When it launched in 2010 with a focus on high-quality local and regional Florida talent, Antiwarpt was primed to be the music festival that put downtown St. Petersburg on the map. Originally conceived as an alternative to the Vans Warped Tour, the fest had earned enough name recognition by year three that it no longer needed the Warped crutch at all.
So the date for the fourth Antiwarpt was moved from late July to early October, to take better advantage of the built-in audience of nearby college students attending school in the fall. St. Petersburg College signed on as a partner. Bands were booked. Preliminary flyers circulated. But rumors of trouble came to a head in July. Regardless of the real cause — misaligned goals, a clash of personalities, a struggle for power, or some combination of the three — Antiwarpt’s founders splintered into two camps, each vying for the right to use the Antiwarpt name: No Clubs Entertainment’s former main gal Anna Serena, a founder/partner of the events coordinating company Don’t Stop Collective; and Brokenmold Entertainment’s booking and promotions team, Phil Benito and Sean O’Brien.
Both sides ultimately abandoned the Antiwarpt name — but neither abandoned the date. The result is two concurrent festivals to be held on either side of the Bay on the date originally reserved for the now-defunct Antiwarpt — this Sat., Oct. 5, 2013.
Serena’s Don’t Stop St. Petersburg Block Party maintains the Antiwarpt infrastructure, draws from the same audience pool, and retains many of the same partners and venues. But according to Serena, Don’t Stop St. Pete is more community-oriented and driven than Antiwarpt.
“It’s not about being a promoter but about coordinating an event that’s a bigger part of, and more connected to, the surrounding community. St. Pete’s arts and culture scene is exploding, and I want to showcase that,” she explained.
That’s why programming includes closing down the 600 Block to allow more room for booths of local nonprofits, indie businesses, food makers, artists and crafters. “But you can’t do it without the music — that’s what drives these things, ultimately.”
Meanwhile, O’Brien and Benito gave the 40 acts they’d already booked for Antiwarpt a choice: drop the date from their schedules, or leave it and Brokenmold would plan an alternate event for them. Every one was on board for the original date, so Brokenmold put together Plan B, which proved easier than they expected since most of Ybor’s venues had left the date wide open so as not to compete with Antiwarpt.
“We love St. Pete, that’s why we hosted the original Antiwarpt there — we wanted to do something that crossed the bridge between Tampa and St. Pete. But we’re already established in Ybor, it’s where we do the majority of our shows, so it was a comfortable fit, and a really easy transition.”
Plan B is strictly focused on the music, with only a few nationals scattered amid high-caliber Florida talent that includes the reunion of two once-beloved acts: Dear + Glorious Physician and Sleepy Vikings.
“I don’t want it to be an ‘us versus them’ sort of thing,” O’Brien said, even though the split started out that way. “I just want to focus on us and putting on the best event possible in Ybor. There’s bands I like at that festival [Don’t Stop St. Pete] and friends playing it, so I don’t want them performing to no one. But I do want people to come out and enjoy the music [at Plan B]. There’s a lot of great music in the state and in our area, and we want to showcase it. What happened with Antiwarpt is over and we just want everyone to enjoy Plan B.”
Does Tampa Bay have a big enough audience to support two giant music events happening on either side of the Bay, on the same day? And if not, how many original Antiwarpt attendees will go to one, or the other, or attempt to take in both of the fests that grew from its ashes?
Only time will tell. Here’s hoping we can juggle both.
Excellent review, sorry I missed the concert.
I was fortunate to see Bonnie Raitt. Her stage presence was heart warming and her…
loved it! Well worth the $$.