This week’s top Tampa Bay concerts: Ariana Grande, Sunset Music Festival, Rascal Flatts

Plus, David Crosby in Clearwater, Trey Anastasio in St. Petersburg, Nelly at the Margarita Festival and Joe Jackson in Tampa.
Published May 22
Updated May 23

COMEBACK YEAR: Sunset Music Festival

Last year’s Sunset Music Festival was kind of a disaster. How else would you describe an event whose second day was canceled due to a stormy forecast, on a day when little if any rain actually fell? Fans weren’t happy about it. But like day-glo moths to a neon flame, many will be back this weekend to catch big-name DJs like Zedd, Kaskade, Zeds Dead, Flux Pavilion and Dog Blood (a side project of Skrillex and Boys Noize). Some performers whose sets were canceled in 2018 will be back this year, including Illenium, Bonnie X Clyde and Walker and Royce. And there are some bona fide intriguing acts playing, including Alison Wonderland (playing a prime-time main stage set, still a rarity for women in EDM) and Getter, who caused a social media stir when he canceled his spring tour due to fan criticism. Fingers crossed, the weather will hold up, allowing SMF attendees to talk about the actual festival for once. How’s that for a change? $109.95 and up per day, $189.95 and up for the weekend. 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Raymond James Stadium, Tampa. After-parties are scheduled for 10 p.m. Saturday ($50 and up) and Sunday ($35 and up) at the Ritz Ybor, 1503 E Seventh Ave.; and noon Monday ($35 and up) at WTR at the Godfrey, 7700 W Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa.

BREAKING FREE: Ariana Grande

Now here's a Florida woman who's got it all figured out. Ariana Grande, the pride of Boca Raton, has over the past couple of years evolved into the newsworthiest name in pop. It isn't just her famous boyfriends (we see you, Pete) or personal tragedies (Manchester, Mac Miller), either. For the past year or so, Grande's produced some of the most creative and thoughtful music of her still-young career, including the Grammy-winning album Sweetener and gargantuan hits Thank U, Next and 7 Rings. She's a different artist and person than she was in 2015, the last time she came to Tampa. And considering how fast tickets sold out, it seems Florida fans can't wait to see how far she's come. Normani and Social House open. 8 p.m. Tuesday. Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. The venue will have a clear-bag policy similar to the one at Raymond James Stadium. Fans can bring one clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bag measuring no more than 12 by 6 by 12 inches, like a freezer bag, or one of the souvenir bags available for purchase outside the show. Fans may not bring opaque wrist or shoulder clutches. Cameras not permitted. (813) 301-2500.

TURNING A PAGE: Rascal Flatts

Rascal Flatts are so squeaky-freaking-clean, whoever would think they’d have skeletons buried in their closets? But founding bassist Jay DeMarcus admitted to a couple in his new memoir, Shotgun Angels. While not exactly Nashville’s version of The Dirt, it does describe how DeMarcus and his then-girlfriend gave a new baby up for adoption in their 20s, and how he met his current wife when she was engaged to someone else. Who knew the band behind Bless the Broken Road had it in them? It hasn’t stopped Rascal Flatts from becoming one of the biggest country groups of all time. Maybe singer Gary LeVox and guitarist Joe Don Rooney should write memoirs, too. Lee Brice and Morgan Evans open. $33.75 and up. 7:30 p.m. Friday. MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. (813) 740-2446.

STILL SHARP: Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson has style. He’s a skilled jazz musician and a classical composer. But to a lot of fans, he’ll always be the guy who sang Is She Really Going Out With Him? — and that’s not bad at all. The 1978 single and followups Steppin’ Out and You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want) established him as a thinking man’s New Wave dude, a guy who could veer from genre to genre and still land a hit on the radio. Forty years after his debut album Look Sharp!, Jackson returned in February with Fool, his 20th album, and you can now hear him play it on tour. $34.50 and up. 8 p.m. Saturday. Tampa Theatre, 711 N Franklin St., Tampa. (813) 274-8286.


For a town that hosts the Dave Matthews Band every summer, why don’t more jam bands come to Tampa Bay? Where’s Dead and Company, Widespread Panic or the String Cheese Incident? For that matter, where the heck is Phish? It has been 24 years since the Vermonters last played Tampa, and while its members have come to town since, there have been no rumblings of a full-band gig. For now, we’ll have to get by with a solo show by frontman Trey Anastasio. Why he decided to play Jannus Live, an undersized choice so intimate it sold out almost immediately, it’s hard to say. But maybe all this local love will convince him that Phish really does have fans here, huh? 6 p.m. Tuesday. Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 565-0550.


Woodstock’s 50th anniversary festival this summer appears to be in financial jeopardy. That’s a shame, because the poster was promising a set by David Crosby and Friends, and c’mon, who doesn’t want to be David Crosby’s friend? (Aside, apparently, from Graham Nash, Stephen Stills or Neil Young.) Crosby played the original Woodstock back in the day; wouldn’t it be great to see him link up with Dead and Company, or Sturgill Simpson, or Chance the Rapper, or Greta Van Fleet? Let’s make this happen, wealthy, nostalgic boomers of the corporate world! If you want a taste of what you might get, Crosby’s coming to our neck of the country at 8 tonight. $59.50 and up. Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. (727) 791-7400.

SALT ROCK: Tampa Bay Margarita and Music Festival

What do Nelly, Cold War Kids and Soul Asylum have in common? For one thing, they love a good margarita. Or at least they will this weekend, when the 2000s rapper, indie blog-rockers and Runaway Train Grammy winners team up for the Tampa Bay Margarita and Music Festival in Tampa. That’s a new name for the hugely popular event, one that emphasizes the music part of the equation — but let’s not diminish the appeal of the margs, either. Guests can sample dozens of margaritas in flavors ranging from boba to pineapple Sriracha. (The latter might be an appropriate choice during Hot In Herre.) $25 and up Saturday at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, 1001 North Blvd., Tampa.