By Veronica Pastore
We were a little late, as is my custom, so I grabbed Alexis’ hand and told her to stay close. With a stream of exceedingly polite “excuse me”s, we two slight girls slunk through a deep crowd in the VIP “floor” section, ultimately nestling into the pit about six feet from the stage just as the opening band finished their last unremarkable song.
Muse, the operatic British rock band known for hits like Madness and Resistance started their show at the Tampa Bay Times Forum last Saturday shortly thereafter, and from the symphony-meets-dubstep opening to the wicked guitar riffs of “Supremacy,” the trio rocked and didn’t stop. They performed all my favorite songs atop an ever-transforming stage of screens that shifted the setting from outer space to the stock exchange while the band shrieked and sung and slammed.
Lead singer Matthew Bellamy was predictably handsome with appropriately mussed hair and a jacket that was just the right amount of sparkly for a dude who plays wicked guitar riffs and sings in an insane seven-octave register. During and between the songs, we got to enjoy Bellamy playing his guitar upside down behind his back, leading us in giant overhead claps and, of course, the good old fashioned rock star strut.
The crowd sang along and pumped fists at apocalyptic lyrics and love songs alike, and Muse, clearly consummate musicians, never missed a note in the dramatic and challenging scores, enthralling us from start to finish.
After the last song but before the encore, the darkened auditorium started to light up with concertgoers activating the flashlight app on their smartphones — this millennium’s version of the lighter in the air. The whole place was soon glowing, and Muse came back out and performed Starlight (my personal fave) followed by Survival, ending with six giant sprays of fog, and one final long blast, obscuring the band from view prior to their final bow. Totally epic, and also refreshing — it’d gotten pretty warm down there in the pit.
Here are a few video clips on Vine (Twitter’s new six-second video app; be sure to click the sound button to listen): https://vine.co/v/bgOFgEljtmz; https://vine.co/v/bgeHj1giQEX
And here are the highlights on Lightt, a flipbook-style app (no sound):
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By Veronica Pastore
I wouldn’t know it was there if no one told me. And when I walked into Divino to find an empty bar around 9:30 pm last Wednesday, I was worried—where was “La Veranda,” the fabulous late-night happy hour I’d been hearing about? The party, the bartender motioned, was outside in the courtyard (also accessible by parking on Osprey Avenue and entering through the back gate).
I found the door and host with the most, Tim Mitten of Full Moon Promotions, who greeted me warmly, quickly introduced me to six new friends and offered me a drink. Tim is known for impeccable hospitality at his events and didn’t disappoint with La Veranda. He got me a table and we people-watched, enjoying a big city vibe in the small courtyard. With the Rivo and Herald-Tribune buildings looming under an open night sky, swaths of Astroturf underfoot and strands of lights encircling the space, one could almost mistake the spot for a hip getaway in the midst of some vibrant urban center.
DJ Dima provided the entertainment in the form of thumping beats that seemed to span every genre imaginable—eastern European techno, salsa favorites, Top 40 and even a little Frank Sinatra later on to close things out. Many of the songs Dima played were made more remarkable by the addition of his father, fellow musician Boris N., on saxophone, playing live to tunes such as “Billie Jean” and “Gangnam Style.”
The crowd was mixed in age and generally up and dancing by the time I arrived—the party starts at 7 p.m. and Divino’s offers a specially priced appetizer menu and $6 top shelf cocktails or $3 Peronis, among other options. The event continues weekly with a special “Noise Ordinance Celebration Party” tonight in light of the City Commission’s decision last night not to enforce codes that ban amplified music in restaurants’ outdoor seating.
For a little in-city getaway, La Veranda is just close enough to and just far enough away from it all. Tim will be the sharp-looking, smiling guy in a vest or blazer—tell him your favorite “Party Girl” sent you and he will be sure to take good care of you, too.
Click here to read about Sarasota’s best happy hours.
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“Where are we?”
That’s Erin, my companion for the night, making her concern known as I park in a dark, vacant lot at the corner of Lemon Avenue and Fourth Street, just north of Fruitville Road.
“Don’t worry,” I say, and lead her down the short walk past Station 400 to The Blue Rooster, Sarasota’s newest dining destination.
The Blue Rooster is a soul-food joint, with wood siding on the walls, waffles and collard greens on the menu and plenty of personality on the staff. A big-boned bleach-blonde with a bunch of piercings holds the door open for us, and we’re greeted by a group of hip downtowners checking out the hot new thing during a “Friends and Family” party before the restaurant’s official grand opening.
Haven’t heard of The Blue Rooster? Owners Devin Rutkowski and Bill Cornelius planned it that way to let their staff get comfortable before putting the word out to the town at large. “We don’t even have a sign,” Bill tells me, after coming over to our table to say hello with his usual hug and smile. “It’s like a speakeasy!”
If I know Sarasota, that’s just the vibe that draws us out: It’s a secret, and you’re not invited.
Among those who’ve made the guest list: blues singer Lauren Mitchell in some bright red pumps, Jesse White of nearby Sarasota Architectural Salvage and neighboring chefs Darwin Santa Maria (Darwin’s on 4th) and Eric Bein (Station 400). The neighborhood has put up a strong showing for one of their own, and as I chat with Jim Lampl, owner of The Savory Street, just around the corner on Orange, he explains that all the “North of Fruitville” business owners are continuing a push to unite as a new downtown district called NOF. Can it fulfill the hopes we all have for the Rosemary as a vibrant dining, shopping and nightlife destination? This group definitely brings some energy to the area with full, noisy tables inside and out.
And oh yeah, there’s the food. Finger lickin’ good. Literally. Before I know it, I’m up to my elbows in greasy fried chicken and loving it (honorable mentions go to the macaroni and cheese au gratin and Minny’s chocolate pie). The ambiance makes me feel comfortable pushing up my sleeves and tucking a napkin in my blouse; Radio Free Carmela and The Transmitters are on the small stage at the front window belting out some bluegrass. Couples take up with some two-step every so often, and later in the evening, most of the tables are pushed to the side to prepare a dance floor, while even in the ladies’ room a woman belts out strains of “Folsom Prison Blues.” Ain’t nobody got the blues up in The Blue Rooster, though. And you won’t, either—the restaurant quietly opened to the public on Sunday.
Read Veronica’s “Party Girl” column in our January issue by clicking here.
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