UCR Interview- Midge Ure of Ultravox

Midge Ure of Ultravox is currently making his way across North America with his Live + Electric Tour.  Ure is coming to The Complex in Salt Lake City on Monday January 16, 2017.  Prior to his stop here in town, I had the opportunity to interview him. I believe our conversation will be of interest to any New Wave, New Romantic, or Electro music fan. I split my time during this interview between mustering as much journalistic integrity I possess and just totally geeking out.  I’m a huge Ultravox fan, so this was an absolute delight for me.  I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I had conducting it.  

Utah Concert Review: Hello Mr. Ure.  Where might you be calling in from tonight?

Midge Ure: I’m in deepest darkest Germany today.  

UCR: Wow, well how’s the tour going so far?

MU: It’s been going really well.  It’s a kind of a three piece, mainly acoustic stuff I’ve been doing.  It’s a tour called “Something from Everything”. I’m trying to play something from every album that I’ve done since 1978. So I’m choosing songs from Ultravox right through to now.  So it’s been going incredibly well because a lot of the songs I have never performed live before.

UCR: When you tour the states early next year, will you be continuing with this type of show, or will you be playing with a full band?  

MU: No, we’ve already done the first leg of the US tour back in October.  We did the East Coast and up into Canada.  So we’re picking that back up again starting in Vancouver and working our way across the West Coast through Salt Lake City, and down to Texas and finishing up in Nashville.  This tour we’ll be using two American multi-instrumentalist musicians.  One of whom I’ve worked with before. It’s basically a three piece power trio, but using synthesizers as well.  So we’re trying to incorporate a bit of everything.    

UCR:  I recently read a tweet from you where you were expressing frustration that someone in the front row was doing a lot of texting while you were performing.  I have to say that this is something that drives me nuts!  I think it’s so disrespectful.  

MU: (Laughing) Yeah.

UCR:  You’ve been touring for decades now, aside from people using their smart phone during concerts, whether to text or to record some of the performance, what else has changed over that time for you?

MU: Although I was tweeting about the annoyance of technology and the way people use it, it’s not about me and my ego.  It’s not, ‘How dare they not listen to me!’.  It’s the fact that people will sit in theaters and in cinemas and they’ll look at their phones.  Some will even make phone calls!  And you think, that’s just not the right thing to do.  So, although I was moaning about technology, I think the big change is technology.  The fact that an artist or a band can sit on the computer and book their own flights, book their own car hire, and they can liaise with venues on the road.  And you can do it on the phone while you’re touring as well.   You don’t need a massive office. You don’t need a huge road crew. You have to know what you’re doing of course, but the level I’m doing America right now, I could not have done this twenty years ago.  I could not have gone out without a road crew, or without a tour manager, you know, no one there to kind of back you up.  You’d need that kind of infrastructure.  Now you don’t need that.  You can kind of just do it yourself.  

UCR: That reminds me of when OMD reunited back in, I think around 2007.  After a successful European tour, they wanted to come here to the states and tour.  Concert promoters wouldn’t advance the money to put the tour together.  I guess they didn’t think they had the audience in America anymore.  So OMD decided to put the tour together on their own.  And it was a huge success, and they’ve been touring here ever since.  So to speak to your point, it seems it is possible now to tour without relying on others.  The advancements in technology allowed you to do it on your own.  It that pretty much what you’re saying?  

MU: Absolutely.  I have to look back over the years with me, or with Ultravox or whatever, and I find a twenty-year hole or a twenty-year gap where when I stopped being with major labels. I seemed to lose all connection with the US and Canada.  As I did with Australia and New Zealand and Japan. I seemed to have lost this flow.  So I had no way to get back in again.  So like you say with OMD, people ask you, “Well, how much do you go out for?”  and you tell them, and they say “No, we haven’t heard from you in twenty years. Why would we pay you that kind of money? Everyone has forgotten about you.”   If you’re determined to do it like OMD were, and like I am, I mean, I’ve toured the states maybe three or four times the last few years because I chose to do it. I don’t need to do it. But I chose to do it because maybe there’s a chip on my shoulder saying ‘Why did Ultravox never happen in America?’. Even though I know the answer, it still kind of grinds a little bit.  So I choose to come out to America and do it on a much lower level than I would in Europe or anywhere else really.  

UCR: Ok, so I have to know then, what are the reasons Ultravox didn’t happen in America?  

MU:  It’s probably a variety of answers.  This is a pick and mix. You can throw just the answers in a big pot and mix them up and that’s the reason.  Initially, only the coasts really got Ultravox, at least as far as we were concerned.  I’m not sure Ultravox ever played Salt Lake City, I don’t think we were ever in Utah. As far as we were concerned, it was College radio.  College radio got Ultravox. When we arrived first in New York, we were interviewed by a newspaper and this guy says, this is in around 1978, and the guy says “You guys speak really good English.”  And being British, we’re like “Yeah”.  He says, “I thought you were Germans.”  I think he had us mixed up with Kraftwerk.  And that was part of the problem.  The majority of America didn’t understand us.  They didn’t get what it was.  The record label was distraught that the Vienna album had an eight-minute instrumental as the opening track.  And they didn’t get it because radio played Styx, Boston, and Foreigner.  Corporate middle of the road rock.  So there was no space for something like us.  We were like the very point of the ship, and we got broken off.  And the bit that came behind us, got in. So we kind of helped to pave the way for the Depeche Mode’s, and the Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, and whoever to follow through.  That’s part of the reason.  The other part is when we toured America, which we did a few times, we could work our way up to performing places like the Avery Fisher Hall in New York, where they wouldn’t let amplifiers in there, but they let Ultravox in there because they saw Ultravox as art.  And we would play two to three thousand capacity theaters.  And then beyond that, the next step, the obvious step was to open for a bigger band. But we insisted on playing absolutely everything live.  There was nothing pre-programmed.  This was a logistical and technical nightmare because we didn’t have time to do a proper sound check.  So we stalemated at 3,000 capacity venues and we just kind of fell back and disappeared.  

UCR:  It must have been so frustrating to not have the necessary support from the media and your label when you had such a huge fan base everywhere else.  

MU: Of course I can see exactly where it all collapsed and fell apart.  Our record label didn’t understand us.  We were having number one records in the UK, and not seeing anything reciprocated in America. I can’t begin to tell you how hideously frustrating that was.  Ultravox would step off the plane to come and do a tour to promote an album, and the record company would say “Never mind guys, we’ll get them next time.” And I would say ‘Well, hold on, the album’s just come out.  How could it be dead in the water before we ever played a note?  How could this possibly be?’ It was because we were a square peg, and they were trying to push us into a round hole.  It just wasn’t going to happen.  They knew how to do Billy Idol, Pat Benatar and Huey Lewis and the News, and all that, but they had no idea what to do with us.  

UCR: Sometimes it’s amazing that these people are in the music business.  It would seem they rarely know what they’re doing.  

Other than maybe the size of the venues you perform in, what would you say makes a concert in America different than a concert overseas?

MU: You know what, there’s really not a massive difference I have to say. Audiences react similarly all over the world. There are subtle changes between audiences but American audiences tend to be a bit louder than European audiences.  Although, these days I supposed European audiences emulate American audiences with the shouting and screaming, whoopin’ and hollerin’ so maybe the UK and Europe audiences have caught up with how audiences react in American.  But there’s not a huge difference anymore.  I’m quite surprised at the level of reaction I get in America when I play what I think is probably quite obscure material.  The audience knows the songs!  The last time I played Salt Lake City was with the Retro Futura tour with Tom Bailey (Thompson Twins), Howard Jones, China Crisis, and I’m thinking well I haven’t been in Salt Lake City in ages, so no one is going to know me at all.  But I walk on stage and the whole place stands up and sang all my songs.  I was completely and utterly blown away.  So in my mind, my perception is, no one knows me except for hardcore fans that really get into the music and know my place in the chain, my little link in the chain.  When I was in Salt Lake I spoke to the audience afterward and I was signing stuff, and they said there was one radio station there that was a New Wave station and they played Ultravox and that type of music all the time, so they all knew the songs!  

UCR: What was the first concert you attended?

MU: Now this is going to sound bizarre, but the first one I remember buying a ticket was for Black Sabbath, but they didn’t turn up.  On the bill was Family who were a 60’s and 70’s rock band and another band.  So I watched the other two bands. I went to see Black Sabbath because my brother bought their album and I was 15 and wanted to be cool.  

UCR: With touring a lot yourself I’m sure you don’t have time to see a lot of concerts, but is there any band that you would like to see or that you make a point to see.  

MU: I’d love to see Sigur Rós. They’re an Icelandic band well worth checking out.  Really interesting music.  But they don’t tour very often. The last person I saw that I deliberately went to see was Kate Bush.  But I was completing the circle because I saw her first shows she did in London back in 1978.  But yeah, if there is someone I really want to see I’ll make a concerted effort to go see them.  However,  I’m a bit over going to sticky carpeted clubs.  

UCR: Eliminating Live Aid from your options, because that I’m sure was its own incredible experience on its own, what is one of your concerts that stands out to this day?

MU: Yes, there was a very famous venue in Glasgow back in the 70’s and 80’s, called the Glasgow Apollo.  After the single Vienna was successful, therefore the album was successful, Ultravox played the Apollo for the first time.  I walked on to a roar I had never experienced before in my life!  There were 4,000 people screaming, just shouting their heads off because it was my home city. Walking on there and performing in the venue that I saw T-Rex and many other bands perform.  I saw them all on that stage, and to walk on that stage and receive that ovation, was an experience I’ll never ever forget.  And it never gets as good as that again.  It doesn’t matter where you play, how big the venue is, or how magnificent the event might be, that first time you feel that it’s the best time ever!  

UCR: Thank you, Mr. Ure.  I really appreciate you taking the time. It has truly been an honor.  I’m really looking forward to the show.  

MU: Hopefully you’ll hear a lot of things you’ll recognize.  I’ll be doing more Ultravox songs on this set than I ever have outside of Ultravox.  I think you’ll enjoy it.  It’s good fun.  

 

Click here to purchase tickets to Midge’s Live + Electric show.  Keep in mind this is a 21+ show.  Hope to see you there! 

www.midgeure.co.uk 

The Lower Lights 7th Annual Christmas Concert December 5, 2016 Kinsgbury Hall Salt Lake City

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Last night I had the extraordinary experience of seeing The Lower Lights opening night of their 7th annual Christmas Concerts.  There are so many things I want to say about this Americana orchestra! However, because it was opening night, and they still have five shows remaining, I want to refrain from spoiling anything for those who will be attending future dates. So without specifics on the set list or particular highlights of the show, let me tell you just how great this show was, and if you don’t have a ticket yet, why you should get one.  

So let me first say that this show begins at 7PM.  Apparently, a lot of the audience thought the show began at 7:10, or 7:15, or even 7:20!  Come on people!  This band works hard.  On all the songs! So it’s not ok to miss the first 5 songs.  I understand that things happen and sometimes we’re just late to stuff.  But there was an alarming amount of people coming in late. There is so much more I could say about this, but the concert was so good, that I’d rather focus on that.

Kingsbury Hall is a beautiful venue.  If you haven’t been to a show there, I recommend it.  It’s the perfect venue for this kind of concert too.  The stage is large, yet the venue is intimate enough to where every you have a good view from any seat.  The only negative can be that parking is kind of a struggle.  What I would suggest is give up trying to park on the street, or anywhere right next to the venue itself.  Just drive south to the Rice-Eccles Stadium parking lot, and walk over.  It’s about a 5-minute walk, ten tops, and there is plenty of room.  Trust me it’s worth it.  For some shows, they even offer a free shuttle to Kingsbury Hall.  

Monday night concerts are always a little tricky.  The weekend is over, and the crowd tends to be a little more reserved.  Such was the case last night. I was in a good place in the audience to where I could see a lot of faces.  Despite the less vocal, or physically enthusiastic nature of this audience, their faces did show me that they were loving every minute of this concert.  

As I understand it, The Lower Lights have had up to 30 or more members performing with them.  There are 21 talented artists in this lineup, and I was expecting the show to begin with all of them walking on stage for a big first number.  But one lone man, with an acoustic guitar, walked on stage into a solo spotlight and sang us a song to start things off.  And that’s the beauty of concerts.  To be pleasantly surprised at any moment.  Now as I mentioned, there are 21 people in this band, so I apologize now for not mentioning all of their names.  Just know that every one of them is talented, and makes their own positive mark on this show.  

Following the opening song, the rest of the band did take the stage and blazed through a number of Christmas favorites.  While I’m not sharing the setlist in this review, I do want to say to those wondering if they’ll hear Christmas songs they like or know, that the answer is a resounding YES!  You will not come away with this concert feeling like you missed out on hearing a Christmas song you liked.  

The band entered and exited the stage with such fluidity.  I have been to many shows, with much smaller lineups that take forever to switch instruments, bring people on and off stage, and it really takes away from the show.  The Lower Lights seem to have perfected this art.  

The show began with one man and ended with the entire band, but throughout the night, the band shifted into ensembles of varying sizes.  I was impressed with the diverse talents that are within The Lower Lights.  They have an Americana or folk-country sound, and there were times where I felt like I was at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. There were other times that I felt like I was simply in someone’s back yard listening to some friends play music.  And some of my favorite moments were when I felt like I was at a tent revival meeting in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  I think it takes real talent to be so grand, yet bring such intimacy to an audience.

I really enjoyed the way they interacted with each other as well as those in attendance.  There is no front person in this band so different members would take turns addressing the audience.  It was fun to see the range in personalities when songs were presented.  Some of them presented a song with humor, some with sweetness, some with emotion, and some with a soft yet serious tone.  It’s obvious how much these band members care about each other.  It would seem that there is no ego within the band.  That they are there to play this cherished music and fill the hall with the Christmas spirit.  Which they did flawlessly.  

Ok, I lied.  I have to tell you about one song.  But just one, I promise!  Along with being pleasantly surprised at concerts, I also love when a band plays a song that I’m really hoping they’ll play.  With all the Christmas songs that exist, I did my best to prevent myself from getting my hopes up.  Because you can’t play them all.  But with this style of music and this particular song, it just made sense that they’d play it.  And they did.  One member of the band invited the audience to sing along.  They then played one of my all time favorite Christmas songs “Go Tell it on the Mountain”.  I was smiling from ear to ear.  My apologies to the older gentleman sitting next to me, because I was belting out that chorus as if I was on stage.  Their rendition of this song exceeded every expectation I had.  And, it wasn’t even the best song of the night!  So if that song was that amazing, just think about how great the rest of this concert is.  

The last thing I want to mention is what we think of when we hear the term “Local Artist”.  Many times, and I’m guilty of this too, we hear that and think that they’re not as good as the artists on the radio, or with a major record deal.  How wrong we are. The Lower Lights are a band made up of “Local Artists”.  I believe each member of the band, while not all of them are currently in Utah, do have Utah roots.  And yet, if they played at the Ryman in Nashville, or if they played at a tent revival in Virginia, honestly if they played the Hollywood Bowl or Madison Square Garden, no one would think twice.  They would simply know that they are listening to a band with an exceedingly high level of talent that puts on a fantastic show.  So, be sure to pay more attention to “local artists”.  I know I will.   

Go see this show!  There are still tickets remaining, but let me assure you, they will be snatched up.  Some of them by me, because I’m going back at the end of the week.  Yes, it was that good.  If you need uplifting or help in getting into the Christmas spirit, then, by all means, get to this concert.  

 

For more information, and to purchase music albums and tickets to the show go to…

www.thelowerlights.com 

 

UCR Interview- Debra Fotheringham of The Lower Lights

debfoThis week I caught up with local solo artist, Debra Fotheringham. Along with her solo work, she sings with the Blue Heart Revue and The Lower Lights.  

Beginning December 5, the highly acclaimed The Lower Lights Christmas returns for the seventh year, with a six-show residency at Kingsbury Hall.  I really enjoyed speaking with Debra.  

Utah Concert Review: How did you get into Music?

Debra Fotheringham: I got into music when I was around 14. I had always loved music from a young age watching live shows, that it was something that I knew I wanted to do.  My dad was a musician at one point so I grew up listening to a lot of music. So it was part genetic, and part I just gravitated towards it at a young age.

UCR: How did The Lower Lights come together?  

DF: The central figure in the whole thing is Scott Wiley.  He owns June Audio recording studios.  And most of us know him from different projects and records he’s worked on. He was the central figure that called people and had people come in.  He and a few others had the idea to do a Hymns record with some of their friends.  And so they finally made it happen and Scott invited me to come and be a part of it, and then it
morphed into The Lower Lights.  It was supposed to just be an album we were recording, but then we started playing live shows and it turned into a thing.

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UCR: So was it a love of the holidays or holiday music that started these concerts?  Because it seems like this has become the real focal point of the band.  Am I off on saying that, or does this seem to be the case?  

DF: No, I’d say that’s a fair assessment.  I can’t remember exactly how it started, but I think we were releasing an album around Christmas time and we just decided to make it a Christmas show.  I can’t remember if that’s how it started but at some point, we decided we should do a Christmas show because we had people asking us if we were going to do one.  We had a surprising turnout at the first one, so we just started doing it every year because it was so enjoyable.

Another reason it became a thing with the band is due to the fact that there are so many people in the band that it can kind of be a logistical puzzle to get us all together and so when we have a set show like this, we’ll all be able to show up for it.  And the Christmas shows just happened to be what it turned into.

UCR: Did I hear that there were thirty or so members of this band?!

DF: (Laughs)  Yeah!  It changes depending on who shows up for each show.  It’s a pretty flexible lineup.  

UCR: So what is your role within this enormous band?  

DF: Within the band, I’m mostly just a singer.  I have arranged a couple tunes that we’ve done  but mostly it’s fun for me to just show up and sing, which is pressure off from doing my own stuff where I have to promote it all myself and write everything.  So it’s relaxing and fun to be part of a project where I just show up and sing and make music with friends.  

UCR:  So, what might people who have never see this show before, be in store for?

DF: Well, (laughing) there will be a lot of people on stage.  It’s a “get on your feet and clap” kind of thing.  There are parts of the show that are more rockin’ and parts of the show that are more contemplative.  We try to have something in it for everyone.  We make it non-denominational so everyone will feel welcome.  We just try to have a good time and celebrate the season.

UCR: This might be a difficult question, but, what is your favorite part of doing these concerts?  

DF: That is a hard question.  I think my favorite part is just being on stage with these people that I’m friends with who I love so much.  Getting to make music with them and sharing it with people that I’ve never met who are touched by it.  I’ve had some of the coolest experiences and heard some of the coolest experiences from people that share how they’ve been touched by the music.  That’s really made it special.  So that’s probably my favorite part, just the connection I get to make because of these shows.  

UCR:  Being a local artist, what is your favorite venue to play here in Utah?

DF:  That’s a difficult question.  I really liked playing the State Room.  I think my favorite venues are house concerts, to be honest.  Just playing at people’s houses for maybe fifty people.  I like it because they are there specifically to listen to you so it’s a special experience.  They’re not there to socialize but to listen to music.  Venues like that where that is the emphasis are my favorite.  Kingsbury Hall is like that.  People are there to come listen to music rather than socialize.  Of course, there is a place for that, but for me specifically, those are the venues are my favorite for me to play.    

UCR: What has been your favorite concert that you’ve attended?  

DF:  I just went to Americana Fest in Nashville.  I went to so many good concerts there that the whole experience was my favorite.  It was all day long, good show after good show.  It was sort of mind blowing.

UCR: Yeah I bet that was amazing.  Well, on a personal note, I’ve been wanting to see The Lower Lights Christmas shows for years and for one reason or another not been able to attend.  So I am very much looking forward to it this year.  

DF: Awesome.  I’m glad you can go. Hopefully, it’s a good time.

Debra is currently writing her next solo album that he anticipates being released sometime next year. You can find her previous solo work here www.debrafotheringham.com

You can also hear Debra with the band The Blue Heart Revue.  They recently released an album that Debra described as “Americana Covers”.  (Personal Note: Since this interview I have purchased this album, and have been listening to it on repeat.  I highly recommend it.)  To learn more about The Blue Heart Revue or to buy their album, click here.  

The  7th Annual Lower Lights Christmas concerts begin December 5th, with shows on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and two shows on Saturday.  Tickets are going fast and these shows are known to sell out, so be sure to get yours soon. Click here for tickets.  

Utah Concert Review will be attending the opening show on December 5th.  Look for our review of the show the following day.  

Maroon 5 Salt Lake City Vivint Smart Home Arena October 8, 2016

unnamed-19Tickets for Maroon 5 went on sale a year ago.  So as I’m sure you can imagine, the anticipation in Vivint Smart Home Arena was high on Saturday night.  I had no idea I was going to this show until the morning of the show, so it was fun for me to look around the arena and see the true Maroon 5 fans bubbling over with excitement. The crowd dynamic was much different than I expected.  To be honest, I expected a mostly female crowd.  While that may have been the case, the percentage of women to men was much more even that I had anticipated. There were also a lot of older couples at the show.  Didn’t see that coming.  Young and old, male or female, we were all in for a really fun night.  

The indie supergroup Phases opened the night with a really impressive thirty-minute set.  To be honest I had never heard them before.  But from song one I was hooked.  I highly recommend checking them out.  They were followed by Swedish singer Tove Lo.  She’s a successful songwriter now coming into her own as a performer and solo artist.  I thought these were great choices to open for Maroon 5.  And the audience seemed to really enjoy them as well.  It was noticeable to me that these support acts appreciated the involvement of the already jam-packed crowd.

Maroon 5 opened the show with mega-hit, “Moves Like Jagger”.  A song that could easily be used as an encore song made for a perfect opener.  The band had this crowd in the palm of their hands from the get-go.  I was really amazed at how little time it took for the show to get to an energy level this high.

There were a couple things I noticed from this show.  First off, Maroon 5 has a ton of hits! I know they have been around for awhile now, but I guess I didn’t realize just how many hit songs they have in their catalogue.  Before this show, I didn’t own one song from the band.  (Since the show I have definitely downloaded a couple albums.)  But besides one previously unheard new song, I knew every single song.  These guys are hit machines.  But not only are these hits, they are really good songs.

The other thing that really stood out was just how remarkable Adam Levine’s voice is.  If you have heard a Maroon 5 song, (and if you haven’t, you must have been living in a cave) you’ll notice that Adam sings really high.  I mean, really high!  I was actually nervous for him before the show.  Singing high night in and night out is not an easy thing to do.  But I had nothing to worry about.  As you can see in the video below, his vocals were perfect.

The Utah crowd was elated when they were introduced to lead Guitarist James Valentine, a current resident of this great state.  When Adam mentioned that James currently lives in Utah, the crowd went wild.  

The band left for an encore, and when they returned they came out to the far end of their catwalk to perform for the other end of the arena.  I love it when bands do that.  Adam did his best to give the crowd a special moment.  He asked the capacity crowd to put away their cell phones for just two minutes while he sang “She Will Be Loved”.  He mentioned that he wanted to have an experience where we were living in the moment and couldn’t take home with us.  Most of the audience did just that.  Their cell phones went into their pockets and they were able to be in the present.  However, there were some that couldn’t help themselves as they still took pictures and filmed the song.  He would call them out and make jokes which I thought was cool of him.  He could have easily flipped out and made things awkward.  But he kept things light and the people he called out laughed at being put on the spot while looking like idiots to everyone else in attendance.

The show finished strong with the band singing “Sugar” and paying tribute to Prince by closing with “Let’s Go Crazy”.  Now, many might not know this, but Adam Levine is an amazing guitarist.  When you are done reading this gem of a review, go to youtube and type in “Adam Levine Guitar”.  You’ll see plenty of examples of his skills.

I had a great time at this concert.  Maroon 5 gets those unfortunate labels of being “pretty boys” “too soft”, “too pop”, or my favorite “a band for girls”.  I don’t remember being liked by women ever being a negative thing.  Yes, they’re not a hard rock band, but they’re not trying to be.  None of these labels matter when you’re good.  And they’re really good. Their songs are well crafted, and their live show was great.  Much better than I expected it to be.  And I knew I was in for a good show.

 

Setlist:
Moves Like Jagger
This Love
Harder to Breathe
Locked Away (Rock City Cover)
One More Night
Misery
Love Somebody
Lucky Strike
Sunday Morning
Makes Me Wonder
Payphone
Daylight

Encore:
Don’t Want to Know
She Will Be Loved
Sugar
Let’s Go Crazy (Prince Cover)

Mumford & Sons USANA Amphitheater September 26, 2016

unnamed-15With summer coming to an end, and concerts beginning to make their way to indoor venues, I made my way out to USANA Amphitheater for what was probably my last concert there this season.  But what a way to bring this summer of great amphitheater shows to an end!  Mumford and Sons rolled into Utah for the first time in four years with their The Austin 5000 tour.  

When Mumford & Sons came here back in 2012, they were white hot off of the success of their second album Babel.  They played Saltair, which when they scheduled the venue was probably the right size.  But by the time they came to Salt Lake, Saltair was much too small for them. It was impossible to get a ticket, and I missed out on what all reports indicated was an incredible show.  So I’ve been waiting to see them since then.  And it was finally happening!

With this show being on a Monday evening, and the temperatures having cooled here in Utah, the audience seemed to get off to a slow start.  Mumford & Sons opened up with Snake Eyes, from the album “Wilder Mind”.  They then followed with Little Lion Man.  I could tell the crowd was really excited to hear this hit song from the guys, but they were certainly not giving their full energy.  But as the temperature dropped, Mumford & Sons heated up.  It was almost as if they knew they needed to give us a little extra to get us going.  Please don’t misunderstand me, the crowd was most certainly into the show.  It just took them a while to physically show what they were feeling inside.

One of the very first things I noticed was how great Mumford & Sons sounded live.  Of course, I didn’t expect them to sound bad in concert, but the quality of the sound and the talent of the band was just exceptional.  Marcus Mumford’s vocals were on point.  I don’t know how he can sing that powerfully and emotionally night in and night out.  I was really impressed.

As I looked around the amphitheater, I noticed that little by little there were varying pockets of people who were already totally fired up. Others were still coming along, but I recall thinking to myself, ‘This place will be going nuts by the end of the show.’.

This show went by as if it was only twenty minutes.  They perfectly blended songs from all of their albums.  Marcus Mumford moved from acoustic guitar to playing drums, to working with crowd, expressing how much they enjoyed Utah.

My favorite segment of the night was when they played my favorite song of theirs The Cave.  At this point, Mumford & Sons had the entire audience right along with them. The energy was high and the crowd was singing every word of this song.  I thought this would be the high point of the evening.  Wow, was I wrong.  On their very next song, Ditmas, Marcus Mumford jumped down off of the stage and appeared to be engaged with those in the front row.  But he didn’t stop there.  He made his way through the audience and all the way towards my section in the back of the seated part of the amphitheater.  Just then, he took a hard left and ran into the lawn section!  I’ve seen this happen a couple times with opening acts, but never with a headliner.  There were only a couple noticeable security guards around Marcus and running into the lawn which is of course general admission, they weren’t going to be able to do much if things got crazy.  This took a lot of trust on Mumford’s part.  But having that trust in his fans gave us the highlight of the evening.  He made his way down the other side of the amphitheater, then joining the general admission in the front of the amphitheater for the remainder of the song.  When the song was over, there was an extra level of applause in appreciation for this surprise visit into the venue.  Looking around, there were huge smiles and faces expressing awe of what just happened.  When you sit in the back of a venue, no one expects that the lead singer of the headlining band is going to come dance and sing with you.  Great move Marcus.

After a couple more songs, Mumford & Sons left the stage and the crowd, of course, roared for their encore.  One thing I hate with encores is when a band comes back out and only does one song.  So you would understand my elation at Mumford & Son’s four song encore.  I heard someone ask after their first encore song, “Do you think that’s the last song?”.  It wasn’t.  Then after their second encore song I heard someone say “Just play every song you have!”.  People who started out so slow on this cool Monday night now did not want this night to end.  They finished with a bang performing I Will Wait and The Wolf.

I waited for four years to see these guys, and they did not disappoint in any way.  I really hope they come back soon because I’ll see them anytime they make a stop here in Utah.  

Setlist

Snake Eyes
Little Lion Man
Holland Road
Wilder Mind
White Blank
Lover of the Light
Tompkins Square Park
Believe
Broken Crown
Ghosts That We Knew
Below My Feet
Awake My Soul
The Cave
Ditmas
Dust Bowl Dance
Cold Arms

Encore:

Hot Gates
Forever
I Will Wait
Wolf

Interview: Cary Judd of the Vacationist

CJ_TVACUtah Concert Review recently caught up with Cary Judd, frontman of the Boise-based band The Vacationist. We discussed what got him into songwriting, technology, and The Vacationist.

Kevin Rolfe (Editor in Chief):
You have a lot of exciting things going on right now. But first, let’s rewind a little. When did you first begin writing songs and why?

Cary Judd:
I don’t think I ever really completed a song on my own till I was 16-17, but I wrote with bands I was in in high school as a guitarist and occasionally lyricist, though I was terrified to sing in front of anyone. I have vague memories of melodies and lyrics I would string together when I was 5 or 6 years old, though.

I think hearing “Sunday Bloody Sunday” caused some sort of neural connection, however old I was when that came out, that really made me start to think about writing.

KR:
Do you remember your first time singing in front of an audience?

CJ:
Yeah, it was at a coffee shop with my band Moz Eizley. We were a trio at the time and I had been writing a lot of songs. Our plan was to find an actual singer to be the singer. My endearingly spaced-out drummer decided to book us a show before that happened. I had been singing in practices so I was the default singer.

KR:
Those familiar with your music know you primarily as a solo artist. How would you describe The Vacationist? How is it different from your solo work?

CJ:
I would say it’s an extension of my solo work. I’m at the center of the songwriting, or at least the lyrics.

I think after a certain amount of time though you become bored with yourself and you have to rattle your own cage. After the first three albums, I started drifting towards pleasing people rather than making music I would actually listen too (i.e. the Trillions EP) and I very quickly found that I wasn’t really pleasing anyone.

I had bounced ideas off myself for about 10 years and was ready to bounce ideas off of someone who knew and understood things differently than me. I wanted to put as much into every note and sound wave as I had always put into lyrics and amplify the live presentation as well as create a visual experience.

KR:
Tell me about the other members of The Vacationist, Conor, and Sunnie. What is their contribution to the band?

CJ:
The dynamic of the band is something like this. I write and demo new songs whenever I’m at the studio and have free time. I show them to Conor and Sunnie and know immediately by their reactions if they’re making the cut. Conor comes in and does a lot with sound design as well as arranging and rearranging my initial demos. He also comes in with pieces of music that are laid out into verses, choruses, or other sections and plays them for me. I’ll get excited about certain pieces and start maniacally typing lyrics in reaction to his compositions. Then of course, there’s the other way I described above. The two of us get on the desk and start what is essentially a modern sound design/producer’s jam session.

I’ve learned so much in my collaborations with Conor. There are a lot of points on the new record where I designed sounds and played parts that were based on things he had taught me, or me asking myself, “what would Conor do here?”.

I need to learn new things to keep it fresh and collaborating with someone like him who understands sound waves on an elemental level blew the creative doors wide open again.

The sonic magic happens when the two of us are in a room together. The sonic landscape is the dividing point between “Cary Judd” and The Vacationist. It really doesn’t matter who plays what or designs a certain sound because I think there’s a certain respect between the two of us that we have faith in the other to fill in any blanks.

Several of the songs I had written and demoed out on my own and then when Conor and I had time together, he put the last few pieces in the puzzle.

A few of the songs, we created in a very stream of conscious way where we were both at the desk, one of us turning knobs to dial in a sound while the other was searching for a melody, then I go and sit behind him on the couch filling pages with words. The opening track, “The Sound”, to me is the quintessential Vacationist song in that it was created this way.

Introducing Sunnie’s input makes for a really cool wildcard. Her main function is to produce the live show with light design, but she was present in a lot of the sessions and though she’s not a veteran musician, she would find these little melodic movements that had this really cool naivety to them which to me is another theme of The Vacationist, finding wonder in a sound or line of words the way I did when I was a little kid and wanted so badly to understand what a song was “about”.

I think there are moments where some people think of it as, “Conor’s band” or as “Sunnie’s band”, depending on how they came to discover us. But when we perform live, I don’t think anyone in the room thinks of it as anything other than “a band”.

KR:
What can someone expect from one of The Vacationist’s live shows?

CJ:
My hope is that they will expect to be in some way amused, surprised, and changed. With the first album and on into the new album, there’s a certain air of innocent thinking. A lot of the message in the music is a sort of joyful view of the world that I hope will untangle the complexities that we as humans weave into a giant mess over the course of our lives.

It’s not some hippie-new-age rant, but more of a spirit of zooming out and looking at our world and existence with awe of what we know and wonder for what we don’t. Like a magic show might be for a young child.

“whoa, how’d you do that?!”

“magic…”

“…and a lot of computers.”

KR:
I’m a huge fan of Electronics and Technology in music. However, there are those out there that claim that Electronic music is not really music. TVAC uses quite a bit of both. What do you have to say in regards to the use of technology in your music?

CJ:
I don’t think the role technology plays in this band can be overstated. I know it’s common for some people to think of technology as a “cheat”.

The Beatles took criticism for multitrack recording. They weren’t all in the same room playing their songs at the same time, but rather overdubbing and layering piece by piece.

This is now the standard.

Then in the last 20 years, you hear people that don’t really know what they’re talking about, criticize synthetic instruments or “auto tuning”. These are tools to create new layers in my opinion. For me, and I’ve talked at length with Conor and Sunnie about this, if it’s a sound, it’s music.

So much of what we do is definitely dependent on the technology we have access to. I don’t have the slightest bit of remorse or shame in saying that. I have made a lot of samples we use in TVAC by recording sounds I hear when I’m out & about with my iPhone. Conor and I have even set blocks of “recording time” aside to walk around with microphones or handheld recorders, just looking for a literal pattern in the chaos that we can manipulate and make a sound we’ve never heard. A lot of the synths we make from vocal samples of the three of us talking, humming, screaming etc and I think that gives us our sound.

I don’t think people realize that technology is the one thing that makes us human. To interpret our world around us, scramble it into something new, and then simulate a future in our imaginations is its own miracle.

Imagine if Mozart was born before the invention of the instruments he composed on and for, what amazing and wonderful things would humanity have never seen?
I guarantee you if he were alive now, he’d be composing on a seaboard surrounded by computers and modern instruments.

Human’s cheated the first time a cave man figured out he could eat better if he sharpened a rock and put it on the end of a stick he could hunt with. Imagine the first tribe that actually cooked the meat they hunted by making a spark and starting a fire, huge cheaters.

Technology is the most human thing we possess.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_aNMjbieWk&feature=youtu.be

KR:
You’re about to release your 2nd album “Prime Colours/ Bright Numbers”. When do we get to hear it and what can you tell us about it?

CJ:
it’s a very happy album

KR:
So you’re not only in TVAC, you’re also running your own studio. I want to call it a recording studio, but it’s much more than that. Isn’t it?

CJ:
Anymore it’s a multimedia studio. We aren’t experts in everything, but we are fanatically curious, so we’re learning new ways to manipulate sight/sound/photography/video every day. We’ve all worked together on photo and video projects on our own and together and have learned a lot. We have at least 4 music videos in the works to coincide with songs on the new album, possibly more.

KR:
It is unknown to many outside the region, that there is a really strong music scene here along the Rocky Mountains. Why do you think that is?

CJ:
The part of the Rockies I’m familiar with is mostly Boise and Utah. I would attribute the growing scene in Boise to Eric Guilbert of Finn Riggins. He started up Treefort four or five years ago and I think that’s been the seedling that’s grown into a bustling scene here. As for Utah, I think Corry Fox, his venue, The Velour as well as events that have spun off from there. Both those guys are incredibly talented. In both cases you have an individual who saw a lack, set a goal and started taking steps that grew into amazing scenes in both places.

In Boise, there’s been a great scene for a long time. When I was living in Wyoming and would come through while on tour I always felt very welcomed, which is part of why I ended up here. Back then I was an outsider, so it’s hard to say where it was pre-Treefort (Music Festival in Boise), but every year Treefort seems to get better. I’m sure there was a learning curve the first year or two, but as a musician and observer, it seems to have this really beautiful combination of bringing in outside/national talent and weaving the local artists into the fabric of the festival. It’s exposed a lot of locals to great artists that live here.

My favorite thing that I’ve heard every time I’ve played Treefort in different bands is, “what, you guys are from Boise? I had no idea!”.

KR:
You have some very devoted fans in this state. Can the great people of Utah expect to see TVAC performing here live soon?

CJ:
Yes, we will come down to do a show when the album comes out. Utah Valley, specifically Velour has been my default home venue even though I’ve never lived there. I wouldn’t miss the chance to play these songs for the amazing people that have supported me for so long!

To hear music, see videos, and to receive updates on The Vacationist tour dates as well as the release of “Prime Colours/ Bright Numbers”, click here!

Josh Groban w/ Sarah McLachlan USANA Amphitheater August 20, 2016

IMG_0466Josh Groban brought his much-anticipated Stages tour to the jam-packed USANA Amphitheater this past Saturday featuring Sarah McLachlan, a headliner in her own right, and support act Foy Vance. If vocal mastery is what you are looking for, this was the show to see.

I would have never pictured Sarah McLachlan and Josh Groban touring together. Their singing style and genre of music are quite different. Well, I guess this is why I’m not in charge of booking tours because this combination of talented vocalists created the perfect musical evening.

Sarah McLachlan was on point during her set in pretty much every way. With her soft and extremely pleasant speaking voice, she shared stories of heartbreak, loss, and hope for the future. There is nothing I like more in a concert than when I say, ‘Oh yeah!’, after hearing a song that I had forgotten. Sarah’s vast catalog was on display as she sang hit song after hit song. And I found myself saying, ‘Oh yeah!’ many times as I recalled how many of her songs I like. She shared a new song that will be on her forthcoming album. It blended right in with the others. She left the stage just as subtly as she walked on. She mentioned on her way out that we might be seeing her again later. More on that later.

Groban began the show in front of a huge curtain with only a piano to his right. He sang “Pure Imagination” from the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Midway through the song the curtain parted and his band and huge string section were revealed, much to the delight of the capacity crowd. This came as a surprise to many of the fans around me. I think they believed they were in for a Josh Groban concert with just a piano and his voice. Which would be a fantastic show to see in a theater or small club. But in a venue like USANA Amphitheater, that holds 20,000 people, you need a large orchestra.IMG_0468

I knew the music was live, and that of course, Josh was singing live, but I looked back at the soundboard a few times to see if maybe there was some sort of backing track. His voice is just that good. You must be saying “Of course it is. That’s why this venue is packed to see him.” I guess, I just wasn’t expecting him to sound that perfect live. It truly sounded as good as the recording. If not better!

I was really looking forward to this show because I knew he’d be promoting his Stages album. An album dedicated to some of his favorite songs
from Broadway musicals. I’m a fan of musical theater so I knew I’d be hearing songs that I really enjoy. Groban did not disappoint. He sang Broadway favorites such as, “What I did for love”, and a tribute to Stephen Sondheim singing “Children will listen/ Not while I’m around”, as well as the off broadway classic “Try to Remember” from The Fantasticks.

One of the best moments of the night was when he sang the Simon and Garfunkel hit “Bridge over troubled waters”. Now this would have been a great moment if Josh sang it alone. But he brought out his opener Foy Vance to sing it with him. Foy has a rich soulful voice. His voice paired with Josh Groban’s polished voice created a contrasting, yet beautiful blend. There were very few dry eyes when this song was over.

The highlight of the evening for me was when Josh sang one of my favorite songs, “Run” by Snow Patrol. When he got to the chorus, Sarah McLachlan joined him on stage. She had returned as promised, and they sounded so good together. They followed that song by singing her heartfelt ballad, “Angel”. Their voices were perfect together. As I mentioned, I would have never thought of these two together, but I’m so glad someone thought of it. We were very fortunate to see these two extremely talented vocalists perform together.

IMG_0469Groban’s main set finished with his biggest hit, “You Raise Me Up”. The crowd turned into The Milky Way, as the entire audience lit up their cell phones and were invited to sing along. Josh left, only momentarily, and gave us “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for his encore.

Josh seems to be a very genuine guy. He’s one of those artists where you are really happy for his success, and he really seems to truly appreciate the career he has. He didn’t hesitate to recognize Utah as a location that has helped to advance his success in music. He mentioned his opportunity to sing at the Closing Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Mentioning how bitter cold it was that night, and how he didn’t realize how sad he would be making everyone singing as the Olympic flame was extinguished. He mentioned that he also filmed a DVD here and that the fans in Utah have always been great to him.

Josh Groban has really honed his craft not only as an incredible singer but as an entertainer. He’s really funny! He sings so many serious songs, whether they be classical arias, love songs, or art songs, that it would be really easy to keep his shows in that tone. But he does a terrific job of mixing these songs with humor, and interesting stories without diminishing the message of this songs. This is a true art form. And one that he has most certainly perfected.

I was really impressed with this concert. To have the opportunity to see one of the premier vocalists of our day, was a memorable experience. Josh Groban might not be for everyone, and he comically mentioned this possibility in the show, but it is impossible to deny his talent and success.  Look for him to make his much awaited Broadway debut this fall in The Great Comet.  

 

Gin Blossoms Kamas DeJoria Center August 19, 2016

FullSizeRender (5)Kamas might not be the first Utah town you think of when you think of places you might be headed for a concert.  But I promise you, you’ll be heading there more and more with the new Dejoria Center fully functional.  I was able to check out this new facility while checking out one the best bands of the ‘90s, Gin Blossoms.

There wasn’t much to dislike about the Dejoria Center.  The staff was extremely friendly, the concert hall was spacious and I thought the acoustics were really good.  At least to my amateur ears.  They had two large video screens at the side of the stage.  They’re almost too big for the venue, but it’s awesome to have screens this nice.  Some of the venues in Salt Lake City might want to look into getting screens like this.  This is a really accommodating venue, and I have a feeling this venue will attract a lot of bands.

The show opened with an acoustic set from two of the four members of the band Fyre & Reign.  The local band based out of Orem did a solid job opening the show.  I think it can be really difficult as a supporting act to gain interest from a crowd who came to see another band.  But Fyre & Reign didn’t hesitate to interact with the audience, even inviting them to sing along in the final chorus of their song “Get Out of the City”.

After the opening set, I broke with man code and struck up a conversation with Fyre & Ice singer, Mikael Lewis at the urinal.  I enjoyed hearing about his band, their recent UK tour, and how excited he was to be offered the opportunity to open for Gin Blossoms.  Be sure to look out for some of his solo acoustic shows around Utah.

Because Fyre & Reign played an acoustic set, we didn’t have to wait long for Gin Blossoms to come out.  Everything appeared to already be set up.  A quick sound check, and then they were on.  They opened with their top ten hit “Follow You Down”.  The crowd was definitely excited but for some reason remained in their seats.  There was singing along, clapping along, and a lot of excited people, but for some reason not too many stood.  Lead singer Robin Wilson clearly noticed this, and when the opening song was over, he mentioned that everyone who wanted to, come right up to the stage and fill the gap between the stage and the seats.  I know a lot of bands don’t suggest standing up, or people moving up, but I really liked this move by Wilson. It was obvious by the people rushing to the front of the stage, myself included, that people wanted to be on their feet.  And I don’t think there was anyone who needed to be invited twice to be that close to the band.

The first thing that stood out to me was how good the band sounded.  They pretty much sounded exactly the same as they did when they first showed up on the scene in 1992.  It was really impressive to me that Robin Wilson has been able to preserve his voice. The harmonies of Jesse Valenzuela are as important to Gin Blossom’s sound as any other part of their make up.  And they were perfect.

Gin Blossoms have a very relaxed demeanor on stage that can be mistaken for them not being into the show, and maybe just going through the motions.  Not so.  Being right at the front of the stage gave me the necessary vantage point to realize that they were having a good time.  They seemed to really like playing live, and they were appreciative of the enthusiastic crowd.


Robin had a couple tambourines that he would rotate throughout the crowd between fans both young and not as young.  He got the crowd clapping along to just about every song. He even promised to do a song suggested by an audience member that wasn’t on the setlist.  And sure enough, they did it in their encore.  They also scrapped what they called a “Power Ballad” to cover Johnny Cash favorite “Folsom Prison Blues”.  This is a band that truly cares about putting on a great show, and pleasing their audience.

As I looked throughout the crowd something that stood out to me was how many people were smiling, and how many people were singing every word of pretty much every song.  It hit me that while like Gin Blossoms, and have always enjoyed their music, to others, this is their favorite band of all time.  There were people with personalized license plates, and signs, and as I said, an impressive knowledge of lyrics.  That had to be an awesome site to see for the band.

I mean look at this guy!  How happy is he that he is seeing Gin Blossoms?!

IMG_5832If you see a band you like performing at the Dejoria Center, do yourself a favor and take a beautiful drive out to Kamas.  You’ll really enjoy this venue.  And if you ever have the opportunity, do yourself another favor and see the Gin Blossoms show. They will not disappoint.

 

Lord Huron & Trampled by Turtles Salt Lake City The Complex August 15, 2016

unnamed (27)I must admit, before last night, I had no idea that Lord Huron, or Trampled by Turtles even existed.  Shame on me because both of these bands are really talented and have great songs.  I have totally cheated myself for not having listened to them before.  But I’m glad I was given this opportunity to see them.

The thing I like most about seeing a band that I am not as familiar with is going into a show with zero expectations.  When I go to concerts of bands I’ve followed for years, I have hopes of hearing certain songs, and I expect things to go a certain way.  Well with these two bands, I didn’t know their hits versus their deep cuts.

Lord Huron took the stage right at 7:30.  I think the crowd was surprised by this because I walked right in the Complex and got a great spot dead center. About halfway through the first song, the crowd filled the space around me.  I honestly can’t think of a song I didn’t like.  The crowd was the indicator from me of which songs were their favorites.  My first impression was that these guys belong on the stage at Pioneer Park.  These guys would be perfect for the Twilight Concert Series.  Next summer maybe?  They have a certain indie flair that would be perfect for that setting.

Again, not knowing much about the band, I looked to the crowd for information.  I could tell that there were some fans there to see one band over another.  The thing I like about situations like these is the band and the way they perform their music will determine whether they win over the entire crowd or not.  Lord Huron did just that.  Before the show was over, they had the entire crowd’s attention.  They’re a very straight forward band.  Not much talking to the crowd, relaxed stage presence.  All that is just fine with me.  Some bands interact with the crowd a lot, others not so much.  I would prefer bands do what comes naturally than to try to force it.

They mentioned having played Salt Lake City in the past, recalling shows at Kilby Court, and the Depot.  Judging by the reaction of the audience, some fans were at those shows, while others just enjoyed that these local spots w
ere remembered.

I thought Lord Huron did an exceptional job of pleasing their fans, winning over the others, and for sure making a new fan out of me.  I look forward to the next time they come to town.  I will for sure be more knowledgeable about their music.

After hearing Lord Huron, I think I was most surprised to discover that Trampled by Turtles sounded nothing like them.  I guess that’s why there seemed to be a divide in the crowd.  Trampled by Turtles would be considered Americana if I were to try to label their sound.  They had elements of Country, Bluegrass, and even a little Spanish style in their songs.

I found it interesting that the six-piece band (Vocalist/ Acoustic Guitar, Acoustic Bass, Cellist, Banjo, Fiddle, and Mandolin) did not consist of a drummer.  And yet the crowd was dancing and moving as if there was one. While I felt like some songs would have sounded great with drums backing the song, I was really impressed with the energy and rhythm they produced drummer-less.

Each instrumentalist was a true talent in their craft.  Sometimes if felt like there were six soloists, meshing together.  And I mean that in a good way.  Each instrument had their time to be featured, in particular, the Mandolin and the Fiddle, but when they all played together they created a beautiful sound.

I’m sure many of you have heard the term “Dance like nobody’s watching.”.  Well, there was something about Trampled by Turtles performance that brought this reaction out of many crowd members.  As I looked around the complex, I saw people country dancing, dancing alone, pogoing up and down, and even dramatic slow dance between two dudes, during one of the softer numbers.  I think it takes a really talented band, to cause someone to just let loose and move the way you want to, without caring who might be looking on.
I really enjoyed this show.  If you are foolish like me and haven’t heard of these bands, do yourself a favor and check them out immediately.  They are very different in their style, but both incredibly talented.

Big Grams Pioneer Park, Twilight Concert Series July 28, 2016

IMG_5585Last night i made my way to Pioneer Park for my first show of this summer’s Twilight Concert Series where Big Grams made their much anticipated visit to Salt Lake City. Big Grams consists of the Electro Rock duo, Phantogram and Big Boi of Outkast fame.

I believe both Big Boi and Phantograms have taken the Twilight stage in the past but this was their first time appearing together as Big Grams.

Unfortunately I was unable to arrive in time to see the full set of Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals.  But I will say this, as I was walking into the park, I noticed the crowd already seemed in top form.  They appeared to be the perfect opener for Big Grams.

Big Grams took the stage just a little after 9 o’clock.  They came out high energy from thestart, and in turn, the crowd was about as high energy as I have seen at Twilight.  From the first beat of their set until the last note, the crowd did not die down.  They were crowd surfing, sitting on shoulders, jumping, dancing, and from what I understand, even moshing.  And without any surprise, Sarah Barthel, lead vocalist of Phantagrams and of course Big Grams, commented on how great the crowd was. Then stating,“The best we’ve had so far! And I’m not just saying that!”  I feel like we’ve heard that before here in Utah, haven’t we?  I’d say we hear that commentary in just about every show that comes through this concert loving state!  Of course the crowd loved the compliment, and turned it up a few more notches for the remainder of the set.

I’d have to say the highlight of the evening was the mashup of Ms. Jackson, of course a huge hit for Outkast, and Mouthful of Diamonds, one of Phantograms initial hits. As if the crowd wasn’t crazy enough, they pretty much lost it during this point of the show. So much so, that I was being bumped, pushed, basically shoved from all sides to the point that I was unable to get any video footage to share with everyone.  If I had posted it you would have bet that I was filming a concert in right when an earthquake hit.

I have to say for a supergroup like this, with only one EP released, there was a lot of excitement for them to come to Salt Lake, and for their visit they were gifted one of the most excited crowds I’ve seen.

From what I’ve read, this EP is most probably their only collaboration.  But if they keep putting on shows like this, and if crowds keep reacting like this one did, I don’t see how Big Grams can stop.