FESTIVAL PREVIEW: Making the most of Gasparilla Music Festival

Fans take in Deer Tick's set at The Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa, Fla. on March 10, 2012. | Photo by: Ray Roa

Fans take in Deer Tick’s set at The Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa, Fla. on March 10, 2012. | Photo by: Ray Roa

She lit a fire and now she’s in my every thought.

– Lord Huron

Oh look, she’s back.  Much like a new acquaintance that you can’t stop wondering about, Gasparilla Music Festival has come wandering back to brighten up the room (in this case she’s the 56 carat icing on top of what looks to be another gorgeous weekend in March).  And if you couldn’t tell by our review of the innaugural GMF, we’re head over heels in love.

The fledgling music festival dried off its brand new wings in grand fashion last year, and in 2013 they’ve showed that they’re ready to really fly by booking a lineup that includes an eclectic mix of some the brightest names in live music.


With that thought in mind, SubAp! has attempted to plot out how we’ll be spending our Saturday (probably using Instagram and Twitter way too much, taking notes, giving you hugs + stickers + shirts, and most likely having a beer or three) and share some ideas with you.  There are countless, extremely high quality local + regional + national acts too see, and if it’s your first GMF, then you will be floored by the beautiful setting.  Here are some ways to get the most of GMF 13.


01.  Buy your damn ticket already.

At just $25 a pop, an advance ticket to Gasparilla Music Festival is a steal.  You’d think festival organizers would want to get away with charging more considering the inclusion of acts like The Meter Men, Dr. Dog, Best Coast, and Ozomatli, but the powers at be seem to simply want you there to take it all in.  Take advantage and save a little scratch off day of show prices (you’ll pay $30 at the gate).  Tickets are available online and at various outlets like The Hub, Microgroove, Mojo Books & Music, World Of Beer and Daddy Kool Records.  A full list of ticket locations can be found here.

02. Drink H20, wear sunscreen

It’s going to be gorgeous.  The forecast is calling for temperatures in the mid to high 70s with sunshine.  ‘Round here we call that perfect, and while you’ll be tempted to augment that perfection with some cold booze, don’t forget to hydrate.  You’re allowed to bring up to 1 liter of factory sealed water, so do that and take advantage of using the water fountains to fill up throughout the day. If you haven’t done it yet, Google “SPF” — it stands for “Sun Protection Factor” — and you’re gonna wanna know to use suncreen. Just ask Baz.

03.  Take advantage of free parking.

Ride your bike, take a cab, or carpool.

Downtown Tampa has free metered parking north of Kennedy Boulevard on the weekends.  There are also relatively cheap lots scattered around, but the best way to get there if you’re within a few miles is to take your bike (ever heard of bike valet?) or take in a cab.  Pedaling is good for your mind and body and hopping in a taxi is better than getting tossed into a jail cell for a DUI.

04. Be respectful of others.

With the addition of the Ozomatli kids set as well as extended programming for children, there will be more kids than ever at GMF, and while we are in Tampa (one of the drunkest party towns in America in our opinion), keep the obscenities to a minimum around the tykes.

GMF also brings a host of different people, so just be respectful.  “Please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” and “pardon me” still go a long way in this day in age.  Also, don’t bring big ass blankets or chairs.  And while we love your doggie, leave him or her at home too.  For a full list of things you’re allowed to bring in and the things you should leave without, click here.

05. Get there early.

See something you’ve never heard of.

The festival experience is all about stumbling upon things that you may have never given a single thought to.  The Tampa Bay area is a creative hotbed rife with artists creating amazing music.  We spend our days trying to get you to take a listen.  With the addition of a fourth stage (the Awesome Tampa Bay stage at Tibbett’s Corner), there will be more opportunities than ever to be wowed by one of your neighbors making beautiful noise.  A full schedule can be had here, but these are three acts to see playing at different times:

  • Mountain Holler (1:30 p.m. – Amphitheater Stage) – Mark Etherington’s voice is what would’ve happened if Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver had a baby.  The St. Pete-based singer-songwriter can be seen playing drums for Set And Setting or fronting Redfeather, but his solo project — Mountian Holler — finds his vocal soaked in reverb and belting out jaw-dropping tunes about nature and your current state of being.  Don’t miss a chance to see what we mean.  Watch the video above if you don’t believe is.
  • Lauris Vidal (4:15 – Awesome Tampa Bay Stage) – Lauris is a one man band these days, and that’s just fine with us.  The Ormond Beach-based noise maker also crafts his own instruments and happens to be one of the happiest guys we know.  He’s also one of the Sunshine State’s most prolific songwriters and never, ever brings less that 110 percent to his live set.  If you want to know what it means to live with passion, then watch Vidal stomp, sing, and smile his way through a set.  You won’t be let down.
  • The Felice Brothers (6:15 – FL Leagal Stage at Kiley Gardens) You’re right, the Felice Brothers aren’t from Florida.  Still, it seems as if their presence has been buried by some of the other bigger names on the lineup (they play right before Ozomatli), but this band (actually made up of two brothers and their two bandmates) cut their teeth on the NYC busker scene before gaining popularity and eventually releasing a genre bending album that is something of a nod to our state (2011’s Celebration, Florida).  They’re currently trying to recuperate losses from a string of unfortunate accidents by hawking digital copies of an LP consisting of eight traditional folk songs and 12 original songs that the band has always liked, but never had a chance to put on records.  Get learned on that album — God Bless You, Amigohere.

“We always have fun…why would you live anywhere else…this is the only place”

– Best Coast

06.  Scheduling conflicts.

Not as bad as you would think they are.

You can’t see every single little thing you want to see.  Face it.  Thankfully, choosing between acts at a music festival is kind of like choosing between $1 million and $1.1 million dollars — kind of a win-win, you know.  We’re torn on a few things, but here’s how we’ll split our time between the national acts booked for GMF 2013:

  • A 3:45 p.m. set from Lord Huron (our most anticipated act of GMF 2013) is going to mean we might miss some of Lauris Vidal, but you can bet your ass we’ll be catching the end of Vidal’s set before heading back to the main stage to see Best Coast, who penned one of our favorite song lyrics ever.
  • Damion Suomi‘s 5:45 p.m. set at the Amphitheatre stage is a great alternative to anyone not into the garage-pop of Best Coast, but we’ll be camped out at the main stage from about 5 p.m. to 9 p.m catching back to back sets from Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears and Dr. Dog (while sneaking away to see The Felice Bros.) before beelining it to the Kiley Garden’s stage for a set by Dawes who are playing some of the best American music of generation right now.
  • Being at all those sets means we’re sacrificing seeing Ozomatli‘s complete set, which is a bummer, but we’re gonna make like Lance Armstrong and deal with not having to sacrifice our left and right (wait, what, why are we talking about Lance Armstrong again??)…either way, GMF has made sure that The Meter Men (who will be joined by Phish’ Page McConnell) get to close out the fest all by themselves.  We’ll be dancing and twirling with all of you then.

Deer Tick play Gasparilla Music Fest in Tampa, Fla. on March 10, 2012. | Photo by: Brian Mahar ©

 07.  Take a look around.

Enjoy the view.

Have fun and thank someone.

Gasparilla Music Festival is as much about the location and people attending as it is about the music.  UT’s minarets will be majestic, the TMA will glow, and the Hillsborough River is going to glisten in another beautiful Tampa sunset.  All this is gonna happen while a cool breeze blows through a beautiful public park.  Take a second to appreciate where you are, and make sure you thank volunteers and coordinators for investing in the event.  This is something we can all grow to enjoy and be proud of in the years to come.