Si se puede. Yes, it can be done.

This is the motto of the United Farm Workers, created by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, two latin@ cultural icons found in a mural on the north wall of Taqueria Azteca de Oro in West Jordan. This artwork is now the center of controversy, after some people have complained about it being gang-related or offensive. As a result, the city of West Jordan ordered the Taqueria Azteca de Oro to cover up the mural. The city deemed that the mural is in violation of civil code that states that a business can’t have a “sign” for their operation that is over a certain size. However, the mural is not a sign for business.

Owner Miguel Dominguez and artist Miguel Galaz aren’t about to give up without a fight, and on the evening of Thursday, July 23rd, they held a rally to support the preservation of their mural. Since the announcement of the rally, which was only the day prior, West Jordan officials agreed to give a 30-day stay of the law in order to see if an agreement could be reached. Some officials were even in attendance at the rally.

Complaints about the flag on the wall being gang-related are unfounded: It’s the United Farm Workers flag. It’s a flag for equal rights. The stories of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta are not taught to students in Utah public schools, so to the uneducated eye, they seem like random faces: Latin@ faces that will not be recognized by white people.

The intent of the mural, which was started 17 weeks ago with help from a grant from Salt Lake Community College, is to pay tribute to these two heroes of the Latino American culture. Kids look up to and want to look like their heroes. “We have this artwork on the wall for our kids. To show them our heroes,” said Dominguez. He then went on to encourage the community to vote for change, because voting within your city is the most important vote you can give. He even shared his iPad with attendees, so that they could sign up to vote.

For now, thanks to the quick community response, the mural stays.

5050 BMX Shop is located in Layton, UT and is arguably the most famous BMX shop in the country. Owner/operator Eddie Buckley has a crew of riders who come setup the box jump and quarter pipe for demos at events. The Salt Lake County Fair runs Aug. 12–16 and the 5050 BMX team were there to do demos on the first afternoon of the fair. With a mix of riders aged 6 to 28, there was a diverse selection of riding styles and tricks. While a demo is a “show” for the audience, it’s also just another day of riding bikes for the riders. Lots of laughs and jokes were had between demos, and the final demo even had a guest appearance from a T-Rex.

On Nov. 29, the Guitar Collective Tour came to The Metro in Salt Lake City, featuring guitar gods Angel Vivaldi, Chris Letchford (with his band Scale the Summit) and the UK’s Andy James. The evening’s music had everything from drawn-out melodic progressions to face-melting shredding, with all three guitarists complementing and contrasting each other with their own individual styles.

Local metal band Machines of Man opened the show with a mix of melodic vocals and screams, heavy guitar riffs and driving drums over a smattering of unconventional time signatures—far more thoughtful than a lot of American hardcore–influenced bands. I really enjoyed their set and will be going to see them again, for sure!

Andy James is on the tour without band support, so he gets up on the stage and burns the place down with all other parts pre-recorded. There are different types of guitar heroes, and Andy James is not the showman-type. James stays relatively static and stoically unleashes his seven-stringed ESP while glaring out into the crowd beneath his signature black beanie. James played a good portion of his new album, Exodus, which is full of fast-paced picking and tapping that’s counterbalanced by choruses full of drawn-out, emotional riffs. I know I’m not alone in saying that it would be great to see him in 2018 with a full band and a longer set.

Scale the Summit was a big change, playing through complex rhythms and keys while guitarist Chris Letchford and bassist Kilian Duarte‘s contrasting playing styles kept the audience’s eyes roving. The band utilized a projector screen to back their songs with abstract video imagery (which also made shooting photos of the band nearly impossible). As a prog-rock outfit, their playing isn’t as much about how many notes can be fit into a bar; a lot of time changes and clever riffs abounded.

Angel Vivaldi was the final musician, and he started his set by playing an old Michael Jackson song, with appropriately choreographed dancing. As a longtime fan of his, I can honestly say that he is better live than his studio recordings—more so in that you can’t see him playing when you’re listening to the lightning fast “An Erisian Autumn”—it’s something that has to be witnessed. He puts his entire being into every single song, regardless of audience size. His performance is fantastic, and you know he’s having fun when he gets a quick manicure while still maintaining a melody. They ended the night with Andy James taking the stage with Vivaldi to play their new collaborative song, “Waves of Synergy,” with Letchford also joining in for a performance that’s reminiscent of the legendary original G3 Tour with Satriani, Vai & Johnson.


 

Every October there is a Halloween Jam at the jumps in Tanner Park where both local and non-local riders come to ride in costume. This year’s jam fell on Halloween itself, and the turnout was excellent. Almost everyone was in costume, lots of great riding went down, and the injuries were very minimal. Huge thanks and shoutout to the trail builders who build and maintain the jumps at Tanner Park. Without them, there would be no “Tanner Trails.”

Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups conjuring an ovation for opening band Foals. Photo: Andy Fitzgerrell

Three years after their last studio album: 2012’s Neck of the Woods, Silversun Pickups are on tour promoting Better Nature. Evolving from their earlier sound, Silversun Pickups have become more keyboard-driven with a more direct beat and delivery, but without losing any of their mix of fuzzy, distorted guitar, strumming bass and technical drums.

English rock band Foals opened for Silversun Pickups on Wednesday, Dec. 9, in the Rockwell room at The Complex in downtown Salt Lake City. The crowd were treated to a mix of preprogrammed electronica while Foals prepared to take the stage. They opened with “What Went Down,” and an assault of energy. Lead singer Andrew Mears belted lyrics into the mic with relentless aggression. As their set continued, the crowd went calm and still during their top hit, the slower-paced “My Number.” As their set wrapped up, Mears showed no loss of enthusiasm and ended up climbing down from the stage and screaming the lyrics to their final song before jumping into the crowd. Their set was fast and furious, but lacked a little engagement with the crowd. There was really no acknowledgment until they finished, but they gave a heartfelt thank you before leaving, and the crowd reciprocated.

As the stage was set for the Silversun Pickups to go on, the music box theme at the end of “Cradle (Better Nature)” floated out to the eagerly awaiting crowd. Silversun Pickups took the stage with beaming smiles and kicked straight into the full song with explosive energy. The crowd bounced with the beat and sang along. They followed with one of their most high-energy songs, “Well Thought Out Twinkles.” Lead singer/guitarist Brian Aubert prowled the stage while bassist Nikki Monninger bounced up and down in her silver-sequined dress and Dorothy-esque ruby red slippers. Sadly, for the first few songs, drummer Christopher Guanlao didn’t have any stage lights on him (“He IS here!” Aubert assured the crowd), so the audience wasn’t treated to his frenzied drumming and rhythmic head-bobbing (think Animal from the Muppets but with pinpoint precision and more technical playing).

As the set progressed, Aubert took time to thank the crowd, and even mentioned his telling a Florida DJ that “Salt Lake City is one of my favorite cities to play!” A smile crept across his face, a look of gratitude and humility, many times throughout the set. Monninger never stopped smiling the whole time. Keyboardist Joe Lester was stoic and calm. The contrast between the timbre of Aubert’s and Monninger’s voices, mixed with the fills and electronic manipulation by Guanlao and Lester’s upbeat flams and fills captivated the audience for a good solid 75 minutes. The band wrapped up with the opening to “Growing Old is Getting Old,” leading straight into their top hit, “Lazy Eye.” Silversun Pickups’ frenetic energy and exuberance had fully passed into the crowd by then, and the room was bouncing in unison until the end of the song. Silversun Pickups left the stage to near deafening cheers from the audience. After several minutes of “one more song!” chants from the crowd, Silversun Pickups placated us with a three-song encore, mostly from their new album, and then a salute, a bow and a thank you.

SLUG Cat racers head out from Saturday Cycles towards the first stop of the race. Photo: @theandyfitz

Saturday, May 26th marked the 6th annual SLUG Cat bike race in downtown Salt Lake City. The SLUG Cat is their take on an alley cat race (an unsanctioned urban bike race), with the added twist of making it a scavenger hunt with tasks and games at each station. The race included 10 stops, and the challenges included everything from bobbing for apples at Mountain West Hard Cider to playing Slapjack with giant cards at Pig and a Jelly Jar! The race left from Saturday Cycles at the north end of downtown and headed to SLUG headquarters, where the participants were given their copy of the latest SLUG bike issue. Inside each issue were clues related to each subsequent stop. We saw 20 participants start the race and awards were given to the top 3 in the men’s and women’s categories, with excellent prizes for the top finishers—including a bicycle! The women’s winner won a city cruiser bike from New Belgium Brewing, and the men’s winner received SLUG’s beloved “lunch-getter” cruiser that has been a part of the office for many years. Congratulations to all of the participants, and a heartfelt thank you to all of our sponsors in this year’s event.

Photos: @theandytiz


On Feb. 24, heavy-metal powerhouse Megadeth played at The Complex in Salt Lake City to a sold-out crowd of loyal fans both young and old. From veteran fans wearing old Rust in Peace tour shirts to seven-year-old children (who were there with their parents), the main hall at The Complex was packed with metalheads. Touring with Megadeth on the Dystopia Tour is Finnish band Children of Bodom—a contrast to the classic heavy metal of Megadeth—who drew their own devotees. Children of Bodom are built around a more melodic/symphonic/power metal sound through keyboard and Alexi Laiho‘s haunting screams. Also on the tour is Denver-based thrash band Havok, who opened the show with an aggressive onslaught of face-melting guitar riffs, pounding bass and thunderous double kick drum, which quickly whipped the crowd into an energetic frenzy. Havok’s set was fast and furious, and they left the stage to deafening applause—a perfect aperitif for the evening’s next course.

Children of Bodom’s opening catalyzed their fans, who sang along almost as loudly as Alexi Laiho’s screams and roars. With their high-energy stage presence and head-banging pace, Children of Bodom fueled the crowd onward through a full set that spanned the last 20-plus years of the band’s studio work. As Laiho saluted the crowd, throwing the “slayer” to their fans, he was greeted with the same gesture—even from the seven year-olds who were down in front. Who would’ve known that heavy metal concerts could become family outings?

Children of Bodom wrapped up their set with a heartfelt thank you, and bassist Henkka Seppala made sure all of the young fans got guitar picks before exiting the stage. The room buzzed with suspense, barely able to handle waiting for Megadeth to go on. The moment drummer Chris Adler (on loan from metal band Lamb of God) popped up behind his kit, the whole room exploded, and as the rest of the band came on, legendary frontman Dave Mustaine went straight into the opening song off of the new album, Dystopia: “The Threat is Real.” After giving a taste of the new album, they traveled back 25 years to “Hangar 18″—one of Megadeth’s greatest songs—which caused the whole venue to erupt.

The set was packed with fantastic songs, both new and old. They performed classics like “Symphony of Destruction” and “A Tout Le Monde,” and ended the show with “Peace Sells, But Who’s Buying” and “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” as their encore. They completed the set, in classic style, with sincerity and grace, bowing to the crowd as Mustaine played air guitar while walking offstage.

Megadeth has ruptured ear drums for 30 years, and while that may be some serious tenure, they show no signs of letting off on their iconic sound, which has gained them a reputation as one of the greatest metal bands of all time. A salute to them for giving such a memorable performance. Dave Mustaine is a god.


All-out brutality—this sums up the concert that took place at The Complex on Tuesday, March 1. Spanning nearly five hours, the bone-crushing lineup of Obituary, Cryptopsy and Abysmal Dawn would satiate almost any metalhead’s appetite, but throw in the most successful death metal band of all time, Cannibal Corpse, and you have a recipe for a sprained neck and ringing ears.

Abysmal Dawn took the stage as the opening act with ferocity and enthusiasm. “We’ve gone through a lot of shit to get here tonight …” said guitarist/vocalist Andy Nelson before requesting that the crowd show their support by forming a circle pit. Abysmal Dawn attacked their 30-minute set with heart and endurance, leaving to cheers before the crowd emptied into the main entry to purchase merchandise, grab a snack and (perhaps) catch their breaths.

Montreal’s Cryptopsy came on next and provided a contrast to Abysmal Dawn’s sound with a more sludge/deathcore approach: Singer Matt McGachy growled and roared between epic, whirlwind headbanging. McGachy encouraged and beckoned the fans to give their all during the set. Whenever he was dissatisfied with the energy in the room, he would simply beckon to the crowd with his hands, signaling “MORE.” After a ruthless set, the audience emptied out of The Grand room to once again quest for water, food, merchandise and oxygen.

Between sets, the diehard metalheads were proudly sporting their armor: battle jackets—vests adorned with band patches, some sewn so tightly together that they resembled a serpent’s scales.

Obituary took the stage next, going straight into the instrumental off of their 2014 album, Inked in Blood, the band’s first new album in nine years. As death metal has gestated and matured, there have been overlap and commonality in certain aspects of the sound and structure of songs. Obituary are credited with being one of the first truly influential bands, with roots stemming from 1984 (then known as Executioner). With dirge-like riffs intermixed with higher-pace double kick drums, Obituary already have a signature sound, but it’s John Tardy‘s vocals that are truly distinct. Somewhere between a scream and a roar, any true metalhead can quite easily pick out his signature timbre. Obituary’s entire set was polished and provoking, with the crowd indefatigably participating the whole time. Despite their doom and despair sound, anytime a light would hit drummer Donald Tardy‘s face, the audience could easily see him wearing a big smile—it’s hard to hide how much he loves what he does. Never has an hour passed so quickly: When Obituary finished, they were thanked with deafening cheers and applause, a fine sendoff for one of the greatest death metal bands of all time.

This left only one band on the bill: Cannibal Corpse—the band, judging by the dominant saturation of attendees sporting Corpse shirts, that everyone was there to see. George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher took the stage and, at six-foot-one (going on 10-feet tall), he loomed over the crowd. Silently, like a harbinger of death, he surveyed the souls in front of him, ready to be harvested. From the first note, the entire room erupted with unbridled aggression and energy. Fisher cast a demonic stare from underneath his long black hair, feeding the crowd the fuel they required through his unmistakable guttural growl and scream. Cannibal Corpse have such a presence on the stage: They hardly move, really, aside from methodical head bobbing, and their fingers move so fast you need to watch the slow-motion replay to catch all of the notes. Whenever Fisher isn’t roaring out the dark lyrics of their songs, he is head-banging with iconic precision (it would be interesting to count how many revolutions he does in a show). Corpse played some of their newer songs first before changing over to the classics that got them banned in certain countries back in the ’90s.

At 12:15 a.m., after over an hour on stage, Cannibal Corpse finally unhooked their claws from their ravaged fans and allowed the audience to stumble to their cars to head home. Ready for a night of deep slumber, the fans wore tired smiles and drooping shoulders as they filed out, but no one showed significant damage from over four hours of soul expenditure from what will probably be the most brutal metal show of 2016 for Salt Lake City.

 

Experimental pop group Animal Collective performed at The Depot on Wednesday, March 2nd, as part of their international tour that will include places such as Milan, Brussels and Barcelona. Positioned on the outer fringe of popular music, Animal Collective have made their mark through unconventional sounds, beats and singing. While certainly bizarre to the uninitiated, Animal Collective have actually been around since 1999, formed in Baltimore, MD and actually created their own label to distribute their music. The band has come a long way since their basement roots.

Opening the evening was rap group Ratking out of New York City and featuring rapper/producers Wiki and Sporting Life. While their start was a little uncertain, both men hit their stride by the third song and delivered their lyrics with energy and conviction. Unlike more mainstream rap, Ratking chooses to utilize multi-layered beats and a variety of sounds to create the fabric of their music. Their set was filled with songs reflecting on life, and its difficulties, and both Wiki and Sporting Life were very lively in their delivery – you could tell that their words came from the heart. At the end, Wiki left the stage and Sporting Life freestyled on his setup, producing technical beats and heartbeat deep bass.

Read our review of Animal Collective’s latest album Painting With.
Read our review of Animal Collective’s latest album Painting With.

When Animal Collective took the stage, their decoration of the stage was full of garish, whimsical statues and paintings. As the music started, the stage was lit with a cornucopia of light effects and designs. With one drummer, the other performers each had their own station that was loaded with computer boards, various pedals and a spaghetti explosion of wires coming off the table. Each song they performed had multiple layers to it, and while there were two to three singing simultaneously, they weren’t necessarily harmonizing or backing each other. Each voice had complexity and complemented the overall sound of the band. Labeled as “experimental pop,” they definitely fit the definition, as their songs featured strange timbre and meter, and didn’t always follow any real structure. Enthusiastic ’til the end, Animal Collective played a great set and were lavished with a warm reception from the audience.

 


After years of hard work, the latest local BMX film premiered on Friday night at The Fallout. Primarily filmed and edited by one of Utah’s most well-known and respected riders, Shawn “Elf” Walters, the video featured full parts by local riders Brady Tweedy, Manny Kilpack/Trent Steel/Jay Boi, Cam Wood, Tate Roskelley and Elf. After over two years of filming, countless wrecks, pints of spilled blood and even a fall by Roskelley into an abandoned swimming pool (that was crawling with the bubonic plague), the anticipation for Dollar Bet brought in about 200 people, both riders and otherwise, to watch their friends send themselves on the big screen.

The name Dollar Bet comes from something Elf has done for years: whenever one of the guys is considering trying something he’s unsure of, whether it be a handrail, a gnarly gap or a big ledge, Elf has been known to say, “I’ve got a bonus dollar on that,” meaning he’s willing to shell out a dollar if the trick gets pulled. While not necessarily a large enough monetary reward for some of the things that have been attempted thanks to Elf’s callout, it’s become a bit of a tradition. Call it Elf having faith in one’s ability to (hopefully) land whatever it is they’re trying—or, perhaps, it’s him paying a small admission price for a front-row seat to watch one of his friends go for something that might be out of their grasp.

With the room packed full of excited viewers, the place was full of laughs, gasps and rounds of applause throughout the whole film. Afterwards, there was a swag toss and then a raffle for some of the nicer donations from all of the companies that kicked down product to help make the premiere a total success.