Crucial Quest: Day 2

The K-UTE writing staff ventures to this year’s 7th annual Crucial Fest in a quest to discover new artists and experience a festival like no other in downtown SLC.

Morgan C.

There’s a certain pride one feels whilst taking part in a local made event such as Crucialfest. This Utah created and sustained event does nothing short of give back to everyone involved. With a killer line-up of local and touring bands, Crucialfest 7 has arrived once again to give Salt Lake’s people a loud and lively week of musical chaos and energized performances to look forward to.

That being said, the week is an exciting one with several after dark shows kicking off the crucial-week at participating venues Metro Music Hall and Urban Lounge (which happen to be just a couple of favorite local venues in the SLC music scene) and the main two-day event taking place at the Gateway.  The second day into the main event I was able to catch a couple of shows earlier in the day, including, The Flatliners, a punk band straight from the Ontario Canada ska/punk scene with catchy melodies carrying classic punk sound construction and gritty yells alternating simple chord progression.

But, ultimately my Crucial quest led me back to the outdoor setup later in the evening, and as I approached the Slug stage, Pinback was beginning to set up their equipment. Perfect, since they were on the agenda to see for the evening.

I’ve met quite a few ‘Pinnies’ as I like to call them- Long-time fans of Pinback. People who get it, people who pick-up the musical messages the band is putting down. Because of these encounters, I was pleased to check out the group first hand myself. Not being a prior fan, the first thing I noticed was how there was two guitarist taking main stage, and how they appeared to be playing the same chords in the same pattern at the same time. However, I then heard the combined vocals of lead and co-lead singers, Rob Crow and Zach Smith, in which I began to see the effective use of two leads. The gentle voice of Rob Crow breathed somewhat meaningful lyrics over-energized instrumentals, while the vibrating tones of duel vocals danced on the jangly combination of drums and strings creating a hypnotic harmony which contributed to the continuous flow of melody, and I can see why so many ‘Pinnies’ give praise to this feel-good band.

Next up was Built to Spill a group from our neighbors in Boise. They hardly need an introduction considering they’ve been playing since the early 90’s with a fan base that has been listening just as long. Now, that’s not to say that they aren’t capturing the attention of new fans. As the instrument-driven band began to play it was apparent they were pulling the biggest crowd i’d seen in hours. Guitar riffs soared through the air piercing our ears with vibrant sound waves that quivered over steady basslines and drums, and the understated vocals echoed along giving a vintage feel reminiscent of the good vibes at Woodstock.

The last performance of the night was by headliner group the Growlers, and the Cali grown 7-piece group did not disappoint. The entire performance oozed a groovy aesthetic with the lead singer wearing a painfully cool printed collar shirt strutting around purring catchy lyrics tied to the string of wailing sounds being emitted by the whole lot of garage-rock dudes.

The vocals alone lived up to the band’s name as pithy one-liners like “drinking the juice” and “If your heart thinks I’m a crock of shit, then I’ll follow it” were growled towards the audience. The unrefined vocals and sounds of multiple instruments produced a fun raw sound akin to other popular garage rock groups such as the Hives and Hot Hot Heat for an exhilarating performance that acted as a bid goodbye to the super fun fest. Till next year!

 

Morgan P.

Not to be cheesy or anything, but this fest is crucial for our salty city. This was the seventh Crucial Fest and first one to be so large. SLC is too often overlooked as a music hub but in recent years there has been more attention directed here and it’s events like this that makes that happen.

Rolling up to The Gateway later in the day felt so comfortable and nostalgic, sending me back a few years to when I would take Trax down with a friend just to window shop and hang out in the city. It’s really cool to see how the mall has changed over the years although it is bittersweet to see the shops that have gone. However, the unique use of space for music and community events is a novel idea that I hope continues in the future.

After a spontaneous trip to Wyoming, I, unfortunately, missed a few of the opening bands but after being at the venue all day on Saturday, I couldn’t really feel too bad. The first item of business: finding a spot to set up camp so the K-UTE crew and company would have a place to hang out in between sets. We found two chairs on the turf between the Rye and Graywhale tents and never had less than three people sitting together enjoying the late summer day and stellar music.

The Flatliners were the first band on when I got there and although I’d never listened to them before, but their old school style punk rock sound made my inner riot grrrl way too happy.

POS was the next artist up and I wasn’t particularly interested in this performance until I saw the huge crowd that had gathered but were facing away from the stage. It took me a second to realize Stefon Alexander was standing on the stairs next to the SLUG Stage. I wandered over to see what was up just in time for him to be in the center of the crowd absolutely commandeering the energy. Everyone watching was so intently INTO the show that even people who probably wouldn’t have normally come over were expanding the crowd even further.

The indie rock vibes that seemed to dominate the lineup continued when Minus The Bear took the stage. For me, this performance wasn’t as much about seeing the band as it was hearing the music exist as background sound while walking through all different groups of people, checking out the art gallery, and relaxing under the trees. I was quite pleased with the mix of songs they chose to play what with their newest album, VOIDS, having come out in March.

As far as the second day goes, Built To Spill is who I was looking forward to most. Carry The Zero had come up on my Spotify discover playlist a few weeks prior and quickly found its way onto frequent rotation within my own playlists. I’ll admit that I don’t have any sort of vast knowledge on the rest of their songs but that didn’t make seeing them live any less special. Contrary to the popular belief that you have to know every word and riff to every song by a band before the band even knows they’re a band — you don’t. It is possible to like a band even if you only know one song; who would’ve guessed?! After all, there is simply too much music in the world to go that in depth with every artist.

Finally, headliners, The Growlers took the main stage and immediately began belting out their signature sound of beach goth vibes. Having grown in popularity at an immense pace over the last decade, The Growlers showed their finesse. The band shifted between songs from their discography with personal favorites “Chinese Fountain” and “Someday” receiving the love treatment. The crowd was going wild for it. Most Growler songs keep it poppy within the requisite three to four-minute song length, but on stage, the band took each song into the stratosphere, stretching out the catch guitar riffs and general fun for much longer. Fantastic renditions permeated the end of the night. Because now Crucial Fest was completed. A fabulous four days of music and energy. Seeing the festival growing was a spectacle in of itself and I can’t wait to see what happens next year!

Crucial Quest: Day 1

The K-UTE writing staff ventures to this year’s 7th annual Crucial Fest in a quest to discover new artists and experience a festival like no other in downtown SLC.

Sarah

After waiting months in anticipation, the first days of Crucialfest 7 were finally upon me, and I had no idea what to expect. First of all, I had never been to any of the previous Crucialfest shows, nor had I been to any “festival” style concert before. However, after seeing the setlist for Crucialfest 7, I couldn’t wait to go.

Upon entering, the band SALES was already performing. Their music was simple and minimalistic with soft guitar rhythms and drums. They also took a minimal approach to their live show; wearing casual outfits and rarely moving around the stage. While I’m typically a fan of theatrical and over-the-top concerts, I enjoyed how SALES let the music speak for itself. The band’s lead, Lauren Morgan, had a uniquely high pitched and nasal-y voice that contrasted beautifully with the toned-down instrumental. While I was a DJ a K-UTE, I became a fan of their two songs “Chinese New Year” and “Renee.” If you’re a fan of dreamy indie-pop, they’re definitely worth a listen.

After their set, I thumbed through some records at the Greywhale Entertainment booth and made my way into a large gallery (presumably an emptied out shopping area). There, the local band The Boys Ranch was playing a set. I had seen them at previous shows, but never with their full band before. They played upbeat surf rock tunes and bounced around the stage in matching striped shirts. The Boys Ranch had charisma and confidence. The audience loved their energy, and so did I.

As I exited back into the main stage area, the band Baroness was playing. I had never heard their music before, but watching them perform was quite the show. The band’s lead, John Baizley, had a booming and full voice that soared over the heavy/progressive rock instrumental. The music was high-intensity and electric. I also noticed my eyes being continually drawn to one of the guitarists who played with such an intense emotion and passion. I definitely have an appreciation for bands who play with all of their heart; it’s a hard thing to do, but it makes the music all the more special and personal.

Finally, after Baroness’s set, the audience swarmed back over the main stage. The energy hummed in anticipation as an introduction track played for STRFKR’s entrance. Even though I had listened to STRFKR multiple times before, I had no idea what to expect from them in terms of a live show. Whatever I had in mind, however, was completely wrong.

Fog that was pooled at the surface of the stage was immediately dispersed by the entrance of a crowd of men wearing full astronaut suits. I immediately knew that I was in for a show. The lead singer, Joshua Hodges, entered in a bobbed pink wig, sunglasses, and a dress. When I said that I was a fan of theatrical concerts, this was what I meant. STRFKR’s music is heavily electronic, which paired perfectly with the intense visuals. At one point, one of the “astronauts” flung himself into the sea of hands and started crowd-surfing; the audience was going wild.

I had no idea what to expect when I signed up to go to Crucialfest, but one thing’s for sure, I’ll definitely be going again next year.

 

Martyn

Two o’clock in the afternoon and rushing through downtown Salt Lake City on my way to the 7th annual Crucialfest was an apt way to arrive early in the day. For those who have never seen the mostly dilapidated Gateway Mall on Rio Grande street, the empty storefronts contrast against the finely manicured grass and comfortable sitting area. But for Crucialfest, the circularly fashioned mall was alive with two massive stages facing each other from either side, vendors, records for sale, a wonderful circus of noise and sights. We walked down the stairs with an aerial view of the festivities while King Dude played from afar.

First up on the local stage was the (always-wanting-to-see-them) band, Indigo Plateau. A personal favorite of the Salt Lake scene, they opened the Exigent Stage (and the local side of Crucialfest). Playing original songs off of their solid EP The Heights along with some new ones, their passion and immaculate playing ability sounded rad through the converted Forever21 qua concert venue (which, aesthetically, was quite pleasing although the acoustics were less than tight).

After a windfall of music, eating, and constantly trying to find a place to sit, was the band Sales. Hailing from Florida, they have been to Salt Lake a few times. Their dreamy vocals and guitar playing played to a calmer atmosphere than the previous metal bands. The beauty of Crucialfest being a bevy of musical variety allowed one to move from the outside heat and main stage bands to the local stage inside.

After a half hour of Sales, I made my way to The Boys Ranch gearing up for their unique brand of surf-rock. Again, these local heroes proved the significance of Cruicalfest as a way for people who may not experience the immaculate surf-rock to see something new. The Boys Ranch got the crowd into a frenzy of dancing and good beach vibes (being that this is a landlocked state, the irony is not lost). Surf rhythms and guitar riffs straight from the oceanside came through the venue. This is the type of band that feeds energy into a crowd and should always be a priority show when available.

Minutes after the local stage set ended, Baroness began playing outdoors on one of the main stages. A metal band incorporating some nu-metal influences. they hammered out their set list in a fury under the setting sun. The mix and mingle of the crowd between those now arriving for STRFKR and those here for Baroness were a gorgeous sight to behold. As the headliner from the metal influence of Crucialfests past. Baroness was well enjoyed and sounded great outside.

Some more minutes after Baroness had finished, the main stage was again lit in a flurry of anticipation as the crowd shifted eyes towards the approaching STRFKR. Opening with a quiet monologue piece set to electronic rhythms, the band came out in matching NASA astronaut suits, the band and dancers all synchronizing to lead singer Josh Hodge’s beautiful dress and pink wig.

The band was essentially throwing passion into the audience even as an astronaut went crowd surfing on top of a large, inflatable white duck. STRFKR’s electronic sensibilities were heightened by the live performance where each song could cascade into lengthier versions of themselves. “German Love”, “In the End”, and “Open Your Eyes” each sounded like a new song. With the light show streaming from the background and the heavy draw of synths, guitars, and drums, STRFKR played an amazing outdoor set to end the night on. Better still, there was an entire day to go.

 

 

A TWILIGHT ZONE: Joshy Soul / The Roots

A Twilight Zone, the chronicling of Salt Lake City denizens looking for music, adventure, & life at the Twilight Concert Series

Nick

The final show in the 30th Annual Twilight Concert Series. With news that there is no funding in the city art councils budget for Twilight next year, this may very well be the last Twilight Concert ever. Take my breath away and find it in the palm of your hand. DJ Scratchmo was the first act of the night. He played “Footsteps in the Dark” by The Isley Brothers, and then he played “It Was a Good Day” by Ice Cube, which samples “Footsteps in the Dark.”

I like it when DJs play songs that I recognize and vibe to. It serves two purposes: it makes me feel like I have good taste in music because the DJ’splaying songs I listen to. It also functions as a catalyst for making me like that particular DJ even more.

The next set was by Joshy Soul & the Cool. At this point, there was news that Charles Bradley had canceled. Despite the bad news, however, Joshy Soul put on quite the groovy set. Their original takes on popular songs made this Jazzy cover band very entertaining to listen to. I would either hear a melody or lyrics to
a song I recognized and that would catch my attention.The fact that they opened with a swing band cover of “Flashing Lights by Kanye West. By the end of their set, they had proved themselves to be one of if not the best local band featured at Twilight this year. Though they were not playing original songs, their original takes and overall connection and synchronization as a band made them very successful when it came to entertaining the crowd.

The Roots played next, one by one the band showcased all it was capable of. A breathtaking bass solo by Mark Kelley. Jeremy Ellis played a beat box solo that knocked my socks off. My socks were completely off for the remainder of the show. Black Thought spat some killer bars and Tuba Goulding Jr. did the tuba justice. Questlove, behind the drums, was wearing a dope shirt with a Pac-Man ghost and  doughnuts on it.

 

After they did a cover of “Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns & Roses, the guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas turned out a solo that really made the crowd go wild.  This band is the epitome of soul. They really got the crowd moving, one man did two back flips. Looking back, I looked back at myself, while I was doing this I caught a glimpse of my left eye out of the corner of my right one. I saw what looked like me, looking sideways at myself. I was there looking at me and we decided to look away and gaze over at yours truly, I am still stuck like this now. The Roots took us back to before we were born. The Roots really brought us down to earth, and then into it. The show they put on was a truly wonderful experience.

 

Martyn

Finality is a strange event. An ending. Absolution. Maybe we’ve all learned something by the end of the perhaps final Twilight Concert Series and what would that have been? That the sun hates music and has some really nasty intentions when harping on concert goers? Questions will be deferred for another time while I reflect on how this, the final show brought to a culmination a seven week’s journey. From Little Dragon to The Roots, the experience has been solitary, inclusive, stressful, wonderful, and awakening all in seven weeks’ time.

The beginning of the night started per usual, albeit much less crowded and anxious for the opening band to begin. DJ Scratchmo held the crowd over a solid block of time, remixing classic hip-hop tracks and making the atmosphere come alive. The amount of people differed from previous shows, but perhaps that was only because one of the acts was not able to make it, leaving open a space to be filled.

Filled it was with the inclusion of Joshy Soul & the Cool. Local heroes of the funk scene in Salt Lake City, the band absolutely deserved the spotlight of opening for the main act. I’ve seen a few of the members playing in different projects throughout the city and the way the excellence of each musician added to the whole, with the main objective of fun. The crowd went wild for the fast songs and listened with intent to the slower ones. Joshy Soul himself is an immaculate performer, dedicated to giving the crowd an all-encompassing good time. After some fine solos from the saxophone player, the guitarist, and the drummer, Josh Soul & the Cool ended their set with nothing but good vibes.

I found myself holding a few too many bags of free chips (they were free) when The Roots were announced by the roar of the crowd. Pioneer Park was once again packed. Filled to the fences of fans and fun. With almost all space being accounted for, The Roots started playing, introducing themselves, going full on F U N K to the max. Someone led me through the throng of persons to the front of the stage, closer than I’d been at the others. With so much arbitrary shoving, I was forced to fling the chips into the crowd along with beachballs and hats and other items lacking enough importance to keep held. The Roots played magnificently as expected. Highlights include a solo by sampler Stro Elliot moving his fingers with rapid and deft precision across his board. There was never a lack of intense joy throughout the entire set.

And like that Twilight was over. It was a fine night. I became lost once again in a place familiar and strange. Some gossip suggests this would be the last Twilight Concert Series. I suppose its a possibility. But uncertainty can also be a very beautiful thing. Farewell and good night.

 

A TWILIGHT ZONE: Talia Keys / Handsome Family / Andrew Bird

A Twilight Zone, the chronicling of Salt Lake City denizens looking for music, adventure, & life at the Twilight Concert Series

Nick

You know how as a tree gets taller the roots get deeper? Take a slip of paper and write down five words that describe what it feels like to float and then take two of these and call me in the morning. Hop on into the back of what we call a “hatchback” and drive till you cover it’s bumper in stickers. I’m talking about all that space from coast to coast. I’m talking about bluegrass and a soft summer night.

The Twilight Concert series is 30 years in the making; the only time I ever spent 30 years doing something, I was holding up two cups to the sky and waiting for it to rain. The opening act was Talia Keys and The Love. When Talia sang she used such full power and emotion. The band’s set had exquisitely groovy elements and quite the eclectic flare. So how? Take a look in the mirror and wonder what if. Onto the stage next came The Handsome Family, the married couple plays somber bass, heavy roots rock. In between the songs, they made some hilariously irreverent jokes. In regards to the song “Weightless Again”, singer/electric banjo/electric ukulele player Rennie Sparks said that this song is a suicide note but she never could finish it. Remarking that if you want to kill yourself in the Redwood Forest, that’s a good litmus test for depression. She also joked that the song “Far From Any Road” was originally the theme song for Sanford and Sons and then the theme song for Herbie The Love Bug before it was the theme song for the HBO crime drama True DetectiveSinger/guitarist Brett Sparks has a deep grave voice that could settle the high seas. The Handsome Family vanished and Andrew Bird appeared on the stage. Sans accompaniment, he played the violin and whistled a fine tune. At this point, his band appeared on stage alongside him. Blinded by light, I began to be taken on a folk-pop journey through the cosmos of my mind. A man in straps told me that I needed to dance. He whisked his partner away in one sweep. Before I knew it, I was waltzing on the dirt as it changed into a barnyard ballroom with a chandelier made of quartz. Andrew began to shred on the violin sending shivers down my spine. I spun the night away and unraveled myself into the crowd. my blue jeans turned into fine noir threads and I tasted freedom. Andrew Bird spoke volumes through his lyrics and sang with real passion. Overall a very good show.

Tristan

Summer nights in Salt Lake City are always an invitation for a fantastic night, especially in one Pioneer Park on a calm Thursday night. Salt Lake City’s Twilight Concert Series is a great opportunity to relax, enjoy great company, and jam out to some of your favorite bands. Although this is true of every Twilight Concert, there have been none like this.

The night opened with a performance by Talia Keys, an excellently structured first set for the night. Her raspy voice mixed in with upbeat various instruments accompanying her got the crowd in the mood to move and dance (even though it might not have been the best decision for some (“cough, me, cough”). Her lyrics often depicted the innocence we all shared growing up, but this innocence is being described by such a powerful and well-structured group. The irony of being told to always strive for liberation and freedom by a group who obviously slaves over the perfection of their craft only added to the incredible music being played.

Up next was The Handsome Family, the power duo from Chicago. To hear Rennie and Brett Spark’s voice separately would lead you to expect their tones to clash greatly, as I did when they first entered the stage. Although when they sang together it was very apparent why they were there. The two sang slow and strong with the aid of a bass, a guitar and a little harmonica here and there creating this folky sound, unique to just the two. For never hearing of the group prior, I was pleasantly surprised of the music they played

Alright, now for the grand finale, Andrew Bird. Those who were shopping put down their items, those talking with friends and family quieted, and those using the convenience of the oh-so lovely Honey Buckets quickly ran out in haste. This was a band that could not only grab the audience’s attention, they were able to captivate the crowd. The blues, mixed with indie, mixed with folk, mixed with bliss was enough to make even the shyest sway back and forth to the push and pull of the violinist’s bow. Andrew Bird and his fellow musicians brought this crowd of bruting teenagers together with good-hearted, well structured, and in my opinion, brilliant music. The diversity of music being played by one band was almost overwhelming. This was hands down the best Twilight performance I have attended this year. Such diversity only begs the question, is there anything they cannot do?

Martyn

Five shows into the Twilight series and it has begun to feel like the ultimate tentpoles of summer. Good or less than great, each show has brought a capstone to a hot, often aimless summer week since the end of July. So this night, feeling the slow burn finishing towards an ending, I entered in through the familiar gates, passing off a more than familiar greeting to the attendants and stepped into Twilight number six.

The local opener Talia Keys and the Love brought energy to the crowd immediately with long, funky songs of empowerment. As a local band, I had seen their moniker around here and there but had never the opportunity to see the band live. Through numerous thanks to Andrew Bird, their songs approached levels of fun without intensity. The sounds livened the crowd into dancing which spread out across the park in clear definition of the term “good-vibes”. Talia and each member of the Love played with a gracious confidence in what beheld the beauty of the local opener’s importance.

After the first set, I sat calmly eating pizza within the sponsor area (once again) whilst unbeknownst to myself, someone sent me photos of myself eating, replying on my phone, watching some birds. My thoughts were, as if this whole writing and observation through subjective tendencies couldn’t get meta enough, but now I had to see myself within a process. Luckily, The Handsome Family came on stage, upsetting the stream of pictures by playing alt-folk songs of solitude and pensiveness. I realized much too late to be hyped that it was that Handsome Family but I enjoyed the music nonetheless. Country is an often overlooked genre unless it delves into the classic sense of real roots country, which is what the band did. Their set was short and ultimately sweet. 

By the time the sun had set, Andrew Bird came out alone and whistled, plucked his violin, and greeted the crowd in a dapper white suit jacket. His band played wonderfully some classic alt-rock sounding songs and his voice bellowed out across the night sky with restrained passion. I was sure the likenening to Rufus Wainwright has been made to Mr. Bird, but his voice crept along the same lines. I was unfortunate to not stay for the entire set, but I weaved through the crowd, larger than anticipated towards the outside. I felt mixtures of anticipation for the last show in a week, I felt penultimate to the extreme.

A TWILIGHT ZONE: Belle Jewel / Phoebe Bridgers / Cat Power

A Twilight Zone, the chronicling of Salt Lake City denizens looking for music, adventure, & life at the Twilight Concert Series

Sarah

I’ll admit, I wasn’t too excited for this week’s Twilight Concert. I didn’t know many of the acts, and the rest of my colleagues and I had been racing across military level obstacle courses since 7 am that morning (a compelling story for another time). However, this concert turned out to be one of my favorite Twilight experiences so far.

The first act was a girl named Belle Jewel. The first thing I noticed was her striking resemblance to the indie-pop singer, Bishop BriggsBelle sported circular glasses, space buns, and white overalls over a black shirt. The set was pretty simple; vocals and an acoustic guitar or keyboard, but her voice was extremely relaxing and beautiful.

Up next was Phoebe Bridgersa female indie-folk singer from California. Her set was nice, and like Belle Jewel, the songs were relaxed and helped to set the tone for Cat Power. However, I noticed thatthis Twilight concert had a much different feel compared to the previous show where Solange headlined. All of the acts had a maximum of 2 people on stage, and the songs seemed to be more focused lyrically compared to instrumentally. While it certainly wasn’t the concert to go crazy at, it was a nice change of pace for the Twilight concerts and provided a calm atmosphere to sit down and listen to some good music.

Finally, Cat Power took the stage to play a solo set with her piano and guitar. My friend and lovely DJ here at K-UTE, Tristan, and I sat down to talk and enjoy the show. We both immediately fell in love with her voice. It was heartfelt, vulnerable, and powerful all at the same time. Occasionally she would stop to apologize to the crowd for a technical difficulty or if she thought her vocals sounded off, but the crowd wasn’t having it. They applauded and begged her to keep going regardless of any mishaps because she sounded beautiful either way.

Martyn

And suddenly, it was another Thursday night speeding across the city to one of the most unexpected Twilight concerts. Cat Powers appearance was being touted as “(solo)” for weeks now and it piqued the interest of more than a few concert goers beforehand as to how Charlyn Marie Marshall (aka Cat Power) would fare filling up the usual park. It wasn’t so much a question of audible loudness, but the energy that came from the previous acts.

I arrived more than a few minutes late, missing out on Utah native Belle Jewel although hearing that she performed a nice acoustic set minutes before my estimated time of arrival. Apologies to her performance. I meandered inconspicuously, wondering about the previous few Thursdays, how they began becoming this culmination of the week’s events. It was also taco night in the sponsor tent, and again, lanyards grant immeasurable access. Events seemed fleeting, the sun set earlier than usual, and I readied myself for the processing of thought whilst watching a performing act.

Minutes after this awfully meta cognition covering some tired questions, Phoebe Bridgers came out onstage accompanied by her self-named friend from Los Angeles (he had recently moved). Phoebe was predominantly playing an acoustic while her newly-planted LA friend played electric guitar. It gave her a fuller sound than the regular acoustic pieces the crowd had heard with Belle Jewel. The songs were a genuinely nice fit for the rest of the evening. Only because the music was quieter, in this sense of instrumentation, the set does not disregard the level of affection from the crowd. Belle Jewel’s set went through endearingly nice banter with the crowd and this created a sense of intimacy that went beyond the usual venue accommodations for the distance between performer and audience. While many of the songs had a similar appeal, the performance managed to help set the mood for the headliner. It was also her birthday, but that could have been self-proclaimed hearsay.

Cat Power came out quietly under the purple lights and immediately began playing. Her soulful voice carried around the park, now late-night summer dark, creating a new Twilight Concert atmosphere. It was quiet, and it was less rushed than previous concerts. Cat Power played song after song, without the need or apparent want to elicit cheers from the crowd with banter or anecdotes. The whole solo aspect was immediately apparent, but Cat Power held the attention of onlookers by her talent for guitar playing and lyrics. Not necessarily lethargic but inherently laid back was the theme of the night. A break from the heat and rushing crowd of past weeks. I found myself walking out of the park, greeted by night and noise awash the background voice of this singer.

Photos by Morgan Parent 

A TWILIGHT ZONE: CHOiCE / Kaytranada / Solange

A Twilight Zone, the chronicling of Salt Lake City denizens looking for music, adventure, & life at the Twilight Concert Series

Josh

Another Thursday night in the late summer means another edition of the Twilight Concert Series. This week the curators of the series managed to book modern R&B hero, Solange. The attendance was dense and eager for the show. The tension built with the news that Solange’s flight was delayed. A quick check of her Instagram story showed her still on a plane from Texas at about 9:30 pm. It wasn’t clear when they landed of whether or not her band and crew were also delayed. At about 10:05 pm it was announced that Solange had arrived and would be starting soon.

The audience moved closer as the set began. The band took the stage first. All of the members were dressed in red. Their attire matched the background of the stage, which included a large red circle piece in the background that appeared three-dimensional when the stage lights created shadows. This monochromatic theme put the visual emphasis more on the musicians and their movements.

Enter Solange. The crowd goes wild as she displays her subtle finesse in both her dance moves and her opening vocalizations.

The entire set consisted of artistic coordinated dance moves that varied with each song. In one instance the group lined up from tallest to shortest and continued to move the song along with hip swings and a smooth 80’s funk style “keytar” bass line. The audio side of things was delightfully crisp with amalgamations of genres including funk, jazz, R&B, hip hop, soul, and disco.

The band kept the audio effects to the minimum and as a result, the audience got a transparent wave of warm sonic bliss. I could pick out any instrument and enjoy focusing on its subtle nuances. The drummer was especially precise and smooth as he moved back and forth between a drum machine sample pad and his acoustic kit.

If I had to sum up the performance in one phrase, I would say it was like a combination of Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense and a killer episode of Soul Train. Solange, like many modern artists, draws heavily from artists of yesteryear. However, the influences do not cross over into simple reactionary territory. Her work makes me excited for the future of music in general. Give her a listen; her work is worth much more than just the novelty of being Beyonce’s sister.

Sarah

As a music, theatre, and art lover, I have a special fondness of musicians who incorporate striking visuals and dramatic performances into their live shows. Solange is a prime example of this.

Everything was a bright and energetic red as Solange entered the stage to perform “Rise,” the first song off of her album A Seat at the Table. The song is simple and repetitive, which are words most artists don’t want associated with their songs, but in Solange’s case, the term “simple and repetitive” is a good thing. Her songs tend to be more poetic and intentionally repetitive to add to the meaning of the song itself, which is something not a lot of musicians can pull off elegantly.

Another thing that stood out to me about Solange was her soft and almost whispery vocals. However, while her voice may be soft, her lyrics are anything but. They’re powerful, political, and heartfelt. I rarely cry at concerts, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed a few tears while listening to her perform “Cranes in the Sky,” with lyrics like: “I tried to drink it away, I tried to put one in the air, I tried to dance it away, I tried to change it with my hair.”

While professional photos weren’t permitted during Solange’s performance, the stage was quite a sight to see. The background was bright crimson with a reflective red circle in the center. Everyone, including the band, wore a red outfit, adding to the vibe of the show. While I’m not quite sure why the color was chosen, to me it felt powerful. It also certainly commanded the attention of the crowd.

Geoff

Twilight. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to leave that big of a concert unconcerned about missing the headliner, and yet, there I was.

I heard a lot of hype about KAYTRANADA and honestly, I couldn’t have cared less. Awesome, another hip-hop producer. As if the thousands living in their parents’ basement wasn’t enough, they decided to put this guy on stage. What’s he going to do? Spend 30 minutes making a track for someone not to rap over? I was there for Solange.

After the admittedly solid DJ Choice finished her set, everyone seemed to be ready to explode for KAYTRANADA. These are my peers, other K-UTE DJs who definitely have decent taste, so maybe I should hear this dude out.

When he came on stage it felt like a crowd formed immediately. We wiggled our way into the middle and proceeded to jam for the next three hours as KAYTRANADA stood at his laptop bobbing his head. While he might not have been the best stage performer I’ve ever seen, the music was something else.

I don’t quite know how to put my experience into words, but here’s my best shot: His beats connected with me on a primal level as if despite its synthetic nature this was somehow going back to the music of my ancient ancestors. His vibe and groove seemed to hypnotize me and rest of the crowd. I danced, screamed, and at one point raised my middle finger and said “I don’t give a fuck!” all at his command. Motion was effort less, and somewhere a deep feeling of content arose within me. I was putty in KAYTRANADA’s hands, my actions corresponding to the buttons on his keyboard.

Unfortunately, a Station Manager’s work is never done and when I finally broke away something had changed in me. As I packed up our booth and lugged it back to the van I felt sad, I couldn’t focus on the music, now it was just a background track. When I heard the rumor that Solange was coming, just very late, I didn’t care. I had already gotten what I needed from this Twilight, my legs are tired. I’ve been up since 7, let’s go home.

Martyn

So there I was again, mingling amongst the Twilight crowd for the fourth time this year, not really knowing where to go at the moment or really if there was a where in which to go to. Suffice to say, perplexed‘. The crowd had grown massive in quantity of bodies compared to a few hours ago. Something about this concert. The mystique maybe? Solange‘s appeal? Either way, the first DJ, CHOiCE gave the crowd something to mingle and drink drinks and talk of probably hugely important affairs with one another. The rhythms were even throughout as if this DJ chose not to take choosy chances with more austere or different beats. Mostly it was the drums. Mostly, I felt as though I should wander over to the free food.

The free food being farther than I thought, I wandered blindly through the crowd (also known as the inevitable and incomparable smoke in my eyes and also I’m very short) until Kaytranada began his set. I watched from afar, eating pizza with a friend. This being the largest Twilight crowd so far (waiting with a stone’s patience for the delayed headliner) was a sight to see from far away. A mass of bodies, pushing out the parameters of fences and personal space to watch Kaytranada hover over his laptop. The visuals on the background movie theater screen were deftly impressive, moving from live action dancing to the swirl of incandescent warm colors in a kaleidoscopic swirl of a post-Y2K hypnotist. The Crowd (uppercased now in all its glory) felt strongly for Kaytranada, dancing, swaying, pulsing single hands attached to arms moving vertically in a calm frenzy of limber strength. An angel of a human next to me told me that this artist had played two of his favorite songs, “At All’ and “girl” which was produced for The Internet. People were blown away and the spirit of Twilight lived on.

Solange finally made her appearance after a few delays, bequeathing the stage and the crowd by dressing all in red with a lusciously red stage and accompanying dancers. She started slow and rose to a wonderful climax of music heard throughout the city. The noise ordinance was really disregarded for the best of reasons. Once again, after the music, after the sweat, and stress and noise and bumping into people, I had enough and awoke the next morning in this weird stupor.

 

Photos by Trevor Von Hake @trevorvonhake and Sarah Nelson @sarahnelson208

A TWILIGHT ZONE: Antibalas / Kamasi Washington

A Twilight Zone, the chronicling of Salt Lake City denizens looking for music, adventure, & life at the Twilight Concert Series

Sarah

One of my favorite things about the Twilight Concert Series is their ability to showcase so many different styles of music. While last week’s performance of Kurt Vile could be best described as more country-rock style music, Kamasi and Antibalas put on a show strongly rooted in jazz and afrobeat, but both very different in tone and feel.

Before them, however, was a local DJ named DJ Ebenflow who got the crowd bustling with an interesting mix of DJ beats and 20’s style music. Even though it wasn’t my favorite, I thought his unorthodox mixture of old and new music was very different and interesting to hear. Plus, his man-bun was quite beautiful.

After DJ Ebenflow, Antibalas came on. One of the first things I noticed was the sheer size of the band. There were sax players, guitarists, trumpet players, drummers, the list goes on… Then, the band’s lead vocalist Amayo entered the stage in an elaborate white outfit and a personality that immediately captivated the audience. He sang about themes like peace, love, and mother earth. Each song almost felt spiritual in a way, and you could tell that the band members and audience were both feeding off the crowd’s energy.

Sadly, I had to leave before Kamasi came on, but I had a chance to research his music when I got home. The first video that came up on Youtube was a song called “Truth.” Even though the song is 14 minutes long, I got chills within the first 3 seconds. Beautiful visuals, melodic jazz, and political undertones immediately elicits emotion from the listener, which is exactly what good music should do.

Jacob

It’s Twilight season! A busy and important man like myself unfortunately cannot make each show, so last week’s Kamasi Washington show was my first of the summer. 

Getting there as late as I did, the first opener, local cat DJ Ebenflow, was already mid-set. I had never heard of him, but he has a pretty strong following in Salt Lake City and after hearing him live I can see why. His electronic music pulls classic jazz and swing samples and meshes them with his own beats. The result is a unique sound that could belong in a carnival or an old silent movie. Introduce your ears to him with his ‘I love the swing!’ set. 

Next up was New York based Afrobeat band Antibalas. Man, these guys are funky. Even at the K-UTE tent I couldn’t stop dancing. These guys bring strong brass instruments and a great stage presence and make a genre that’s generally unpopular a fun, uplifting experience. At this point, the crowd is starting to build. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of people that came out to a jazz show, and especially surprised by how the young the crowd was. Maybe millennials will do something cool with our time, and keep jazz from going extinct, eh?

When Kamasi and his band finally came out the crowd went wild. With two drummers, a stand up bassist, pianist, vocals, an eclectic group of brass with a trombone, flute, and soprano saxophone, Kamasi led the gang on his sax and they were loud. They really got the place rocking with some of their classics. Easily my favorite part of the show is when everyone went through their solos. Every musician rocked the stage for five minutes or so, and then left the stage to the two drummers. Their back and forth battle was insane. Both taking completely different beats and twisting them over each other in a frenzied harmony sent the crowd over the edge. No one could stop dancing, everyone was moving around and having a good time. One thing I love about Kamasi Washington and his band us that they can push a political stance with the peacefulness that jazz requires. This was definitely one of the best shows I’ve seen all year.

Martyn

Then it was Thursday again, already, and I made my way down to Pioneer Park for the first Twilight of August so underneath the sun (again, it’s clichéd already) I walked forward to the beginning of the show. Comparatively, and perhaps because of no local band to open, there were few people surrounding the outskirts of the wearisome stage. I moved on into some shade.

A DJ by the moniker of Ebenflow came on and gave the audience something to dance to. They did. It lacked a certain personal touch of a local band, but hey, the sunburns were worth it for those dancers. After a quick break, I found myself in the VIP section, sitting on a white chair instead of my usual pose of ‘my feet hurt’. Antibalas came out and absolutely had me throwing that chair out of my place so I could dance. The wonderful jazz/funk group came alive with so much energy, the music twisting with heat to create a lively, energetic performance. Soon enough though, Antibalas ended their set and the crowd was growing.

Calm again, I went back for more tacos (mostly no one was eating the delicious zucchini filling). Kamasi Washington quietly made his way to the stage to engage in one of the most full-sounding

Twilight shows yet. With his band and singer Patrice Quinn by his side, Kamasi had the crowd grooving and moving to jazz in huge numbers. For this, I went directly into the middle of the crowd towards the front because you can’t not be taken in by someone performing with this much personality and this much vitality. The music itself was not out of place at a show like Twilight. Nothing was out of place, really.

Photos by Trevor Von Hake @trevorvonhake

 

A TWILIGHT ZONE: 90’s Television/Whitney/Kurt Vile & the Violators

A Twilight Zone, the chronicling of Salt Lake City denizens looking for music, adventure, & life at the Twilight Concert Series

Josh

A local happening, a local enigma, a local band is taking the opening slot for this concert. That band you ask? 90’s Television. An enduring sun hits the stage as the group grabs their instruments. A crowd of early arrivers crawls from the shadows towards the front of the stage. It’s a diverse group of slimy monstrosities: cyborgs, mutants, weirdos, voidoids. It’s an amalgamation of sunglasses, tank tops, and scaly skin recently burned by the salty city sun.

A groovy wave hits the crowd as the group opens a cold one with their classic tune “Radio 90s”. Oooweewoowee, now that’s what I call a hair splitting specter. The group appears to be locking the crowd into an unknown form of hypnosis using their powers combined. Drummer Jeremy Devine (known robot) mines unseen rhythmic crystals that are channeled by the guitars of both Greydon Benzmiller (resident wizard) and lead singer Dravland Brown (vampire spirit, incarnate). Dravland and Greydon send the harvested power into the hands of their trusted bassist, Craig (a friendly martian). Meanwhile, Craig’s head starts to become swollen with the kinetic energy of the group’s power pop inventions.

No momentum is lost as they power through classics like “Bug Girl” and new innovations like “Karmakazi”. As Craig’s head grows, the crowd becomes weary of what might become of the situation. The band closes with an expertly triangulated transmission of their hit “Channel Surfing”. The head is so far bloated at this point and explodes buckets of green foam onto the crowd. The radiation from the foam puts the crowd into a state of panic. Craig quickly regrows a fresh head, and the band exits the stage. Spectacular as this is, you must continue your journey, as the groups of Whitney and Kurt Vile are soon to enter frame…

Sarah

Considering last year’s Twilight Concert Series was how I originally became involved with K-UTE Radio, it was needless to say that I was extremely excited for this year’s lineup. My friend and I arrived at the concert just in time to see the local band, 90’s Television. They opened the show with surf/rock rhythms and a relaxed audience repertoire.

After their set, I headed towards the food trucks to scope out the dining options. I walked around for a while until I saw a lady carrying a small cup of light-purple liquid. Intrigued, I headed in her direction and found a Poutine truck selling drinks called “Hummingbirds” made of lavender soda and a lemon wedge. After being in the summer heat, I made the best decision of the day and ordered one. If you get a chance to go to the next Twilight Concert, so should you.

Soon enough, I heard the rumble of the next band coming on and headed back to the crowd. The first thing I noticed was the sheer size of the band. SIx people including a trumpet player and a lead singer playing drums took up the stage. They announced their name, Whitney, and played a set of seemingly upbeat songs with underlying darker themes like depression and break ups.

Even though I had never heard of Kurt Vile & The Violators before the concert, I took a listen to the song “Pretty Pimpin'” before the show and immediately fell in love. While I wasn’t a huge fan of his other music, my friend has a video of me going ham to that song which might double as blackmail later on. His quirky, introspective lyrics and country-style guitar riffs make him a perfect artist to sit down and listen to on vinyl.

Martyn

I re-awoke after a weirdly long week of not going to Twilight Concerts in time for this week’s Twilight Concert. After walking through the city of Salt Lake under a ceaselessly unwavering sun, I arrived (again, shivering with anticipation for lanyard glory) through the gates into the park which has now become a real haven of sorts on Thursday nights. You could say music was in the air or something like that.

The first band, 90’s Television opened up against the final afternoon blaze with pure rock ‘n roll. More local heroes adorning themselves in deserved spotlight had the crowd shimmying. I saw two patrons holding up larger-than-accustomed-to print outs of the bassist’s head. The bassist laughed, we laughed, the sun went down a little further. Wearing only sunglasses sans prescription, I bumbled my way through people on blankets and unsteadily placed-on-the-grass drinks.

After sneaking behind the K-UTE table to rest on a weirdly comfy bucket, I went back into the crowd for openers Whitney. The experience of seeing a lead vocalist/drummer live is something of note, even if the songs (albeit a cover of the “Golden Girls” theme) had a steady and unwavering rhythm. The songs weren’t exactly catchy but the sounds still fulfilled expectations. Concurrently, I was awestruck by the power one band member had using and instrument called a trumpet. Each time this trumpet would blow, the crowd would immediately begin woo-ing and clapping in awestruck mob fascination at the certain long note emanating from the small brass.

Finally, as the night began to wrap around the stage in an awesome shroud, Kurt Vile & the Violators came on the massive applause. Week Two was slowly ending in between the songs which already had a melancholic air and I felt a pang of sadness. Kurt Vile had that certain rock-star swagger and great jeans you’d come to expect from someone out of Philadelphia. When with his band, the songs flourished; when solo, Kurt Vile still held people in attention. After his set, the crowd dispersed into the night amongst talk of past and future and I headed to the train which was way out.

 

 

Photos by Trevor Von Hake & Sarah Nelson