Fictionist @ Rooftop Concert Series 09.07

Posted September 11, 2012 in
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Fictionist guitarist Robbie Connolly playing to a packed roof at the latest Rooftop Concert Series in Provo. Photo: Brent Rowland

Rooftop Concert Series
with The New Electric Sound

This installment of Provo’s Rooftop Concert Series provided an interesting juxtaposition of coming and leaving in the Provo music scene. The show featured the scene’s most recent success story of breaking into the national eye, Fictionist. As finalists in a Rolling Stone contest for unsigned bands, they hit the bigtime and were signed to Atlantic Records.  They have since been away recording their new album with the help of some big-name producers, and it is set to be released in early 2013 after a string of singles. With that being said, I’d say it’s time to give Fictionist a sweet kiss of parting. It’s safe to say that their upcoming show show at Velour (09.22) will be their last in Provo.

In contrast, The New Electric Sound is a rising force in Provo and is here to stay (for a little while, anyway). They formed last year as a collective of members from other local groups and have seen success with their new album this summer and their locally popular music video.  A lot of people are excited to see them become leaders in the scene.

But on to the show. It might be hard for some to believe, but Provo is quite the happening place on the first Friday of the month—so much that they make a little infographic each month to help people keep track of it all. The Rooftop series is a part of the hullabaloo and attracts both the music scene kids who crowd the stage and the more casual listeners who set up blankets and chairs in the back. There were more people packed onto the top of the downtown parking garage (where the series is held) for this show than I had seen at any previous ones I had been to.

Of the two bands featured, I’d say that TNES dished out the most consistent energy. The six-piece was visibly excited and bouncy as they played their signature surf rock-inspired style. They weren’t shy about wanting to take the audience to a California beach for the evening. With a song about the Pacific Coast Highway and an interlude that could have come off an old Dick Dale album, I’d say they succeeded. They satisfied their fans and even got some of the old folks at the show out of their seats to dance by closing with their hit song, “Heart Beat.” It was a promising show for the rising stars.

The last time I saw Fictionist, they were good, like rush-to-the-merch-to-buy-the-CD good. So, my expectations were high, but not quite met. Their musical talent, band chemistry and precision as performers were apparent, but they weren’t able to blow me away like they had before. To be sure, though, their spacy classic-rock style and appreciation for the art of the guitar solo do them very well. A clear highlight was their cover of The Who’s “Teenage Wasteland.” I’m sure Pete Townshend and the gang would be proud, because it was played like it came right off the album. But, the fact that a cover was a highlight of their performance is telling. They played a lot of their new stuff, and it was good n’ all, but perhaps not all that refined for live performance quite yet. And they could have played some more classics for the fans. Two of their songs had the lyrics “I’m ready” prominently sung and singer Stuart Maxfield commented that they felt like they were already strangers in town. It’s true that college towns have very short memories. Maybe it’s for the best, as the lyrics allude, that they are ready to move on. I expect to see a stronger fan turnout and more love shown for the band at their upcoming Velour show where they will have a longer set and home-stage advantage in their favor. If you want to check out a Utah band that is about to break out of the bubble, definitely make the drive for their next show.

Props to the Rooftop series organizers for putting on such good shows for free.
Click here to check out our photo gallery of the show!

Fictionist guitarist Robbie Connolly playing to a packed roof at the latest Rooftop Concert Series in Provo. Photo: Brent Rowland