Shows at summers start

This summer, the often quiet concert period between the spring semester’s end and the season’s largest shows and music festivals, is more active than usual in the Tampa Bay area.

Upcoming shows range from a concert showcasing four great artists of varying genres to a free show featuring an indie-folk legend.

The Oracle highlights five early summer shows students may want to catch.

Smoking Popes

When: May 9, 9 p.m.

Where: New World Brewery

Chicago quartet Smoking Popes will stop by New World Brewery – bringing the hook-laden power-pop sound that won them credibility and opening spots for acts such as Green Day and Goo Goo Dolls in the ’90s.

Yet, Smoking Popes also have more edge than similar ’90s bands, as evidenced by their current home on the California punk-ska label Asian Man Records.

The band will support their newest album “This Is Only a Test,” which deals with everything from preparing for the uncertain future in “College” to getting mononucleosis in “Mono.”

Girl in a Coma and Sweet Pharaohs open and the 21-and-up show costs $12 in advance.

Girl Talk

When: May 18, 8 p.m.

Where: Jannus Live

Mashup artist Girl Talk, or Greg Gillis, has been described before as someone who samples together radio rappers and pop musicians his indie-leaning audience would hate otherwise.

Yet Gillis does put on a truly energetic live show for what essentially amounts to one man and his laptop – and he has proven to be a prominent member of the fair use copyright movement.

Gillis’ last release, “All Day,” offers a good indication of his artistic sensibilities, freely mixing Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” with Fugazi’s “Waiting Room,” and students can download his albums free online.

Students looking for the sort of rap that Girl Talk samples can catch Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon’s May 25 show at the nearby State Theatre. If you’re seeking the indie-dance sound Girl Talk can get labeled under, School of Seven Bells, Sleigh Bells and surely some other “Bells” band have upcoming Tampa dates.

Tickets to see Girl Talk at Jannus Live cost $30 the day of the event.

Fake Problems, Laura Stevenson and the Cans

When: May 20, 8 p.m.

Where: The Crowbar

Naples group Fake Problems have constantly been stopping through Tampa – this time headlining a Crowbar concert – but what stands out in this latest show is their opening acts.

Brooklyn band Laura Stevenson and the Cans combines their members’ punk background with a folk-indie sound that welcomes instruments such as piano and accordion.

Their second full-length album, “Sit Resist,” displays this sensibility on songs such as “Master of Art” and “The Weight,” as well as Stevenson’s gorgeous voice. The album is also free for download on

The $10 show opens with Chicago singer-songwriter Into It. Over It. and Orlando trio You Blew It!, who both hearken back to a creative, early-’90s era when “emo” wasn’t considered a dirty word.

Minus the Bear

When: May 25, 8 p.m.

Where: The Ritz Ybor

About a month after headlining the Florida Music Festival, Seattle quintet Minus the Bear comes to Tampa for a show at the Ritz Ybor.

Their 2001 debut “Highly Refined Pirates” offered a math-rock sound and lyrics about wine, women and late nights out – qualities that haven’t completely left the band.

Yet a decade later, on their latest album “Omni,” Minus the Bear’s songs have more of a prog, bedroom-rock feel that’s not unlike the recently disbanded RX Bandits.

Audiences are likely to hear a wide range of songs from the band’s four albums, including the fan favorite “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse” at the $24 show.

Bonnie “Prince” Billy and the Cairo Gang

When: May 29, 8 p.m.

Where: Mojo Books & Music

If these shows are still too costly for cash-strapped students, a well-known indie figure will play a free show right off campus.

Bonnie “Prince” Billy – or Will Oldham – will play an in-store concert at Mojo Books & Music with the Cairo Gang, his backing band on “Island Brothers” and “The Wonder Show of the World.”

Students should expect sparse, folk-ish guitar and instrumentation, along with Oldham’s distinctive voice reverbrating around the store’s corners over a likely hushed crowd.

Even those who haven’t heard of Oldham’s music might recognize him for his acting career – playing the lead role in “Old Joy” and making a cameo in “Jackass 3D.”