St. Petersburg’s blooming art scene evolves 97X’s memorial weekend backyard BBQ to the 97x Barbecue Music & Arts Festival


Formerly known as the 97X BBQ, the tampa bay new alt-rock station is coming back bigger than ever for it’s yearly memorial weekend celebration as the 97X Barbecue Music & Arts Festival! As part of their new events strategy that started up in December by expanding their annual Next Big Thing festival to two days with two headliners, Paramore and The Lumineers, 97X is successfully putting on the biggest festivals they ever have. Along with celebrating St. Petersburg’s flourishing art scene with art exhibits, live demonstrations, and local art vendors; 97X is bringing up to the stage AWOLNATION, Dirty Heads, Judah & The Lion, Moon Taxi, Sir Sly, & more! The festival will be take place May 26th with some summer sunshine and palm trees by the water at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, FL.



Tune out the stunts… Here come the runts! With their 3rd album officially out and currently touring Europe, Aaron Bruno and his band of runts are on the run and coming back down to Florida to blow all expectations out of the water. With as many times as 97X has brought AWOLNATION to the tampa bay area, they can't seem to stop evolving every time they return, not just in their music & sound, but their live experience as well. With a new live band of brothers, Aaron Bruno has put together an organic new rock record based off rock n roll roots and the craftsmanship of analog music, abandoning electronic backing tracks and computer sounding music to put on a real live musical experience. Check out “Passion” & “Stop That Train” off their new album, “Here Come the Runts” to get ready for a hell of show May 26th.



A combination of alternative, hip-hop, reggae and rock, The Dirty Heads bring a spirit of freedom and a spark of creativity to every show. Their newest album, Swim Team, is their best work yet. With sun-soaked piano and booming horns, expect singles like “Vacation” to quickly become the soundtrack to your summer. Lead vocalist Jared “Dirty J” Watson invites everyone who hears the new album “to feel the same way I did making it. Join this weird, odd, and wonderful secret society we’ve created over the past fifteen years. You’re part of it now. Welcome to the team.”



As one of the latter additions to the festival lineup, Nashville’s Moon Taxi is one band to absolutely be excited for. Having signed with RCA Records after getting so much attention from the album’s hit single, “Two High” - released 8 months before the album release, their new album “Let The Record Play” is definitely on to listen through in its entirety. With other bright, sun-loving tracks like, “Good as Gold” and “Not Too Late,” Moon Taxi is a perfect addition to the 97X Barbecue for you to dance along with your friends or relax by the water. Maybe we’ll even get to rock on to one of their infamous performances of Rage Against the Machine songs from their old cover band, People of the Sun.



Last time we talked to Los Angeles’ Sir Sly was at the House of Creatives Music Festival in Miami last November where they put on a hell of a high-powered set with their robust sounds and eccentric showmanship. Always a strong performance, one that definitely lifted the audience at Coachella’s first weekend as frontman, Landon Jacobs, climbed the stage during one of their original hits, “Ghost.” Sir Sly kicks off their summer 2018 tour in St. Pete returning to the 97X BBQ fest where they will undoubtedly put on another riveting performance with popular tracks off their newest album like, “High,” “Fun,” “&Run.”



Manhattan based indie-pop band, AJR recently released their second album The Click. The single, Weak, quickly rose in the charts with over 150 million stream on Spotify. Following the success of their album, AJR sold out the first leg of their national tour. The passion and energy AJR has for performing live is unlike any other band. Any one who has seen AJR before can attest that you better be prepared for a party. The professionalism and raw talent paired with a passion for entertaining and interacting with the audience makes every AJR performance unique. This is a band you do not want to miss. Check out their concert at the House of Blues here!



Another Nashville band, Judah and the Lion are arguably one of the most genre-bending bands in modern history. Their newest album “Folk Hop n Roll” lives up to its name with music that appeals to fans of any genre. Judah and the Lion developed a large, loyal fanbase by touring with 150 shows in 2015 alone. “Folk Hop n Roll” reflects this drive for performing live. Frontman Judah Akers says “Our shows are all about the experience we share with our fans. We give them an experience. We throw an absolute rage. And all the songs were made with that in mind. They're fun, carefree, and youthful.” Judah and the Lion bring an unmistakable energy to the 97x Barbecue lineup so get ready to dance. Check out their concerts in 5 Points here!



Another returning 97X favorite, Robert DeLong comes back to play the BBQ after having weather issues reschedule his set back in 2015. Known for his wildly innovative, inventive, and unique approach to indie dance by producing and performing all of his music independently, DeLong challenged himself in 2018 by welcoming fellow writers and producers into his creative orbit like K.Flay on his newest single, “Favorite Color Is Blue.” His performances unexpectedly surprise the audience with his creative direction in bringing his songs to life by furthering the fusion of technology and music. Using unconventional instruments like video game controllers along with his glitchy vocals, live guitar, and even ending drum solos by throwing a drum stick across stage to smash the final cymbal.



Often stylized lovelytheband, this indie pop band from L.A. is one of a kind. Their first single “Broken” debuted in July 2017 and quickly reached over three million streams on Spotify. After signing with Another Century Records, lovelytheband released their first EP “everything i could never say..” in September. Dubbed one of the 10 rock and alternativative acts to watch in 2018 by Billboard, lovelytheband is guaranteed to bring the good vibes to Vinoy Park.

Get ready for fun memorial day weekend full of joyful music and visually alluring works of art from St. Pete’s creative community of local artists under the florida sun with 97X. For more information visit where you can also purchase tickets and find out about local ticket drop events.

Coverage by Jessica Matilszki (@jmatilszki) & Javi Ortiz (@zitrovision)

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