now that she's tasted blood in a real-life battle — and emerged with her grace intact — we can only wait to see what she'll do next to get those voices raised."
Kelly Clarkson, 7:30 p.m. Sat., Dec. 1, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, $41.50. —WT
Catching Up With Charlie
A former session man who played with Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and on a couple of Bob Dylan albums, Charlie Daniels' distinct blend of honky-tonk country and hard Southern rock resulted in such irreverent classics as the pro-hippie saga "Uneasy Rider," the stoner anthem "Long Haired Country Boy" and his powerhouse fiddle showcase "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." Unfortunately, Daniels got all right-wing and corny in his old age, rewriting the lyrics to both "Uneasy Rider" (dubbed "Uneasy Rider '88") and "Long Haired Country Boy" to fit his ultra-conservative views. In 2003, Daniels released the obnoxiously jingoistic single "This Ain't No Rag, It's a Flag," which was too much for even CMT. The country music TV station balked when Daniels asked to perform it at a 9/11 benefit concert. Charlie-Palooza is the country equivalent of Ozzfest: Daniels headlines with help from '90s Nashville star Mark Chesnutt ("Brother Jukebox," "Almost Goodbye,") and younger luminaries Chris Cagle ("Miss Me Baby"), Josh Gracin ("Nothin' to Lose") and Keith Anderson ("Every Time I Hear Your Name").
Charlie-Palooza, 1 p.m., Sat. Dec.1, Ford Amphitheater, 4800 N. U.S. 301, Tampa, $9.95-$59.95. —WT