WHAT IT'S ABOUT
Don't be alarmed if you find yourself paralyzed by the jam-packed schedule for St. Petersburg's 2017 Et Cultura festival. Organizers know it's a lot.
"It might seem overwhelming when you look at it all, but the other way to look at it is, there's all this great stuff to do," said Lea Umberger, director of branding and social media. "You could throw a rock and hit something to do at Et Cultura over the weekend. That's a fun concept that we're hoping people embrace as we do grow, because our hope is that it does take over and become a citywide party."
In its second year, Et Cultura — pronounced cul-TOOR-ah — has expanded ambitiously, booking more venues, more bands and more keynote speakers as it aspires to become Tampa Bay's answer to South by Southwest. That's a tall order, but judging from its 2017 schedule, Et Cultura is into dreaming big.
Between Wednesday and Saturday, the city will host dozens of concerts, film screenings, lectures, workshops and exhibitions at 10 venues. Some, like an outdoor market and concerts on Saturday and Sunday, are free to the public. Others require an all-access wristband that will enable festivalgoers to explore.
"It's their own vision, their own journey," Umberger said. "If a venue is sold out and people have bought a ticket, they have to have something else to do. That's part of the festival feel."
Tickets, $75 and up, include access to all events from Wednesday through Sunday. They can be picked up Wednesday through Friday at the Station House, 260 First Ave. S, or at the door of any event. Limited rush tickets to individual concerts will be sold at the gate. Details and schedules at etcultura.com and facebook.com/etcultura.
Here's a rundown of this year's Et Cultura highlights.
No element of Et Cultura has grown like its music. More than 50 acts will play six venues — Jannus Live, the State Theatre, Ringside Cafe, Hideaway Cafe, Iberian Rooster and outside Green Bench Brewing. The lineup features loads of local talent, including nationally touring fusionists the Hip Abduction (Thursday) and alt-pop symphony the Florida Björkestra (Friday). But the biggest change is in the quality of the national acts. On Thursday, alt-country pioneers Son Volt will headline the State Theatre. Friday brings indie rockers Cloud Nothings to Jannus Live and Waxahatchee to the State. Saturday's big get is Slowdive, the only Florida show in support of this year's widely acclaimed self-titled comeback album. They're at Jannus Live, while rapper Talib Kweli headlines the State Theatre.
Et Cultura's film fest runs Wednesday through Saturday at the Sundial AMC 20. Feature-length documentaries include the culinary chronicle 42 Grams (8 p.m. Wednesday); the New Wave-era rockumentary Dare to be Different (8 p.m. Thursday); The Key to Dalí (7 p.m. Friday), about a man's 25-year quest to prove a junk-store purchase was actually an unknown work by Salvador Dalí; and Brimstone & Glory (9:30 p.m. Saturday), about a Mexican town that makes and celebrates fireworks. All Friday and Saturday, the fest will showcase blocks of short films — documentaries, dramas, comedies and animated flicks.
One intriguing highlight is the Exquisite Corpse Games, an interdisciplinary collaboration between more than 50 artists at the Gallery; it'll be open Wednesday through Saturday. Other exhibitions: Locally Sourced, featuring environmentally conscious art (8 p.m. Thursday at the Morean Center for Clay); a chalk walk outside Green Bench on Saturday; and a projection mapping light display at Central Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. on Sunday night.
Ground zero for interactive fun on Friday and Saturday will be Baum Avenue between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N and 11th St. N, the site of a free craft, art and vendors' market with morning yoga, a Volkswagen bus and bug show, skateboard and BMX performers and an Urban Conga pop-up park on Saturday and Sunday. Another free skate and BMX exhibition will take place at 4:45 and 7 p.m. Friday outside Jannus Live. There's also an array of speakers and workshops on topics like health, urban planning and creative communities. Highlights include urban farming pioneer Will Allen (7 p.m. Thursday at the Morean Cener for Clay) and Harlem Children's Zone founder Geoffrey Canada (12:45 p.m. Friday at the Hyatt Place St. Petersburg).
Contact Jay Cridlin at email@example.com or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.