Arcade Fire live from Las Vegas

 

Arcade Fire sets the stage big when they perform live. When I saw them in Las Vegas, they had a square stage designed like a boxing ring. The 9 musicians on stage play somewhere between 20 and 30 instruments.  Just 3 weeks after the worst mass-shooting in US history, the Canadian indie-rock band fearlessly took the stage at Mandalay Bay. Lead singer Win Butler offered his condolences to the victims of the horrible attack followed by “f*ck being afraid”.

Arcade Fire neither lacks style nor confidence. In a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune, Butler said, “I feel like we’re one of the best rock bands on Earth now.” The lead singer has also been quoted saying they are one of the best performing bands of all time. Before you dismiss them as crazy, go to one of their shows and then decide.

The squareness of stage meant no front. Arcade Fire was constantly moving around rotating from side to side. They had enough members so that all sides of the stage were always filled. The beauty of this design was it allowed more people to get close to the stage. The constant rotation gave the concertgoers a chance to meet each individual musician, instead of staring at one the entire night.

Opening act Angel Olsen, didn’t have the band members or preparation to fill the stage in the same way. They stuck to one side, and unfortunately my friends and I were on the wrong side. Frustration arose as we could just see their backs. They sounded hollow, as if they weren’t able to fill the entirety of the arena. Had I seen the indie-folk artist in a cozier venue and actually been able to see them, I might have enjoyed the show.

The stage wasn’t the only boxing themed part of Arcade Fire’s performance. As they were entering, an announcer on the overhead speaker stated each musician’s “boxing” record. They walked through the crowd with their pump-up music blaring (“Everything_Now (continued)”), then climbed through the ropes and started into “Everything Now”.

The next hour and a half were awesome. It is pretty obvious when bands love performing. Their passion radiates through the crowd who in turn loves watching them perform. Smiles were visible on the faces of band members Richard Reed Perry and Regine Chassagne. Will Butler is one of the most animated performers I have ever seen. Whether he is banging on a drum or jamming on synth, just watching him will bring you pure joy.

Arcade Fire’s sound doesn’t miss a beat transitioning from recordings to live shows. Balancing that many different musicians and instruments can be difficult but they do it with ease. The music is extremely powerful yet so fine-tuned you can still hear each individual instrument.

The disco balls and strobe lights are programmed beautifully so that the lights portray what the music is playing. There are moments of complete darkness and others when fog is so thick they disappear from view. Light and dark are themes that Arcade Fire loves exploring in their music and they bring that into their live shows.

Their setlist was spread-out across their 5 albums playing at least 3 songs from each. They finish with fan favorite “Wake Up”, and leave the stage with the crowd still singing the chorus. Many concertgoers continued singing as they flooded into the casino. I don’t have the expertise to say if Arcade Fire is one of the greatest performing bands of all time, but it was one of my favorite shows I’ve ever been to.

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

  • 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

  • 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 

A Night With The National

Concerts have a way of bringing people together. We all have personal struggles, yet concerts have always been a way for me to forget mine and enjoy a night. Being in an amphitheater, surrounded by 5,000 people; it doesn’t matter if I just failed a test or had a spat with a parent. I’m going to enjoy the show and dance with the person next to me, regardless of if I know you or not.

The National is one of my favorite bands. Their songs speak to me on a personal level. I deeply relate to their lyrics that speak of depression, anxiety, and not fitting in. I recently saw them perform at the Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre in San Diego, making it the third time I’ve seen the indie-rock band from Cincinnati. The venue is in the middle of SDSU’s campus. College students wander around the many restaurants and bars surrounding the school.

Eager anticipation overtakes me as the opening act, Daughter, performs. There is nothing better than seeing your favorite music being performed with people you love. My mom and I are sitting in the third row. She is almost as big of a fan as me. It is fitting to go to the show together as she was the first person to introduce me to The National years ago.

Earlier this year, The National released their 7th studio album Sleep Well Beast.  Their new album is more experimental than their older stuff, but still has a classic National feel. Seeing them perform is a one of a kind experience. Despite their melancholic sound, the 5 band members know how to rock out and put on a hell of a show. Lead singer Matt Berninger ventures into the crowd during “Mr. November”. He often reaches into the crowd and grabs peoples drinks. He chugs half, then showers the concertgoers with the other half.

For certain songs, guitarist Bryce Dessner plays with 2 guitars; 1 around his neck and 1 in his hands. He bangs the hand-held on the ground creating an ominous feedback that echoes throughout the theater. Band member improvise and elongate songs, making 3-minute songs last 7 or 8.

Prior to playing “Fake Empire”, Berninger says that some song’s meanings have slightly changed over the years. “This is one that has,” he says. “Things seem a little less fake now.”

Berninger told a story about a conversation he had with his dad earlier that day. His dad said, “Matt slow down.” “I’m trying to dad, I have to be in San Diego in 2 hours.” His dad then repeated, “Matt slow down.” Berninger tells the audience, “I heard him that time.” I love when musicians are honest with their fans and show that they are people too. Simple stories like these create an intimate connection between the musicians and the crowd.

With close to 20 years’ worth of music, The National has plenty of material to choose from. You’ll never hear them play the same setlist twice. They played “Start a War” for the first time since 2014, numerous songs from Sleep Well Beast, classics such as “Apartment Story” and “Terrible Love”, and some lesser known songs like “Wasp Nest”. They are on stage for a solid 2 hours, playing over 20 songs.

During the show, I remember looking up at the night sky and taking it all in. I had had a bit of a rough week, and it seemed like all the pressures of the world were coming down on me. For a moment, just a moment, I forgot about all of them. Listening to music doesn’t erase my problems. It doesn’t put a roof over my head or buy the groceries. It does, however, make life tolerable. It brings people together and allows them to dance. I’ll always cherish that night in San Diego, with my mom and 5,000 other friends, listening to some of my favorite music in the world.

The Possibilities of Music

Some bands simply love playing music and don’t care about anything else. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is one of those bands. These Aussies are straight-up music-holics. Since their formation in 2010, they have released 11 full-length studio albums that span a variety of genres. Their music is described as psychedelic or progressive rock but is influenced by folk, jazz, and heavy-metal to name a few. Songs incorporate themes and ideas from these extremely different styles pushing the boundaries of music.

I saw them at Metro Music Hall accompanied by Ice Balloons and Tropical Fuck Storm. Ice Balloons did not impress me. They sounded muffled and messy. However, they did leave a lasting impression for one particular reason, their lead singer wore a fly’s head mask. Uniqueness aside, I was not a fan of their music.  Tropical Fuck Storm was less memorable but seemed more put together as a band.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard consists of a herd of members and more instruments than I could count. Their distinct sound is attributed to multiple guitars, synthesizers, harmonicas, a flute, driving bass lines, and two dueling drums. Drummers Eric Moore and Michael Cavanaugh are smack-dab in the middle of the stage battling the entire night. They are the heart and soul of the band whose songs constantly change tempo.

Mixing music genres is not the only way King Gizzard revolutionizes music. For their album, Flying Microtonal Banana, guitarist Stu Mackenzie, Cook Craig, and Joey Walker “modded” guitars adding additional frets.This allowed them to access microtones, semitones, and additional notes impossible on a traditional western guitar. Lead singer Mackenzie had the idea after messing around on a Turkish stringed instrument called a baglama. The result is an easter sounding electric guitar. Creating their own instruments adds to their odd unique sound.

The Melbourne musicians put everything into their performance. They are incredibly energetic and the crowd matches their energy. In all my years going to concerts, I have never seen a wilder crowd. My shoes were completely destroyed in the madness. During the slower parts of songs, concertgoers sway and headbang. When the music gets faster and heavier, mosh pits form in the blink of an eye. The crowd is tightly packed, but the proximity doesn’t stop people from dancing.

King Gizzard’s albums have related songs that blend together and are often broken into multiple parts. Their setlist is programmed in the same manner. They play multiple songs in order or slightly jumbled so that they playing music for 20 or 30 minutes with no breaks. The reoccurrence of melodies and specific lyrics makes you question whether you are still listening to the same song as half an hour ago.

By the time Mackenzie announces their last song, the audience and musicians are beat. They summon enough energy to play a 15-minute version of “Am I In Heaven?”. The crowd cheers for 10 minutes but they don’t get an encore today. After almost 2 hours of constant music, there is nothing left in the tank.

Music truly is limitless. There are innumerable possibilities to be explored and as a society, we have only scratched the surface. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is a band that is pushing the limits of traditional music both in the studio and on the stage.

An Epic Night of Rock and Roll

When I was 9 years old, my dad took me to my very first concert. We saw U2 at the then Delta Center. That show introduced me to a world of live music and changed my life forever. I have now been to hundreds of concerts and it is one of my favorite things to do.

I recently saw U2 in Phoenix, Arizona, making it the 5th time I have seen the rock’n’roll giants perform. U2 is currently touring their album The Joshua Tree for its 30-year anniversary. The Joshua Tree is U2’s most popular and critically acclaimed album, featuring iconic songs “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, “Where the Streets Have No Name”, and “With or Without You”.

This album has sentimental meaning for my dad. He first saw them perform on the original Joshua Tree tour. Going to U2 concerts has become a tradition for the two of us and is a special bond that we share.

Beck opened and put on an excellent show. His hour-long set had a solid mix of old and newer songs. The singer-songwriter was very animated and seemed thrilled to be touring with the likes of Bono and The Edge.

U2’s set list was incredible. They play their songs in chronological order, with a few exceptions. They start with 2 songs from War (1983) and 2 songs from The Unforgettable Fire (1984) before they dive into The Joshua Tree (1987). The Irishmen play the entire 11 song album start to finish before leaving the stage. Their 7-song encore is comprised of songs released after ’87, playing only 2 songs released after 2000, and ending with “One”.

U2 spares no expenses when it comes to their stages. The 50-yard-wide stage sits underneath a massive video screen and hundred-foot-tall Joshua tree. The walk-way and secondary stage is also shaped like a Joshua tree. While they play, images of Joshua Tree National Park and the American South West flash across the screen.

The entire show is very political, as the band comments on the current state of the U.S. Bono says that America has been a second home to him and the band. They condone President Trump showing a video clip mocking a character named Trump who wants to build a wall. Bono voices his disapproval of the end of DACA saying, “this country was built by dreamers, for dreamers”. The project images of Syrian refugee camps, women activists, and the words, “the power of the people is so much greater than the people in power”.

Somethings change and some never do. 30 years ago, the world was entirely different and would be almost unrecognizable now. However, people are still listening to the same music and seeing the same bands perform. U2 is no longer the young rebel rockers they were but still know how to put on a hell of a show. In the end it was, in Bono’s words, “a night we’ll never forget. An epic night of rock and roll.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile To The Surface Tour 2017

Manchester Orchestra is one of those bands that construct each song in such a way that it hits you right in the feels. Much like the band Brand New, their entire aesthetic is one of a melancholy nature, and at times just plain emo. Considering they’ve toured with them several times – it makes sense.

They’ve understandably evolved from the throttling angst of their two earlier albums, I’m like a Virgin Losing Child (2007) and Mean Everything to Nothing (2009). These two albums rivaled every emo band at that time and rightfully staked out their position in the realm of emotionally driven music. Soaring tempos with heavy drums and guitars danced with the crashing emo lyrics that are still hymned along with heightened adoration to this day.

But, that’s not to take any attention away from their new album – A Black Mile To The Surface. This album is right on track in the band’s musical evolution. Most of the tracks aren’t throwing any punches, but instead creating a steady stream of controlled sound rippling around Andy Hull’s signature vocals and seemingly meaningful lyrics. Even though the album as whole lacks the angst of prior work, it fills in the gaps with a mature vibe and thoughtful lyrics that shine against exceptional instrumentals.

While I do enjoy the new album, it inevitably brought me back to those first albums that once provided such a superb emotional outlet in my life that I decided to buy a ticket to see their upcoming show at The Complex. And the performance was everything I could have wanted.

The earlier stuff was played with vigor, forging a brilliant energy amongst the crowd, which made me wish my favorite songs were more than a nostalgic obligation at this point. However, I am aware that it is not necessarily the best perspective to take when you love different eras of band’s work- It’s all good. And the art meant to evolve to better express different times and challenges of existence that people can relate to as their life progresses.

The concert started out in the dark venue with almost hymn-like chanting in a mellow hypnotic trance; The sound began to rise and everyone cheered just to have the tempo drop, which you knew the rocking-out commenced.  

The ambiance was the perfect contrast of dark shadows painted with burning orange and yellow floor spotlights and not one person in the finely tuned post alternative group missed a beat. The soaring guitars meshed together over escalating drums and keyboard, and the ebb and flow of the tempo had every note effortlessly blended together to create a climatic orchestra of sound.

Hull and the backup vocals managed to croon each lyric in a way that appeared profound and soft to the ears. Pair this with the frequent guitar breaks in the stream of instrumental chaos, and you’ve got an amplified rollercoaster effect eliciting a wide range of emotions being emitted from the lush soundscape. The live performance reinstated their reputation to me as an immensely talented group of musicians and as I’d hoped, even inspired me to grow along with the progression of their music.

Phish Dick’s 2017: Nights Two and Three

In what has become a solid yearly tradition, Phish brought three nights of high-energy improvisatory rock and roll to a sold-out Dick’s Sporting Goods Arena (soccer stadium) in Commerce City, Colorado this past Labor Day weekend. I was lucky enough to be in attendance for the Saturday (Night Two) and Sunday (Night Three) shows. Without any shows scheduled for the rest of the year, Phish closed off a historic summer, riding high on the wave of a solid thirteen-night residency at Madison Square Garden in New York City (Baker’s Dozen Run).

One of the most fun aspects of any Phish show is the fact that the musical performance is only one part (albeit a very large one) of the full “experience”.  Upon arriving at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (lovingly referred to as “Phish Dick’s”), phans are met with a very large and accessible Shakedown Street, the open air market that began at the time of the Grateful Dead. Colorful vendors sell food, drinks, artwork, glass, t-shirts, and other less-than-legal items to pre-show partiers in what may be one of the most fun examples of unregulated capitalism.  I was impressed by the size of Dick’s Shakedown, and a walk through is a key part of the Phish show ritual.

Upon entering Dick’s itself, I was surprised by the size of the venue.  Dick’s is certainly no Meadowlands Stadium, but it is definitely larger than a venue such as Madison Square Garden, for example.  With a sold-out crowd, the venue became a cozy sea of bodies very quickly but never felt too uncomfortably tight.  A quick overview of the stage showed that the amazing Madison Square Garden Baker’s Dozen lighting rig was once again being used, with lighting director Chris Kuroda at the helm. (An aside: It is quite unusual for fans of a group to know the name of the lighting director, however, Kuroda’s lighting rig is such an integral part of the live Phish experience that fans have taken to calling him CK5, with ‘5′ designating him as the group’s fifth member.)

On Saturday night, the band came on slightly after 8 pm, launching into the classic “Simple”.  As an opener, “Simple” received a solid jam treatment, stretching out to fourteen minutes before giving way to a dance-party “Martian Monster”. Other Set One highlights included a very tight “Reba”, a rousing “Sand”, and a jammed-out “Wolfman’s Brother” towards the end of the set.  With the amount of jamming and exploration that occurred in Set One, there was a palpable “How can they possibly follow that up?” feeling throughout the crowd.

Overall, Set Two was a pure Saturday-night rock and roll dance party.  While jaded Phish veterans may have been slightly underwhelmed by the lack of deep exploratory jamming, the solid third quarter Fuego, Steam, and Chalkdust Torture section provided the band with a chance to go into full singalong rock-star mode. A fourth quarter “Mike’s Groove” included a beautiful “Winterqueen>What’s the Use?” segue within, before giving way to a blissful “Slave to the Traffic Light” to end the set.  Encores included a fun “The Lizards” and a chaotic “Run Like an Antelope.”

As phans filled the stadium for Sunday night, many gave predictions for what the night would hold. Popular predictions were for a huge “Tweezer” or “Down With Disease” to open Set Two, but what Set One would hold was anyone’s guess.  Set One opened with a novelty “Buffalo Bill” before giving way to a funky-but-brief “Moma Dance”. For me, the real highlight was the second quarter, beginning with “The Wedge”.  “The Wedge” was jammed on nicely, but gave way to an extremely exploratory and somewhat dark “46 Days”.  After settling back down on Earth, guitarist Trey Anastasio led the way into a full-speed-ahead “Bathtub Gin”.  This jam reached an intense peak, where, in a very cliche moment, I completely forgot what song I was listening to before being reminded by the re-appearance of the recognizable “Gin” theme.

Photo by Taylor Hill

Those who put their money and reputation on a huge Set Two opening “Down With Disease” were certainly paid in full. The jam out of this DWD was full Type I guitar-hero, with Trey soloing straight to an early peak before giving way to a dark and ambient section.  Out of this ambiance arose a slow building and intensely evil group jam, which became so full of psychedelic energy that it could best be described as an alien spaceship launch meets a Chernobyl-level reactor failure.  Segueing out of “Disease”, the first notes of “Light” were accompanied by thousands of glow sticks being thrown from the upper seating levels, giving the sense of a glow stick rainstorm, quickly leading the way into a more blissful jam, followed by the inspirational stadium-rock of “Rise”. Other personal Set Two highlights were a fun and adventurous “Piper” and a very tense but exhilarating “Possum”.

I was very pleased with the first encore, “Waste”, as it is one of the few Phish songs whose lyrics are somewhat meaningful to me, and despite being very similar each time, is very uplifting.  The final song of Dick’s 2017 was “First Tube”, giving phans one last chance to dance all of their energy out, and leaving them with the image of guitarist Trey Anastasio, bathed in white light, with guitar held high overhead.

I cannot close out this review without including this personal story though, which I feel is truly representative of what Phish is about.  On Sunday night, I was only able to attend the show alone.  While sitting down to relax before the show, I started chatting with the guy next to me about the run of shows.  He soon introduced me to his crew, a diverse group of experienced phans, many who had met each other through Phish concerts alone, and soon I was part of a larger group, even if only for the show.  During set break though, I went to check my phone, only to be met with a black screen.  Dead phone.  This was definitely a problem for me, as the venue was about 11 miles away from where I was staying in Denver, I was alone, and had been planning to use Uber or Lyft to return after the show.

I mentioned this to Nate, one of the guys in the group that I had been happily pulled into.  He told me not to worry about it at all and to just enjoy the show because his crew would get me home. After the show ended, Nate and his crew told me to come with them, and they grabbed me an Uber back to their place in Denver, where I was able to charge my phone and meet a few more of their friends before making my way back to where I was staying.  I am so thankful to Nate, Matt, Trey, Casey, and all of the other guys and girls in their crew whose names escape me for helping me out despite just meeting me, and I will pass on that good energy for sure.  These are the kind of people that Phish attracts, and I am so glad to be a part of that scene. I encourage anyone who can to attend a Phish show and form their own opinion of “Phans” and the music that unites them.

 

Check out the full Sunday night performance here!

 

Featured image by John Leyba, The Denver Post

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!