The Tampa/St. Pete area gets passed over a lot. Most bands take the straight route through the state at the bottom of the map, hitting Orlando–because Disney World assumedly–and Miami–because, well, South Beach–before hightailing it out. They’re missing out. Tucked away in the left side of Florida is a little bit of paradise. Some of the country’s most beautiful beaches and and the glistening waters of Tampa Bay, which surrounds the sister cities of Tampa and St. Pete are there, as well as a burgeoning music scene begging for a great show. Last Saturday, it got one. And the Tampa Bay area showed its appreciation.
That show came in form of a yin meets yang bill. Two bands whose leading men have polar opposite personas, with the same goal. That goal is sharing their brands of stripped down rock and roll with the audience, one more gratuitously than the other. But in the best way possible.
The Orwells got the night started off on the right foot. The Chicago natives introduced themselves to the Bay by covering Kendrick Lamar’s undeniable banger ‘m.A.A.d city” and never looked back. Still high off the buzz of the band’s Letterman performance, leading man Mario Cuomo had sexual congress with everyone in attendance, using only his sultry, slithering dance moves and powerful, yet understated voice. The band’s sound was precise, tight and simplistic, taking the crowd on a grungy trip to pure rock and roll. Breezing through its catalog, including the hit “Who Needs You,” The Orwells looked and sounded every bit the buzz band it is, hovering over the ledge of greatness.
Next, the Yang to Cuomo’s Yin, Arctic Monkeys leading man Alex Turner, took the stage looking like he joined the Rat Pack and subsequently left, because they weren’t cool enough for him to be seen with in public. He sounded just as cool as he looked. To the delight of the sold out Jannus Live inhabitants, the band stormed into the set the same way it began last year’s masterpiece AM, by strumming the chords and clapping the claps to “Do I Wanna Know?” The British invaders were welcome intruders, dipping deep into the band’s catalog with tracks like “Brainstorm,” “Dancing Shoes” and “Crying Lightning” to appease the masses who have been on the Monkeys’ bandwagon since the men first crossed the pond.
Of course, the set was also heavy with tracks from AM. The diverse record in a live setting just further showcased the band’s maturing sound, weaving in the foot-stomping “Knee Socks” seamlessly with pleading lover’s anthem, “I Wanna Be Yours.” Even the most hard core fans are suckers for the hits. The hits were delivered. “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” ignited a sing-along session of a group of people who had all, more than likely, made a few of the same kind of inebriated calls Turner sings about. Everyone looked good on the dance floor during “I Bet You Looked Good on the Dancefloor,” which will never get old and not be infectious in the best kind of way. After an encore, the entire venue answered with a collective, “YES!” when Alex asked the question, “R U Mine?” to wrap up the show.
Under the stars, on a perfect 75 degree Florida night, the half indoor, half outdoor Jannus Live hosted the best party the Tampa Bay area has had all year… this includes every single New Year’s Even party. From the moment The Orwells took the stage to the moment Alex Turner and his comb walked up the stairs attached to it, it was just that, a party. One those in attendance won’t soon forget. Tampa/St. Pete might not get every show, but when it gets a good one, it treats it right.