It's that time of year. In years past, I've used this space to rail against the annual Guavaween Festival's musical offerings. But not this time. I realize that a great many of you out there find both excitement and comfort in knowing what you're going to get on the festival's various stages each time around — national nu-metal and local hard rock on the 98Rock stage, teen-pop and booty mixes on the WFLZ stage, favorite classic rock covers on the Thunder stage, etc. — and I guess I can respect that. Plus, there's always more and different music to be found on the various club stages located inside the chain-link perimeter (like Harry Dash at Orpheum, live Latin tunes at Gaspar's Grotto, and cock-rock tribute act Atomic Mullet at Masquerade, for instance).So, rather than simply slagging the shit out of Guavaween again this year, I figured I'd be constructive, and offer 10 big local-music shows, scheduled for the same night, side-by-side with the festival's main-stage timelines. If you're into big crowds, giant penis costumes and familiar tuneage, you know where you should be. And if you're into smaller crowds, tuneage you haven't heard before, and quite possibly just as much debauchery as you'd get in Ybor, well, here's a heapin' helpin' of small-room (and mostly low-dough) alternatives.
Pegasus Lounge, 10008 N. 30th St., Temple Terrace
The scene-supportive North Tampa rock-hole is just one of a bevy of venues hosting an extra-large multi-band Halloween party, complete with costume contest. This one's got a decidedly punk bent: So Far No Good, Stranded, Dirty Sluts, Big Fist, Tiger!Tiger!, and venerable local heroes Reckless Deerhunters are slated to play.
(9 p.m., $5 over 21/$7 under 21, 813-971-1679)
Chic-A-Boom Room, 319 Main St., Dunedin
This one cheats a little; the headliner isn't a local, but rather Russian surf-a-billy cult favorites The Red Elvises, who make this low-key club appearance in the wake of their traditional tour stop at Skipper's Smokehouse. But Pinellas tiki-lounge torchbearers The Vodkanauts will probably fill most of the evening with their inimitable mix of smarm and twang.
(8 p.m., $5, 727-736-0206)
Soundwave Studios, 8504 E. Adamo Drive, Tampa
Soundwave is an East Tampa rehearsal and recording studio that's recently gained some local-scene cred as a cool venue by hosting installments of the Bay Area Hard Rock Festival series. Their anti-Guavaween offering is ambitiously billed as the Funk, Disco and Rock Ball; the full lineup hasn't been finalized at press time, but expect a fairly long list of bands capable of delivering everything from kitschy grooves to crushing death metal.
(9 p.m., call for price, 813-622-8000)
Gasoline Alley Café, 17928 U.S. 19 N., Clearwater
You don't need to fight the massive drunken throng to get your fill of chunky hard rock this year. Perennial guitar-riff haven Gasoline Alley's got Stigma, Contrast and Adrift sharing its stage this evening. Hopefully, there will still be a drunken throng to contend with — just a considerably smaller one.
(9 p.m., call for price, 727-532-0265)
Neptune Lounge, 13 S. Safford Ave., Tarpon Springs
Up in northernmost Pinellas County, the Neptune has been a favorite small room practically since it opened. In recent years, it's given countless young up-and-comers a chance to cut their teeth in front of a decent crowd, and has hosted a ton of deep slates like this one: Jamskwad, The Bomb Rockets, Crime Speak, The Rape, Synergy, and Tres Bien are all on the bill, and the Neptune's website promises they'll all be in costume, as well.
(Call for start time and price, 727-943-5713)
Uptown Café, 658 Central Ave., St. Petersburg
The Uptown started featuring original music earlier this year, and immediately became a third stop on the Central Avenue Emerald/State Theatre hipster bar crawl. Groovy, hip-shaking straight-up rock 'n' roll is what they've got tonight, courtesy of St. Felons, a recently reunited No Loves, and The Bad Touch, who are quickly becoming one of the top two or three no-frills rock acts in the area.
(9 p.m., call for price, 727-463-0567)
Portuguese-American Suncoast Association, 7808 46th Ave. N., St. Petersburg
I'm pretty sure those interested in this swing/jump-blues gig — complete with a short dance lesson at evening's outset — won't be going to Guavaween, anyway. But why stay home and watch Swingers, again? Go check out The Midnight Bowlers League, and you might win tickets to an upcoming Jive Aces gig to boot.
(8 p.m., $10, 727-546-0476)
The Music Spot, 1902 S. Dale Mabry
Handshake Squad! Handshake Squad! Handshake Squad! Also, really, really good food. Also, the entertainment is free.
(7 p.m., 813-259-2559)
Rockerfellas, 5520 14th St. W., Bradenton
Rockerfellas' Halloween extravamaganza is definitely what Ed Sullivan used to refer to as a "rilly big shew." Fourteen bands for 13 bucks, kicking off at three in the afternoon, and all ages are welcome. The players, in order of appearance: Catatonix, Not So Sober, Eversfield, Suspense Thriller, Broken Image, Farewell Verona, The In Crowd, Towering Inferno, Signal 76, Blinded by Saturn, Last Great Hope, Primate 46, Stuck, and Warp. Whew.
(3 p.m., $13, 941-727-2789)
The Martini Club, 520 Douglas Ave., Dunedin
This one's also on the modern-rock/edgy-pop/ some-people-might-call-it-emo tip; consider it tonight's local gig for folks who really enjoy 97X's more indie and youth-targeted programming. And since 97X doesn't have a stage at Guavaween, well, here you go. Variety Workshop, Truly Sunday, and Fat Aggression bring the tunes.
(9 p.m., $3, 727-734-0885)