I’d say the general reaction I got from people when I announced I was going to see Flobots was 50 percent “Who?” and 50 percent “The Handlebar dudes?” Yes, the dudes responsible for 2008 hit single “Handlebars” dropped into Orpheum in support of their third and most recent release, The Circle in the Square, and I was very interested in how they’d sound four years after releasing that infuriatingly catchy track.

Local prog-hip hop band Samurai Shotgun hit the stage first and impressed the hell out of me. I know lead singer Mateo Prince Henley from the Ybor clubs he’s worked at, and I had no idea he had this in him. When I commented to my friend that one of their songs reminded me of a raw, urban RHCP, he summed it up succinctly with his response: “Yeah, but ten times better, though.”

Next on stage was Minnesota’s insanely surprising Astronautalis. When a pretty blonde boy in a cornflower blue button-down and khakis strode onto the stage to help set up, I assumed he was an intern. Then the lights went down, and he started sing-rhyming over reverb-drenched guitar and cymbals-crashing beats, and I thought, Whoa. Dude’s got flow. The crowd was definitely digging the mix of hip hop and rock, and didn’t hesitate to move closer to the stage at his invitation. He kept brushing his blonde curls away from his face as he bounced from foot to foot and crouched down to make eye contact with the crowd. He referred to himself as a “substitute (teacher) looking motherfucker,” to those of us who weren’t familiar with him before his set started, addressing the whole judging-a-book-by-its-cover thing (which I was guilty of), and then asked for requests on subjects to freestyle on. The two spontaneous freestyle raps that followed touched on the Higgs boson particle, Mitt Romney, the movie Airplane!, Deerwood Country Club in Jacksonville, Stan Lee, and roller derby. Dude is good.

Closing out the night, Flobots entered to a pretty big crowd that clearly knew there was more to the sextet than bike tricks. The first thing I noticed wasn’t the guitarist or bassist, it wasn’t the pair of charismatic rappers who front the band, and it wasn’t the burly guy on drums. It was definitely band’s lone female, Mackenzie Gault, standing stage left with her electric viola. Instrumental touches like this are what make Flobots’ mix of hip hop and rock so special. The energy was high from the moment they opened the set with “Stand Up,” and it didn’t even waver when things got a little rocky.

Midway through the set, it became clear that vocalist Brer Rabbit was having issues with his mic, so without skipping a beat, partner Johnny 5 abandoned the setlist and launched into the rarely performed “By the Time You Get This Message” while the tech guy tried to sort things out. The energy held steady all throughout, and pretty much the only time the two vocalists weren’t bounding around the stage was when Johnny got down on one knee to play melodica. The crowd was on board 100 percent by the time they reached “Handlebars,” and were rewarded with a high-octane performance that didn’t feel like they’d already played it a zillion times. The evening ended with a slow and beautiful rendition of “Rise” along with a huge thanks to the crowd.

As we were on our way out of the venue, a few of my friends remarked that they liked the openers better than Flobots. I’ll admit, it was a pretty close race for me as well. But there are definitely worse things than having to decide which one of the three bands you just heard was the best. All I can say for certain is that I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for future Samurai Shogun shows, and if you’re in Tampa, you should, too. You can catch the rest of the shots from the show here.

Flobots – The Rose And The Thistle
Flobots – Circle In The Square


I am nothing, if not a rabid Dr Dog fan. Ever since seeing them at Lollapalooza a few years back I have made a point of seeing them every time they come around, so I was crushed when the Tampa Bay Area wasn’t part of the tour announcement following the release of their last album, Shame, Shame. In fact, I summed up my review of that album with the following, “This one goes on my personal essential listening list, and if these guys come anywhere near you, don’t walk, run to the show…and tell them to get their asses back to Tampa.” That said, you can only imagine my glee when I got the announcement that they were doing a second leg of the tour and they would be playing The State Theater on Record Store Day.

Opening for Dr Dog was a band out of Asheville, NC called Floating Action. I had never heard them before, but I liked them pretty much instantly. The first thing their sound evoked for me of was Band of Horses and maybe a little Fleet Foxes, mainly because of their harmonies and twanginess. Looked into the band post-show, it turns out that their last album, Desert Etiquette, was actually produced by Band of Horses’ bassist, Bill Reynolds. I will definitely be picking this up. Seeming not to notice that they weren’t in the mountains any more, lead singer Seth Kauffman was wearing both a stocking cap and a blazer in the 80+ degree heat. I was already pretty darn warm in my t-shirt and shorts, but by the fourth song I, along with much of the the almost capacity crowd, was dancing and clapping (and sweating) along. Highest praise of all may be that members of Dr Dog kept coming out from beside the stage to watch the performance.

As I settled closer to the stage in preparation for the main act, a friend of mine asked about what she was going to see when Dr Dog took to the stage, if it was going to just be a couple guys. If you’ve seen this band before, you know why I couldn’t help but smile at this. Dr Dog has 5 members, 6 on this tour, and they filled the whole stage even before they start dancing. You can tell these guys genuinely love what they do. They transform a simple concert into an all out experience, playing every single song as if it was the last song of the final encore. This also happened to be the last show of the tour, but you’d think it was the first with all the energy they still somehow had. Even the more low key songs are played to the fullest, like when Frank McElroy’s rhythm guitar set the mood for an achingly slow and heavy rendition of “Someday” and when they put on a sweat-drenched rendition of “The Beach” that fucking killed me. I am, in fact, dead now.

I had the chance to chat with the newest band member, drummer Teach (Eric Slick), after the show and he made my night even greater when he said they’re already ready to work on their next album, which is apparently going to be produced by Dangermouse (Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz). I can’t wait to hear what a more edgy Dr Dog sounds like and, even more exciting, I can’t wait for the next tour.

Check out more pix from the show by the Drunk Camera Guy


Ra Ra Riot has been on my radar since their eponymous 2007 EP but I honestly never expected them to come to Tampa. When the show was announced, I was surprised that not only were they coming to my town, but the show would be in the cozy confines of the Crowbar. Would Tampa show up for this must see show on a weeknight? In the rain? Yes and yes, even the double whammy of a wet weeknight didn’t stop the show from selling out and the place from being filled wall to wall.

The full six member band was quite an impressive sight on the intimate stage, especially because two of them were playing stringed instruments, a cello and a violin. Some bands have a violinist step in for one or two songs, but not RRR. These are full time band members playing their instruments on nearly every song, and cellist Alexandra Lawn even had her debut as a lead vocalist on the last release, The Orchard. In fact, “You And I Know” may have been my favorite song in an overall brilliant performance from the band, and I’d be surprised and disappointed if I didn’t get to hear more from her on future releases. They played every single song I wanted to hear from their back catalog, mixed in with a lot of the newer stuff. I have to admit that I hadn’t given the last album a lot of playing time, but I’m definitely planning to give The Orchard more attention now.

Opening the show was local band The Sleepy Vikings, self-described “loud country shoegaze”, followed by The Luyas, a Canadian band that brought out such artillery as the French horn and hand bells. It was a bit too quirky for me, but I may download a song or two to check them out.

Check out some more shots from the show here


Philly’s Jukebox the Ghost stopped by Crowbar in Ybor City last Saturday night for their second visit this year, this time to promote their second album, Everything Under the Sun. I’ve been a huge fan ever since seeing them open for Ben Folds, and even though they were just here in June, the band delivered a completely different show.

They played a lot of new material and plenty of crowd favorites, but they also threw in some ridiculously cool covers. After marveling at how the weather is so much warmer here than it is back home, they helped us get into the holiday spirit with a cover of “What’s This?” from The Nightmare Before Christmas. And, as has become a tradition, they wrapped up the show by inviting all the members of the two openers, Meligrove Band and Dynamite Walls, up to the stage for a tambourine-filled cover of The Cure’s “Head on the Door”.

Check out the rest of the pictures here.


The Yeasayer show was the first of many for me in the month of Rocktober, and the first show I’d been to at the State Theater since I saw the Breeders open for Green Day, which was a long ass time ago. As anyone who read my Yeasayer post a couple weeks ago knows, I’ve been pretty damned excited about this show for a long time and it was finally here, their first ever show in Florida.

The first band up was Washed Out, which is technically not so much a band as it is a guy named Ernest Greene accompanied by touring musicians. I’m not really big on chillwave, but it was enjoyable, if not a bit sleepy. I basically drank my way through the first act, watching from the balcony as the crowd below gently swayed. After Washed Out finished their set, we were treated to some tunes by a duo of local DJ’s, The Soft Rock Renegades, and then it was time for the main act.

When Yeasayer took to the stage, the mostly laid back crowd was so excited they stepped up their swaying from level 3 to level 5. They started out slow, but three songs into their set they played “Rome”, one of my favorite tracks from the newest release, Odd Blood, and everyone seemed to come out of their trances. Chris Keating sang it like he meant it, almost yelling into the microphone, as if he was really trying to convince us of what he was saying, and we crowd chanted along with him. Anand Wilder had his own standout performance with an achingly slow and perfectly sung rendition of “Grizelda”, a song about Colombian drug lord Grizelda Blanco. Also, I had mentioned in my review of Odd Blood that I thought “Mondegreen” would be amazing, and it really, really was.

For the encore, the band played two songs. First was a version of “The Children” that was even creepier than the album version, which is saying something. The last song was “2080”, from their first release, All Hour Cymbals, and the whole place went nutso for it. Not only was it a brilliant show, but I was very impressed with the State Theater and I don’t know why it took me so long to come back. The staff was friendly and accommodating and the drinks were cold and strong. I definitely see myself coming back for another show. You can check out some pictures from the show here and read my review of Odd Blood here.


I first heard of Yeasayer after they caused a commotion at SXSW 2007, so I jumped at the chance to see them at Lollapalooza in 2008, where they totally killed it. Now, after three long years, they’ve finally released their second album, and it was definitely worth the wait. Yeasayer is a Brooklyn-based band that is comprised of three main members, Chris Keating on lead vocals and keyboards, Anand Wilder on guitars, keyboards and backing vocals, and Ira Wolf Tuton on bass guitar and backing vocals, along with a multitude of guest musicians, not to mention an orchestra of samples and sound effects.

Odd Blood starts out kind of dark and moody with “The Children”, but overall this is a very upbeat album, even when discussing relationship troubles or sociopathic Medellin drug lords. It’s not quite as moody as their first album, All Hour Cymbals, having a much more pop feel to it, but still staying true to their experimental sound. While I love pretty much every song on the album (though I’m admittedly a tad burned out on the first single from the album, “Ambling Alp”), there are definitely some standouts. “Love Me Girl” is a perfect mix of chill and anthemic, plus the happy hardcore-esque keyboards make me grin from ear to ear. One of the slower songs, “I Remember” is beautiful and romantic, referred to by the band as a “four-and-a-half-minute-long mixtape love ballad”. I can’t describe it any better. My favorite song, though, is probably “Mondegreen”, with its irresistibly contagious rhythm. I can’t keep myself from tapping along on the steering wheel every time it comes on, and I think this would be amazing live.

This is an album that I think should have more broad appeal than their first. Even though it takes plenty of risks, it still remains accessible, plus it’s really fun to sing along to, which is a big plus for me. It just so happens that Yeasayer are playing at the State Theater in St Pete on Monday Oct 4 with Washed Out and local DJ’s The Soft Rock Renegades. They managed to put on a hell of a show in the middle of a Chicago heat wave in 2008, so I can’t begin to imagine how amazing they’re going to be in some AC with 3 more years of shows under their belts. Tickets are only $15 in advance, so check out the songs below and hope to see some of you there.

Yeasayer- Love Me Girl
Yeasayer- Mondegreen
Yeasayer- Rome

Buy tickets here

Yeasayer’s Official Website, Yeasayer on MySpace


All three of these bands are near and dear to 9b’s collective heart, so to have them all on the same bill is a pretty damned fine thing. Autopsy is the one who first convinced me that I could not miss an LSS show, and after seeing my first a couple years back, I couldn’t do anything but agree with him. Have Gun Will Travel have an incredibly fun chemistry to their sound that not only translates seamlessly to digital media in a way not many other bands can match, but is even more dynamic when you see them in person. Then you add The Urbane Cowboys, who are not only a phenomenal local band that doesn’t play live near enough for my taste, but they do some of the coolest covers out there. This was a show not to be missed.

The Urbane Cowboys started the night and got things rolling with some of their original songs, as well as my favorite cover of theirs, a dreamy, twangy, perfect version of The Pixies’ “Wave of Mutilation”. Kamran said that it happened as an accident when he was playing with a chord progression and another band member picked up on it. It’s pretty amazing and if you happened to miss it, you can hear it on their album, Only Truth Tonight. I, however, suggest you try to hear it live.

Bradentucky boys Have Gun, Will Travel took to the stage next. We just saw them last week when they played Creative Loafing’s “Loafies” party to celebrate The Best of The Bay Awards. While there, they also picked up an award for Best Bay Area Breakout, which they richly deserve, and they proved that to us one again with their performance this night. Along with songs from the much lauded Postcards from the Friendly City, we also got to hear a new song, “The Living Dead Blues”, a tune about zombies.

Lastly, just as the place had finally started to fill in a bit and people were setting their drunk on cruise control, The Legendary Shack Shakers were up. Now I have to admit, I don’t own any of their stuff and this show made me wonder why. It also then immediately reminded me why- if I tried to drive while playing their stuff I would probably get a ticket for going 95 in a 45 and running a school bus full of orphans off a bridge. LSS do not fuck around. They put on one hell of an entertaining, high energy, hilarious show, and Frontman Col. J. D. Wilkes is one of the best performers I have ever seen live, gyrating, distorting his face, interacting with the audience. Basically, he’s more ringleader than band leader.

Another thing about an LSS show is the crowd. Most of them knew every word as clearly as they knew the risk they faced being in the pit, the risk of being hit with a snot rocket or a pube, courtesy of the Colonel. However, you also may get a microphone in front of your face so you can sing along, or a hand out to shake yours, so for many it’s worth the risk. The crowd pretty much got going right away, but during “Creek Cats” the thrashing went into full effect. In fact, there were so many bodies flying in and out of the pit as the show went on that the staff started removing tables from around the outside of the floor as beer bottles kept getting knocked down. I think this pretty much sums up the show, and if you didn’t make it out, you did a disservice to yourself that hopefully you will be lucky enough to rectify if they come around here again.

To see some of the madness, check out the pix at


When I was 15, my family moved from Grand Rapids, MI to a town called Plant City, FL. I was already a moody little fuck, so when you add in moving me to a tiny town in a miserably hot state, well, I was feeling emo long before the word became what it is today. Then one night while watching 120 Minutes on MTV (for the younger readers, the “M” used to stand for Music before it stood for Mediocre), “Sit Down” by James came on. At that age and that point in my life, the lyrics, though they may sound cheesy as hell on the page, meant the world to me and it was one of the first songs that brought the Madchester sound into my life. So when James came to town as openers for The Soup Dragons, I begged my parents to buy me a ticket and stood up at the very front, yelling every lyric to every song.

Fast(slow?)-forward almost two decades later to 2010. James has long since split and gotten back together after lead singer Tim Booth’s solo career didn’t do so hot, they have a new double EP out, and they’re actually touring the US once again, though this time as the headliners. As wary as I am about seeing bands I loved as a teen (the Sisters of Mercy abortion of a concert from a couple years ago is still fresh in my mind), there was no way I was going to miss the chance to hear “Sit Down” sung live just one more time.

We had to cross the state during the end of rush hour on a Tuesday to get to the show, which was at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney, and even though we made pretty good time (it was only 8p when we got there), we still missed the opener, Ed Harcourt. I was really hoping to catch him, though nobody I spoke with at the show was very impressed with his set. Someone mentioned lounge music. Oh well.

The place was full, but nobody was pushing, and there was no real crush at the front when the headliners took to the stage.  The band started things off somewhat slow with “Dust Motes”, a song from their recent EP, The Morning After, released just days before the show. Frontman Tim Booth was wearing a fringed stocking cap, blue and white polo, baggy grey pants, and a blazer, looking kind of like a French sailor who just woke up late for a dinner party. Tim no longer has the fluffy blonde locks he used to shake about as he danced, but the tassels on his cap seemed to serve as proxy, wagging and shaking around as he bounced. And while time may have taken his hair, he still dances like a snake that’s angry that someone gave it arms and is trying vehemently to shake them off of his body.

While the whole show was nothing short of fantastic, there were definitely some highlights. The new stuff that they played, like “It’s Hot” and “Crazy” sounded great live. On one of their older tunes, “Out to Get You”, Saul Davies’ violin was highlighted, which lent a really cool Irish/bluegrass edge to it, working up to a fever pitch over a deep, pounding bass drum. During another favorite of mine, “Say Something”, Tim actually came down into the crowd and serenaded a random audience member. The band was clearly taken with the crowd’s hanging on their every note and worked as hard as they could to give back what they were getting off of us.

Approaching venue curfew after 15 songs, they played just a two song encore. First was the ridiculously romantic “Sometimes”, and then they announced they could do just one more song and that they were going to do something different, something that they wouldn’t be doing much more. And then they did it, they played “Sit Down”. A song I can’t even begin to imagine how tired they must be of playing, but they played it anyway and I about lost my fucking mind. The whole band even stepped to the front of the stage and sat along its edge, and at one point it was just percussion while the audience sang every word with all we could muster. Concert perfection, that moment of true shared musical experience that is the reason we drive across a state on a Tuesday night. Even more amazing, when I got a hold of a setlist I noticed that “Sit Down” wasn’t even one of the three songs listed as possible encores. I couldn’t have asked for more.

James – Sit Down (studio)
James – Sit Down (live)

Check out more pictures from the show at


Coming out of Philly, Dr. Dog is a five man band with everyone not only playing an instrument, but also singing. It creates a fun, full, old-timey sound that is unlike much of anything else I’ve heard. They’re one of my top favorite bands, and one of my tippy-top favorite live acts, so when I saw a new album was coming out, I hoped that would mean another Tampa show would be here soon. They’d played as close as St Augustine last March, but I had to miss it because of a friend’s baby shower. There are no Tampa dates on their website, but I’m staying optimistic and using this time to learn every fantastic lyric.

You know how when you love a band and you get their new album, you’re hopeful and excited, but also just a little bit nervous to listen to it? Just a little anxious about having your heart broken when you find that while you’ve been apart they’ve changed and now you have nothing in common any more? Well as soon as I worked up the nerve and pressed play, “Stranger” came on and I knew our reunion would be just as I’d hoped. I instantly loved the lyrics, like the line, “Well I plan to hit the bottom, the bottle, then the top.” Their songs always have great lyrics that are cleanly poetic, without a hint of pretentiousness. And the harmonies hadn’t gone anywhere, either. Happy as a clam, I settled in for the ride and I think I played the album at least 3 times in a row.

Listening to the album, I couldn’t help but think at times of how great some of these songs are going to sound live if/when they head back my way. Songs like “Mirror, Mirror”, with its simple chorus so perfect for singing along to and its frenetic ending that puts an image in my mind of all five of the guys jumping around the stage. Another standout track for me is “Someday”, which caught me off guard at first with how much the crooner-style singing at the beginning reminded me of Jamie Cullum, and then it quickly picked up and got to business.

I also have to mention “Jackie Wants a Black Eye”, which has some of the heaviest lyrics on the album. McMicken discussed it on their site as follows, “I had this one particular night where I was particularly depressed, to the extent that I realized that I needed to get out of the house. So I walked to this bar about four blocks from my house, and I don’t even drink, but I knew I’d run into people that I know, and I ran into my friends Jackie and John, who are both the main characters in the song. It turned out that Jackie and John had arrived at the bar that night in a very similar position, where they were both really bummed out about stuff in their lives, and I stumbled into this situation with two people that I could really easily commiserate with. We sat and talked for a couple of hours, and the way I felt upon leaving there versus how I felt when I showed up was such a radical shift that I couldn’t help but feel like there was some greater significance or something to be incredibly thankful for. I went home that night and I wrote that song.” I don’t know how anyone could resist listening to a song after reading that, so check out the mp3 below.

There’s not really any new direction being taken on this, their sixth full length album, but that’s not a bad thing. Not in the least. Dr. Dog has this classic bluesy, poppy, and super soulful vibe that has one foot in today and one in the 60’s, and they are one of my foolproof go-to cures for a shitty day. This one goes on my personal essential listening list, and if these guys come anywhere near you, don’t walk, run to the show…and tell them to get their asses back to Tampa.

Dr. Dog – Jackie Wants A Black Eye
Dr. Dog – Strainger

Dr. Dog’s Official Site, Dr. Dog on myspace, Buy Shame, Shame


Passion Pit is a band that started as one man’s Valentine’s Day present to a girl and has evolved into a 5-man band whose sweetly hypnotic song “Sleepyhead” found its way into a Palm Pixi ad and whose current tour has been selling out left and right, including the Tampa stop.

I personally have the worst luck getting into the Ritz smoothly. Don’t get me wrong, I love this venue and all the people there, but lemme tell you, if you have a ticket with will call or are supposed to be on a list, bring a receipt, a confirmation email, and a blood sample. By the time the cavity search was over (I’ll always remember our time together, Helga) I’d missed the first opening band, Brahms. A couple friends had seen the tour in Miami the night before and had told me that they were great, so I went to their site and signed up for the 4 free mp3’s they were offering. After I close on my house this week I have promised myself I’d find some quiet time to listen to them.

Next up was the Canadian foursome Tokyo Police Club, the band that I was actually the most excited to see.  It’s been 2 years since their last effort, which I adored, so when I saw they were touring with Passion Pit I was thrilled. I honestly had never expected that they would come to my home town, so when they played almost the entire first album, I was ecstatic. The crowd was packed into the theater for most of their set, though you could tell many of them hadn’t yet heard TPC. While my friends and I were in the balcony bouncing to “Your English is Good”, much of the crowd down below were standing like statues, though there was definitely a loud, albeit still smallish, contingent of fans scattered about down there, too. The band didn’t give up on the crowd, though, and when they asked us all to clap during “Citizens of Tomorrow”, your classic song about robots taking over the world and enslaving all humans, there were waves of hands clapping along. They worked so hard, in fact, that singer/bassist Dave Monks broke a string right before the chorus of “Wait Up” and had to have another bass rushed out to him, which he promptly threw on and finished the song. I’ve only had a chance to give their new album a couple listens, but the new songs sounded great live and I can’t wait to get to spend some more time with them.

Now, if you’ve never been to a sold out show at the Ritz in the summer it’s kinda hard to describe. Unless, that is, you’ve been in a sauna with 1000 15 year olds. Then you know exactly what it’s like. The air was so thick from the humidity it was like they were running a fog machine filled with sweat and beer. The opening band hadn’t even hit the stage yet and I saw a girl already being carried out. Pffft, amateurs. Then Passion Pit took to the stage and the whole place officially went batshit crazy. Throughout all 14 songs, including a 3 song encore, lead singer Michael Angelakos sang his discotastic falsetto guts out and the crowd sang back at him as loudly as they could muster. Angelakos seemed genuinely touched by the crowd’s response and made a point of sincerely thanking them. I however, couldn’t see shit (insert Ray Charles meme here). The balcony where I’d watched TPC was now off limits and I couldn’t even see the drummer from the back of the venue, so it was pretty much like listening to the album in the shower, just with way better lighting. Not only could I not see the stage, but the ice-cold vodka at Czar right across the street was calling my name, so I was just about to head out a little early. Just then they started playing “Sleepyhead” and everyone in the front bar of The Ritz collectively put out their cigarettes (no smoking is allowed in the theater) and hauled ass to catch this song. That is one catchy fucking tune, and it lured me back as near as the entry to the theater, and standing there I watched the backs of hundreds of heads bob in unison. I’m glad I stuck around, but take it from me, if you get a chance to buy the balcony upgrade, DO IT.

You can see more pix from the show here.