Circle pits, a small riot, a guitar shreddin’ banana and the start of one of the most hardcore tours were kicking ass in Salt Lake City on Halloween. The ‘Eternal Nightmare’ tour featuring four of my favorite groups performed at the Complex; October 31st, 2019 was one of the most incredible concerts of my life and definitely the most memorable Halloween of recent years. The Complex was thriving with fans from all scenes of the hardcore world: Thrash, Grindcore, Hardcore-Punk, Sludge, Stoner Metal, Metalcore and the ever hated Deathcore. For the sake of us having a good time, I do not categorize performers within the hardcore scene for any other reason other than to distinguish the vastly different and prolific talents of these bands from one another. Isn’t this why there are mosh pits in the first place? All of us have such passions and emotions tied to this music and our most beloved talents in the community, that reason and arguing will never get us anywhere, perhaps a few bruised ribs and split lips will; probably not, but that will never keep us from trying. Now, let’s chat about the thunderous scene I found myself in upon simply entering the venue.
Indoor concerts are ramping up as the temperature drops and the Complex recently hosted the American indie-pop trio SHAED (pronounced “shade”). The night was filled with electro-pop bangers blended with smooth, creamy R&B licks that had the crowd swaying in delight. Absofacto opened the show. Jonathan Visger, known as Absofacto, is incredibly dynamic. A blend of different sounds, his high energy set defied genres and boundaries. Absofacto is known for producing music that doesn’t fit a specific mold. The energy built throughout the set and he danced across the stage as the audience cheered. He even played a new song that he anticipates releasing soon. If you’re a fan, keep an eye out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what’s to come. He ended his set with his breakout single “Dissolve”, which has over 54 million streams on Spotify.
With only four shows left on their North America tour, Half•Alive was in Salt Lake City, Utah for the first time. The Salt Lake City show had been sold out for a while and H•A fans were eager to see the boys in town. A nice surprise was that Half•Alive had accepted alternative rock, radio station, X96’s invitation to do a Lounge X acoustic performance. Earlier in the day, a small group of fans lined up outside Club 50 West, including myself. I have come to love these intimate, lounge X performances because they’re so much more personal and up close. Another plus is fans usually get to meet and take photos with the band afterward, which we did. The acoustic performance was lovely. They started out with “TrusT”, played “Runaway” and “Still Feel”, which is their most famous single. Josh, Brett & J. Tyler took some time to answer questions from the fans, which is always super cool. I even got to ask a question, asking the lead singer Josh, where he and the boys get their music video inspiration from. If you haven’t seen any of Half Alive’s music videos, you should check them out because they are beautiful, cinematic pieces. Josh replied to me saying that on their YouTube page, they actually have a whole playlist of music videos they find beautiful and that they like to get inspired by what catches their eyes in those videos. I think that’s super awesome.
On Saturday, an enthusiastic crowd welcomed Amber Bain, better known as The Japanese House, to the Complex in Salt Lake City. Bain’s debut album “Good at Falling” was released in March of 2019, although she released four EPs between 2015-2017. This was her second visit to Salt Lake this year, showcasing the new indie-pop tracks as well as “Something has to Change”, the lead single off her upcoming EP, this time around.
Have you ever seen Bastille live before? I’ve seen them one other time when they played at the UCCU Center on the campus of Utah Valley University. After that Utah County concert, I knew Bastille was a band I would always enjoy seeing live when they came to Utah. The combination of hearing their melodic indie pop style live and the energy of the band make the Bastille live show one to never miss.
When I found out that Vampire Weekend was playing The Complex, I envisioned them playing in the biggest of the two rooms, The Rockwell. But it wasn’t until I arrived at the venue that I realized this show wouldn’t be taking place in either of them. I walked up to where security usually checks bags and scans their metal detectors and found that there was actually a tent in front of that gate for Will Call and that the security checkpoint was now where you enter the show. The big lot that will usually house the tour buses was now the venue where Vampire Weekend would be performing. I have to admit I was a little confused. A stage had been constructed for this show and instead of a typical concert at The Complex, we were treated to one of the last albeit unexpected outdoor concerts of the year.
As we get older and we grow up, we many times attend concerts of our favorite bands to remember the “Good Ol’ Days”. And many times nostalgia fills us and we go back to that time when we were younger when we saw a particular band for the first time. There are times when we’ll go to a show for that nostalgia trip and unfortunately a band has passed their peak and we’re sadly reminded that we’re all older and that the band we’re seeing probably needs to call it a day. Then there’s The Alarm. Sometimes I wonder what it was like seeing The Alarm back in the 80s or 90s. (My first time seeing them was last year.) Could it have possibly been better than what I saw on August 8, 2019, at The Complex? There’s just no way. I think through the circumstances of Mike Peter’s life he has breathed new life in The Alarm, especially in their live shows.
The Alarm is back on tour promoting their new album Sigma. Sigma is a sequel to last year’s critically acclaimed Equals. The Alarm return to Utah on August 8 at The Complex with Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel. I had the opportunity to speak with The Alarm’s frontman, Mike Peters a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed our conversation so much! Mike has had a challenging life and a very interesting career. Enjoy!
Utah Concert Review: So before we begin, I was watching some videos on YouTube the other day and I went down this rabbit hole as you do. I’m a huge fan of The Killers, and I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, but I saw them performing at Cardiff Castle in Wales (Peters home country) and they began singing “Rain in the Summertime”. I was so excited! But then I heard that you might have been there. Is that true? Were you there?!
It doesn’t seem fair that one band can have so many talented musicians, so many talented vocalists, and so many talented songwriters that create so many great songs. There are bands out there that are barely able to squeeze out maybe one solid hit (which is more than I could ever do). Then there’s The Head and the Heart who have what seems like an endless supply of really great songs.
Fresh off two sold-out concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado, The Head and the Heart met up with us here in Utah for their third show in as many days. Those Red Rock shows were streamed online. I took a peek at the first show and I knew we were in for a great night I was really excited to hear a lot of songs from the new album Living Mirage. I have really enjoyed that album. When UCR saw them at Park City Live back in March, The Head and the Heart played some songs from Living Mirage which was still a couple of months away from being released. I loved those songs and was excited to see how many more songs they’d perform on this tour.
I don’t think there are truly any words to describe how amazing Hippo Campus is live. On Friday, July 19, The Complex was packed with fans of all ages, coming out to see Hippo Campus and The Head & The Heart. I knew from the beginning this concert was going to be a good one because even though Hippo Campus wasn’t headlining, they’re a big name on their own that brought out every Hippo fan in Salt Lake City. Excited comes nowhere near to how pumped I was for this show. It’s unexplainable. Hippo Campus is my favorite band in the world. They have been since the moment I saw them perform at Kilby Court, five years ago. Since then, I haven’t missed one Utah show.