The first annual Big Guava Music Festival (literally) stormed through Tampa Bay May 2 thru 4, 2014! My prayers had been answered for this was my city’s first true music festival (besides the Sunset Music Festival), and the closest thing to Coachella to hit Tampa Bay shores. The stormy weather may have hindered attendance the first two days, but Big Guava ended on a sunny, high-note by the third and final day. Regardless of weather conditions, the residents of Tampa Bay need to WAKE. THE. HELL. UP!… and take advantage of such a fantastic music festival taking place in our backyard. Coming from someone who works in the live music and concert industry, the challenge in bringing music acts to even perform in this state is difficult. When a line-up such as this year’s Big Guava line-up is created, you get up off your couch, you buy tickets, and you attend.
As with anything new in this city, it’s just going to take time for Big Guava to reach the heights of success that it rightfully deserves. Upon hearing Live Nation’s announcement for plans to present another Big Guava Music Festival next year, I let out a sign of relief that my prayers had once again been answered. Hopefully, my prayers of Tampa proving not to be such a basic city will be answered when its citizens come out in droves to next year’s fest.
So enough of my tirade. I now present, and in no particular order, my TOP 5 FAVORITE PERFORMANCES at this year’s Big Guava:
Magic Man: There I was lying in a hammock in the Craft Beer Chill Zone at Big Guava, lounging until the next act I planned to see took the stage. To find an available hammock in any of the Craft Beer sections at Big Guava was like finding the Holy Grail. So when you happened to find an available one, you jump on it and rest on it as long as you can because this lethargic opportunity of downtime may not come back around again. For me to abandon my hammock to check out the catchy music that was coming from the nearby Grove stage just goes to show what an electrifying band Magic Man are live. Lead singer Alex Caplow stole the show, and (simply put) KILLED his band’s set with his Jagger-esque energy and moves, and vocals that soared thru the Fairground fields. I wasn’t familiar with the pop rock band from Boston before Big Guava, but they have now become a regular staple on my Spotify.
Outkast: The biggest disappointment of this year’s Coachella was hands-down Big Boi and Andre 3000’s much-hyped reunion. There was no connection at all from the duo to their songs, or to the audience. The flamboyant Andre 3000, sporting un-Andre 3000 attire comprised of a cap, hoodie and denim overalls, came across as drained, uninterested and depleted of his usual pizzazz. The energy in the desert was a mixture of confusion and exhaustion, both from Outkast and the masses of festival-goers that began to rapidly thin out. I cringed when Andre 3000 asked the Coachella audience if they were still there, and if they were tired. By the time the duo performed the classic “Hey Ya!,” it was too late, for only a 1/4 of the audience that were originally lined up to see their set still remained to shake it like a Polaroid picture. And barely did they do that.
So to my delight, Outkast invaded the Big Guava stage on their one and only Florida appearance and owned it. The real Andre 3000 had returned, with a platinum-blonde wig and the funky, outrageous persona we’d come to love and expect. The packed house sang along to every song, and gave the boys from Atlanta a true dirty South, warm welcome back. After all, Outkast FINALLY proved that they were indeed back!
St. Lucia: Jean-Philip Grobler makes the kind of music that reminds me of the breezy ballads from the 1980s that were sung by Sting, Phil Collins and Christopher Cross. There’s a precise beauty to the way his distinctive voice sings melodies against a synthpop beat. It’s polished. It’s calming. It’s cool. Imagine how surprised I was to see his ability to also command a dancefloor as aggressively as he did when he performed the disco-fied “September” which may as well have been an ode to Dead or Alive. St. Lucia‘s performance was commanding enough to even persuade Alex Caplow from Magic Man to let loose and dance in the middle of the festival crowd.
Chance The Rapper: One of my absolute favorite thrills at any music festival is accidentally coming across a really amazing artist’s set, enjoying it, and thus becoming a new fan. I was only inside of the Nectar Stage venue to cool off and sit down. Chance The Rapper just so happened to be performing on the Nectar Stage. Unlike Magic Man, I was actually familiar with Chance the Rapper, but his music never initially grasped me. Truthfully, I never really gave his music a chance after his audacity to bring Justin Bieber as his surprise guest performer at this year’s Coachella. No bueno Chance, no bueno. So I sat down in the only air conditioned part of Big Guava, sipped on my beer, and could not help but be seduced by Chance The Rapper’s music, stage presence, and the way the near full-house was hooked and mesmerized. Okay, Chance, you got me. I’m a fan. Just please, no more Justin Bieber guest performances until he gets his life together.
MS MR: This New York duo’s Secondhand Rapture album was an honorable mention on my annual Top Albums of Year List for 2013. Their dark indie rock sound may have been a noticeable contrast to being the earliest and very first performance on a very sunny Florida day, but MS MR brought along enthusiasm, spirit and soul to their set. Vocalist Lizzy Plapinger’s scratchy yet soulful voice is what instantly reeled me in to liking MS MR, and it is an instrument that did not disappoint in a live setting. A small bonus for seeing them live was me FINALLY learning how to pronounce their name. All this time, I referred to them as “M. S. M. R.” when they their actual band name is pronounced “Miss Mister.”
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…until next year’s Big Guava!