Crucial Quest: Day 2

The K-UTE writing staff ventures to this year’s 7th annual Crucial Fest in a quest to discover new artists and experience a festival like no other in downtown SLC.

Morgan C.

There’s a certain pride one feels whilst taking part in a local made event such as Crucialfest. This Utah created and sustained event does nothing short of give back to everyone involved. With a killer line-up of local and touring bands, Crucialfest 7 has arrived once again to give Salt Lake’s people a loud and lively week of musical chaos and energized performances to look forward to.

That being said, the week is an exciting one with several after dark shows kicking off the crucial-week at participating venues Metro Music Hall and Urban Lounge (which happen to be just a couple of favorite local venues in the SLC music scene) and the main two-day event taking place at the Gateway.  The second day into the main event I was able to catch a couple of shows earlier in the day, including, The Flatliners, a punk band straight from the Ontario Canada ska/punk scene with catchy melodies carrying classic punk sound construction and gritty yells alternating simple chord progression.

But, ultimately my Crucial quest led me back to the outdoor setup later in the evening, and as I approached the Slug stage, Pinback was beginning to set up their equipment. Perfect, since they were on the agenda to see for the evening.

I’ve met quite a few ‘Pinnies’ as I like to call them- Long-time fans of Pinback. People who get it, people who pick-up the musical messages the band is putting down. Because of these encounters, I was pleased to check out the group first hand myself. Not being a prior fan, the first thing I noticed was how there was two guitarist taking main stage, and how they appeared to be playing the same chords in the same pattern at the same time. However, I then heard the combined vocals of lead and co-lead singers, Rob Crow and Zach Smith, in which I began to see the effective use of two leads. The gentle voice of Rob Crow breathed somewhat meaningful lyrics over-energized instrumentals, while the vibrating tones of duel vocals danced on the jangly combination of drums and strings creating a hypnotic harmony which contributed to the continuous flow of melody, and I can see why so many ‘Pinnies’ give praise to this feel-good band.

Next up was Built to Spill a group from our neighbors in Boise. They hardly need an introduction considering they’ve been playing since the early 90’s with a fan base that has been listening just as long. Now, that’s not to say that they aren’t capturing the attention of new fans. As the instrument-driven band began to play it was apparent they were pulling the biggest crowd i’d seen in hours. Guitar riffs soared through the air piercing our ears with vibrant sound waves that quivered over steady basslines and drums, and the understated vocals echoed along giving a vintage feel reminiscent of the good vibes at Woodstock.

The last performance of the night was by headliner group the Growlers, and the Cali grown 7-piece group did not disappoint. The entire performance oozed a groovy aesthetic with the lead singer wearing a painfully cool printed collar shirt strutting around purring catchy lyrics tied to the string of wailing sounds being emitted by the whole lot of garage-rock dudes.

The vocals alone lived up to the band’s name as pithy one-liners like “drinking the juice” and “If your heart thinks I’m a crock of shit, then I’ll follow it” were growled towards the audience. The unrefined vocals and sounds of multiple instruments produced a fun raw sound akin to other popular garage rock groups such as the Hives and Hot Hot Heat for an exhilarating performance that acted as a bid goodbye to the super fun fest. Till next year!

 

Morgan P.

Not to be cheesy or anything, but this fest is crucial for our salty city. This was the seventh Crucial Fest and first one to be so large. SLC is too often overlooked as a music hub but in recent years there has been more attention directed here and it’s events like this that makes that happen.

Rolling up to The Gateway later in the day felt so comfortable and nostalgic, sending me back a few years to when I would take Trax down with a friend just to window shop and hang out in the city. It’s really cool to see how the mall has changed over the years although it is bittersweet to see the shops that have gone. However, the unique use of space for music and community events is a novel idea that I hope continues in the future.

After a spontaneous trip to Wyoming, I, unfortunately, missed a few of the opening bands but after being at the venue all day on Saturday, I couldn’t really feel too bad. The first item of business: finding a spot to set up camp so the K-UTE crew and company would have a place to hang out in between sets. We found two chairs on the turf between the Rye and Graywhale tents and never had less than three people sitting together enjoying the late summer day and stellar music.

The Flatliners were the first band on when I got there and although I’d never listened to them before, but their old school style punk rock sound made my inner riot grrrl way too happy.

POS was the next artist up and I wasn’t particularly interested in this performance until I saw the huge crowd that had gathered but were facing away from the stage. It took me a second to realize Stefon Alexander was standing on the stairs next to the SLUG Stage. I wandered over to see what was up just in time for him to be in the center of the crowd absolutely commandeering the energy. Everyone watching was so intently INTO the show that even people who probably wouldn’t have normally come over were expanding the crowd even further.

The indie rock vibes that seemed to dominate the lineup continued when Minus The Bear took the stage. For me, this performance wasn’t as much about seeing the band as it was hearing the music exist as background sound while walking through all different groups of people, checking out the art gallery, and relaxing under the trees. I was quite pleased with the mix of songs they chose to play what with their newest album, VOIDS, having come out in March.

As far as the second day goes, Built To Spill is who I was looking forward to most. Carry The Zero had come up on my Spotify discover playlist a few weeks prior and quickly found its way onto frequent rotation within my own playlists. I’ll admit that I don’t have any sort of vast knowledge on the rest of their songs but that didn’t make seeing them live any less special. Contrary to the popular belief that you have to know every word and riff to every song by a band before the band even knows they’re a band — you don’t. It is possible to like a band even if you only know one song; who would’ve guessed?! After all, there is simply too much music in the world to go that in depth with every artist.

Finally, headliners, The Growlers took the main stage and immediately began belting out their signature sound of beach goth vibes. Having grown in popularity at an immense pace over the last decade, The Growlers showed their finesse. The band shifted between songs from their discography with personal favorites “Chinese Fountain” and “Someday” receiving the love treatment. The crowd was going wild for it. Most Growler songs keep it poppy within the requisite three to four-minute song length, but on stage, the band took each song into the stratosphere, stretching out the catch guitar riffs and general fun for much longer. Fantastic renditions permeated the end of the night. Because now Crucial Fest was completed. A fabulous four days of music and energy. Seeing the festival growing was a spectacle in of itself and I can’t wait to see what happens next year!

Crucial Quest: Day 1

The K-UTE writing staff ventures to this year’s 7th annual Crucial Fest in a quest to discover new artists and experience a festival like no other in downtown SLC.

Sarah

After waiting months in anticipation, the first days of Crucialfest 7 were finally upon me, and I had no idea what to expect. First of all, I had never been to any of the previous Crucialfest shows, nor had I been to any “festival” style concert before. However, after seeing the setlist for Crucialfest 7, I couldn’t wait to go.

Upon entering, the band SALES was already performing. Their music was simple and minimalistic with soft guitar rhythms and drums. They also took a minimal approach to their live show; wearing casual outfits and rarely moving around the stage. While I’m typically a fan of theatrical and over-the-top concerts, I enjoyed how SALES let the music speak for itself. The band’s lead, Lauren Morgan, had a uniquely high pitched and nasal-y voice that contrasted beautifully with the toned-down instrumental. While I was a DJ a K-UTE, I became a fan of their two songs “Chinese New Year” and “Renee.” If you’re a fan of dreamy indie-pop, they’re definitely worth a listen.

After their set, I thumbed through some records at the Greywhale Entertainment booth and made my way into a large gallery (presumably an emptied out shopping area). There, the local band The Boys Ranch was playing a set. I had seen them at previous shows, but never with their full band before. They played upbeat surf rock tunes and bounced around the stage in matching striped shirts. The Boys Ranch had charisma and confidence. The audience loved their energy, and so did I.

As I exited back into the main stage area, the band Baroness was playing. I had never heard their music before, but watching them perform was quite the show. The band’s lead, John Baizley, had a booming and full voice that soared over the heavy/progressive rock instrumental. The music was high-intensity and electric. I also noticed my eyes being continually drawn to one of the guitarists who played with such an intense emotion and passion. I definitely have an appreciation for bands who play with all of their heart; it’s a hard thing to do, but it makes the music all the more special and personal.

Finally, after Baroness’s set, the audience swarmed back over the main stage. The energy hummed in anticipation as an introduction track played for STRFKR’s entrance. Even though I had listened to STRFKR multiple times before, I had no idea what to expect from them in terms of a live show. Whatever I had in mind, however, was completely wrong.

Fog that was pooled at the surface of the stage was immediately dispersed by the entrance of a crowd of men wearing full astronaut suits. I immediately knew that I was in for a show. The lead singer, Joshua Hodges, entered in a bobbed pink wig, sunglasses, and a dress. When I said that I was a fan of theatrical concerts, this was what I meant. STRFKR’s music is heavily electronic, which paired perfectly with the intense visuals. At one point, one of the “astronauts” flung himself into the sea of hands and started crowd-surfing; the audience was going wild.

I had no idea what to expect when I signed up to go to Crucialfest, but one thing’s for sure, I’ll definitely be going again next year.

 

Martyn

Two o’clock in the afternoon and rushing through downtown Salt Lake City on my way to the 7th annual Crucialfest was an apt way to arrive early in the day. For those who have never seen the mostly dilapidated Gateway Mall on Rio Grande street, the empty storefronts contrast against the finely manicured grass and comfortable sitting area. But for Crucialfest, the circularly fashioned mall was alive with two massive stages facing each other from either side, vendors, records for sale, a wonderful circus of noise and sights. We walked down the stairs with an aerial view of the festivities while King Dude played from afar.

First up on the local stage was the (always-wanting-to-see-them) band, Indigo Plateau. A personal favorite of the Salt Lake scene, they opened the Exigent Stage (and the local side of Crucialfest). Playing original songs off of their solid EP The Heights along with some new ones, their passion and immaculate playing ability sounded rad through the converted Forever21 qua concert venue (which, aesthetically, was quite pleasing although the acoustics were less than tight).

After a windfall of music, eating, and constantly trying to find a place to sit, was the band Sales. Hailing from Florida, they have been to Salt Lake a few times. Their dreamy vocals and guitar playing played to a calmer atmosphere than the previous metal bands. The beauty of Crucialfest being a bevy of musical variety allowed one to move from the outside heat and main stage bands to the local stage inside.

After a half hour of Sales, I made my way to The Boys Ranch gearing up for their unique brand of surf-rock. Again, these local heroes proved the significance of Cruicalfest as a way for people who may not experience the immaculate surf-rock to see something new. The Boys Ranch got the crowd into a frenzy of dancing and good beach vibes (being that this is a landlocked state, the irony is not lost). Surf rhythms and guitar riffs straight from the oceanside came through the venue. This is the type of band that feeds energy into a crowd and should always be a priority show when available.

Minutes after the local stage set ended, Baroness began playing outdoors on one of the main stages. A metal band incorporating some nu-metal influences. they hammered out their set list in a fury under the setting sun. The mix and mingle of the crowd between those now arriving for STRFKR and those here for Baroness were a gorgeous sight to behold. As the headliner from the metal influence of Crucialfests past. Baroness was well enjoyed and sounded great outside.

Some more minutes after Baroness had finished, the main stage was again lit in a flurry of anticipation as the crowd shifted eyes towards the approaching STRFKR. Opening with a quiet monologue piece set to electronic rhythms, the band came out in matching NASA astronaut suits, the band and dancers all synchronizing to lead singer Josh Hodge’s beautiful dress and pink wig.

The band was essentially throwing passion into the audience even as an astronaut went crowd surfing on top of a large, inflatable white duck. STRFKR’s electronic sensibilities were heightened by the live performance where each song could cascade into lengthier versions of themselves. “German Love”, “In the End”, and “Open Your Eyes” each sounded like a new song. With the light show streaming from the background and the heavy draw of synths, guitars, and drums, STRFKR played an amazing outdoor set to end the night on. Better still, there was an entire day to go.