Best New Music Fest

Gasparilla Music Festival

click to enlarge Best New Music Fest - Phil Bardi
Phil Bardi
Best New Music Fest

More than 6,000 people converged on downtown Tampa for the inaugural Gasparilla Music Festival, and the conditions couldn’t have been better; pristine weather, picturesque setting, an overall laid-back vibe. GMF engendered renewed feelings of appreciation for our evolving cityscape and riverfront, with the three stages spread over Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and Kiley Gardens Park and Amphitheatre. The large main stage boasted a backdrop of the Hillsborough River and University of Tampa, and a natural amphitheater was created by the lush rectangular lawn that rose in a gentle incline toward Ashley Street, the music echoing off the glass-and-metal Skypoint building. The overall effect was like being hugged by the city or held in its palm. Sound seepage was minimal, set times were staggered so that no band played much longer after another had started, facilities included running water along with Port-o-Let options, the food offerings came from local eateries and food trucks, and the musical bill featured acts ranging from Deer Tick to Rebirth Brass Band to Ra Ra Riot. I can’t tell you how many times I ran into someone who expressed how great the day was going, who brought their kids with no fuss, who were already planning on booking a downtown hotel for the next one. The groundwork has been laid and the stage set for a second annual fest.

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