On a hot and muggy Florida night amid a mosquito ambush, The Summer Swolstice Tour stopped at the Tampa Orpheum outdoor stage. The headliner Bilmuri is known for his exquisite taste in meme creation and painstakingly relatable lyrics. While his opener, Hastings, is an emerging pop-rock artist. Even though the bill only features two bands, Bilmuri and Hastings leave it all on the stage.
When Hastings started his performance, his every movement had a nervous energy. He showcased his incredible voice, but the crowd struggled to connect with him. On his third song, he picked up a guitar and started to look more and more comfortable, and as he found confidence, the crowd picked up too. During his final song, the nearly sold-out crowd was clapping along to the beat without him asking. Overall, a solid performance from the young artist.
Between sets, a 2010’s pop-country playlist was playing over the PA to an audience mainly in emo-influenced attire, which is the most remarkable example of Bilmuri’s genre-blending sound. The crowd was ravenous before the headlining performance. Every time Bilmuri walked side-stage, massive applause, and people were trying to get his attention. However, I doubt anyone was prepared for what came next.
After what felt like forever, Bilmuri took the stage. To my surprise, his live band featured the same drummer and guitarist as Hastings. The first thing to stand out during the hog-cranker’s performance was how much energy and joy the entire band played with. Everyone was running around the stage and interacting constantly. Maybe the best example is that everyone on stage was smiling nonstop. Another surprise was how much his live guitarist and saxophone player stole the show. Both had such a natural charisma, with the sax player even interacting with the camera.
Bilmuri had a stacked setlist. They started their performance with the obnoxiously fun “ABSOLUTELYCRANKINMYMF’NHOG.” When they performed “FLUORIDEINTHEHARDSELTZERWATER” a couple of tracks later, their guitarist Reese put down his guitar and took over Jon Mess’ screaming part of the track. The opener, Hastings, even came out to do guest vocals on Bilmuri’s cover of “Fuck, I’m Lonely.”
The final two songs before the encore were my favorite part of the performance. Bilmuri played “THICC THICCLY” followed by “myfeelingshavefeelings.” Those two songs brought me back years to making waffles with my first girlfriend while listening to Bilmuri in my dorm room.
Luckily for all of us, Bilmuri and co. came back out for a two-song encore. The encore featured his new song “BOUTTA CASHEW” to a rave reaction. Then they closed with possibly his biggest song, “Near.” An extraordinary moment occurred when Bilmuri hopped off the stage and sang the lyrics with the crowd.
Even though only two artists performed, Bilmuri and Hastings provided everything I could ask for. While seeming a little green, Hastings showed great potential during his performance, with the crowd singing along to his most prominent tracks. I had high expectations, and Bilmuri blew them out of the water. They were possibly the easiest band I have ever had the opportunity to photograph. Every movement, every song was so much fun. Truly masters of their craft. I can not recommend the Summer Swolstice Tour enough. If Hastings and Bilmuri make their way to a city near you, you will not be disappointed.
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