The Saturday of July 21st at St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park went by so quickly, it was hard to realize in the moment that there were 11,000 people in attendance. The Florida sun clocked in at 97° and with nothing but humid air, it was definitely challenging. The challenge was accepted by all Stoopidheads, as everyone packed in with so much anticipation to catch Pepper open up the night. Please make sure to stay hydrated, my friends, especially at these summer shows and festivals!
...it was hard to realize in the moment that there were 11,000 people in attendance.
Vinoy feels very home-like to me. The venue sits directly on the water and gives concert-goers the opportunity to hang their feet over the edge and take in the sea, while at the same time, giving boaters who anchor nearby the ultimate free ticket. Preparing for Pepper to hit the stage... all of us sweaty, savage, sun-kissed, but ready for this performance. I have been hearing so much about this tour. Again, the crowd at this point is so massive; it's larger than I have ever witnessed at Vinoy!
From the rail to beyond 'Vendor's Row', a calm sea of music lovers united as one and that's when the Pepper boys came out, donning authentic Hawaiian fuchsia-colored lays and hitting the gas right away. No one was ready. Pepper took the stage with an energy that hits you quick and if you are true, old-school Pepper fan, they stop on every era of their discography. My favorite part was hearing "Ashes" for the first time after a few shows without it. Also, getting to shoot Yesod's drumming faces and energy was a sick addition to my night.
Alright, so at this point, Pepper has melted our Florida faces off, but we waited for Stick Figure and Cocoa loyally. I decided to walk around and take pictures of the oceanside park and the large community of friends I see as I drift around. It was such a beautiful night in St. Pete. As I headed back to the stage area, I see the guys head out. A chocolatey brown-haired lady follows and immediately heads for the front row, gazing out into the crowd at her family. These band of brothers is none other than Stick Figure and the brown-headed goddess is Cocoa, the guys' tour dog and lucky charm, companion and facet in the Stick mix. I will say she is loved just as much, if not more, than any member of the band. Back to the guys with an impeccable set: I find this band to be mellow, but psychadelic at the same time and the mix is pure perfection. They played everything old and new, as well as a collabed with Stoopid Kyle & Miles. Let's just say that there were "Smiles On Faces"...
I have never seen the Stoopid boys looking or sounding better...
Realizing Stoopid was up next, I got butterflies in my stomach, praying to hear two songs. When I was up in Boston for Levitate Music and Arts Festival, I mentioned to Kyle how I (and probably so many other people) want to hear "Zeplike" live and he said he almost played it. The other jam is off the new album Everyday Life, Everyday People called "Punisher". I have never seen the Stoopid boys looking or sounding better and, with a crowd of 11k, it was visible to their enormous fan base the band was on point. The lighting was impeccable with the Florida sunset. Everything was incredible.
I finally got through the crowd, towards my friends and started listening to the second half of the set. Then, it happens. I have to wait to make sure, but sure enough, it is "Zeplike" and I was in Stoopid heaven! They finished the show with a few new tracks and as we exited the park onto the brick streets, the sunset barely remains. A feeling of satisfaction and hunger overwhelmed me. Mainly satisfaction because, what a night!
Photography by Jay Cohen