Kilby Block Party 4• May 12, 13, & 14• Utah State Fairgrounds
Reviewed and Photographed by Tomo Crestani
Bringing the biggest show they have had to this point, Kilby Block Party hosted their yearly festival, this time, at the Utah State Fairpark. The three-day festival kicked off on May 12th and wrapped up Sunday the 14th. It was a highly anticipated show as the lineup was one of the biggest lineups of any of the indie-rock festivals in the country. With headliners like, The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, and many other amazing artists, it was an amazing weekend of music. One highlight that I heard many locals getting very excited about was the late addition of Dominic Fike. Coming straight off his Coachella set, there was a lot of anticipation for his show.
The Utah State Fairpark was an amazing place for this festival to take place. It hosted the huge crowds perfectly. I appreciated the way they set up the schedule so you could see the maximum amount of shows. The two main stages were offset so you didn’t miss any of the bigger artists. I really appreciated the attention to the fans who wanted to see multiple stages.
The first artist I was able to see was Momma. Although they were an early set on the smallest stage, I expected a little more energy in the performance. Their music and talent were clearly great, but the performance wasn’t my ideal way to open my festival experience. It wasn’t a bad performance, just nothing special to break them out of the smaller artists in attendance that day.
Jean Dawson was the first artist I was able to see on the Kilby Stage. Without disrespect to Momma, Jean was a much higher-energy performer. He also had crowd engagement which helped a lot. Jean was an artist I hadn’t heard of before but absolutely won me over with his set. I also appreciated his outfit, wearing a bandana over his head and flashing his gold teeth. I really enjoyed his performance.
Lucius was up next on my schedule as I visited the Lake Stage for the first time. Kilby and Lake Stages were the same size, which made for some really underrated performances at the Lake Stage. I think people quickly came to realize that the two stages had similar popularity. Lucius was probably one of the best vocal performances I watched the entire weekend. They were so fun to listen to because the vocal talent was on another level. They also played two stand-alone drums at the front of the stage which made for a really cool addition to the show.
Remi Wolf is one of the only artists I had listened to prior to the festival. Even though I knew her music, I wasn’t expecting her live set to be so amazing. She was electric on stage. Wolf gained a lot of love entering the stage wearing a Utah t-shirt. She also had the benefit of having a song with the headline act on the Lake stage that night, Dominic Fike. They performed their song “Photo ID” together, and it was one of my favorite moments of the weekend.
Cuco was the only artist at the festival that I had actually seen in concert before. And his set at Kilby Block Party was just as entertaining. Cuco always brings a lot of passion to his performance. One thing he added that I loved was a trumpet solo. He clearly is a talented artist but it was cool to see him showcase his talent with a trumpet as well.
Dominic Fike was the headline set on the Lake Stage the first night. He was by far my favorite set of the weekend. He played almost the same setlist from Coachella. Including his viral live version of his popular song “Why”. He also was so engaged with the crowd and made sure they were all having a good time after waiting so long in the hot sun for the last sets of the day. Dominic had his own audio team helping with all the audio effects he has on his recorded songs, which was so cool to watch live. He was such an incredible performer and could be my favorite concert I have ever been to.
Ending the night were the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s on the main stage. They came onto the stage with so much energy and were a perfect way to close out the first day. They had so many super fans in the crowd, that had clearly been to a few shows before. I saw merchandise from other shows the band had played in other states, which is an incredible sign of fan loyalty. I really enjoyed their entire performance.
The first set I was able to watch on Saturday was Gus Dapperton. Although the vocals sounded a little shaky during his performance, the music was still enjoyable. He was able to rely on his stage presence and cool instrumental tracks to bring the performance together. I still really enjoyed his set.
Alex G was a very hyped up set that many people were looking forward to. I personally wasn’t the biggest fan of his performance. Given that he didn’t move around the stage much and spent a lot of the time mumbling into the microphone. I was slightly disappointed that an artist everyone was so excited about wasn’t my favorite set to watch.
Goth Babe was the biggest surprise to me. I hadn’t heard his music at all and was a little skeptical when first hearing the name. I expected a dark rock vibe but almost got the opposite. He was a high-energy artist that made me feel so happy as I listened to them perform. He also was the only band to put a fan on a pool floaty and toss them around the crowd. It was a really fun environment the entire performance. The set was unfortunately cut short due to lightning in the area.
Caroline Polacheck was next up on my list. Her music isn’t what I typically listen to, but she was a very talented performer. She had a lot of vocal talent and energy on the stage. Some artists just don’t connect with you on a musical level as much. That being said, she was still an amazing show that I would love to watch again. I just might not find myself listening to her outside of a concert.
Hippo Campus is a band that I really want to go see again. I loved their set. They brought a lot of their popular songs to the festival stage in a big way. They made sure to make it as passionate as possible. The entire crowd was so engaged the entire performance. Each member of the band made sure to make connections with the crowd. This helped make them one of the best performances of the weekend.
Run The Jewels arrived at the Lake Stage with two really cool jewels hanging from the top of the stage. Their performance was super entertaining as they had small moments during where they almost seemed to do little skits with each other. The two-man rap band was very cool to hear live. The crowd was as loud as it could get, with the clear super fans screaming every word of every song.
The Strokes set was amazing in every way other than the fact that the lighting was super dark when I was photographing their set. Although if I wasn’t trying to take pictures I probably would think this is super cool to do for a few songs. Their set overall was super cool and fun to watch. The Strokes are an iconic band that was cool to see live.
Sunday was a chaotic day due to the weather. But the first set I watched was The Backseat Lovers. It was cool to have the Utah-based band back performing in Salt Lake City. They were a super fun set, that the crowd was very into. I had a lot of fun learning new songs that I will for sure listen to outside of the festival.
The Pixies were an incredible set until the weather ultimately ended it early. As I was backstage before the set, it appeared that the band was debating playing the set or not because the lighting and rain were quickly approaching. They were able to get a decent amount of their songs performed before the weather intervened. I really enjoyed their music and performance. They were just as amazing live as I expected them to be.
With the weather taking the festival away for a moment, I was evacuated behind the stage and into a small garage a ways from the stage. I stayed there with staff members and a few other photographers for a while until the storm slowed down. As I left the garage there was still a decent amount of rain coming down and lightning on the horizon. So we were told to exit by the staff parking lot. With no announcement on if the final set of the festival was going to perform, and so many people rushing to their cars to leave, I decided to head home.
About 30 minutes after I had left I saw an announcement that said Pavement would perform. It was really sad to miss their set. If I had known they would be performing, I would have stuck around. But unfortunately, I thought the rest of the festival had ended. I still had a blast all weekend.
Kilby Block Party 4 was an amazing festival that I will always remember. I can’t believe all of these amazing artists were here in Utah for one weekend of shows. This was definitely the biggest Kilby Block Party so far. look forward to trying to visit next year again to see how they top this year’s festival. I can only imagine what they’ll do. My highlights were Dominic Fike, Goth Babe, and Remi Wolf, I enjoyed every set I was able to see. I would highly recommend this festival.