Music festhusiasts were left with a difficult choice when Antiwarpt stepchildren Plan-B Block Party and Don’t Stop St. Petersburg fell on the same day last year. Not the case in 2014, and local music fans are the big winners now that everyone is playing nice. CL thoroughly documented Plan B two weeks ago, and today we look ahead to Don’t Stop, which spreads nearly 50 bands across seven venues.
Already whimsical on its own, downtown St. Pete will reach a whole new level of enchanting on Saturday when hundreds of live music enthusiasts descend on the half-mile stretch of Central, First, and Baum avenues for nearly 12 hours. Navigating through so many different sounds and over so much real estate can be a daunting task, however, and the sets you accidentally stumble upon will probably lead to you finding your new favorite band. We’re suggesting a few things you should go out of your way to notice, anyway...
Get the goods early at Green Bench
Early birds can ease into Don’t Stop by spending its twilight hours at Green Bench. The postcard picturesque courtyard is set to be packed with activity thanks to more than 30 vendors hawking food, drink and goods from the Local Buds market. Charge up with a glass of Commune + Co. cold brew or snag a bottle of the Bell Fleur/Green Bench collaboration saison bath salve, then park your ears at the brewery stage at 6 p.m. when three back-to-back acts provide an hour of warm acoustic offerings to compliment the brewery’s cold suds.
Bradenton’s Kristopher James plies the kind of singer-songwriter fare that might get lost in the background if it were being blasted from a Muzak receiver. Thank God it’s not. Tunes like “Humming Hallelujah,” “My Love” and “Where Is Your Sting” are backed by deceptively simple, careful arrangements that feel majestic when the 31-year-old unleashes a soulful, effortlessly powerful croon. Avery Moore won’t be performing with her sister Hunter, but one half of the vocals on “Mermaid by the Sea” will still probably be enough please fans of the folk-pop set and bands like First Aid Kit or The Staves. Former Set And Setting bassist John Allen Kreft wields a six-string these days, and we’re glad. His new Shadowed Mountain EP clearly draws from emo’s glory days, and while the festival’s lineup doesn’t feature a big national band on a reunion run, it’s hard not to think of American Football when Kreft works through tricky guitar lines on songs like “Portlandia” and “Blazing Saddles.”
The nationals (and local nationals, too)
There’s definitely out-of-town love happening on Saturday. Ex Cult — a power-punk trio from Memphis — are touring behind their brand new Midnight Passenger LP, and the band’s bitter, hard-nosed, no-bullshit rock will play a good foil to Beach Fossil’s more laid-back vibe. Art fans should pick up Greg “Stainboy” Reinel’s sweet, custom Don’t Stop poster for Atlanta dream-pop makers The Electric Sons, and anyone looking to let loose and dance should catch the band’s Local 662 set, too.
The ‘Burg boasts a few nationally-known acts of its own, and Set And Setting are the quintessential case in point. The instrumental five-piece ramped up their touring schedule over the last two years and earned a growing legion of fans across the country drawn to the dramatic, cinematic, metal opuses they’ve stitched together on their Prosthetic Records debut, A Vivid Memory. Indie-pop outfit Goodnight Neverland originates from Seminole and New Port Richey, but the band’s super-polished sound (as well as Kerry Courtney’s powerful coo on songs like “Mental Illness”) suggest that Goodnight Neverland should be reaching wider audiences sooner or later.
Late Night Libations
If your body can get you to 11 p.m., then bring it to The Bends, order a stiff drink and let your mind get fucked by the late night lineup. The Gun Hoes’ surfy, jangled, garage rock is as catchy as it is strange, and their brand new Lust at the Beach EP is a 12-minute mess of pop-loving, scuzzed-out madness that begs to be listened to over and over again. St. Pete’s Kid Aids supposedly played their last show in July, but they’re getting it back together for one more night of abrasive punk rock. CL Best Of The Bay-winning band Jensen Serf Company opened for Ty Segall, released a 12-inch, and a recorded a four-track EP of new songs all in the last year. Expect their variety of salt-kissed, reverb-drenched punk to be extra potent when they shut the show down.
Don't Stop Kick-Off Party
with Black Coast Royals, Selectric, Rhetorics, Fri., Oct. 17, 9 p..m., Fubar, Ybor City, free admission.
Don’t Stop St. Pete
with Ex-Cult, Set and Setting, Goodnight Neverland, Tides of Man, The Electric Sons, The Resolvers, Crown Marquiss & many more, Sat., Oct. 18, 5 p.m., The Amsterdam, The Bends, Fubar, Green Bench Brewing, The Local 662, Morean Arts Center and State Theatre, St. Petersburg, $15 in advance/$20 dos, dontstopstpete.com.