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Tampa draws big names for music festivals

The time has come once again when most large, national music festivals have announced their spring and summer lineups. While many of the bigger festivals are a trek away from Florida — Coachella in Indio, California; Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee and The Governors Ball Music Festival in New York City — Floridians do not need to travel very far to find some big names and lineups.

The fourth annual Gasparilla Music Festival will be held on March 7 and 8 in Curtis Hixon Riverfront Park and Kiley Gardens on the waterfront in downtown Tampa. What started as a more local music-themed festival has grown into a much anticipated event for residents and visitors alike. 

Last year featured eccentric rockers The Flaming Lips as the top-billed headliner, along with Benjamin Booker, Jason Isbell and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. 

The festival released most of its lineup and announced the presale in mid-December. The initial lineup included top-billed Gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello, punk rockers The Gaslight Anthem, and the bluegrass-folk band Trampled by Turtles. Local acts include the up-and-coming indie rockers Roadkill Ghost Choir, RedFeather, The Hip Abduction and UNRB.

It was not until Jan. 12 that the Gasparilla Music Festival surprised everyone by announcing that Modest Mouse would be headlining the festival — a band set to release their new album, “Strangers to Ourselves,” just before stopping in Tampa. Modest Mouse was rumored to play in many of the bigger festivals this summer, however, not even the pretentiously hip Coachella or hive-fiving, feel-good Bonnaroo could get them to play. By adding them and alt-rockers Mutemath, this year’s Gasparilla Music Festival is not to be missed. General admission two-day passes are on sale for $60, and one-day passes are also available for $40 and $30.

Keeping it local, the second annual Big Guava Music Festival at the Florida State Fairgrounds and MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre is on May 8 and 9. Last year’s inaugural event featured headliners such as Vampire Weekend, Foster the People and OutKast — the duo’s only Florida stop on their festival reunion tour.

This year, the festival has cut back to only two days, but it packs in an incredible lineup. Headlining Big Guava are heavy-hitters such as The Strokes, Pixies and newcomer Hozier. Strong undercards include pop-rock band Passion Pit, indie-rocker Ryan Adams, alt-rockers TV on the Radio and British electro-alternative James Blake.

Even with such a strong initial lineup, Big Guava keeps it going with diverse supporting acts. Hip hop duo Killer Mike and El-P created Run the Jewels, which put out one of the best albums of 2014. Jenny Lewis, of Rilo Kiley, will continue to promote her solo release “The Voyager,” and Cold War Kids, BANKS, Big Data, Milky Chance and many others will round out a fantastic lineup.

Tickets for Big Guava are currently on sale, with general admission currently priced at $89 and general admission with access to the pit at $109, not including additional fees. 

Whether you travel far or stay local for any spring or summer music festivals, there is at least one festival for all music tastes.