Inaugural Coastline Festival Cooks Up Great Event

Coastline Festival – Tampa Event Review

Noelle Scaggs from Fitz and The Tantrums at Coastline Festival
Noelle Scaggs from Fitz and The Tantrums at Coastline Festival

(Before we get started, just a reminder that we have a slew of photos from the festival itself and all of the bands we reviewed coming this week. Check our Facebook and Twitter for updates. Thanks for visiting…)

Let’s see:

  • Eleven of today’s hottest Indie/Alternative rock acts
  • An eclectic collection of food truck cuisine
  • The best selection of craft beers we’ve ever seen at a festival
  • Great Florida November weather
  • An excellent, well-laid out venue
  • A superbly well-orchestrated event 

Sounds like a perfect recipe for success, and Coastline Festival’s Musiculinary Experience was prepared perfectly.

We made the trip from Orlando hoping to catch a few of Alternative rock’s future stalwarts as they continue their journey to long-term success. We got that for sure, as you’ll see in our band capsules below, but we also experienced a vibrant, positive festival atmosphere.

The venue was laid out nicely with the smaller Gulf Stage just outside of the Mid-Florida Credit Union Amphitheater and the Atlantic Stage inside the venue.  The grounds were festively decorated, with inflatable art, and colorful displays dotting the landscape.

Travelling between the stages, the attendees passed through a Food Truck caravan and a Craft Beer Cove that featured a dozen excellent choices, and in a nice touch, offered $3 samples of each offering.  The lines at the food trucks were long as the day passed.  Talenti gelati had a fun area set-up with super-sized lawn games and free sample of their delicious treats.  On the opposite end of the venue was a nice craft area and the autograph tent, which hosted a constant flow of performers and happy fans.

Despite all of the other activities, this festival’s success hinged on the quality of the music artists, and the eight acts we caught were all excellent.  Due to a long-standing commitment at another event, we ended up missing the final three bands, but the eight who opened show were well worth the price of admission.  Our mini-reviews follow, in the order that the bands performed.

Zulu Wave – This local quartet did a great job representing the Tampa rock scene, offering an energetic set and their unique blend of rock that I would best describe as Tribal-rock. It sounds like an unusual description, but the music was good, and the band clearly has potential.

Bruce Driscoll of Blondfire at Coastline Festival
Bruce Driscoll of Blondfire at Coastline Festival

Blondfire – I just loved their recent EP release Where The Kids Are (see the review here) and was interested to see how this young band would perform on a big stage.  Led by brother-sister duo Bruce and Erica Driscoll, the band offered up a fun set.  Lead singer, Erica donned a guitar for the cool grove of “Waves” and shined during an excellent version of Fleetwood Mac’s classic “Dreams,” when she nailed the vocals that Stevie Nicks made famous.  The band offered two excellent new cuts, “Life of the Party” and “Top of the World,” before closing with their hit single “Where The Kids Are” that had the crowd clapping and singing along.

St. Lucia – I didn’t know much about this Brooklyn band, but liked what I heard. The band is the brainchild of South African born Jean Philip Grobler and they offered up a tropical-infused dance rock that made you want to move.  The quintet featured two drum kits and three keyboards, allowing for some fun mixes. Grobler’s vocals were excellent and he put on a bit of a theatrical show, at one time spinning with his guitar before dropping to the stage. As they wrapped the set, he beckoned the crowd, “Let’s do something crazy cause the weekends on its way; okay, let’s jump!” and the party was on.

The Mowgli’s – With a pounding drum beat, this colorful octet stormed onto the stage and immediately got their celebration started with the title track of their new album, Waiting For the Dawn.  It’s one of our candidates for album of the year, so I knew what to expect musically, but I was blown away by their energetic stage show. They offered up tremendous harmonies in a fantastic version of “The Great Divide” and a raucous version of “Emily.” Their music is contagious and their positive energy captivating. Guitarist Michael Vincze shared, “We came all this way to tell your beautiful souls to believe in yourself and anything is possible. Do whatever makes you happy in life! Now put your hands up,  take a deep breath and scream.” Cleansing, therapeutic and  just pretty damn fun. They closed in the middle of the crowd, with a smashing version of their hit “San Francisco” which may have been the song of the festival.

Surfer Blood – As singer John Paul Pitts shared, “We’re from Florida and glad to be back.” The band features smooth Indie rock with a definite surfing subtext to their sound.  The sound works well, and offers the perfect backdrop for Pitts’ versatile vocals, at times hitting the high notes and just as easily offering a snarling growl.   As they wrapped up their set, we saw our first act of spontaneous crowd surfing.

Fitz And The Tantrums -Another band who stormed onto the stage and then kept the energy up for their entire set.  Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs share the vocals and demand constant attention on the stage. Both singers sounded great and were non-stop action as they bounced across the stage. Scaggs, careened around the stage while constantly banging her tambourine and chatted with the Tampa crowd after every song.  The pit was a surging amoeba answering every dictum from the band, hands high above their heads, clapping throughout.  Highlights of their set included an extended version of The Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams that caused a spontaneous dance party on the lawn, and a smoking version of “Out of My League.”


Jesse Rutherford of The Neighbourhood
Jesse Rutherford of The Neighbourhood at Coastline Festival

The Neighbourhood – This California-based quintet might be the hottest band we saw at Coastline Festival. They are riding a huge crest of popularity that has found their music all over Alternative rock radio as well as on the small screen.  Tattoo-covered lead singer Jesse Rutherford drips with charisma.  He was a whirling dervish all over the stage and adorned in his “D.A.R.E.” shirt interacted with the crowd throughout the set. He had the entire crowd in the palm of his hand, singing along at his commend.  Despite some early sound troubles, the entire band, adorned in their omnipresent black and white sounded superb, as they delivered crowd-pleasing versions of “Sweater Weather,” “Afraid” and “Female Robbery,” while the crowd surfed, danced and sang.

Matt & Kim – Okay, I’ll admit it, I wasn’t expecting much from this duo out of New York as I mistakenly thought of their stuff as a bit soft. Oh my, I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino ooze energy and excitement.  Matt plays keyboards, and Kim beats the drums, and the real-life couple accompany each other on-stage perfectly.  Schifino was a mad-woman, climbing all over her drum kit, smacking her ass and prowling the stage in general.   Johnson was just as energetic and sounded great all night.  They interacted with the crowd throughout, sharing stories and bonding with the crowd. We learned about their sex life, the fact that this is the band’s penultimate stop on this tour, and their appreciation for the great Florida weather. Johnson offered, “This is the finale and I wanna remember this shit when it’s cold in New York.  Let’s heat it up,” and for the next forty minutes, they raised the party to a fever pitch.

Matt Johnson of Matt & Kim at Coastline Festival
Matt Johnson of Matt & Kim at Coastline Festival

It was a great way for us to wrap up a killer day at the inaugural Coastline Festival.  Hopefully this event that so nicely featured the best of today’s alternative rock music scene becomes an annual tradition for Florida’s rock and roll community.

Coastline Festival Photos

Matt & Kim Tumblr   Facebook
The Neighbourhood Tumblr   Facebook
Fitz & The Tantrums Tumblr   Facebook
Surfer Blood Tumblr   Facebook
The Mowgli’s Tumblr   Facebook
St. Lucia Tumblr   Facebook
Blondfire Tumblr   Facebook
Zulu Wave Tumblr   Facebook
Festival and Crowd Shots Tumblr   Facebook

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Rock On!


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