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