September 21, 2009

BEST OF THE BAY: 2009 Awards

MOST IMPROVED VENUE: THE RITZ YBOR When the former Masquerade got a $2 million makeover and re-opened as The RITZ last June, it didn’t seem like many shows were making it to the marquee and some of us wondered whether the booking folks set the bar too high in their selections or if the 1,500-capacity place had become a bit too fancy for just any show with its new open and airy feel, higher stage, in-house lighting rig, and walls draped in red velour for superior sound quality. But gradually with help from No Clubs Productions, The RITZ began beefing up its events schedule and in a matter of months, went from hosting tribute acts to a range of top notch talents – Lady Gaga, Of Montreal, Jesse McCartney, Ben Folds, Gogol Bordello, Ghostface Killah & Raekwon, Three Dog Night, Rabbit in the Moon and many others. The RITZ has also picked up several shows lost by Jannus Landing due to that venue’s pending legal issues.

Barnes pictured, photo by Phil Bardi.

BEST INDIE ROCK SHOW: OF MONTREAL @ THE RITZ YBOR From the review of the 12/08/08 show: “Of Montreal put on a stage show that was an aural and visual hallucination brought to dazzling life. The six-member band played against a huge backdrop of vivid, psychedelic animations and under washes of saturated lights. Two sets of drums were mounted on risers on either side of the stage and a revolving screen set up between them hid-or-revealed a motley cast of performers, who acted out all manner of scenes and scenarios with and without frontman Kevin Barnes, and in costumes and masks that ranged from cute to freakish. Barnes himself disappeared behind the screen to change outfits a dozen or more times, from fur to sequins to spandex to centaur, a performer serving as his second set of legs for that last ensemble. He covered himself in red paint, in shaving cream, in glitter. He sang and played guitar, pranced from one side of the stage to the other in nothing but a pair of sassy gold trunks, climbed up a riser to sing from its heights or play drums a few minutes, climbed back down to be executed in a faux-gallows, and appeared to have a grand old time all throughout.”

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