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

 

 

A TWILIGHT ZONE: Angel Magic / Xenia Rubinos / Little Dragon

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

Martyn

And so we’ve finally come to the beginning, ending a drought of park concerts since around this time last year. The Twilight 2017 Concert Series has commenced and the musical acts ushering in these ultimate days of summer played one exemplary opening concert. To my and other’s disbelief (or relatively minimal confusion as to ‘why?’), this was my first Salt Lake Twilight concert as I only started listening to music in the most recent past. 

Having satiated my hunger and finding a water bottle for the evening from a friend, I received my lanyarded pass and walked towards the entrance with strides on lanyarded confidence. Inside, the sun cast an oppressive glow on the field as the opening band Angel Magic began to set up.  A local dream/synth/pop band given this Twilight spotlight is a quantifiably gargantuan opportunity and their sound carried wonderfully through the park. This was obvious because several fans were encouragingly shouting ‘your sound carries wonderfully through this park!’. Technical errors aside (a keyboard ran out of D batteries (PSA please carry D batteries)),  Angel Magic’s dreamy vocals and musical arrangements were able to make the crowd dance and behold! the keyboard still worked on the batteries running dry.

Around the time the next artist,  Xenia Rubinos, took the stage, there was the aforementioned and highly looked forward to twilight setting in and around Pioneer Park casting a steady glow amongst vendors and patrons. I hadn’t listened to her music so my expectations were set in absentia, and although the music lacked a certain solidarity of form, Xenia and her band put on an impressive set. Her movements were, as a friend put it, ‘a whole body doing a jazz hand’. I then tried my own turn at this dancing and fell over. Xenia’s lyrics repeated strong themes of identity and her powerful clear voice made the music second to what she was saying. It worked in synchrony.

Headliners Little Dragon were finally taking the stage in a grand entrance of ethereal proportions. With her large headdress (matching her fingernail color mind you), lead singer Yukimi Nagano looked majestic and overwhelming. Ushering in their set with a newer song, “Celebrate”, the rest of Little Dragon was pure dance magic. Lights, motion, and song blended into pure ecstasy emotion. The band played wonderfully from start to finish with a neon glow of orange surrounding Yukimi’s headdress. I wandered ethereally between the crowd and food trucks on the fringes of the crowd and felt at peace.

Little Dragon finished their set with much longer remixes of their music which ignited the atmosphere around the stage. Once it was over, I walked out in the Salt Lake City night, wondering if anyone still had water. Settling for an answer of no, I descended into the city, awaiting the next show.

Nick

The stage is set, I can tell the crowd is charged up and the show hasn’t even started yet. Twilight is really incredible to have local artists at the top of their shows, it gives us something to connect with as a community. Tonight’s local spot light was Angel Magic. Their music has gumption, very fun synths, reverberating vocals, and emotionally charged expression. The duo are solid performers, focused on their craft. Angel Magic could be music for ethereal exposes. It was a very beautiful day, a nice billowing sky provided ample shade on a hot afternoon.

Then Xenia Rubinos came on. What a nasty groove that lady has got in her. Everyone in the front row lost their entire heads of hair. I don’t know if it was radiation from the UFO or excessive head banging. It may have very well been the way Michael Bouchelli kept on slapping the bass like he was mad at it. Xenia gave us a rap in Spanish. The drummer rewired his drums and changed up his sound. I’m not sure what this technique is called. It sounds cool though. Xenia is very multi talented. Playing the keyboard and singing. So much soul in this band. She was unstoppable sporting an all purple jumpsuit cinched at the waist with a fabulous belt. Xenia Rubinos finished off with vibing and some funky rapping.

After a minute the clouds got thick and a warm mist filled the crowd, It was time for the Swedish-based band Little Dragon, adorned in a thin red silk sheet Yukimi Nagano entered, with cool drummer Erick Bodin, slick bass player Källgren Wallin and Håkan Wirenstrand killing it on the keyboards. Excellent progression, incredible drops, and beautiful distortion of lovely bells. It makes one feel like they are at home and comfortable. The ground opened up beneath us and swallowed the whole concert. As we fell into the eternal abyss of night Little Dragon did not skip a beat. They proceeded to play their whole set as we fell together. Twas’ very good! Folks dancing, falling. We landed in a different location than when we started and we all had to go with it.

What a fantastic evening of fun and music. We’re all looking forward to what the next concert of Kurt Vile & the Violaters will bring, and what chaotic beauty Twilight has in store.