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

What’s What on SoundCloud

Hello friends. Welcome back to “What’s What on SoundCloud”! The following are some of the noteworthy tracks I’ve been listening to recently and feel that you should be listening to as well.

This week’s artist spotlight: Sam Gellaitry and KAYTRANADA

Sam Gellaitry is an electronic music producer out of Scotland who found his success on Soundcloud thanks in part to the underground music conglomerate, Soulection Radio. With goofy synth leads, quirky jazz chord progressions, and an overarching cinematic feel that invokes a sense of nostalgia, Sam G is one of my favorite artists to date.  After he tweeted “gonna release all this stuff I’ve been sitting on in the next couple of days” last week, I knew we were in for a treat.

If you listen to only one song from this blog post, “want u 2” should be the one. The instrumentation on this track is incredibly well executed. Gellaitry knows how to create compelling syncopated melodies that leave you with no option but to nod along with the beat in satisfaction. Whether you’re at a huge party or listening on your own in your room, this groovy track is sure to please your ears and your soul.

“Pyrotechnic” is a little more quirky. Sam is super liberal with the chops, creating a sense of anticipation as you wait for the beat to come back in after it cuts out. He slaps this track in the face with his distinct eccentric style. If you haven’t given Gellaitry’s discography a listen, I highly recommend it.

To conclude this week’s discovery, I’m throwing it back to 2014. “At All” is, without a doubt, my favorite Kaytranada track of all time. This funk-house banger is the perfect thing to listen to on a late night drive around town, or really any time you just want to dance. Kaytranada’s distinct bass lines and combination of bump and groove give this track the perfect balance between the funk of yesterday and the house music of today.

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

 

Love, Fame and Fortune: Everything Now by Arcade Fire

“I’m in the black again.” Everything Now by Arcade Fire starts with a familiar theme: darkness. Known for their depressing style, the Canadian indie-rock band once again produces a record that fails to be uplifting. Their fifth studio album, released July 28, 2017, provides a new and distinct sound from their previous work. Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk helped produce the album, which is part of the reason for the various upbeat songs and pop sound. The darkness quickly dissipates, transitioning into sounds of money and crowds.

We live in a society driven by consumerism. Numerous people live with the attitude “I need it, I want it, I can’t live without”. It’s easy to grasp the logical impossibility of having everything now, and Arcade Fire is thus critical of such attitude. “Every time you smile it’s a fake. Stop pretending you’ve got everything now,” Win Butler preaches. Much of what we buy won’t make us happier and is probably just useless shit.

The album grows darker and poppier simultaneously. Pop instrumentation is accompanied by lyrics about death. Arcade Fire has often explored existentialism and this album is no different. Despite the lure of fame and fortune, the “cool kids” have “no signs of life.” Boys and girls often “hate themselves” and “dream about dying all the time.” The desire to be popular is often so great that some would rather die than be “penniless and nameless.” By the fourth song we already see conflicting thoughts. Beginning with wanting everything now, Butler now says, “I don’t know what I want…[and] I don’t know if I want it.”

Fear of death is normal which is why so many want to live forever. Arcade Fire represents this through the boy from Neverland that stays young forever, Peter Pan. Butler sings, “we can live, I don’t feel like dying,” but is once again conflicted as he longs for life and love. The lyrics “I can’t live with so much love” tell us that love is the thing that is killing him.

The songs Infinite Content and Infinite_Content serve as an interlude and a divider for the album. These two songs are right in the middle and identical lyrically. However, the sound and tempo drastically change between the two. The first one is fast while the second is slow. This is also how the album is divided. The first half is up-tempo and energetic while the second half is slow and mellow.

Electric Blue, sung by Regine Chassagne, is about a girl in love. With social media and online dating so common, our first impression of someone is often through the electric blue glow of a computer screen. “Cover my eyes electric blue. Every single night I dream about you,” the girl says repeatedly.

Sometimes it seems that love is killing us when other times it is what saves us. Once again, we have conflicting ideas. Referencing earlier lyrics, Butler sings “put your favorite record on baby and fill the bathtub up. You want to say goodbye to your oldest friends.” Although maybe this time death is not the escape. Maybe there is a reason to stay alive. “Maybe there’s a good god, if he made you.” Love can keep someone alive when they feel that there is nothing else worth living for.

No relationship is perfect, and all will face tough times. “I’m never gonna let you go,” and “if you think I’m losing you, you must be crazy.” These are the cries of someone fighting for their love. Through the broken promises and the disapproving parents, “we will find a way to survive.”

“I’m driving home to you… [and] god knows where I’ve been. Officer please, don’t check my breath. That ain’t my only sin.” Not only is he driving drunk, he just committed adultery. The girl is waiting at home, but “maybe we don’t deserve love.” Relationships are not meant to last forever especially when you cheat on your partner. “We can just pretend we’ll make it home again, from everything now.” At the end of the day, we end up alone just trying to get home.

The album ends where it starts. The last song is the same as the first with an added second verse. Everything Now is meant to be played from start to finish and looped. This plays on the ideas of infinity and repetition that are seen throughout the album. Arcade Fire is often regarded as the greatest band to never have a hit song. Their individual songs are not as meaningful out of context from the entire work. If you are looking for a great song off this album you won’t find it. The songs build off of each other and are better when listened to in the order it was intended. The album is focused on love, fame, and fortune in the age of the internet. The use of pop says that they themselves are victims of the very things they are critical of. If nothing less, Everything Now tells a story and shows emotions, which is exactly what music is supposed to do.

Why I Go to Concerts: Beach Fossils at In the Venue

It’s seven thirty on a Saturday night. The doors to In the Venue were supposed to open thirty minutes ago. Instead, the line wraps around the corner and half way down the block. The heat is almost unbearable. The people in line squeeze together trying to hide under any shade they can find.

An hour passes. The heat has somewhat subsided as the sun begins to set, but everyone just wants to get inside. Ablebody begins to play. The sound echoes through the windows with hundreds of people still outside. I hear some voice their frustration saying they came just to see this band. The line slowly begins to move. By the time I get inside, they are wrapping up their set list and I hear only one song.

The second band, She-Devils, only has two members. Their performance struggles to captivate the attention of the audience. The instrumentation sounds disconnected from the vocals and the music unpracticed. Some listen silently while others converse.

The headliner of tonight’s show is Beach Fossils. The indie-pop band from Brooklyn, New York has experienced moderate success since their formation in 2009. They are currently on a world tour showcasing their June release, Somersault.

When Beach Fossils gets on stage, there are issues equalizing the music. Frustration sweeps over their faces as they converse with the engineer. “Can I get some more keyboard in this monitor?” “More guitar over here.” The lead singer, Dustin Payseur, leaves the stage to try and mend the situation.

After thirty minutes, everything sounds good and the band begins to play. The tired audience has little energy during the first couple songs. After a slow start, a couple people start to dance and their excitement radiates throughout the rest of the crowd. Within seconds the entire vibe changes. “I was wondering when you guys were gonna wake up”, Payseur asks.

I somehow find myself three rows from the stage with nothing to do but enjoy the show. For the next hour, I dissipate into the crowd. I am entranced by the music and the motion of those surrounding me. The outside world seems disconnected and my entire existence seems limited to the five hundred people under the same roof.

Many artists love playing in Utah solely for the passion of the audience. Utahans always show their appreciation for a good performance. Several concertgoers hopped on stage then surfed off into the crowd. While mosh pits may not be customary at indie-pop concerts, in Utah it is expected. When the enthusiasm of the crowd went up so did the band’s. They played a variety of fan favorites including Saint Ivy, Daydream, and This Year.

At the show, I was reminded why I go to concerts. Despite the heat, the long lines, and the problems with the tech, I genuinely enjoyed myself. For a short time, I was able to forget about everything outside of the venue’s walls. I didn’t have to worry about school, work, or the current state of our country. I could just listen to music and dance with my friends.

Dorm Days Episode 13 – “BROWNIES. TUH-NIGHT.”

Dirty jobs, but without Tim Allen. In this lucky 13th episode, the boys discuss the finer points of cleaning toilets, why Selena Gomez looks like a 13 year old, and the 90s. Oh, the 90s.

Listen to this episode, past episodes, and more wonderful content on K-UTE’s website! kuteradio.org/category/talkshows/dorm-days/
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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