Big Guava Day 2 review: Haim, Vampire Weekend, Kitten, more


Ty Wright

Alana Haim, of Haim, performs on the second night of the Big Guava Festival at the MidFlorida Amphitheater at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday, May 3, 2014. (Ty Wright / Valencia Voice)

It felt as if no song Vampire Weekend played to close out Day 2 of the Big Guava Festival could do any harm.

The four-piece band, out of New York City, was playing the MidFlorida Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds for the first time in their career, on Saturday. They did admit to playing in St. Petersburg years back, however noted it did not compare to actually getting the chance to play in Tampa.

Vampire Weekend hit the stage full of preppy boy swag, with rapper’s Drake “Trophies” playing in the background. The group performed for 80 minutes, to what appeared to be a slightly larger crowd than what Outkast pulled in on Friday. Their set managed to combine what was almost a perfect balance of all their material. Ezra Koenig and his former Columbia University classmates started the show with “Diana Young,” an upbeat dance track of their latest album, which got the crowd going right away and set the tone for the night. They would even go on to play material off their first two projects: “Oxford Comma,” “Cousins,” and “Giving up the Gun.”

Koenig was in static by the reception that the group was receiving from the crowd, and had to make a statement to let the festival know how great they were.

“People crowd surfing during ‘Horchata?’ We don’t always get that. Only in Tampa,” he said.

Day 2 of the festival, which saw rain early on during the day but let up as the night went on, welcomed 16 performing acts in total. There were multiple sightings of bands not scheduled to perform until Day 3 at the festival, checking out other acts, riding the free rides and enjoying the food trucks.

Sister trio Haim was the first must-see group to take the mainstage. Whoever said music is all about an image and not about talent must have never heard the Haim sisters, because these girls can rock.

No, I am not saying these girls are unattractive, I’m just saying these girls can really rock. The group’s performance is full of charisma and spunk. The sisters have much more of a grunge persona than their album recordings would lead people to believe — loose-fitting tie-dyed band shirts, wild hair, ripped shorts — it was evident that the preternaturally talented group is looking to make their own lane in the rock world and not be the next big pop group.

Their set ended at 4:30 with a profound drum collaboration, just in time for viewers to head over to the Orchard stage and catch always entertaining band Kitten.

While the group has gone through a member facelift since the last time I seen them, in Orlando with Charli XCX, they still rock just as hard. Not much has changed with their lead singer Chloe Chaidez: she is still whipping his hair extremly hard, performing and walking around with no shoes, and climbing atop of speakers to rock out every chance she get. (With the wind blowing strong, many of the security guards were nervous for the singer because the speakers were not bolted down, however everything turned out okay.)

Ms. Chaidez and Kitten performed revamped songs of their last EP, as well as songs scheduled to appear on their self-titled debut album. The group even included a cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain” into their set, a perfect song to describe the climate.

Rapper Hoodie Allen’s set started midway in between the groups performance over at the Nectar stage — the one inside stage of the entire festival, located inside the Expo Hall. Despite battling a terrible chest infection, Hoodie Allen did not let up on the energy. The artist even channeled his inner Taylor Swift, and covering her “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Sounds strange, but I guess you just had to be there to enjoy it.

Terraplane Sun, five-piece band out of Venice, California was the final performance before the headlining act Vampire Weekend, on a smaller stage. The group host possibly one of the coolest people ever, in their keyboardist Gabe Feenberg. In addition to switching between instruments during the set — from keys to trombone to steel guitar — he also managed to smoke and keep a cigarette lit. The neo-Southern-rock group is something to look out for. On top of an awesome live set, the guys are very cool and interacting. Instead of sitting in their trailers before and after their set, the group was amongst the crowd enjoying different sets. With their new LP “Generation Blues” scheduled to be released anytime, the Central Florida area would be in for a treat if the group was to make their way back to the area for a full-set.