Michael Franti & Spearhead w/ The New Respects• July 19, 2022• Red Butte Garden
Reviewed and Photographed by Josilyn Wakkuri Lybbert
The beautiful Red Butte Amphitheater was packed full of concert-goers on July 19th! Michael Franti & Spearhead, along with The New Respects, drew in the excited crowd! It was my first time at Red Butte Garden Amphitheater. I was really impressed with it! The staff was so friendly and helpful. The view was gorgeous, the flowers surrounding the stage were the perfect touch to tie in with the view, and the weather was perfect. Which was definitely the cherry on top!
The New Respects
When The New Respects took the stage on Tuesday night, they were all smiles! From the second they stepped on stage, there was no doubt that they were going to bring so much fun to the show! They opened up their set with, “We Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” which was an upbeat song with a hint of funk. It didn’t take long until most of the crowd were up and dancing, and the band danced right along with them! They followed with the song, “Frightening Lightning,” which was another energetic, fun jam for the crowd to enjoy! As their set continued, the energy from the audience of the crowd and the bad grew and grew! It was hard for me to refrain from dancing along with many others as I was taking photos because their songs were just easy to get lost in!
The New Respects played some of their other songs including, “Before The Sun Goes Down,” “Take It Or Leave It,” and, “Something To Believe In,” which has quickly become one of my new favorites! Each song had different variations of sounds. Some sounded like rock, others were groovy or gave off bluesy vibes, while others sounded closer to pop. Even though they all had their own distinct sounds, they also gave off a similar feel. Not in a, “They all sound the same,” way, but in more of a happy, familiar way! Speaking of familiarity, the band announced that they were going to play a song that a lot of people would know.
They played, “Come Together,” by The Beatles, and that was a big hit with the crowd! The entire band was so talented, musically and vocally. Their voices were clear and strong, and every song was so catchy and easy to listen to! I thoroughly enjoyed their set, and so did everyone else!
Michael Franti & Spearhead
As I was waiting for Michael Franti to kick off his portion of the show, I met Quinn Parker. He’s a fan of Franti’s, who had made his way to the front of the crowd. I asked him if he had seen Michael Franti in concert before, and Quinn had the year prior when Michael had come to Utah then! “Is he pretty good?” I asked, to which he responded with an excited nod of his head! “You don’t even have to know his songs,” he said, “It’s just a big party!”
As the time drew closer for the main event to begin, more and more fans trickled down the hill to get closer to the stage. A count down on the screen began, and when the time was up, his opening video began to play. I’ve never seen a more emotional, touching opening video at a concert! In the video, Michael Franti expressed his desire for us to remember and focus on the important and good things in life. His band got on stage, and he followed, barefoot! Everyone got up on their feet and stayed up the whole time!
From the get-go, Michael was so consistently interactive with the crowd, and the people really fed off of it! They didn’t need a warm-up period. The good time started as soon as the music did! I was in awe of the positive messages that were portrayed through his songs, words, and the happiness he was showing. I had heard that his shows were a great experience, and I was sold on that fact by the time the first song was over! The thought kept coming to me, “This guy is a literal ray of sunshine!”
Michael jumped and moved all over the stage. He frequently interacted with his band mates, who seemed to be having an equally good time! The crowd went wild for one of his more well-known hits, “The Sound of Sunshine!”. I was walking up from the front, and there were people of all ages running down the hill to get to the front to join in on the fun and get a closer look! For that song, Michael brought a girl on stage to sing with him, and it was clear that she had no fear and loved that unique experience!
Before the next song, “Life Is Better With You,” he encouraged everyone to put their hands up if they came to the concert with someone they love. To hug the person, and say hi to new people around them. During the song, he said that everyone should join arms and dosey doe, and they did! I have never seen a more joyous crowd. Everyone was just dancing and having a great, wholesome time, and it was heartwarming! As he and the band played on, even just the song titles suggested positive thoughts and ideas. They played songs such as, “Work Hard And Be Nice,” “Life Is Amazing,” and, “Follow Your Heart.” Then he played an acoustic version of, “Better,” which he also played a non-acoustic version of again later in the evening!
Michael told the story of his biological father passing away from COVID. Between that experience, and experiencing his first show back since COVID shut live shows down, he wrote the song, “People Need People.” Following that, Michael ventured into the crowd which of course was received with excitement and was probably a highlight of many peoples’ night! As quickly as he made it into the crowd, he was back up on stage to sing a few more songs before the evening was over. As his hit, “Say Hey (I Love You),” began to play, the audience went wild! He paused and said, “We need some kids up here!” Then, a flood of kids ran on stage! They showed off their best dance moves and some of them even got to sing in the microphone!
This concert is one that many won’t soon forget! I’ve never seen anything like it! It was a night filled with so much positivity! It was so uplifting, and it was wonderful to see everyone together having a great time in a good environment! They jumped around and danced their hearts out!
People were even dancing while they were waiting to use the bathroom! When he said, “Put your hands up in the air!” or, “Everyone clap!” everyone delivered! Beach balls and bubbles could be seen floating through the air from the first song, clear until the last song of the night. Michael Franti & The Spearheads and The New Respects brought out the best in those in attendance! Quinn was right, it sure was one big party!