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