with The Dear Hunter, Balance and Composure and Trophy Fire
The Trophy Fire kicked off this touring bill that likely would’ve been an impressive show, had the bumbling Avalon not fucked up yet another sweet setup with poorly trained and incompetent staff. The three-piece rock act from San Francisco's set was tight but lacked all things that make a good concert. They had little energy, there was no atmosphere and the songs were without any special merit. Described across the Interwebs as hook heavy, The Trophy Fire’s bland set didn’t have a single toe-tapping moment. Frontman/guitarist Ben Flanagan sang with the confidence of junior high talent show contestant, whimpering out phrases that were barely discernable in the shitty Avalon mix.
Although Trophy Fire practically doused any potential of early conflagration, Balance and Composure at least provided the kindling and a hint of warmth. What B&C missed in technical accuracy, they more than made up for with passion and a watchable stage show. A band that's fun to watch? At a live show? Weird, right? Trophy Fire's members looked about a decade older than the band playing immediately after them, but they could really learn a few things about showmanship from the younglings.
B&C's debut full-length album came out the day of the show, and they definitely converted a few fans in
Salt Lake City with their jumpy convulsing and pleasantly droning riffs. B&C had barely enough balance to remain upright, but composure was what the next band was thankfully all about. Sure, the Avalon has had some great nights, great shows and great sounds. Unfortunately, The Dear Hunter's set proved it was ‘tard night in the sound booth. It took a good 45 minutes for the sound guy to plug the band's shit into the grid. There was too much feedback, vocals were imbalanced with the mix and guitarist Connor Doyle's strings were nowhere to be heard. In response to Kollective amateur hour, Doyle whispered to a small group, "You guys should write your local congressman to request a better sound guy."
Despite the imperfect conditions, the band remained professional and played a tight set of their second and third albums. Since they took so long, though, the venue cut them halfway through their intended set. "In Cauda Venenum," "The Procession" and "This Body" were highlights of their abbreviated showing.
Since it was nearing 10:45 and headliners Dredg hadn't yet taken the stage, the drunkards in the audience were beginning to get restless. "I want 50 minutes of Dredge," said one three-sheets-to-the-wind girl. Guitarist Mark Engles replied with, "Don't worry, we're playing a full set." To which the slightly thinned crowd applauded and stirred among the nonsense being strained through the house PA.
Due to another seemingly unnecessary wait, the energy was pretty much sapped from the audience when Dredg took the stage. Though they played mostly tracks from their 2010 album, "Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy," they polished off cuts from "Leitmotif," "El Cielo" and 2005's "Catch Without Arms." "Of the Room" and "Same Ol' Road" were particularly satisfying. Vocalist Gavin Hayes, despite problems with his microphone and nagging voice issues, put on a pleasant performance. His slide guitar added ethereal colors to the already moody slap of rock. Flanagan of Trophy Fire joined the band for a few newer songs, and he brought his apparently trademark malaise. Bassist Drew Roulette was the tightest musician of the night and kept the low end both thumping and driving alongside drummer Dino Campanella's busy beats.
The night ended with no encore and a sluggish herding to the parking lot, as well as a reminder that Salt Lake City's inability to properly showcase medium-size acts is a true blight on its musical reputation.