Back in 2012, I was at the concert of a band (who shall remain nameless) who was huge that year. Their songs were on the charts, they were all over TV and everybody seemed to really like them. Obviously I liked them, I was at their concert. But I remember leaving the venue and running into a former coworker. I asked him if he liked the concert and he stated that he wasn’t at that concert but at the venue nearby seeing ZZ Ward. I knew the name but wasn’t familiar with her music. He stated that he could hear the concert I was at through the wall dividing the venues. He then mentioned, “Sounds like it was a good time.” But he said it in a tone that let me know, it wasn’t as good as his show. ZZ Ward was playing in a smaller, more intimate venue so I thought, “There’s no way that show was better than mine!” Well in the following days, I heard people at other shows I was attending and posts online mentioning how amazing that ZZ Ward show was. All this time later, I wished I could have seen her in that tiny no longer used venue. Finally, on March 2 I was able to see what all the fuss was about.
I was transported Monday evening and I am still not quite sure if I have yet returned. I am slightly terrified as I write this…full disclosure, I did not know that much about Chelsea Wolfe when I was asked to cover this performance. So I put the headphones on, tuned in and let Ms. Wolfe take me away, not dissimilar to what happened Monday night when I arrived at a completely, packed to the back, Metro Music Hall. After binging her music all afternoon, I was ready for an evening of Gothic rock.
The day LANY comes to town should be an official holiday in Utah because it’s a day that every teen and young adult looks forward to. This last Tuesday, LANY made a stop at The Great Saltair in Magna. Fans had been anxiously waiting outside of the venue since as early as Sunday morning in hopes to be squished against the barrier to be as close as possible to their favorite band. Many fans made new friends with each other as they waited for hours on end in line.
If you had told me thirty years ago that I would be covering a New Kids on the Block concert I would never have believed you. For starters, I don’t think thirty years younger me would have known that I’d be covering concerts at all. He also probably thought there was no way he’d ever be caught going to an NKOTB show. What boy in his early teens is going to like a group that is taking all the attention away from him and his other guy friends. Now if you told me thirty years ago that I would be going to a New Kids on the Block concert and liking it, well I would have just called you a liar. But I went to the NKOTB Mixtape Tour at Vivint Arena and left extremely entertained! There is something to be said about putting on a quality show. The New Kids invited some artists from their hay day to join them on the tour. Salt-N-Pepa, Naughty By Nature, Tiffany and Debbie Gibson filled out the Mixtape Tour lineup. The combination of these 80s superstars filled the evening with nostalgia and a really good time.
Conan Gray seems like an artist who is skyrocketing. The truth is Gray has had been around since 2013. He first came on the scene with his well-followed YouTube Channel, then releasing self-penned songs on that channel in 2015 eventually being signed to Republic Records. In late 2018 Gray released his debut EP, Sunset Season which was followed by a tour where he has sold out most cities. Conan Gray finished off his first North American headlining tour to Salt Lake City with a sold out show at Kilby Court.
Ben Folds entered my radar in a real way at a Tori Amos concert. He’d just embarked on his solo career and she gave him a leg up by letting him open for her Lottapianos tour. He has grown as an artist since then and seems to have taken a cue from her refusal to draw harsh lines between the rock and classical music worlds. Ben was backed by the Utah Symphony Orchestra (along with a choir) which plumped out and embellished his melodies as well as faithfully performed pieces from his sonically ambitious So There album, written with an orchestral arrangement in mind. My one disappointment was that they did not perform Ben’s “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra” which topped Billboard Classical and Classical Crossover charts.
Note from the Editor: When I saw that Jade Bird was coming back to Utah, I knew UCR had to cover her concert again. We’ve been lucky to have covered Jade from the beginning and are so excited where her career is going. I have had the pleasure of reviewing Jade’s previous stops in Utah so for this tour as much as I wanted to cover the show, I thought it might be interesting to get another take on this brilliant up and coming singer-songwriter. Just a few short months ago, I had the opportunity to Interview Aubree Schill of the band Roadie, an up and coming singer-songwriter in her own right. During our interview, we discussed our mutual love for Jade Bird. A lightbulb went off. “What if I had Aubree review Jade when she comes town next?” I felt like getting the perspective of an artist who is a fan as well as on the path Jade herself trod not long ago would be the fresh take on this show I was hoping for. Well, as it turns out that’s just what happened. Here is Aubree’s account of Jade’s most recent visit to Utah. It turned out just as I hoped it would.
One of the first things I read about Jade Bird when I discovered her music was that she had “a voice that can silence the busiest bar.” At that time, I couldn’t have agreed more, but now I think this statement could be updated: “a voice that can silence a crowd of thousands.” She played for her third time ever in Salt Lake City on April 6th in front of the largest crowd I’ve personally seen her at yet. Opening for Hozier at the Union, she braved the crowd of likely around three thousand with her voice and guitar alone. And she owned it.
After seeing Noah Kahan play a sold-out show at The State Room back in October I thought I knew what was in store when I heard that he’d be supporting James Bay at The Union on March 23. Back in October, Noah put on an exceptional show. The crowd was into it, and they left more than satisfied with the evening. So I had a feeling there would be more of the same at this show. If anything, I thought perhaps it might be a bit of a letdown because Noah would be opening. I had no idea things would go like this.
Usually, when you see a band you like in concert multiple times, you know what you’re going to get. After a while there is only so much a band can do to keep the show fresh and new for their fans. We as fans will generally accept that because we’re there to hear the songs we love live, so even if we’ve heard them play the songs the exact same way for years, we’re cool with it because we’re happy a band we like has stopped in our city again. That’s not to say the song, or show has become dull. I’m only saying that you eventually figure out what a band is going to do. For example, there are a number of bands that I like, that I’ve seen multiple times, and when they start testing the effect on their guitar, I know what the song is before it even starts. Or if they play a fancy intro, I can make out what song it is already. Sometimes part of the fun of a live show is guessing what the song is before it starts. But try not to be a song predictor too often. It might get old to your friends or those around you. Anyway, the reason I’m rambling about all this is because I just saw Muse in concert. And they put on one of the best live shows out there today. If not the best!