Yeah, you read that right, the long-time Tampa Bay area native and WWE legend Hogan took on introductory duties himself Saturday night at Amp!d Saturday's, the Ritz Ybor's weekly Saturday EDM-charged throw down.
Saturday's Amp!d was initially scheduled as a solo set for French house DJ, Cedric Gervais, a Miami native who has made himself a Tampa favorite with frequent stops at SMF and Ybor over the years.
Shortly after 93.3-FLZ announced the addition of internationally-acclaimed DJ/producer Zedd (who we recently saw close out EDC Orlando) as headliner its Jingle Ball lineup, the Ritz booking and management team sniped on the opportunity to bring him in for a joint bill.
Prior to the main room opening, early fans ushered in to escape dropping temperatures on the street and were treated to a spirited set from Lizzy Jane in the side room. Shortly after 11 p.m., the back doors finally opened and fans crowded in amidst an opening set from Ritz regular Christian Alexander.
After he made his way off stage, fans trying to sneak off for a quick drink were likely shocked to hear the familiar booming voice of Hulk Hogan.
The 7-footer was wearing his trademark bandana and shades, with a all-caps HOGAN branded across his chest called for several "HELL YEAH" chants in preparation for the "greatest DJ on the planet," Cedric Gervais. (We think Hulk is kind of a fan.)
With the hype man's job complete, Gervais made his way to the boards for his turn in lighting up the crowd — a job which he did exceedingly well Saturday night. In his turn as opener he was easily able to get the crowd on the Hulk-mania level of energy with well known remixes like "Summertime Sadness" and "Young and Beautiful."
Whether you were watching the 38-year old frenchmen or the giddy Hogan side stage showing off his view to a lucky friend on Facetime, there wasn't much to dislike about the "early" set of the night.
After a roughly hour long set, Ritz crew wasted little time in making way for Zedd, who presumably waltzed across town after closing out the Jingle Ball concert in Amalie. For those in attendance that also caught Zedd's EDC set last month, Saturday night's set was a bit familiar — and honestly, that's just fine.
The 28-year old was signaled to the stage when the lights cut and the backing LED screen began to to light up with radiant blooms of digital flowers sprouting to the opening beats of "Stay the Night" before quickly transitioning into the platinum single "Beautiful Now."
While the variation from last month's festival set was minimal from Saturday's, almost any Zedd set will begin to sound familiar given his international radio appeal. His music has garnered him a Grammy, achieved multiple platinum certifications, and was streamed for 44 million hours on Spotify alone.
If his radio appeal wasn't enough to charm you, his restless smile and boyish charm on stage make him one of EDMs fan favorites. Even when a rowdy and excited fan rushed the stage to greet the Russian-born DJ, he cooly fist-bumped him as security dragged him away.
The hits were in constant flow Saturday night, and even after Zedd finished up his second set of the night just before 3 a.m., fans ferociously boomed for "one more song."
Given a glorious finale, most went home happy and are likely looking forward to the Ritz's exciting upcoming EDM slate, which features appearances from Slander and Slushii with even more booked for 2018.
Look for more reviews of big time acts hitting up the Ritz, and check out the venue's concert schedule here.