The Freedom of Music

Concerts on the first day of school have a sentimental meaning for me. When I first started school at the U, I moved into the dorms on a Thursday. That night, I journeyed to Pioneer Park with a couple of classmates. Kid Cudi would perform in what was the most attended Twilight Concert to date.

I remember how incredible I felt that day. For the first time in my life, I experienced true freedom. Freedom to stay out as late as I want. Freedom to go to a rap concert singing songs about marijuana. Freedom to be me, whoever that was. I had no idea what lie ahead of me that year, yet I was ready to accept the consequences of my own decisions.

4 years later in 2017, on the first day of school, the day of the solar eclipse, I journeyed downtown again. This time the venue was a little smaller, the artist had a little less hype, but that same feeling persisted. Washed Out was playing with Dega at the Depot.

The Depot is one of my favorite venues is Utah. They sell tickets at the door on Fridays prior to the show, eliminating the always dreaded service fees. Security works quickly and effectively. The venue stays relatively cool and has appropriate seating for those who want to sit. The sound is not overbearing but clear. The doors opened at 7. Dega started playing at 8 and Washed Out at 9:30.

Dega set the stage for an awesome show. Their set up included various synthesizers, a couple of microphones, a guitar, bass, and a computer with drum backing tracks. Both musicians played a variety of the instruments and added vocals. They did what all openers should do, get the crowd excited for the show.

Washed Out, aka Ernest Greene, is on tour following his June release Mister Mellow, a psychedelic chillwave album that explores stonerism and the monotony of life. The entire album has a coordinated visual music video designed to create a psychedelic or trippy experience for the viewer.

Washed Out played several songs off of his latest release as well as some older crowd favorites. The entire show was set with timed light cues and different projections on a screen behind the musicians. Washed Out truly personified his sound. He danced around like a lazy stoner lost in the music. Greene’s enchanting vocals gave the impression of daydreaming. The crowd fell under his spell and swayed along for what could have been 30 minutes or 3 hours.

This concert meant more to me than just the music. It represented a new school year, a new opportunity. I’m not sure who I’ll be at the end of it and I’m not sure exactly how I’ll get there.  Although I am filled with uncertainty, here’s to one more year. Another year of concerts. Another year of school. A couple more late nights in the library and weekends downtown. A few more friends made and hopefully a couple less lost. Whatever happens, music will help me get through.

 

Butternut to Bionic

This week on The Rostrum we have Tiffany Anderson, University of Utah alumni and author of the book Butternut to Bionic: A Resource Guide to for Hip Replacement Surgery which details her encounter with a mysterious illness, brush with death, two hip-replacement surgeries, and her physical and mental health recovery. We also discuss her thoughts on U.S. healthcare and the benefits of preventative and holisitic approaches to health.

Music: http://www.bensound.com

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

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.