Half•Alive The Depot
Reviewed by, Evelyn Salazar
I don’t think I’ll ever have the perfect words to describe how the band Half • Alive makes me feel. I don’t think anyone can truly understand how extraordinary and unpredictable a Half • Alive show really is unless they experience it for themselves. Thankfully for Utah fans, a lot of us got to experience that on Monday night, September 13.
Half • Alive is an indie-pop band from Long Beach, California. The HA boys were back in Salt Lake City for the second time. They kicked off their tour just four days prior, after not playing any live shows since 2019! That’s honestly so crazy to me, especially since I saw them twice in 2019, once in Los Angeles for their opening show and then when they came to Salt Lake. They also did a small acoustic set last time as well at the X Lounge. So technically I’ve seen them three times.
I even got to meet them! It was such an honor to meet them and even have a small Q & A last time. Josh Taylor, Half • Alive’s frontman, is one of my inspirations when it comes to creativity and flow. His writing is inspiring and their music videos are my number one inspiration for things I want to create. They truly are one of my favorite bands so it was so great to see them again for the fourth time!
This time, California remix and downtempo artists, Slenderbodies, had joined the tour. Max Vehuni and Benji Cormack are the masterminds behind Slenderbodies who say they chose the name because their music has a “light and airy feel while also being grounded.” I honestly love that combination and think it fit perfectly. Their presence on stage was very light and mysterious and definitely had the crowd grooving to their music. Their music was smooth and somehow gently swooned over your ears while also getting you and the crowd pumped. I had never heard them before but definitely will be checking them out now.
Their lighting setup was a lot of combos of pinks and blues, which added to that soft yet mysterious display they had going for them. The Depot is one of my all-time favorite venues to photograph at. The level of the stage is perfect and you never feel too far from the stage when in the crowd. The lighting is great and it sounds are awesome in there. Slenderbodies really put SLC in a trance and I’m sure they gained many new fans out of this show!
Half • Alive
As the night went on and the closer to 9:00 PM it got, people left their tables, the bar, and the back of the venue to squeeze together to get as close as they could to the stage. They knew it was time and they were so ready for Half • Alive to come on! The stage lights dimmed and out came the boys, in the dark with only flashlights illuminating part of their faces and bodies. By this time the crowd was screaming in excitement. Behind me I could hear fans against the barricade squealing with joy as they said, “I see them! Oh my god, they’re right there!” Being in the pit brings me a lot of happiness. One of the reasons for sure is interacting with the fans in between sets and seeing the pure excitement and serotonin on their face.
The boys opened up with a BANGER as they started to perform “Tip Toes” an OG’s fan favorite from their first EP in 2017. It’s also a super hard beat song that was the perfect choice to get a crowd hyped and boost the adrenaline! Great opener choice! Now, me being a long-time fan as well made me so excited! I always find it funny when I’m photographing a band I truly love because I’m in that pit, running around, capturing images while simultaneously singing along and getting so hyped! I probably look really silly, but that’s okay! You just can’t resist singing along to your favorite band.
Throughout the first song, the lighting was also very black and white, flashing around which I thought it had the vibe of an epic opening. They immediately followed up with another song from that same EP, a song called “The Fall”. That is another *chefs kiss* absolute hit! In the middle of the song, you see the JA collective boys. Amazing dancers who have formed their place in the band and fan’s hearts, come out with a blank banner. They held it up as Josh spray-painted the words “Love Each Other” on it. He then threw it into the crowd!
It’s little touches like this that really make shows stand out from others and make them more memorable. I appreciate it. It seems as if this is something they’re doing for each of the shows on this tour, but with different messages on each banner in each city, all displaying love, strength, and unity. Can’t wait to see what they do with that, because they always have something up their sleeve for their tour recaps.
“Pure Gold” was next and this is when the JA collective boys really came out to show SLC their insane dance moves and body flow! At one point, Josh took off his guitar and threw it mid-air for someone off stage to catch, so he could join in on the dancing! It was super cool and I absolutely love seeing them all dance together. The JA boys really add a lot of uniqueness and a strong dynamic to Half • Alive’s shows, music videos, performances! The color combos of the lights here were absolutely beautiful reds, orange, and purple mixes! Some of my favorite photos from this set came during this third song. But let me just talk about the lights real quick.
Morgan Embry is the lighting designer for Half•Alive and Morgan absolutely kills it! One of the greatest parts about concerts is the overall experience and atmosphere one is put in when attending. Everything is detailed from the set to the lights to the vibes and decor. It all adds to the show. I love when artists use lighting as a way to evoke emotions and add to a performance, and Half•Alive, along with Morgan definitely used it to their advantage!
During the performance of “Breakfast”, a large sheet was brought out that covered the band up behind it and with lighting. All you could see were the silhouettes of the band members. But not all at once. Throughout the song the lights changed colors, from one side of the sheet to the other, revealing Brett Kramer on drums or J. Tyler on the bass. It also would reveal Josh singing and beautiful hand movements/dancing done by the JA boys. The silhouettes and execution of it was absolutely moving. It gave me chills. All of this is done with excellent teamwork, and it seems the Half•Alive team has just that.
I asked a couple of fans what they thought of the show. For Michael Tirrell, 21, this was his first concert! He said, “This was my first concert and it did not disappoint. Half • Alive’s movement during the show was beautiful, and so is their message as a band. A first concert I won’t forget.” What a great first show honestly! Kira Smolik, 17, said, “It was the best concert I’ve ever been to. I love how they were able to bring their choreography into a live performance. They put on a really impressive and fun show!”
That they do. Not just a fun show but a touching one. Like I said before, they’re one of my favorite bands. After I was done in the pit I came out to the crowd to enjoy the show. During the “Time 2” acoustic performance, which was beautiful by the way, I legit cried. I had tears streaming down my face. That’s how I get when something moves me so deeply that I just feel this sense of relief and relatability. The whole team is an inspiration to me, but especially Josh. I hope one day I’ll be able to work with the band closely and swim in that creative pool they have. Josh said towards the end of the show, “I hope this show has been water to you… for the soul” and that’s exactly what it was. Can’t wait to see them again.