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

 

 

“Baby Driver” Blends Music & Movie in Perfect Unison

Baby Driver, the latest from writer/director Edgar Wright, is about to further fuel Wright’s cinematic position as one of the most daring auteurs this side of the arthouse. Although Wright’s name may not be household, his films certainly are. From Shaun of the Dead to Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Wright has been crafting the most loved of so-called “cult classics” for years now. Baby Driver is not Wright’s first genre-bending work, but the film is the first to withhold comedy from being the driving force. Instead, Wright allows the harmonious relationship between music and action to cultivate a glorious spectacle of summer blockbuster.

Ansel Elgort stars as Baby, a getaway driver with tinnitus who constantly listens to music on his vintage (they’re not that old) iPods. This opens the gateway for the fusion of music and film Wright is so known for. As Baby goes from heist to heist, meeting criminals played by Jon Hamm, Jaimie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, and Eiza González, he listens to a wildly fitting selection of songs from a bevy of decades to accompany his driving prowess. Added in to the playlist is Lily James’ Debora as the love interest to Baby and his main cause for action. Through the spectacular cinematography and soundtrack, Baby speeds through a number of automobiles, turning Atlanta into a demolition derby.

Edgar Wright continuously brings his own overt-style to each film (seems fitting he didn’t direct Ant-Man) with quick editing, wry humor, and of course, music and action in sync. For Baby Driver, its as if Wright has turned his own love for music into a narrative force. Each song for the soundtrack isn’t there for just background noise and helps add to the already much heightened reality. The fantasy of living out a personal movie through personal soundtracks is fulfilled by Baby’s constant musical choices of BlurDavid McCallumThe Commodores, among plenty of others playing out through his day. From the long tracking shot in the beginning set to Bob & Earle’s “Harlem Shuffle” showing Baby interacting with his world, the importance of a soundtrack is never diminished. A finale set to an apt Queen song is one of those perfect movie moments. More than a car/heist/action movie, Baby Driver is a music lover’s fantasy, a “what if” all those songs rolling around your head were helping make the movie of your life.

The fantasy of stylish getaway driving seen in other films like Drive, The Driver, and The Getaway have by tradition always favored the neo-noir soaked approach to cool. Wright’s wonderful eye for color leaves out the chiaroscuro and neon-stylings for a palette of primary colors and bright Atlanta scenery. Narratively, Wright keeps the archetypical silent driver through Baby (along with the classic villainous criminal tropes) and the “damsel-in-distress” character as Debora. Wright gives Debora enough nuance to flourish as a character, but never lets her break the male-dominated ideas of the car-chase-movie. The romance between her and Baby more highlights Baby’s own motivation than it does Debora’s character.

Baby Driver will be accepted into the Wright canon as more midnight movie watching and rewatching become accessible. Wright’s fans will have further reason to adulate him while his detractors may see this as, at least, a film demonstrating growth. The film is a towering love letter to music and action films and exemplifies Wright’s genre-bending intelligence. The kinetic editing and pacing only allow the energy of the film to flourish rather than hindering the action under a miasma of quick-cuts. The sheer coolness of style also breathes new life into the genre, with Kevin Spacey coming out as the primary scene-stealer, jazzed up on his own criminal world.

Wright’s ability to cross genres and present fresh takes on old stories is so well received because he crafts fun movies. There’s always drama present in his works, but he doesn’t let that slow down the massive appeal of action and comedy and character. Baby Driver continues this tradition but within a more dramatic vein. Its an action movie for music lovers, and vice versa. A homage without being cliché. A whirlwind of fantasy without being totally unrealistic.

Grade: A

 

Album Review – “Bleak Plaza”, A Noisy Burst of a Joy Ride

Bleak Plaza by Bleak Plaza

Hitting play on Bleak Plaza was a good idea. The Denver based group’s debut album kicks off with an immediate hit of energy on the title track “Fire in The Olfactory”, and it doesn’t soon let back on the acceleration. Track 3 “Say It and It Dies” brings a satisfying change of pace via catchy driving beats that transition from garage-y slacker rock to swirling kraut rock. These moods are complimented by clever motifs in the lyrics such as “when we’re dancing in the dark do you really care what the lyrics are…”.

Furthermore, this album will never bore you with stale grooves and patterns. Track 4 “Some Things Happen” starts off with a funky no-wave-esque groove that drops into a agony-tinted heart pounding finish to the song.

The second half of Bleak Plaza continues with the same pattern of passionate noisy pop songs with dynamic genres layered on top. The tight driving feeling of “Night of Vampires” is reminiscent of “Hard to Explain” by The Strokes. It brings a similar lovely feeling of driving in a car in a city filled with neon lights.

The final song “Until I Untie” quickly became my favorite track off the record (because I’m an absolute sucker for any simple powerful pop song such as this). In addition, the guitar tones are on point with perfect EQ, drive, and modulations. This song will make you feel as scared as you did the first time you felt that classic teenage reflex of pure romance squeeze your chest.

Bleak Plaza wastes no time in fulfilling its purpose of delivering an eclectic stream of toe tapping lo-fi power pop that will make you feel like you’re falling backwards into a swimming pool filled with nostalgic goop. I sincerely hope that this Denver based group will come play in SLC soon. This one will definitely be in heavy rotation in the rock/indie and Midday Mix shows right here on K-UTE Radio.

Like them on Facebook here: Bleak Plaza

 

Album Review – “Revenge” by XXXtentacion

Travis Scott, Lil Pump, Smokepurrp, Robb Banks, Ugly God. Among others, they are driving a new wave of hip-hop which is characterized by lo-fi bass with aggressive lyrics and vocals. One of the leading names in this sub-genre of lo-fi is rapper XXXTENTACION.

Hailing from Broward County, Florida, he shook the game with his hit single “Look at Me.” For that song, many tried to pigeonhole XXX into being nothing but a lo-fi bass artist. His new release, Revenge, demonstrates otherwise. Revenge features many tracks that were previously released through his SoundCloud, but are now compiled into a commercial release. Songs such as “King” and “Looking for a Star” show quite a contrast to the style we’ve come to expect. Yet, “YuNg BrAtZ” and “RIP Roach” still show that xxx isn’t afraid to go hard.

XXXTENTACION opens Revenge with “Look at Me”, which, to fans, is to be expected. It’s his leading single and works well as an attention-grabber, but also serves as a way to show contrast to the following tracks. The first of which, entitled “I Don’t Wanna Do This Anymore,” immediately shows this opposing sound. It’s still lo-fi, but the autotune shows XXX’s softer side presented in the form of a hybrid garage-style produced 808’s & Heartbreak and cloud rap.

Continuing to throw the listener through hoops, “Looking for a Star” features a distinctly dark yet tropical back beat produced by none other than EDM megastar, Diplo. Auto-tuned as well, but not over the top and cheesy, his vocals fit well with the song and its Jamaican-ish vibes. 

Moving on, we continue with this leaned out, almost lethargic feeling with “Valentine.” XXX almost seems to be taking notes from early Travis Scott or Yung Lean as he channels his inner sadboy and questions whether or not to continue down his current path, or stop everything and become a better person. The answer presents itself quite clearly on “King,” which starts out very similar to the previous track, dark and airy. This, however, does not last. In almost a hat tip towards his punk rock and heavy metal roots, distorted guitars and thundering drums accompany his screams of “HEY! YOU!” coming seemingly out of nowhere and marks a change in tone for the rest of the album.

However, the next track “Slipknot” continues the running theme of XXX wanting to show his audience that he isn’t a one-trick pony when it comes to rapping. Undoubtedly the most lyrical track on the album, it’s definitely his best attempt towards creating an old school hip-hop sound with piano runs and hooks similar to that of UGK and Outkast. XXX is out to prove that he can not only sing and scream, but also spit bars. It’s also the first track on the album to feature other artists, Kin$oul (who’s featured on the track) and Killstation (who sings the end hook).

Revenge returns to the sound of “Look at Me” with “YuNg BrAtZ,” and marks the return of the XXX we’ve come to know and love; Loud, aggressive, and ignorant toward the feelings of others to ultimately bring the album full circle. Not much can be said other than it’s definitely a crowd pleaser meant to whip the audience into a blood-thirsty frenzy.

The last track, “R.I.P Roach,” features fellow Members Only founder $ki Mask, The Slump God who more or less raps over the beat, as opposed to XXXTENTACION‘s hype shouts. Like “Look at Me” and the previous track, it carries XXX’s signature sound of distorted bass and screamed vocals. It also holds our objectively favorite line on the album with XXX essentially calling his haters “rice krispies.”

From top to bottom, Revenge proves that XXXTENTACION is not a one trick pony. As his first major commercial project, the album sets out to demonstrate his versatility and diversity. Only time will tell which direction he will continue, but as far as our opinion goes, we see X continuing his reign of bending genres, generating insane amounts of hype, and blowing out subwoofers worldwide.

The Rostrum: “Reciprocity,” Filtering through the Noise, Part E

"Reciprocity," Filtering through the noise, Part E

Larger Beginnings 

Part E: Larger Beginnings

Where will Snapchat take the future of digital media culture? What are societal benefits of targeted engagement? How are digital networks changing life offline?
Texas-born, Avery Holton is a voice for “connectivity” at the U. His award-winning studies have recently identified a gap between personal identity and journalistic enterprise. Our conversation picks up at LNCO 2149, where personal identity, relationships, and media culture come together around the challenges of social media.

“Reciprocity,” Filtering Through the Noise, Part C

Language & Communication (LNCO)Language & Communication (LNCO), lies at the center of the University of Utah campus

Part C

How will connectivity improve thoughtful engagement? What’s the main motivator for social media? Can it improve democratic society?
Texas-born, Avery Holton is a voice for “connectivity” at the U. His award-winning studies recently identified a gap between personal identity and journalistic enterprise. Our conversation picks up at LNCO 2149, where personal identity, relationships, and culture come together around the challenges of social media.

“Reciprocity,” Filtering Through the Noise, Part B

Avery Holton, a man of communication on campus

Avery Holton, Assistant Professor, Communication, University of Utah

Part B

What do you want people to think of you online? How do you identify with others? What is ambient transparency?
Texas-born, Avery Holton is a voice for “connectivity” at the U. His award-winning studies recently identified a gap between personal identity and journalistic enterprise. Our conversation picks up at LNCO 2149, where personal identity, relationships, and culture come together around the challenges of social media.

“Reciprocity,” Filtering Through the Noise, Part A

 Avery Holton, Assistant Professor, Communication, University of Utah.

Avery Holton, Assistant Professor, Communication, University of Utah

Part A

Figuring out the positives in content, technology, networks and community. How do we truly connect people through all the noise?
Texas-born, Avery Holton is a voice for “connectivity” at the U. His award-winning studies recently identified a gap between personal identity and journalistic enterprise. Our conversation picks up at LNCO 2149, where personal identity, relationships, and culture come together around the challenges of social media.