Evanescence brings the sounds of Fallen

Tampa is not usually mentioned in the same breath as New York or Los Angeles, but for the next week, it will join the nation’s two largest cities in hosting the fourth annual Verizon Music Festival.

From the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and Ruth Eckerd Hall to Skipper’s Smokehouse and Jannus Landing, the festival will be hitting concert halls and intimate clubs alike.

Sunday at Coachman Park in Clearwater, Evanescence will headline the first of several concert events. Singer Amy Lee fearlessly stepped into the mainstream last year with a rock band and a tutu. In the midst of skin-baring divas and the guitar-strumming Britney backlash, Lee distanced herself from music’s current clichés.

Fallen, the band’s major label debut, features 11 piano-driven tracks, mixed in with churning guitars and Lee’s operatic vocals. Fronting a nu-metal hybrid with a voice reminiscent of Sarah McLachlan, Lee takes the stage with no signs of faltering.

Since the March 2003 release, Fallen has surpassed quadruple-platinum status. It debuted at number seven on the Billboard charts, and after 61 weeks remains a top-10 album.

However, high placement on the Christian charts was not of interest to the band. With the album’s release came controversy sparked by Lee and former guitarist Ben Moody’s profanity in Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly interviews. In response, Wind-up Records recommended the CD be pulled off Christian outlet shelves.

Perhaps not wanting to be pigeonholed as a Christian band — as was thought to be the case after the obscenity-dropping — was a smart move for Evanescence.

With the continuing success of the group’s third single, “My Immortal,” last year’s two Grammy wins and continuing sales for Fallen, Evanescence should get used to red-carpet appearances.

Evanescence will perform at Coachman Park on Sunday, May 16. Doors open at 3:30 pm. Tickets are $25.