Spring break is in full swing, and my first adventure was going to Tampa for the first day of Gasparilla Music Festival on Saturday, 3/11.

My car seemed to have different plans as it tried to blow up twice—but I was determined to make it there to see Cage the Elephant that night.

After willing my car not to overheat, I made it to Tampa for the first time ever and was pleased to see that Gasparilla Music Festival did a great job highlighting what its city had to offer beyond an epic Grammy-winning headliner.

Gasparilla was located at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, boasting a beautiful backdrop of the Hillsborough River and the historic buildings of University of Tampa.

There were four stages for the acts, one of which put on a silent disco all Saturday night, where you could find a massive crowd of people dancing freely with headphones on.

When I arrived, Lady Wray was performing on the main stage, providing attendees with a dose of soulful R&B, which is rising back up in popularity.

Following her act was indie rock band Moon Taxi, who drew in a significantly big crowd. They did not disappoint the crowd, lighting up the stage with their clear vocals and catchy songs in the setting sun.

The next act I was excited for was Ghostface Killah, who was performing on a different stage before Cage the Elephant.

Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed— the act had promise for when he was performing, his flow sounded fantastic. However, like the majority of rap artists I’ve seen live, Ghostface Killah spent a majority of the time hinting at his disappointment with the crowds enthusiasm (even though I’d say that the crowd was pretty hyped up). He also unnecessarily had his support crew up on stage with him. After a few songs, I dipped out as watching the set-up for Cage the Elephant seemed more promising.

When I got down to the pit, the bottom portion of the park was packed to the brim, and the entire VIP pit area was full for the first time that night. And man were those VIP ticket holders in for a treat.

Matthew Schultz was a ball full of energy per usual, and he spent most of his time on the train portion of the stage that extended into the VIP pit. He ran up and down that runaway countless times, dragging and spinning his mic stand around with him. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from his gold sequined shoes as they danced across the floor.

The fans looked like they were at a pop concert, clinging onto Schultz’s leg as he sang at the edge of the stage. And at the end of the set when he tried to crowdsurf, the fans by the stage went so wild that they in fact dropped him.

Cage the Elephant’s set was truly electric, proving that the Grammy panel was spot on. Performing nonstop, they offered up songs from the new album as well as the older ones—the crowd favorites were “Come A Little Closer” and “Cigarette Daydreams.”

Cage the Elephant earned their title as the current golden boys of rock and alternative music, and they don’t seem to be losing that status anytime soon.

Gasparilla offered more than just music—there was a maze of tents with local crafts from jewelers and artists, as well as food vendors.

And while this is typical of any festival nowadays, the vendors were personable and offered uniquely beautiful jewelry and clothing. Their attitudes made the festival feel so much more welcoming and authentic, and ultimately put into perspective what Gasparilla had been promoting all day—the local community of Tampa.

 

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