Tag Archives: The Gaslight Anthem

Gasparilla Music Festival Exceeds Expectations

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Check out more pix from the event here: Gasparilla Music Festival Photos

GASPARILLA MUSIC FESTIVAL

Beautiful downtown Tampa was the scene for a day of music and picturesque weather for this year’s Gasparilla Music Festival.

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BANDS REVIEWED
The Hip Abduction
UNRB
Saskatchewan
Roadkill Ghost Choir
Mutemath
Dumpstaphunk
The Gaslight Anthem
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Modest Mouse

The first thing I noticed about this year’s festival was how prepared and together it was. It seemed that all had been taken into account for the weekend. Stepping through the gate into Curtis Hixon Park there was an apparent conscience of space. Of the festivals I’ve been to, Gasparilla has the most palpable arrangement. The two major stages are separated by a short walk and two flights of short stairs. This difference in elevation gives each stage its own area, no bleeding over from the other stages interrupting the experience of any one band.

Outside of the usual cliché Florida tourist art, there were a number of vendors who were of the professional level. Artists and sculptors who were spotted in the vending areas were diamonds in the rough, but if you were to peruse long enough, any potential customer could be surprised with something truly unique.

Wandering around alone, waiting for my photographer and others to join me, I came upon my first act of the festival. THE HIP ABDUCTION took the stage and surrounding area with an air of dance and reggae undeniable to even myself, who tends to stray away from the inheritable happy styles of music. I danced my way near the front surprised by the band’s composition. The stage was pale, yet had as much soul as any. Echoing islands’ shores and a lack of any and all cares. THE HIP ABDUCTION were a perfect introduction to my Gasparilla music experience. At ease and ready for where the night should lead me.

I wandered about the park a little more, found myself on top of raised rows of bench seats overlooking the park where I could see it in its entirety. The spotted and towering building seemingly encasing us inside the Music. Laughs and shrieks of joy wafting about the park, Gasparilla does not attempt to rival the larger festivals, it creates a proportionate dose of a scenic location, a well selected array of talent and a feeling of something great happening with you amongst it.

The next act I made a point to see was UNRB, a seven piece band from St. Petersburg, Florida. My interest was sparked by the size of the band and the use of an electric ukulele instead of a guitar, based around a four piece horn section.

UNRB have presence, with the bass, drums and Ukulele giving direction and the horn section driving the performance above and beyond. The crowd was at attention at the start of each song, yet seemed to lose spark throughout, coming to at the end for the outro. I should say this for myself, I am not a fan of Ska or Reggae, yet there was something undeniable about a four horn section blasting along with a ukulele. UNRB had panache, and I liked that.

Wandering again, I realized how small the park was, or what was accessible. I cannot stress how well designed the setup is. After a pork taco, which was delicious, from the food stands, I took to walk by each stage, waiting to be picked up and carried to the next show I would enjoy.

A dreamy 80’s sound caught me, turned into a nightmare droll and dropped before me – SASKATCHEWAN. It seems that a piece of how the 80’s lo-fi was supposed to sound survived, it takes the form of four awkward musicians from Orlando. The air was taken, and replaced with groove, then growing into a sporadic synth wave. It recedes into an obscure chant that mirrors the odd surrealist band that plays the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks. Laura Palmer would have loved doing drugs to these guys.

Saskatchewan have the ability to blend with current popular styles and create a sound of their own. I believe that these guys could headline this festival with two more albums. My first recommendation to listen to now, SASKATCHEWAN turn that sulk and sorrow into a dreamy lucid bike ride.

My photographer made it out and was admitted easily with help from festival staff, a testament to how well run Gasparilla is. It glides upon well-constructed and greased tracks. A wonderful experience, since I’ve had problems with communication and shared information in other shows I’ve reviewed. We made our way to ROADKILL GHOST CHOIR and a sense of happening was around. The festival was in full swing and everyone in attendance was moving happily with it.

Roadkill Ghost Choir at Gasparilla Music Festival
Roadkill Ghost Choir at Gasparilla Music Festival. Photo by Edwin Makon Morales

ROADKILL GHOST CHOIR is a powerful indie-rock-southern-shoegaze band from Orlando that has recently made a move in both location and success. With the release of last year’s In Tongues, as well as playing Letterman, RKGC have made great strides. They possess an undeniable southern charm with a back alley grit mixed with quiet pines. These Florida natives held the crowd before them as well as the mixing masses around the stage. Beer lines moved to the beat and patrons passing by couldn’t help but walk in step to the rhythm. I recommend any and all to take a gander at this on-the-rise band; you will surely not be disappointed.

The sun began to drop down little by little and I followed the crowd across the park to the main stage. GMF projections danced across the buildings near the park, the day drinkers stumbled and the night kids lights were turning on one by one. MUTEMATH started with the drummer taping headphones to his head with thick tape and I knew something good was taking place.

Mutemath at Gasparilla Music Festival
Mutemath at Gasparilla Music Festival. Photo by Edwin Makon Morales

MUTEMATH is an old flame for me, I enjoyed them in length at a younger age yet fell out a few years back. I had seen MUTEMATH at a northern Florida festival two years prior and was amazed by their live energy and showmanship. My expectations were high. The men of MUTEMATH were well dressed and well-rehearsed, controlling the crowd with a blend of songs and beat driven synth breaks that had any and all bodies moving in unison. A wide base of fans as well, some sang along to the newest songs and swayed to older ones, while others like me belted out the first albums and hummed the newest tunes. This is progression, keeping old fans happy while cultivating new fans with each album released. Beside the music, they possessed a real sense of performance as well as a choreographed motion. Jostling about the stage in a rehearsed yet seemingly sporadic manner. They are at place on the stage, perhaps having the best time of anyone there. Some bands cannot be fully appreciated until they are witnessed live, MUTEMATH is like this, as well as MODEST MOUSE, but they are another story. Finishing with an encore of the song that started it for them, MUTEMATH and the packed crowd crooned “Typical” and the night was upon us.

I crossed the park again, taking in the sights and smells of a festival, and all around pleased with Gasparilla Music Festival. Came upon the proverbial group of college students playing hacky-sac, joined them for a moment. Then bought a cup of overpriced and over sugared lemonade for $5, drank it too fast and made my way to DUMPSTAPHUNK, not prepared for what was in store.

DUMPSTAPHUNK are a dirty funk and bass band from the sweet big easy, New Orleans. With two bass players and a non-stop drum monster, they possess a groove and grind that is undeniable. Long bouts of enviable funk that led to a rock chorus belted with a fiery guitar solo to smolder back into the underlying funk groove that never ends. I have not been back to New Orleans in a few years, and it was as if The Big Easy had been delivered. Raunchy funk infused with debauchery, Dumpstaphunk was a Cajun fueled release for this panhandle native. I wanted crawfish etouffee, I wanted a fish bowl and a walk through the French Quarter. I had two bass players and a groove that could have carried me there with ease, so I enjoyed the ride. I finally allowed myself a drink, the sun had gone down and the moon was out.

Gaslight Anthem at Gasparilla Music Festival
Gaslight Anthem at Gasparilla Music Festival. Photo by Edwin Makon Morales

Making my way back across the park to the main stage again, I was engulfed into the moving tide towards THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM. I had surprisingly never heard one song from them, yet I seemed to be the only one. I joined in the excitement that surrounded me and made my way with it. THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM channel their New Jersey roots with a mix of Bruce Springsteen and the guttural vocal styling’s similar to later AGAINST ME! A blend of Pop-punk with an occasional twist and shout, then a crawling ballad enticing lighters and cell phone screens as everyone sang along to “Great Expectations.” For some reason it blended like AGAINST ME! and THE KILLERS. The lead singer had the crowd sing Happy Birthday to a young boy named Eddie, and he was the happiest kid in the area code. I saw the accessibility of the band, and how so many could love them. Perhaps due to my first experience being a live show, yet I couldn’t shake the comparison. THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM have a spiritual sound, I remembered a youth trip to a Christian retreat, the band playing major chords as everyone raised their voice in praise. I felt that again. The communion of others led by a heartbroken band, I felt the manifestation of a higher connection with those that surrounded me. THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM took me to church, yet as church always seems to do. It ran a bit longer than the feeling.

I scraped and crawled from within the depths of the crowd anticipating MODEST MOUSE to make my way back across the park for DALE EARNHARDT JR. JR. A dance party I just had to attend.

DALE EARNHARDT JR. JR. were the band that I had yet to truly hear but anticipated. Coming from THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM and the wonderful surprise they had been, I was ready for whatever followed. This power synth odd pop duo are a sight to be heard! Seamlessly blending the dance theme in an indie vibe. Un-deniable music ensues and the crowd was thick, and since they were sharing time with the headliners MODEST MOUSE that is a very big compliment. DALE EARNHARDT JR. JR. share a number of things with the man their name is a satire of. They possess an inherent power that should lead them to success. Perhaps the most notable remarkable aspect of this power duo is the stage presence they carry. Bounding energy that led the crowd with remarkable strength, DALE EARNHARDT JR. JR. leading the pack and taking to the outside. Keep an eye on these guys.

I got out of the pit and made moves toward my final show of the night, MODEST MOUSE! My main interest of the day and long standing obsession. For me personally, I will always be a Fruit that Ate Itself, or Lonesome Crowded West kind of guy. The last few albums from these humble mice have seemed to progress in an off kilter, apathetic stream of music that strokes the forgiving fan base they cultivated with the first seven albums. Yet, they are a band that is unlike any other. Two drummers and a cast of multi-instrumentalist that have complete control of their sound. The crowd was frothing with anticipation and the show began.

Isaac Brock, head mouse king, led the others with a sense of entitlement. Blasting old favorites like “Dramamine,” “Doin the Cockroach” and even the Ugly Casanova track, “Here’s to Now.” They also debuted two new songs from their upcoming release “Strangers to Ourselves.” Starting the show with the live debut of “Of Course We Know.” They also premiered “The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box,” and “Shit in your Cut.” Good news for MODEST MOUSE was the crowd’s reaction to the single off the album, “Lampshades on Fire.” They also visited they’re most successful album GOOD NEWS FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE BAD NEWS, playing six songs off the album. Limited to one encore due to sound restraints, they finished the night with “A Different City.” The festival emptied into the streets of downtown Tampa full of joy and satisfaction.

The Gasparilla Music Festival was a weekend of great music in a perfect setting. I’ll have post Gasparilla blues for a week or so. If you have the way, make a plan to get out to next year’s Gasparilla Music Festival. It is an experience to begin your Florida spring off in the best way.

Check out more pix from the event here: Gasparilla Music Festival Photos

Andrew Corbit

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Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page for future updates, rock news and photos. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂

Gasparilla Music Festival Preview

Gasparilla Music Festival Preview / Line-Up

At RARAs Farm, we’ve hit a slew of Florida festivals over the few years that we’ve been in existence, but 2015 will be the first time that we walk through the gates at one of the state’s premier events, The Gasparilla Music Festival.

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This year’s event, scheduled for March 6th and 7th, is the fifth incarnation for the acclaimed festival, situated on the shores of the Hillsborough River in Downtown Tampa. It has quickly grown in national prominence, and the line-up is typically top-notch, and this year’s is no exception. Modest Mouse, The Gaslight Anthem, Gogol Bordello, Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr, and Mutemath headline the national acts, and there’s a great cross-section of local acts, as well.

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Click on this line-up snapshot to purchase Festival tickets.

One of the special features about the Gasparilla Music Festival, or GMF, is their continued focus on supporting local musicians. This year, we’ll get to see RARAs Farm favorites The Hip Abduction, Thomas Wynn and The Believers and UNRB among the slew of talented local bands. The Hip Abduction are just dripping with potential and always offer an engaging show, spotlighted by diverse catchy music – do not miss these local artists.

You can check out the line-up and set times here: GMF 2015 Line-up, where you’ll see that Saturday is jam-packed with a fantastic slate of alternative rock bands spread out over four stages and twelve hours.  Excellent West Coast indie rockers Modest Mouse close the night as the headliners on the Soulshine Stage but the band performing just before them may be the most entertaining on the bill, The Gaslight Anthem, an energetic and talented hard-rocking foursome from New Jersey.

Sunday is a shorter day featuring a much more diverse line-up.  The headliner, Gogol Bordello, are one of the most entertaining bands touring today. Their music is eclectic rock, sort of a gypsy, punk, dance thing, that is guaranteed to leave a lasting and positive impression.

Aside from the wonderfully refreshing focus on supporting local music, the festival has a few other features that truly make it special.  It’s a community funded and supported charitable endeavor, not a huge Corporate event, they feature all local food vendors, cater to children (in fact it’s free admission for kids 12 and under), and they’re eco-friendly – all fantastic benefits, but the music rules the day, and this line-up is top notch.

Tix for the event are very reasonable, with options to purchase by the day, or for the full festival. If you buy in advance, full festival General Admission tickets are only $60, or you have the option to buy by the day ($40 Saturday, $30 Sunday).  Get Advance Purchase Tickets Here.

Rock On!

Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page for future updates, rock news and photos. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂

Top Rock Albums of 2012


As I looked back on the 2012 rock landscape and reviewed the year’s best rock music, I realized that I’ve definitely become more of an Indie Rock fan over the past few years. 2012 brought us lots of great Indie rock, but we also heard some rocking albums in the mainstream.  You may see a few albums here that you’re not familiar with, but I implore you to check them out. You’ll open your ears to some killer new rock, and impress the hell out of your friends. (After each selection, you’ll find a link to check them out on iTunes as well as our recommendations if you just want to grab a few tracks off of each album).

So, here are the Farmer’s Dozens in reverse order. The two dozen best rock albums of the year:

Bonus Selection: Each farmer’s dozen comes with a bonus, so here are two:  Grouplove,  Never Trust a Happy Song and The Black Keys, El Camino.  Both of these albums would be at the top of our 2012 list… if we had not already recognized them in 2011.  Here’s our Top Rock Albums of 2011, to see what else we visionaries were thinking last year.

24. The Lumineers, The Lumineers – Impressive debut album from these “pop-folk” rockers out of Denver. Best tracks: “Hey Ho” and “Stubborn Love.” The Lumineers - The Lumineers

23. Lovedrug, Wild Blood – These Indie rockers out of Ohio are powered by Michael Sheppard’s unique voice and a nice Kickstarter campaign. Best tracks: “Premonition” and “Ladders.” Wild Blood - Lovedrug Read our full review

22. Halestorm, The Strange Case of… Lizzy Hale’s powerful vocals lead the way for these masterful metal rockers. Best tracks: “Love Bites… So Do I” and “I Miss the Misery.” The Strange Case Of... - Halestorm

21. Green River Ordinance, Under Fire – Great rock ‘n roll harmonies from this quintet out of Forth Worth.  They offer up a diverse selection of tunes on another self-funded effort. Best tracks: “Dark Night” and “Lost in the World.” Under Fire - Green River Ordinance Read our full review

20. Mumford and Sons, Babel – A nice follow-up to their hugely successful 2009 release Sigh No More for these barrier-breaking folk rockers.  Best tracks: “I Will Wait” and “The Boxer” (Simon and Garfunkel cover). Babel - Mumford & Sons

19, Dinosaur Jr., I Bet on Sky – The Massachusetts Alt-Rockers continue to put out solid Alt-Rock with their distinctive brand of guitar rock. Every song is good on this one. Best tracks: “Rude” and “Pierce the Morning Rain.” I Bet On Sky - Dinosaur Jr.

18. Luke Dowler, Polarized – Dowler’s music offers raw vocals with an urgent passion, mixed with poignant lyrics about world affairs, relationships and deep personal faith: Good stuff from Big Sky Country. Best tracks: “Polarized” and “Gun.” Polarized - Luke Dowler Read our full review

17. Jack White, Blunderbuss – White breaks away from the shackles and structure of his former band mates in The White Stripes and Raconteurs and it works nicely. Best Tracks: “Love Interruption” and “Trash Tongue Talker.” Blunderbuss - Jack White

16. The Shins, Port of Morrow – Fantastic lyrics, beautiful harmonies and rock and roll that just oozes likability  I just wish these New Mexico natives would put out album more often than every four years. Best tracks: “Simple Song” and “It’s Only Life.” Port of Morrow - The Shins

15. Muse, The 2nd Law – The band, built for stadium rock, took some chances on this, their sixth release. This stuff is nothing like what we’ve heard from them before, but it is intriguing and captivating. Best tracks: “Madness” and “Survival.” The 2nd Law - Muse

14. The Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten – Talented New Jersey rockers who offer up their most polished record to date. Strong heart felt rock and roll with excellent lyrics. Best tracks” “Too Much Blood” and “45.”  Handwritten - The Gaslight Anthem Read our full review

13. The Killers, Battle Born – Brandon Flowers and the band never disappoint.  One of the year’s best produced albums and it shows the band moving in a more mature direction. Best tracks: Runaways” and “Miss Atomic Bomb.” Battle Born - The Killers

12. Neon Trees, Picture Show – Everybody talked about “Everybody Talks,” but this album was much more than one hit.  Tyler Glenn is a future superstar and highlights his broad talent throughout the band’s third album. Best tracks: “I am the DJ” and “Everybody Talks.” Picture Show - Neon Trees

11. Django Django, Django Django – Hip, cool, groovy, rock ‘n roll with an oddly familiar feel considering this is the band’s debut. Mixes the best of the sixties, eighties and modern times. Best tracks: Default” and “WOR.” Django Django - Django Django

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10. Metric, Synthetica – From the opening lines of “Artificial Nocturne,” where Emily Haines offers “I’m just as fucked up as they say,” this album demands your attention.  Some deep introspective tracks disguised as excellent pop rock songs. Best tracks: “Youth Without Youth” and “Breathing Underwater.”

9.  Thousand Foot Krutch, The End is Where We Begin – The songs are positive Christian rock but these guys don’t slam you over the head with their beliefs.  It’s solid, active rock music that any hard rock fan will enjoy. A very diverse selection from a band returning to their Indie roots. Best tracks: “War of Change” and “All I Need to Know.” Read our full review

8. The Wallflowers, Glad All Over – Jacob Dylan continues to evolve as a musician and has never sounded better than he does now.  Excellent music with soulful vocals on a selection of tracks guaranteed to grow on you with each listen. Best tracks: “It’s a Dream” and “Reboot the Mission.”

7. The Drowning Men, All of the Unknown – They’re back with their second full-length album release, their first on Flogging Molly’s Borstal Beats label, which builds on the success of their fantastic debut album Beheading of the Songbird, and shows the talented quintet continuing to grow. These Indie rockers remind me a bit of the layered harmonies of Arcade Fire, with a clear West Coast U.S. bent. Best Tracks: “A Fool’s Campaign” and “Lost in a Lullaby.” Read our full review

6. Green Day, ‘¡Uno!‘ – Billie Joe Armstrong needs to be recognized as the prolific rock songwriter he is.  He and his longtime band mates never fail to put out good music and this is another prime example.  A great fresh punk/pop sound from our favorite So Cal trio. They released three good albums this year, this one was the best of the bunch. Best tracks: “Oh Love” and “Let Yourself Go.”

5. Fun., Some Nights – So much more than “We Are Young.” This masterfully produced album is a great vehicle for the talented vocal stylings of Nate Ruess and is packed with memorable addicting ditties. Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost round out the trio and lend their voices to create impressive harmonies throughout.  On Some Nights, Fun. has developed a unique sound and carved a nice niche in today’s Alt-Rock landscape. Best tracks: Why Am I the One” and “Carry On.” Read our full review

4. Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal. This talented Icelandic band has taken advantage of the revitalized interest in folksy rock courtesy of Mumford and Sons, but have kicked it up a notch.  Great, fun rock songs with amazing boy/girl vocals and meaningful lyrics; as well as a few tracks that are strictly fantasy adventures like the addictive “From Finner.” Best tracks: “Mountain Sound” and “Little Talks,”

3. River City Extension, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Anger – The second release from this talented octet out of New Jersey is a musical and lyrical journey well worth a listen. It’s a folk rock/Americana album packed with original sounds and with each listen a different track stands out. Joe Michelini, the band’s singer and guitarist is the primary songwriter and he takes us through a varied collection of memories. He offers: “Half of this record is love songs, and the other half is ‘I’m sorry that I fucked up’ songs,” and he writes about both in a compelling way. Best tracks: “Glastonbury” and “Ballad of Oregon.” Read our full review

2. Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball – I had just about written off the sage of the Garden State, but this is one of Springsteen’s best efforts in years.  The music is superb, and the lyrics even better.  It’s a bitter, but honest look at what Corporate Greed and idiot politicians have done to his country, and Springsteen pulls it off by surrounded the words with excellent music At times, he evokes memories of the E Street Band’s greatest anthems, at other times he has us heading down an entirely new path, such as the Celtic rock feel in the fantastic “Death of My Hometown.” Best other tracks: “We Take Care of Our Own” and “Wrecking Ball.”

1. Shinedown, Amaryllis – I loved “Bully” the moment I heard it and was pleasantly surprised to hear the excellent diversity on the rest of the album.  It’s aggressive, powerful, passionate rock that’s impossible to put down.  The Jacksonville based band has only put out four albums in their decade plus together, and each one has gotten just a little bit better.  Rolling Stone hated the album, which in itself is proof that it’s mainstream rock for the masses.  Amaryllis is one of the best hard rock albums in years and it’s packed with great songs.  Best tracks: “Unity” and “I’m Not Alright.”

There you have it – the best rock albums of 2012, according to me.  Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section.

Click here for the Top Rock Songs of the Year

Rock On!
Cretin