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The Return Of Gusto


ST. PETERSBURG — Sunday night, three independent rock-and-roll bands played to an enthusiastic crowd in the Plaza Tower Courtyard on 2nd Ave. There is a craft beer bar there called The Ale & The Witch, that hosts music showcases in the courtyard, and by the evening time most of the other shops in Plaza Tower are closed, and you can have a good time and do pretty much whatever you want in there. 


Among the bands that played 2 were up from Sarasota (Hail Dale and Go Man), and Sonic Graffiti, of St. Petersburg, was the local mainstay. 



Looking at the relationship that exists between the indie music scenes of St. Pete and Sarasota, there are two conclusions one can draw. The first involves the notion that Sarasota is catching up, and the second is that St. Pete is expanding its borders.  

Either option is good, and especially for Sarasota, where the music scene died in 2007 with the closing of the original Tavern on Main. Since then, the downtown St. Pete scene has been doing what it’s always done—thriving; and the recent prevalence of Sarasota based acts like Hail Dale—who are dripping with Central Ave. influence—indicates that the St. Pete bug is spreading, which could mean that things will get cooler down here. 


What St. Pete has—that Sarasota lacks—is a loosely connected community of cool artistic weirdoes who keep things going. And of course there is also Central Avenue, which is a hub for creativity. 



But Sarasota freaks are up against a strong resistance that has existed for decades and comes from all directions. Sarasota is safe, and covered in red tape that collects conservatives like a mutant spider’s web; and instead of eating them, the spider turns its tangled prey into more mutant spiders, that eat the freaks.


So any progress at all will be slow going at best, but we haven’t given up yet, so there isn’t any reason to believe heroes will fall anytime soon.


Either way, these bands and the bar that booked them reflect the culmination of an incredible power-shift experienced in the music industry, which began 15-years ago with the dawn of Napster—

Hail Dale, Go Man, Sonic Graffiti and The Ale & The Which, are the return of gusto. 




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