Skalloween!

When the air begins to take on a colder tone, the leaves change, fall off, and all you’re left with is tree skeletons. It must be Fall. Fall has most often been a time of falling apart for me. It seems like my repressed stress builds up during the summer and hits me twice as rough come September. Perhaps that is why I choose to go so hard every Halloween.

This season is a very important time in my culture. It’s a time to celebrate those that have passed. It’s a time to ask for forgiveness and help from ancestors on our journey through the present.  It’s a time of release. Skalloween always helps me to relax.

Sometimes, my past comes face to face with me in the present. I just dance it off and try to stay in the moment. There is something about skanking in a big circle with like-minded individuals that brings me closer to earth.

Skanking is the style of dance for Ska music. Ska music is most often described as a combination of Reggae and Rock, I find it also has influences taken from Mariachi music. Personally, I think good Ska is severely overshadowed by a massive amount of really detestable Ska. Luckily, we have some of the best Ska available in the world right here in Salt Lake City. Every year we appreciate these dedicated bands by attending Skalloween.

The show was at Kilby Court this year, my favorite venue with its intimate setting. The first band The Schemeing Thieves came onto the stage dressed as Mr.Meeseeks from the television series Rick & Morty. Their juxtaposition between somber sections to more upbeat sections in their songs definitely made this band stand out. They were very passionate, as the opening act they did not fail to get the crowd skanking.

Following their set was a band I had never had the pleasure to see before, The Gringos. These guys are hardcore. They’re very seasoned musicians doing what they love.  The amount of energy they had kept everyone in the space and all attention was on The Gringos.

Talk to me about a fire in the eyes and let’s take it to the max. The Anchorage, who played next, has that kind of Maximum Fire in their eyes. The whole band was dressed as David S. Pumpkins. It’s its own thing. Each member of this band is very talented in their own right and the combinations they make are unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. There is a very powerful message behind their lyrics. The trumpet is so crisp and every note is played without falter. The trombone floated through like a raft on the bars. The keyboard adds necessary texture to the music. The guitar and bass hold it together and make it rock. All conducted by the drums which set the perfect pace and rhythm for the band.

The final act was Show Me Island. The Mario Kart theme played and they entered through the back dressed as the characters circling around unleashing a prize box full of candy and bananas. Show Me Island put on a top-notch show. The band has such amazing stage presence and passion. They kept the audience engaged for the entire runtime. The drums have such a nice sharp sound, perfect bass lines, stunning guitar, the lead singer has breathtaking vocals, and the horn section adds beautiful melody. If I could describe this band in three words they would be: see, hear and feel.

I supremely enjoyed this show. It charged me up and I’m very glad that I got to enjoy it. I hope that Skalloween will continue to bring joy to our city for years to come. Though the bands change every year the energy never dies.

 

Click Through this Gallery to see Photos from Skalloween!

  • Kilby Court

    Street Art at Kilby Court

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    Street art at Kilby Court

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    K-Ute Sticker on a bench at Kilby Court

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    Statue at Kilby Court

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    March Sign at Kilby Court

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    Costume At Skaloween

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    Costume at Skaloween

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    Scheming Thieves at Skaloween

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    Scheming Thieves at Skaloween

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    Scheming Thieves at Skaloween

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    Scheming Thieves at Skaloween

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    The Gringos at Skalloween

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    The Gringos at Skalloween

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    The Gringos at Skalloween

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    The Gringos at Skalloween

  • The Anchorage

    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

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    The Anchorage during Skalloween

  • Show Me Island

    Show Me Island at Skaloween

  • Show Me Island

    Show Me Island During Skaloween

  • Show Me Island

    Show Me Island At Skaloween

  • Show Me Island

    Show Me Island At Skaloween

  • Show Me Island

    Show Me Island At Skaloween

LINKS:

*The Anchorage- Spotify

*Show Me Island- Spotify

*David S. Pumpkins

*Mr. Meseeks 

The Amulet: New Album from Circa Survive

The sixth studio album from Circa Survive is upon us, and since its recent release, my love for them has been revived! They’ve always strived to be viewed as more than an era-defined band that blows out the same catchy guitar riffs and for years. They want to embody more artistry in their music- To exist in their space as an evolving expression of art.

But, that’s not to say that they don’t have songs that have been replayed repeatedly, in fact, they have plenty of songs that live in their fans hearts. Songs in which the band is somewhat obligated to play on every tour in respect for their loyal following who hold these certain songs close to their heart as cherished symbols that affected their lives and personal growth at some point in their coming of age. However, these same fans have also completely embraced their art form as growing and changing expression.

Circa Survive fans are loyal and in-tune, which is good. Because they’re certainly a talented band that deserves such devotion to their art. But, there is something I love about Circa Survive, and to me, it’s not readily available in everything they’ve put out.

With that said, the new album has once again been nuanced with their signature ethereal sound, but this time it also incorporates different elements reminiscent of their first album Juterna, which has surprisingly piqued my interest.

The new album Amulet is a dream filled with prolific lines and a beautiful juxtaposition of hard and soft. The drums and guitars produce a more complex sound than prior work and Greene’s vocals ebb and flow from delicate to growling screams, these refreshing elements combine to tell an emotional story that’s easy to get lost in a surreal daydream up until the very last track.

Beyond my observations regarding the refreshing newness of the album, Anthony Green himself has spoken on how he feels about the band making new music. – “Some of these songs are so f–king fun to play live, and I really look forward to getting to play these songs. That’s what excites me. That’s not to say I don’t feel similarly about the older material, or that I am not grateful for how that material has helped us, but it’s just like – when we play that stuff it’s the same as it has always been. But this material is new, and the connection I feel to it is exciting and fresh”

Green’s own views on his music are infectious and perfectly relates to how I feel about the new album. I like the old stuff, but it’s exciting to experience them once again put effort into tweaking their sound for a different vibe. Their excitement is shining through on every track and reaching me with a renewed sense of meaning and it’s a sound I can’t get enough of.

Album Review: Science Fiction by Brand New

As a long time fan of the rock/emo band, Brand New, I was more than ecstatic to find out about the release of their fifth (and most likely final) album, Science Fiction. Even though Brand New released a few singles before the official release of Science Fiction, it would be the band’s first new album in 8 years since Daisy, which was released in 2009.

As Brand New is known for, there was little marketing or press before Science Fiction’s release date, which definitely caught a lot of us off-guard when the album finally came out. But even with their minimalistic approach to marketing, they still managed to reach #1 on Top Album Sales for the week of September 9, 2017 on billboard.com

So, without further ado, here is my track-by-track review of some of my favorite songs from the poignant and solemn, Science Fiction.

1) Lit Me Up 

The song starts off with an eerie vintage recording of a therapy session where a woman retells a dream. It then fades into a minimal instrumental that beautifully highlight’s Jesse Lacey’s vocals and lyrics. Although many of the tracks on this album are vague in their meaning, “Lit Me Up” arguably has a theme of awakening.

To me, “Lit Me Up” tells the story of someone who has become numb to themselves and the world around them, until some sort of catalyst awakens them and reignites their passion for life, or presumably anything else they’ve become dull to.

“Lit Me Up” is a perfect entrance to the album; it sets the tone and beautifully leads into the next track.

2) Can’t Get It Out

“Can’t Get It Out” begins with crisp guitar strums and a more high-paced rhythm, but it’s certainly not more uplifting in terms of lyrical content. Ironically, that seems to be the message of the song.

There’s speculation that the song is about Lacey’s own musical history. Many of his songs aren’t considered to be happy or positive by listeners. And with the lyrics “I’ve got a positive message, sometimes I can’t get it out,” it seems that Lacey (or the song’s subject) struggles with an internal conflict of not being able to effectively communicate their true intentions or emotions.

3) Waste

Moody, heavy, and low can best describe the album’s third track, “Waste.” While it’s not my favorite song off the record, it definitely serves a purpose. It’s almost a paperweight or anchor in between the rock and roll style of “Can’t Get It Out,” and the light and dreamy aura of “Could Never Be Heaven.”

The lyrics are about self-destruction, being at your lowest point, and trying to piece yourself back together again. Lacey sings “And maybe one day, you’ll find your way, to climb on up out of your grave, with the bits of you you managed to save…”

4) Could Never Be Heaven

This might be one of my favorite songs from Science Fiction. It’s melodic, airy, and heavenly to listen to. However, there’s something compelling about Lacey’s voice and the warm harmonies in the song that grips the listener.

“Could Never Be Heaven” is also one of the more difficult songs to decode lyrically. While I’m not certain of what the song is about, there are strong motifs of death, heaven, water, religion, and love.

There’s also a strange vintage recording at the end of the song that discusses what it means to be truly authentic in your individuality, or if the act of trying to be an individual hinders that authenticity. It’s hard to say if this excerpt is connected to “Could Never Be Heaven,” but it sure does add an obscure and thought-provoking impact on the song.

5) Same Logic / Teeth

“Same Logic / Teeth” brings back the loud and emotional side that Brand New is typically known for. The song discusses self-destruction, guilt, self-loathing, and manipulation. Even though the topic’s dark, there’s something in the song that resonates with all of us to some extent.

6) 137

Instrumentally, “137” isn’t very exciting at the beginning. However, the sparse sounds emphasize the lyrics, which are the primary focus of the song. “137” seems to be a portrayal of nuclear war with the lyrics of the first chorus being: “Let’s all go play Nagasaki, we can all get vaporized, hold my hand let’s turn to ash, I’ll see you on the other side.”  

The song also ends with a loud cacophony of sounds which is presumably an audio metaphor for the chaos and distress of a nuclear disaster.

(137 is assumed to be a reference to the radioactive isotope Caesium-137)

 

7) Out of Mana

“Out of Mana” was the first song I heard from Science Fiction, and it definitely ties the most into the album’s title. The guitars on this track are immediately distorted and heavy. This, combined with the catchy chorus and unconventional lyrics had me replaying this song for days.

“Out of Mana” heavily references technology and video games in the lyrics and title. While this might just be the band having fun with obscure topics, I think there might be a deeper meaning that connects overcoming challenges digitally with overcoming challenges in real life. Either way, the song is still a thrill to listen to.

11) 451

3 second into “451” and you’ll surely be nodding your head and tapping your toes along with it. The song is rhythmic, up-beat, and intense. “451”, along with “Could Never Be Heaven” are most likely my top 2 favorites of the album. It’s a perfect song to play in the car with sunglasses on and the windows rolled down.

However, after scouring my mind and the internet, there doesn’t seem to be any clear answer to what the song means. The lyrics “A million suns won’t fill you up if you can’t see the wine flowing over your cup.” discusses being unsatisfied with more than enough, and the title “451” is assumed to be a reference to  Ray Bradbury’s novel Fareinheight 451.

 

 

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.

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

 

 

Album Review – “Abysmal Thoughts” by The Drums

The Drums have truly created an original universe. A commitment to listening to one of their albums is a journey into that universe. Imagine it is July 17th 1955. Disneyland is having its opening day and you are lucky enough to get tickets to this grand opening. A magnificent day in the southern California sunshine and breeze. The park is filled with and air of exuberant adventure and futuristic stimulation. You spend the first half of the day racing from attraction to amusement with a stick of cotton candy in hand. Your beige department store cardigan blows in the wind, but your slicked back hair stays steadfast with the power of pomade. Suddenly, out of nowhere, you see your crush and your heart drops as they are holding hands with another young thrill-seeker. You drop your cotton candy as the lights and sounds of twilight Disneyland come into fold. Feelings swirl your brain into a state of bittersweet entropy as fireworks and parades ensue. You spend the rest of the night in the park searching for meaning with a newfound friend who gives you a spark of hope once again. This is a glimpse into the universe created by the music of The Drums.

The Drums have always had some version of a full live band that appears on their tours and in their videos. But the actual band itself was always the work of two individuals, Jacob Graham and Jonny Pierce. This album sets itself apart from the previous three LP’s because it’s the first one that was written completely by Jonny Pierce. Jacob recently left the group for other artistic pursuits. However, Pierce has really pulled through on this now solo endeavor.

Many reviewers have pointed out that this record Abysmal Thoughts is a return to form that hearkens back to their self-titled album. I would agree that there is definitely a connection there to The Drums’ earlier work. The huge and dark synthesizers of their last album Encyclopedia are not quite as present in this piece. However, I do not completely agree with it being a simple retrograde to their first record. This album has matured that sound. Abysmal Thoughts feels like a more experienced work of art that yearns for second chances. The hook in the single “Blood Under My Belt” is a perfect example of that. Pierce exclaims, “I know I said change, but please don’t change. I know I said do it, but don’t do it.” In fact “rip it up and start again” also feels like a theme woven into this record.

Pierce seems to be acknowledging the fact that he is no longer the younger man he was 10 years ago when The Drums began. He went through a break up with his husband recently and there is no hiding that this record is that reflection. It makes sense that an experience like that would bring forward memories of moments from his past that forged his identity. For example, he explores a previous time in his youth where his father rejected him in the track “Head of The Horse”.

Abysmal Thoughts is a fantastic chapter in the work of this group. The album perfectly furthers The Drums brand of innocence, reflection, and tragedy through the study of minimal sunny melancholy pop anthems. The Drums is a project that continues to give all and hold nothing back, a sure project worth investing in.

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Jonny Pierce of The Drums