Review: Coastline Festival brings Passion Pit, Matt & Kim and others to the Amphitheater, Tampa

A look back at the Sat., Nov. 9 fest, with pics.

click to enlarge Jesse Rutherford of The Neighborhood at sunset, Coastline Festival, 11/9/2013. -
Jesse Rutherford of The Neighborhood at sunset, Coastline Festival, 11/9/2013.

I usually keep a pretty good eye on upcoming shows, so it felt a little humbling when my boyfriend was the one to clue me in about Coastline Festival. But my excitement about the fact that I wasn’t going to have to travel to Georgia, or Miami, or even Orlando to enjoy the "Musiculinary" experience promised by organizers. Our very own city would be one of only two in Florida hosting a proper indie music festival featuring a dozen acts at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, and as the date grew nearer, stages and set times and were released to make it easier for attendees to plan their day and show up on time to see, eat and drink everything they wanted. [Text by Marci, photos by Chris.]

4:10 p.m. It was perfect festival weather, clear and temperate, and we parked with ease at the Florida State Fairgrounds and walked in just as Florida natives Surfer Blood launched into “Swim,” which turned out to be the last song of their set. The crowd was pretty thin at that point, but I didn’t think much of it since it was still relatively early in the day. Once Surfer Blood wrapped up on the tiny the “Gulf Stage,” we wandered towards the amphitheater, aka the “Atlantic Stage.” On the way there, we checked out booths of custom tees and ink drawings set up in the midst of the amp's concession areas.

4:30 p.m. Fitz and the Tantrums ran on stage right on time. In my excitement about the acts playing later on, I hadn’t taken much time to think about Fitz & Co., but they ended fitting perfectly into the festival environment, especially for a late afternoon slot, their music fun, soulful, upbeat and loud. People had finally started filtering in and the crowd seemed to double during the 40 minutes they were on stage. Certainly Fitz and the Tantrums delivered the sort of outstanding showmanship that was a good launchpoint for the folks just arriving and kicked up the energy in the place overall. We made our way up to the lawn, where people were on their feet grooving and getting down with their arms waving in the air. The LA sextet's cover of “Sweet Dreams” was very well received and accentuated the wonderfully soulful vocals of co-lead singers Michael “Fitz” Fitzgerald and his feminine counterpart, Noelle Scaggs.

5 p.m. On the the other side of the Atlantic Stage was the autograph tent, where the members of Surfer Blood were signing their hearts out for a line of happy fans. There were even free festival posters provided to anyone that wanted them, a cute extra touch but also marketing genius that'll keep Coastline on the walls (and minds) of festgoers long after it ends. Next door was another tent featuring a pop-up shop from Tampa Bay’s perennial favorite music store, Daddy Kool, its tables covered with all sorts of goodies from the shop, from Munnys to vinyl, which Mr. Daddy Kool himself Tony Rifugiato assured me were doing just fine in the lovely weather. These specialized touches — band autographs, local indie shops and artists booths — definitely set Coastline apart from your average everyday concert offerings and kept the intimate indie vibe going.

5:10 p.m. We wandered by the Craft Beer Cove to see what was on tap and I was surprised and pleased about the variety of brews offered in such a small space, not to mention the layer of white sand spread out on the ground. I’m more of a spirits gal myself, but I figured I should get some dinner before imbibing anything, so we headed towards the Foodtrucktopia to see what Coastline organizers had rounded up for the culinary part of the “musiculinary” experience.

5:14 p.m. Holy guacamole, the food truck lines were insane. Only one truck had a mere handful of people waiting to be served, and it turns out said truck didn’t have any food left. It was hard to decide between pizza, wings, burgers, gyros, and every other form of meat that can be prepared on a truck but I ended up settling on The Dude and His Food to experience the "Ultimate Prime Rib Sandwich."

5:28 p.m. The Neighborhood kicked off their set on the Gulf Stage, three food trucks away. The pretty boy quintet had the ladies squealing and the guys' fists pumping the air. The sun finished its descent while they played “Sweater Weather” to a crowd full of people in tee shirts and shorts.

5:43 p.m. I finally made it to the Dude's window and ordered two phillys, served to me just a few minutes later, and maybe it because I'd skipped lunch, but it turned out to be a damn fine prime rib experience, indeed. The beef was deliciously tender and flavorful and the white cheddar dripped on top was thick and gooey. Chris inhaled his, then reached for the chunks of steak that had fallen off mine into the paper tray.

6:10 p.m. Matt and Kim ran onstage to the pulsing bass of French Montana’s “Pop That” and immediately started hyping the crowd in a way that only the dance rock duo can do. Every dang time I see them, drummer Kim Schifino is all smiles and pure glee and keyboardist/singer Matt Johnson chats up the crowd like he’s known them all for years. When Matt asked us to do the 'Florida bounce' during “Cameras,” a sea of arms raised in compliance. By the time they launched into a thrashing frenetic cover of Alice DeeJay’s “Better off Alone,” the crowd was fully on board and people had begun crowd surfing. It was the first time I noticed the pit filling up, and the seats and the lawn looked pretty packed, too. This was a relief because the fest had already proved it deserved some local appreciation, and I was worried that Electric Daisy Carnival (which was taking place in Orlando on the same day) would draw traffic away from Coastline.

7:08 p.m. Talenti was handing out free gelato. The day was now perfect.

7:18 p.m. We headed back over to the wee Gulf Stage to see Welsh trio The Joy Formidable. After some audio hiccups at the set's start — which were sorted by the chorus of the first song — the trio's big, lush sound came blasting through the speakers. When lead singer Rhiannon Bryan greeted the audience, I realized she has what Liz Lemon would refer to as a 'sexy baby voice,' and based on the number of heads that snapped to attention, I wasn't the only one amazed. Her singing voice wasn't at all squeaky, however, and the woman can shreddddd, as she proved a mean guitar solo during "Maw Maw Song," and the put on a stellar and memorable performance overall.

8:10 p.m. Two Door Cinema Club started exactly on time, and by now the pit was jammed with bodies. The Irish trio's performance of new single “The Changing of the Seasons” was well received, but the crowd clearly preferred older material they could sing along with. Their performance was fun, bouncy and sweet, and baby-faced ginger-haired lead singer Alex Trimble delivered each song with earnest appeal. He has an unusual Rick Astley-esqe tone to his voice that gives his songs tons of soulful character. About halfway through the set, the snare started echoing, overtaking a few songs, but it was eventually fixed in time for the slowest crowd surfing I've ever seen in my life during "Cigarettes in the Theater," Chris accurately calling it a "crowd float."

9:40 p.m. Headlining act Passion Pit hit the stage and lead singer Michael Angelakos walked sheepishly across the front, tousling his hair before launching into "Make Light." He had energy for days, but his vocals sounded too strained in the falsetto range, which is basically where they are in most of Passion Pit’s songs. He warmed up quickly because his pipes sounded great for the second song "The Reeling," but the band's performance just didn’t have the “oomph” I wanted from a headliner.

10:45 p.m. As we wandered across the dirt lot, enjoying the cool breeze, my boyfriend and I both agreed we’d had a great time and would definitely love to see Coastline happen again.