I’m gonna come right out and say it: I hate music festivals. I hate that they’re always in the middle of the fucking summer. I hate the bugs. I hate the sweat. I hate the direct sun and lack of ample shade. I hate the shitty food and beverage choices. I hate the set times and the oft-lacking-in-quality lineups, and, last but not least, I hate the wannabe everybodies that inevitably populate every single inch of the festival grounds to the point WHERE I JUST CAN’T FUCKING GET AWAY.
That being said, I really enjoyed last weekend’s Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa. Other than the nasty sunburn I acquired on my neck (gingers, man) and the lack of hard cider options (Celiacs, man), GMF shone in almost every aspect. I was impressed by the lineup, in that there were actually more than two bands I wanted to see, AND that I discovered new music I ended up liking (Atlantic Oceans, Swimm, and Good Graeff). I especially love that it’s held in March, pre-intense Florida sun and humidity (the sunburn was completely my fault – forgot the SPF, sigh), and that the food options were aplenty, varied, often fancy, and reasonably priced. It also didn’t hurt, from a whiskey lover’s point of view, that George Dickel Tennessee Whisky was there.
All the locals (I’m new in town) told me that GMF doesn’t “feel” like a typical festival, and the natural skeptic in me just didn’t want to believe them. However, I gave it a shot, and not only was the crowd great, but the lineup was fantastic (Flaming Lips, Jason Isbell, Matt Woods, J Roddy Walston & The Business, Have Gun, Will Travel, Those Darlins, and Benjamin Booker, to name a few). I was pretty happy to be proven wrong. Tampa should be damn proud.