Two CL writers — Julie Garisto and Andy Warrender — and photographer Tracy May hit the ground at the 33rd Annual Tropical Heatwave this weekend. Here's a look back at their adventures... Click here to read Andy's Friday summary.
I landed in Ybor pretty early, before 6:30 p.m., and got it in my head to take the Streetcar to Curtis Hixon Park where the Mac&Cheese Festival was going on. I guess it was a success because when I arrived, they’d stopped selling tasting wristbands because apparently the vendors were running out of Mac&Cheese. What? The place was too packed and the lines excruciatingly long anyway. By the time I made it back into Ybor, so far behind schedule that I missed Roscoe Bandana, much to my disappointment. —Andy Warrener
8:01 p.m., Bright Light Social Hour, Cuban Club Main Stage Finally make it back to the main stage, where BLSH was rocking out with a sound you might not expect from a gang of long-haired, bearded, hippie-looking dudes. Some wicked wailing guitar solos and maybe the biggest crowd I've seen yet at Heatwave packed thick around the stage to enjoy them, everyone bouncing to the beat. Saturday was a much busier day than Friday, twice as packed, twice as festive, and Bright Light’s strong Tampa following were out in full force, Awesome, cymbal-crashing finish with some back-and-forth with the crowd. I didn't catch this whole show but it wouldn't surprise me if you hear a lot of people say this was their favorite show of the weekend. —AW
8:38 p.m., Food Break Finally got some food in me after missing out on my mac and cheese fix. Some great offerings from the Cuban food truck. I'm a sucker for fried plantains and I will eat an arepa or empanada with most anything in it. —AW
9:05 p.m. Joseph Arthur, Cuban Club Mainstage My companion and I were out of town and, unfortunately, got a late start for Heatwave. Thankfully, we arrived in time for Joseph Arthur, who put on a heartfelt and uniquely memorable show for a throng of eager fans. “I can’t believe this is finally happening,” WMNF volunteer Beverly Capshaw beamed when I ran into her a few feet from the stage. Arthur is a painter, poet and songwriter who's released 11 albums and 11 EPs over the past two decades along with embarking on two collaborations with Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison (Fistful of Mercy) and Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament (RNDM). He's known for painting live, onstage, mid-song. At Heatwave, while playing “I Miss the Zoo,” he used pedals and looped his guitar sound, then set it down (with the guitar loop continuously playing in the background) and began to paint while singing. At moments he paused from his painting to sing, and the vice versa. He completed his skewed, abstract female portrait in 6-8 minutes. Even cooler: He donated the painting to WMNF to auction off for fundraising. Arthur’s setlist included “Heroin” by Lou Reed, one of the covers on his new album, Lou, just released this week. —Julie Garisto
10:15 p.m., In between sets Walking 7th Avenue on a Saturday night is a trip. What a cultural cornucopia. If I ever have someone visiting from out of town or from another country, this is where I'll take them. Seeing a white dready hippie dude blow glass while a 19-year-old girl teetering on a pair of 12" heels in a skirt that barely covers her butt looks on is priceless people-watching. What more can I say?—AW
10:20 p.m., Backstage with WMNFers Chatting with JoEllen Schilke, volunteer coordinator at the radio station, I learned that my pal Ms. Capshaw was the “rock star of Heatwave” for feeding the bands home-cooked food after their performances. So props to Bev for going above and beyond yet again. —JG
10:23 p.m., The Hip Abduction, Orpheum. I was juiced to see this local world beat group but the crowd was pressing in thick and I was wearing flip flops, so I wasn't sure how long my feet would last. The band was still sound-checking as the anticipation ramped up. It was impossible to get a drink with the crowd pressing in from all sides.
The band had an interesting set-up — bass, sax, keyboard, rhythm guitar, drums and this giant, Viking-looking dude on a giant African stringed instrument that looked medieval (I found out later it was a Kora). Cosmic reggae is all I can think of until the band hit the stage at around 10:45, and once they kicked into the music, I was glad I stuck it out. We were packed in like sardines, but the band came out blazing and the crowd, the crowd was in full swing from the start and good vibes ruled the evening. A red, inflatable ball surfs over the crowd as Hip Abduction doled out nice, sticky rhythms, but I could only have my toes stepped on so many times before decided to make my way out, lingering long enough to enjoy a alto sax solo before booking it to the next set. —AW
10:30, The Hold Steady, Cuban Club Main Stage The most anticipated show of the night had The Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn throwing out his arms and gesticulating like an over-caffeinated evangelist. Bespectacled and clean cut in a pale blue button-up shirt, Finn looked like a rocking Peter Sellers, back from the dead, and his band resurrected Thin Lizzy, favoring a harder, more classic, guitar lick-driven style of rock ’n’ roll, over the poppy hooks that prevailed when keyboardist Franz Nicolay was in the fold. Perhaps Finn was overcome with the excitement of Heatwave’s uber-welcoming crowd — exemplified by musician/former WMNF DJ Kamran Mir, who effused verklempt affection as he introduced them to the stage. Mir professed to having loved the band since seeing them at the Masquerade (now the Ritz) a decade ago. The fact the band had just arrived from a stint in the U.K. did not diminish their tight, powerful set. Acknowledging more than once that local music fans feel a special connection with The Hold Steady from Finn’s early references to Ybor City (which he wrote about before visiting Tampa’s historical district), Finn explained, “I was trying to think of a place that was fun to sing.” The encore included two of their Ybor name-dropping songs, “Slapped Actress” (“Don't mention the bloodshed, don't mention the scams. Don't tell them Ybor City almost killed us, again”) and “Killer Parties” (“Ybor City is tres speedy, but they throw such killer parties”). Finn’s stock and trade is his narrative brilliance, and he articulated his tales of wasted youth and love’s “crass propositions” with impassioned urgency. Before the band’s encore, Finn expressed sincere sentiments, thanking the crowd for leaving their screens and keyboards to “get out and be with old friends and make new friends to be around other people who love rock ’n’ roll … thank you for being a part of this together.” —JG
On With The Business
Stuck Between Stations
Sequestered in Memphis
I Hope This Whole Thing Didn't Frighten You
Your Little Hoodrat Friend
11:20 p.m., Lions After Dark, New World Brewery The most pleasant discovery of the night. Spunky singer Maddie Pfeiffer belted out with a badass wail as her formidable Clearwater-based band churned out full-bodied indie anthems. Though they played late, the weary crowd gained a second wind once they emerged, fist pumping in the air and crowding the stage at New World. —JG
12:15 p.m., Sons of Hippies, Cuban Club Cantina The band got stuck with an unfortunate time slot, late, after most of the crowd had left, but played a top-notch set to the remaining die-hards. Their four-piece set up offered a virtually flawless psychedelic rock backdrop to the soaring, Siouxsie-esque vocal of its asymmetrically head-shaved frontwoman, Katherine Kelly. Jonas Canales, as usual, was a flawless beast on the drums. —JG
12:25 a.m., I-Resolution, Cuban Club Mainstage Nice, upbeat reggae with great transitions, built on percussion, bass, drums, sax, trombone, lead guitar and lead singer Ali Rebel on tambourine. The trombone player Gabe Montero went off on a solo and blew me away. Two songs later, Montero was at it again. Now, I've listened to a lot of reggae and I've heard plenty of trombones within this aesthetic. I've even heard some trombone solos outside this aesthetic. I have never heard multiple solos from a trombone player in a reggae band. I was floored by this guy. I mean, trombone doesn't even have any notes, really. It's all feel. Turns out Montero has played with and is influenced by Trombone Shorty. Montero's trombone and Christian Rhenn's sax gave the group a jazzy feel, and Mark McPherson on bass kept the lowend heartbeat pumping.
Later, I asked Montero how he ended up in a reggae band. He said reggae called to him, and it just "felt right." He's definitely a pioneer in reggae trombone and a major asset to I-Resolution, their music easy to bounce along to. The setlist included original material and covers, like when I-Resolution busted out a strong rendition of Toots and the Maytals' "'54-46 Was My Number." They are touted as Orlando's number one reggae band and that is quite believable. I-Resolution has no problem double-booking, either. They played a festival in Orlando that Saturday afternoon before busting a move over to Tampa for Heatwave. I and the hundreds of others within earshot were certainly happy they did. —AW