The Backseat Lovers• November 22 & 23, 2022• Capitol Theatre
Reviewed by Josilyn Wakkuri Lybbert & Kevin Rolfe
Night 1 Photographed by Josilyn Wakkuri Lybbert
Night 2 Photographed by Kevin Rolfe
When I got to the stunning Capitol Theater a little after 6 pm on Tuesday, November 22nd, there was already a line forming down the sidewalk for the Utah native Backseat Lovers’ first of two sold out shows there! Despite the chilly temperature, everyone in line was cheery, swapping music recommendations and other concert stories. Most people I spoke to had seen the band at least once before and were so excited to see them again!
I ended up receiving my photo credentials after the show was scheduled to start. Luckily for me, but not as lucky for the opening band, Little Moon, there were some technical difficulties with the sound, so I ended up being pretty early after all! The show ended up starting closer to 9 pm rather than 8 pm. But the people in attendance didn’t seem to mind. Everyone was gracious and patient while they worked everything out.
The first thing that was very apparent about Little Moon was the lead singer, Emma Handyman’s crazy impressive vocal range! I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone sing such a high note, especially not in person! Little Moon’s songs could be best described as tranquil. Each had beautiful melodies and every member of the band contributed great talents to the overall sound. For one song, Emma said that she had written it for her husband, who is also in the band and that their anniversary was the following day. At one point during the song, he leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek, and after the song was over she said that that was a sweet surprise!
At the end of their set, Little Moon received a standing ovation for their beautiful performance! Despite the technical difficulties that started the show, Little Moon handled the night with grace!
It wasn’t long before the Backseat Lovers were on! The drum kit glowed like the moon as the members took the stage, and the lights slowly came up. The cheering crowd got up on their feet excited for the show ahead! The lead singer, Joshua, said, “It’s so good to be home, today!” When the band was singing and playing, the crowd was so loud, but in the brief moments when they weren’t, the crowd was close to silent. Various members of the band mentioned how quiet it was!
At one point, Joshua said, “It’s really quiet in here, and it’s really cold outside, but it’s toasty in here!” During the song, “Snowbank Blues,” the band was singing and playing so quietly that the crowd could be heard almost louder than them! As the band progressively got louder, so did the audience. It was so perfect that it almost seemed like they planned it that way!
The visuals throughout the night were very unique! The lights would be so dim it would be hard to see everyone on stage, and then the lights would flash brightly the next. At times the backdrop of the stage would be a virtual blank, but for one song, the backdrop had really cool abstract visuals that moved around. As the song progressed, it would speed up, and at the end, it all went black!
Out of all the songs, there were two that were the obvious crowd favorites! “Pool House,” and, “Kilby Girl,” caused the crowd to scream and sing even louder than they had been all night! There was so much passion behind their singing, it made for a really cool atmosphere! I couldn’t help but smile as I observed the joy that rippled from the stage to all fans in attendance! I love that that’s what live music can do!
Between the gorgeous venue, thrilled fans, and talented musicians, the first night of The Backseat Lovers’ homecoming shows was a night to remember!
Leading up to night two, I spoke to Josilyn about her experience on night one. I didn’t want to hear too much because I wanted to be surprised. Especially since this would be my first time getting to see The Backseat Lovers live. As you’ve just read, and by all indicators from our conversation, I knew it would be a good night.
If I had gone in cold, without any info on night one, it wouldn’t have taken long to understand that these shows were a big deal to many Utah fans. It feels weird even having to say this because I’m sure most people in Utah already know, but The Backseat Lovers are from Utah. So these two sold out shows at the Capitol Theatre were homecoming shows. There was a buzz in the lobby when I walked in. The line for merch seemed endless, and yet no one seemed worried or anxious. It was a young crowd of mostly teenagers and early twenty year olds. It seemed that there were many there attending their first concert ever. There was so much excitement that I began getting those pre concert jitters myself.
Getting to see The Backseat Lovers in concert has been a long time coming for me. I learned about them years ago when one of my first reviewers, Cassilyn Anderson introduced me to their music. She shot pretty much every show they played here on Utah during their assent into a national touring band. Because it’s general practice that there aren’t more than one Utah Concert Review photographer at a show, I would be at a different show when The Backseat Lovers would be playing. I was excited to have the chance to see them. Especially since they have done so well for themselves. On a side note, it was great to see Cassilyn still doing photography for the band.
The band took the stage to a loud roar from the audience. The began the show with “Silhouette” the opening song off of their sophomore album, Waiting to Spill. After a few songs it was pretty clear that they would be playing the entire album front to back. And they did. Frontman, Joshua Harman asked the crowd, “Everyone feeling good and comfortable?” Which received a loud applause in the affirmative. “Let us know if that changes at any point.” It did not. Everyone not only seemed comfortable, but right where they wanted to be, the night before Thanksgving.
I found The Backseat Lovers to be so interesting. They were so laid back on stage. Not saying too much, not much interaction with the crowd, but seemingly very at ease on that stage. I say they were so laid back. That is until they weren’t. Their easy going demeanor gave way to hair whipping and head banging on some of the heavier songs. It was a stark contrast to the way they usually were. I liked the shift in expression because I felt like it kept the audience on their toes.
The crowd was great. I’m going to sound like I’m 87 here, but ‘Those kids were a delightful audience’. I hope you read that with an old man voice. Anyway, I’ve been to shows when the song is slow and quiet and fans think it’s their time to shout out and be heard. But this crowd was so engaged and so along for the ride that when the songs were slow and quiet, they were silent. And of course, when the songs had major energy and were louder, the crowd followed suit. The relationship between the audience and the band was cohesive despite the rare interaction.
After The Backseat Lovers finished playing, Waiting to Spill, they jumped into what some might call their “hits”. These were clearly the songs that have taken them to where they are today. Just like Josilyn said about night one, “Kilby Girl” went over really well with night two. I must admit, it was really cool to hear this song in Utah, home of the legendary Kilby Court. I wonder if their fans in other states know the reference? It’s obvious that it doesn’t matter if they do or not. They just love the song. But I felt like the Capitol Theatre crowd seemed to enjoy having the inside scoop. I looked all around me during this song. Friends were singing to each other, fans were screaming the lyrics back to the band. The air was electric and fun and so youthful.
Harmon told the crowd that “This has been so beautiful and fun> Thank you so much!”. The band begged the boys to return for an encore and they obliged with “Out of Tune” and “Sinking Ship”. I loved seeing how happy the audience was. There was a man and woman next to me. They were smiling from ear to ear the whole show. It was more than just a “We’re having a great time” smile. My buddy and I were convinced that they had to be parents of someone in the band. Sure enough, after the show we chatted and I was sitting next to bassit, KJ Ward’s parents. They have so much love for the guys in the band and just love how much fun they have.
I don’t know these guys, but it was awesome to be inside the Capitol Theatre, maybe ten blocks away from the famed Kilby Court. They’ve come a long way. I think they’re only part of the way on their musical journey. I’m excited to see what’s next!