Select Superlatives from GMF 2019
A rundown of some of Gasparilla Music Festival’s most memorable moments.
BY STEPHANIE POWERS | March 25, 2019
PHOTOS BY ALEC SHURTZ & DEVON BRADY
Another great year of Gasparilla Music Festival is in the books. A fabulous time was had by all-except maybe the woman being carted away by paramedics Saturday night.
Festing can be a dangerous activity, especially in the heat that is Florida in spring.
On a more positive note, here are some of my takeaways including the discovery of a new favorite band.
Most Oscar-Worthy Performance
Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real all acted as Bradley Cooper’s band in the recent smash A Star is Born and performed the Oscar winning song “Shallow” in their Sunday afternoon set. Nelson also produced much of the film’s soundtrack. You could hear his dad Willie’s voice in the rustic version, and the rest of the songs he performed, and provided an emotional Sunday treat.
Everybody, even Urban Outfitters, knows that “Fest” is a fashion category. Well, screw flower crowns and midriffs, and look towards Roxanne Gallo for inspiration. Saturday, she was shining in GMF colors-orange tights, black vintage and sequined ankle boots. She showed spirit and support with her toy bubble saxophone. Her soapy orbs seemed floated everywhere, making the weekend even more magical.
Fastest Frown Turned Upside Down
I made the difficult decision to leave Toro y Moi early, to get up front for The Pharcyde and they were late. They were 30 minutes late. Everyone was agitated and annoyed. But soon their DJ Mike Relm came rushing out, we were told the group’s airplane had mechanical problems and they had just got in. Relm quickly got his turntables set up and started mixing classic ’90s hip hop jams. Within seconds, we forgot they were late. The Pharcyde went on to play one of the best shows of the weekend.
The Kids are Better than Alright
I was walking towards the Kiley Gardens stage to wait for Oddisee and GOOD COMPNY to start when I heard a familiar sound coming from the Tibbetts’ Corner stage. Tampa’s Glove was playing, the band recommended to check out by many. I hurried over and heard the throwback sounds of something off of Factory Records. Spectator Kevin Siebel said it best, “It’s like Joy Division had children.” I’ve never been so excited for the next generation. You can check them out for yourselves, when they open for Of Montreal on Thursday, April 4, at The Orpheum in Ybor.
Best N/A Option
Since I stopped drinking, it’s always a treat to have a fun non-alcoholic option to sip on. The Teer cart provided just that with a handful of cold brew tea concoctions. I’m not knocking the fresh lemonade that is an old standard — which I drank as well — but the delicious oolong red grape-garnished mocktail made me feel fancy and refreshed all at once.
The Avett Brothers drew such a big crowd I was a little annoyed by the masses. I forgot how big they had gotten over the years, and I was tired and possibly a little hangry. But with a couple songs in they played the song “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise”, I teared up. In my haste I had forgotten how good they were and the reason they have gotten so massively popular. It brought back years of feelings since the album came out, and I just let myself enjoy the moment.
In the tight scheduling of everything, I missed a couple of great acts including the Rick Rubin produced Ruen Brothers and what looked like the most awesome insanity at New Orleans’ Tank and the Bangas. Kicking myself. Searching Facebook Marketplace for a time machine. And because of a grumpy toddler only got to see about three songs of Gary Clark Jr, the act I wanted to see the most. These will definitely be regrets I live with for the rest of my life-like the time in ninth grade I chose to try out for cheerleading instead of seeing Paul McCartney at Tampa Stadium and my friends that went sat next to River Phoenix. Well, not quite, but almost.
One Disappointed Dude
My parents joined us on Sunday, a little hesitant about the heat and crowd. But Sunday is always less crowded and they set up their chairs under the big white tent in the back of Curtis Hixon so all was good. My dad, Rocky Courtney, had his eye on the Malio’s prime rib sandwich, complete with a toppings bar, for his main meal of the day. He waited until after we took my son to see Laurie Berkner playing inside the Children’s Museum. He waited so long, that by the time he went to get one, they were sold out. He, of course, managed to find something else delicious to eat but he couldn’t stop thinking, or talking, about that prime rib sandwich.
My much younger co-worker was freaking after he heard his favorite hip hop act Oddissee was on the bill for GMF. Joined with his band GOOD COMPNY the freaking was warranted. Not only were his songs groovy with amazing rhymes like in the song “Things”, he spoke about some important issues. He told the crowd about the struggles in Sudan, as he is part Sudanese himself. He urged the crowd to research the non-violent protest going on there, that is not getting much press coverage. It wasn’t done in a preachy way, just like a still-have-fun-and-enjoy-yourself-but-when-you’re-done-check-this-out way.
Grooviest Dance Moves
Due to the jam packed Saturday scheduling, I didn’t get to stay for a lot of Toro y Moi which many hailed as their best performance of the weekend. Toro y Moi aka Chaz Bear has got moves, and he ain’t afraid to use them. Didn’t miss a beat, at all.
I silently judged all of the people waiting for the Silent Disco in a Disney-length line Saturday night. But when the Avett Brothers started the line dissipated and I saw my chance. It was a unique, fun experience that is hard to explain. Greeted and given headphones that light in three different colors, the host showed where the volume control and the 3 channel changers are. You can switch channels at anytime, choosing between red, green and blue-two mixing hip hop and pop, and one mixing electronic. The DJs are located at the front of the dance floor under the colored lights they are associated with. The dance floor was packed and lit up with colored headphones grooving in the dark. It was a sight to see. You could tell who was listening to the same channel as you, not only by the color on their ears but how they shouted DMX’s “Up in here! Up in here!” at the same time. Lesson learned-I need to stop judging and just have fun.
Best Harmony since Crosby, Stills and Nash
The Bluegrass band The Infamous Stringdusters complimented their amazing banjo picking with some seriously delicious vocal harmonies. They showcased their award winning talents Sunday afternoon on the Curtis Hixon Stage. Yeah, they won a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album in 2018. No big deal.
The Beths are my new favorite band. My friend/WMNF DJ/all-around-music-smartie Scott Imrich, told me they were one of his must sees. He’s the guy that introduced me to TV on the Radio, among other bands. I listened but wasn’t expecting to FALL IN LOVE with the New Zealand band The Beths. I have been bopping to their critically acclaimed album Future Me Hates Me every since their amazing Sunday afternoon set. It’s like they got into the mind of my 25-year-old heartbroken self and describe it with an amazing soundtrack that’s poppy and fun but still really musically good. So happy I didn’t miss out on seeing songs like “You Wouldn’t Like Me” live.
See more from the event in this excellent GMF 2019 photo gallery by Alec Shurtz and Devon Brady: