So after our great time at Margarita Fest a few weeks back, we were invited to attend Sunset Music Fest over at Raymond James Stadium for the first time. Days prior, I had learned at school that one of our students, John Anthony, is a professional DJ and would be playing a set at the big, two-day event this year. After meeting the second-grader and chatting with him, he invited me to come out and watch him play. I mean, come on! THIS is his promo vid from Youtube:
Sunset Music Fest was founded back in 2012 and is Tampa Bay’s premiere electronic music event. This year, expanding to a two-day event, SMF boasted multiple stages, hundreds of thousands of attendees, and many international names from all over the globe.
Although the weather early in the day was not great, we “weathered the storm” and agreed to go to watch John Anthony’s set at 2pm on Sunday. After finding a parking spot at the stadium and grabbing our VIP bracelets at Guest Services, we made our way to the front gate. We commented on how tight security was (as it should be) with the inspection procedures going as far as having to take each of your shoes off and dump them out. The festival organizers had plans in place to protect the safety of the patrons attending by making it close to impossible to smuggle in any illegal substances (these types of events are known to have different drugs floating through the crowd). I mean, they were confiscating girls’ perfume, chapsticks, mascara, etc. We were very impressed by how secure the event was and felt at ease once we made it through the checkpoint.
As soon as we walked inside, I could see “JOHN ANTHONY” projected on a bunch of huge screens in the distance. That was our cue to hustle our behinds over to the stage because it was time for John Anthony’s set. Watching from below, we listened as John put together some crazy tunes. He clearly is a talented young guy and has lots of potential in his future. After eventually spotting us and getting a big smile from the main man, he finished out his set and we headed off to find some shade. At this point the rain had stopped and now the sun was BEAMING on us!
Using the perks of VIP, we found a shaded spot under a tent and grabbed ourselves some water to hydrate. Within a few minutes, I noticed a familiar face walking towards the VIP tent. John Anthony was being escorted by mom to come hang with his family. After praising “John John” (as his family calls him) on a job well done, we snapped a few pics and met his family. After chatting with his mom for a few minutes, I learned a few things.
1. John Anthony’s dad is the main organizer of the event.
2. His dad also owns The Ampitheater in Ybor.
3. Club Hedo was a club back in the day in Ybor that was owned and run by his dad. (SO CRAZY)
We hung with John Anthony until he went home and had only planned on staying for the one set at 2pm. It was after 5pm and we sat back enjoying a cocktail and watching the performers. As each DJ played their set, we would look at each other and say, “Ok, one more and then we will leave.” Eventually, it began to get dark out (not because the sun was going down, but because the sky was filled with black storm clouds). With that, festival organizer and father of John Anthony came by to inform us that we would be evacuating the festival and heading to safety inside of Raymond james Stadium. With a quick announcement over the speakers, we were ALL guided out of the festival and into the stadium. We sat for what felt like 45 minutes and then eventually, once the weather cleared up, we stood outside the gates, hoping to get back inside for more good music.
Big John reappeared and invited everyone back inside. The weather had passed and people were ready to RAGE! We refilled our now empty cups with a new cocktail and agreed it was time to get some grub. We walked around to find some chicken kebobs (which were delicious), enjoyed a mozzarepa and some french fries. In addition, we had heard about these VIP bracelets that were being given out at a special tent, so we went on a hunt for those too! What was so unique about the bracelets, you ask? Well, there were LED lights inside that when turned on, would flash to the beat of the Dj’s music. HOW CRAZY IS THAT?
After filling our stomachs and fueling for the rest of the night, we went back to our spots in VIP to finish out the rest of the shows. With a plan of only staying for the first set by John Anthony, let’s just say I was surprised we made it until 10:30pm, when we finally said, we should probably go before the traffic. The whole ride home we talked about our favorites of the day. There were so many awesome performances and we agreed we would NOT miss another year of Sunset Music Fest. If you have never been before, be sure to get your tickets early for next year’s event because it promises to be even bigger and better!