Localized: The Weekenders and The North Valley

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(L–R) Mike Torgerson, Mike Sasich, Rob Reinfurt and Shaun Thomas of The Weekenders slam out modern, sludgy tunes with a classic rock n’ roll flavoring. Photo: Russel Daniels

Salt Lake City is set to soar through space and time on Sept. 20 with this month’s Localized, featuring the psychedelic sludge of The Weekenders combined with the classic blues rock quintet of The North Valley, alt-indie rockers The National Parks opening at 9 p.m. All who are 21+ can bask in this local talent with host Ischa B. at Urban Lounge for just $5. For those of you who are out of town, underage or crippled, you can still catch the show live at gigviz.com.

Before I sat down with the members of The Weekenders for our interview, their laidback vibes relaxed the atmosphere around us. These Salt Lakers make it seem as though it’s second nature for them to reconnect the hard work that goes into maintaining a tight sound, while performing in a way that makes the fun contagious.

As a personal witness to that which is The Weekenders, I must testify to the fun that is sure to be had while listening to them rock the fuck out. They will hit you with their sound first, and as their sludge permeates to your bones, you may find your head involuntarily swaying to the reverb. Their volume and togetherness is reminiscent of classic rock bands such as The Grateful Dead and The Doors, yet they stay modern enough to grab your attention, similar to a direction of bands such as Dead Meadow or Black Mountain. It is this combination that forces your attention, with the fuzz of stoner rock that you can still jam to, even if you’re sober.

While their origins trace back to around 2010, it was just this winter that the lineup was solidified into a collaborative effort. The group now consists of Rob Reinfurt (guitar, vocals), Mike Torgerson (bass), Shaun Thomas (drums) and Mike Sasich (guitar). Reinfurt was working on a record with Sasich, when Reinfurt recalls that Sasich asked him if he was in the market for a second guitarist. Reinfurt says, “I didn’t want to ask him because I thought he was busy with all of his other bands and his studio. Plus, I thought he was a little bit out of my league. He wanted to join, and so I said, ‘Yeah, for sure!’” After losing a drummer, Reinfurt posted an ad on Craigslist and had a few auditions before Thomas came to fit the bill. Thomas came in to audition while the other drummer was still playing. “That was really awkward … I was sitting on his stool, which I didn’t realize, so he couldn’t really leave, so he had to stay there and watch me play,” Thomas says. Although they appreciated the previous drummer, Thomas turned out to be a much better fit for the band, Reinfurt says. As far as bassists went, “It was like Spinal Tap,” Reinfurt says, with a rotating cast of bass players that frequently came and went. Reinfurt finally connected with Torgerson as a fill-in bassist for a gig in Provo.

Since then, the band has contributed in equal efforts. With a fluctuating lineup in the past, it was difficult to find a base to move forward from. “Now, we’ve kind of worked out where we’re going from here, and it’s more collaborative. I appreciate that, because that’s what a band is: collaboration. It’s not about one person doing everything, and people showing up and playing the music, which, in situations before, was kind of like that,” Reinfurt says. While the lineup alternated between various players, it was mostly Reinfurt calling the shots and telling people what to play. “Now, [the songwriting] is based off of a little bit more of a really simple, basic element, and everyone builds off of that. I’m not telling Shaun what to play on drums, what Mike should play on bass,” Reinfurt says. “Playing with these guys has definitely been the best experience that we’ve ever had collectively as a band.”

With this solidified lineup, the band hopes to play in front of a crowd of people who will appreciate the rock they put out there, and, most importantly, to have a blast while at it. The crew recently traveled through Colorado on tour, playing shows that tended toward emptiness, since no one had heard of them before. “But the sound guys liked us, the door guys liked us and the bar people liked us, and they hear music every night. So, to hear them give you good feedback, that’s something. We had a lot of fun!” Torgerson says. Reinfurt agrees with the sentiment: “Some of the best shows we’ve played have been for no people,” he says.

You can download their debut album, Don’t Plan On, for free on their website at theweekendersmusic.com, and make sure to keep a lookout for their upcoming album to be released this fall. Catching their set live at Localized on Sept. 20 will get you shaking, because their live performance will delight your ears and body.