Popular globetrotting pop collective Architecture in Helsinki transforms Crowbar into a throbbing, futuristic discotheque as its latest tour storms American shores. Formed in Melbourne, the ambidextrous dance band stirs fans with a tornado of flamboyant sounds, infectious anthems, and commitment-free instrument swapping. With hits such as “Do the Whirlwind” and latest single “Contact High,” lead crooner Cameron Bird and his cakewalking team of tunesmiths tickle ear bones and rehabilitate ankles in support of its latest album, Moment Bends. During the kaleidoscopic performance, the band seduces dance floors with 10-foot hooks and sounds culled from hypnotic synths, romantic glockenspiels, and strummed chest hairs. Filling out the bill, Swedish dance wizards Lo-Fi-Fnk enchant with instant club hits and songs for strobe-light campfires, and pop enthusiasts Dom charm with stargazing Casios. Crowbar invites Groupon holders backstage after the show to meet the band, discuss musical influences, and take notes on how to hit the elusive high Z note.
Though entertainment fads come and go, movie theaters remain, tempting audiences with fantastical stories new and old. The film buffs behind the Tampa Pitcher Show understand this craving for narrative connection, filling their movie hall and bar space’s calendar with first-run films, alternative events, and live music that helped them take home the prize for Best Kept Secret in Creative Loafing's Best of the Bay 2011 Reader’s Poll. Within the theater, projectors hum to life with current hits and cult classics every night; weekends welcome special happenings that include Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow-casts, art bazaars, and comedy shows. The Take 2 Lounge dispenses a sprawling menu of bar fare, including burgers, pizzas, and beers such as Magic Hat #9, Southern Tier, and Florida Avenue Ale flowing from 13 tap lines.
The independent Evolution stimulates the Lakeland scene by selling an eclectic selection of both mainstream and underground music while providing an intimate venue for local and touring musicians to present their craft. Evolution's stock consists of T-shirts ($10+), CDs and vinyl records ($1+), and posters for music fans to coat their empty walls with artist admiration. Peruse Evolution's thousands of vinyls, from timeless classics, including The Beatles and AC/DC, to exciting new artists (though Bob Dole's ambient-metal album is currently sold out). Evolution hosts shows nearly every weekend, featuring artists advancing the cause of rock, hip-hop, folk, and more.
Channelside Cinemas immerses movie lovers in a constantly changing selection of box-office smashes that play on classic projection screens, four Sony 4K digital 3-D screens, and a 70-foot digital high-definition 3-D screen. Concession stands dole out savory treats such as Westshore cheesesteaks and pizza, as well as free refills on popcorn and soda, which guests can enjoy inside theaters or while sitting in the plush couches that line the lobby. The sit-down Dolce Vita Dinner Lounge, outfitted with a full bar, couches, and booths, entrances eyes with feature films on 30-foot indoor and outdoor screens as waitresses serve up gourmet Italian feasts during dinner-and-a-movie screenings, private parties, and fundraisers. Channelside Cinemas offers $0.50 parking and takes reservations up to five months in advance for long-awaited blockbusters or unveilings of highly anticipated new Skittles flavors.
Soft lights tumble from the crystal chandeliers of Empress Tea Room & Bistro, landing on white table linens and glinting off delicate bone-china sets as diners soak up the sights and smells. The restaurant hosts visitors for lunch throughout the week as well as during Saturday high-tea sessions and Sunday brunch hours. In addition to the elegant main dining room, Empress welcomes guests into an interior garden room, which surrounds them with murals of vines. After perusing the lunch menu, visitors can enjoy specialties such as the Anna Cordelia sandwich with smoked turkey, cranberry, and melted brie, or the vegetable quiche with seasonal vegetables and cheeses. WiFi access and board games are also available to provide entertainment for diners.
Chillounge Night moves the atmosphere of a nightclub outdoors, freeing warm pulses of bass to tremble under the stars and roll beneath the chatter of guests perched on plush sofas. Toasts are made, adding treble notes to the organic symphony as the sun sinks below the horizon and the atmosphere takes on the festive feeling. Samba dancers parade past tables laden with signature dishes from local restaurants, and fashion shows parade intriguing threads. As fireworks crackle against the darkening sky at some events, live music begins to fuel dancing or make metronomes feel more comfortable.