Saturday afternoon and evening brought to Tampa’s Gaspar’s Grotto the Ybor City Rocks Music Festival. This festival, comprised of over 20 artists of varying genres and styles, seemingly had it all. It all fit together, because just as there are multiple components that go into making a song, there are multiple artists that make up music.
The sunny, cool afternoon provided a perfect backdrop for opening band Wiltshire. This lively four-piece Folk/Southern Rock band played to an eclectic audience, but didn’t fail to please any of them. Not only did Wiltshire keep those at the Sandbar Stage entertained, but they also captured the attention of people walking by. A number of things could have caught the audience’s attention: it could have been the band’s positive vibes, how well lead singer William Wiltshire could play the harmonica, or quite possibly how band member Matt Murphy played the Lap Steel Guitar, but there’s no denying, the afternoon audience was not disappointed.
As the day turned into night, the artists’ sound also began to fade into different genres. Taking the stage next was Geri X. This band, led by a female singer, gave the audience a hauntingly good performance, recalling sounds like that of Etta James mixed with Amy Winehouse. Indie/Rock band, Geri X was able to keep the audience connected throughout their set, even when competing against the DJ’s volume playing across the street. This seemed to be a reoccurring theme, but all the bands just laughed it off and kept on doing their thing.
Next up, starting the Final Four on the Galley Stage, was Dropin Pickup. Even before their set started the audience was up on their feet and ready to hear some tunes. Picking up where Geri X left off, this six-piece band came out bursting with energy. I mean, if a band can successfully incorporated a viola and a trumpet, while still kicking ass, I think the audience is in for a good time. Lead singer, Mike Farrell’s indie voice reminded me of Michael Rosenberg of Passenger mixed with a touch rock. Absolutely everyone was having an amazing time losing themselves in Dropin Pickup’s unique sounds.
It wasn’t hard for band, One Mile Final, to take the stage after Dropin Pickup – perhaps because Dropin Pickup’s bassist, Chase, was playing with them Saturday night. Even though the majority of the band is from out of town, that didn’t stop them from capturing the attention from this local crowd. It could have been their Rock/Blues sounds, or their lively interactions with the audience, but most likely it was because of lead singer, Brian’s, scream (a scream that probably would crack a smile on Steven Tyler’s face).
To finish off the night, Samurai Shotgun took the stage with an effortless cool. Maybe it was the atmosphere in Gaspar’s Grotto that heightened Samurai Shotgun’s wild presence, but lead singer, Mateo Henley, along with the rest of the band, had the crowd going crazy from beginning to end. This group of guys had an energy that no other band seemed to be able to touch. Undoubtedly, the crowd definitely fed off of it. Chairs were moved, tables pushed aside, so that there was plenty of room for dancing and jumping around to the band’s progressive Hip-Hop sounds. Samurai Shotgun invited the lead singer from local band, Bangarang, to help finish out the night. Even with an abbreviated set, Samurai Shotgun gave it their all onstage, leaving the audience high with energy. Lead singer Mateo closed out the set hanging from the rafters, probably because the floor just couldn’t hold him down anymore.