Harley Streten gives SLC a taste of his unique Aussie style. Photo: Colton Marsala

Twenty-four year-old Harley Streten, most commonly known as Flume, made his first appearance in the Beehive State on Tuesday night at The Complex in Salt Lake City. Flume is known for his high-energy atmospheric dance music, inspired by house and U.K. garage–styled beats. His debut self-titled album features tracks such as “Sleepless ( feat. Jezzabell Doran),” “Holdin’ On” and “Left Alone (feat. Chet Faker),” offering a first look into his unique style as a musician and producer. Having peaked at the top of the Australian ARIA Albums Chart in 2012, Flume’s popularity has continued to grow, and he has become a familiar face, playing at bigger venues and festivals. Recently, Flume has worked with well-known artists such as Disclosure, Arcade Fire and Lorde. Those at The Complex got a taste of Flume’s new stage design, a cubical version of his previous infinity prism design, on Aug. 16, creating a vibrant show to remember.

The sold-out show opened with raucous performances by special guests Hwls and Classixx. Hwls, an artist hailing from Perth, Australia, kicked off the show with his electronic house music. The club continued to fill through both Hwls’ and Classixx’s sets. Classixx, a group consisting of childhood friends from Los Angeles, played tracks from their 2013 album Hanging Gardens and this year’s Faraway Reach. The energy built throughout the night, climaxing with Flume’s introduction as he began the night with his new song, “Helix.”

Flume’s set lasted about an hour and a half and featured the previously mentioned songs as well as more well-known hits like his remix of “HyperParadise.” A version of RL Grimes and What So Not‘s “Tell Me” was a particular crowd favorite, evoking excitement and energy from fans. Flume’s good nature was especially noticeable, and he smiled as he produced his beats. The Salt Lake City fans welcomed Flume’s good vibes and unique approach to his music, which resonated throughout his first performance in Utah. Hopefully, this is an artist that returns to SLC in years to come.

A beautiful combination of blue and red stage light illuminate Szjerdene. Photo: ColtonMarsalaPhotography.com

There’s a weight to the expectation of a live show with Simon Green’s group Bonobo. With international acclaim for his unique and world-aware music, it’s not exactly a stretch of the imagination to picture the same show being played on the shores of Ibiza or under the skyline of Prague or Istanbul. To see talent on this level in Salt Lake City is exciting, to put it mildly. A rotating crew of musicians onstage with him gave a solid organic feeling to the ordinarily solitary, digital genre of music. Green himself had a synthesizer, a guitar and an electronic drum kit surrounding him centerstage, and as the show progressed, he cycled through them extensively. His crew was spread across the stage in all black, bringing instruments that ranged from keyboards to saxophone to drums and even a flute and clarinet.

But it wasn’t the extensive number of instruments that made the show. It was the sheer variety in tone that kept the vibe feeling fresh throughout. With only a few slight embellishments to the way the songs were recorded in their discography, the group swung confidently between professional house and club to an earthy ambient sway without pause. Each note was both perfectly in tune with the beat and yet just outside of it, something not entirely specific to the band’s own style, dominating the body and persuading it to sway or dance, the way one used to with the rituals of a less skeptical world. It feels prenatal and ahead of its time simultaneously.

One way the music was noticeably cradled in the modern age was with the light show. In complete harmony with the set list, the crowd found itself bathed in a tropical, volcanic river as the spotlights made the walls themselves glow with heat before the next song began and transitioned to a deep purple and blue microscopic skin that seemed to cover a beating heart. The spotlights pulsed and swayed, interconnected, as the band moved from hard techno and industrial to a glittering visualization of a rain stick sputtering saffron and flames. There was enough variety in the visuals that it was consistently grabbing my attention instead of playing a back-burner role of maintaining a sense of movement on stage.

One of the real pleasures of the show was seeing the singer Szjerdene step in front of the band onstage and hypnotize the entirety of the venue with a voice that conjured images of a wet, primordial Earth and giving audial substance to the images connected to the band’s latest album, Migration, where deep, colorful plumes of smoke sit disconnected above varying desert rock. Szjerdene hit all the markers. Her range seemed infinite, and the emotional trail she carried in the melody’s progression never rushed its course or stopped too sharply. It glided outwards and drew attention in to her. While most of the band stood mostly still, Szjerdene let her hands drift around her, eyes closed, as if giving the sound waves a last little brush before they escaped and disappeared in space. She seemed the embodiment of spirit, something of a motif for the band. One of the great attributes of Bonobo is its embrace for the world in totality. The music draws from every corner of the Earth and at all moments seems to be in the process of capturing the way a soul would sound if it were capable of doing so. From up on stage, using as many mediums as can comfortably fit within a moment without becoming crowded, Bonobo breathed out and into the venue what can only be described as a beautiful re-creation of what life can be found breathing out into the world as a whole. And we saw it here in Salt Lake City. –@myster_patchouly

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Slug raises his fist above the crowd, starting off another song with a salute. Photo: ColtonMarsalaPhotography.com

For as long as I can remember, Atmosphere have been rocking the Salt Lake City music scene with innovative hip-hop beats. Friday night’s concert at The Complex was just one of many stops on the Freshwater Fly Fishermen Tour, which celebrates their new release, Fishing Blues. This 18-song album features artists such as deM atlaS, The Grouch and Kim Manning, among many other likeminded artists. Leading up to the concert, a crowd of all ages gathered outside The Complex. One by one, fans quickly made their way to the front of the stage to grab a good spot to take in the show. Many of those of legal age were able to chill in the 21 and over bar, watching the performance from multiple live-feed TVs.

The first act Friday night’s performance was deM atlaS, a fellow native of Minnesota. His performance filled the crowd with energy and good vibes during the dynamic opening set. “All We Got” was definitely one of my favorites songs to experience from his album DWNR. Although he’s relatively new to the rap music scene, deM atlaS brought his own flavor to The Complex, giving the crowd the perfect start to an exciting night of hip-hop.

Brother Ali, next on the lineup, attracted many loyal fans to this September evening’s concert. Ali’s history of playing Salt Lake has created a wide set of dedicated people who follow the rapper’s expressive, poetic music. “Truth Is,” an ode to honesty, had the entire room singing along. Ali’s conscious slam poetry, featuring his son, expressed deep emotions about current events involving police brutality and the impact that these altercations have on the entire community. Brother Ali’s finale brought the energy in the room to a new level, building the foundation for Atmosphere’s upcoming performance.

Finally, Salt Lake fans welcomed Atmosphere to the stage, with SlugAnt and Plain Ole Bill, who opened with “Like a Fire,” a new song off of the recently released Fishing Blues. However, even with the novelty of his new album, Atmosphere’s set consisted of many well-known classics such as “Puppets,” “Shoulda Known” and “Say Hey There.” For as many years as I have been attending Atmosphere concerts, my opinion is that Atmosphere’s voice, much like a fine wine or bourbon, has only improved with age. Dating back to 1989, Atmosphere has been producing music and bringing it to hip-hop lovers in the Salt Lake community. His loyalty to Utah fans has built a broad community that continues to love and support the musical sounds and witty lyrics of Atmosphere, seen in the large turnout at The Complex on Friday night.

Fog cannons, stage lights, and the deepest bass around. Photo: ColtonMarsalaPhotography.com

On a crispy fall Salt Lake City evening, electronic fans of all ages gathered at The Complex for a performance from Kittens, Graves and RL Grime. Upon first entering the venue, there was already lots of fans getting rowdy to the opening DJs. Twenty-one-plus fans could enjoy beers and cocktails in separate sections. The turnout for a Monday night concert was pretty surprising; a high-energy crowd filled The Complex for the NOVA TOUR.

Firecracker DJ Kittens excited the crowd, melding her powerful electronic and rap beats. Her performance with RL Grime is one of many, including shows with the likes of Kid Cudi, Skrillex and A-Trak. She spreads the musical love, not only through the performance she gave, but also through the girls-only DJ workshops that she teaches. She set the mood for the rest of the concert, welcoming Graves, a favorite of the locals. Returning after a set at Elevate back in July, his musical talent rallied the crowd; he performed Flume remixes and showed off the immense talent that attracted big names like Kanye West, Kid Cudi and Big Sean. Numbering among those big names, Graves has topped the iTunes charts and, based on the size of the crowd, brings the fans to show it.

The headliner, RL Grime, a newly rising star, welcomed The Complex to the NOVA TOUR. For his first album, he brought his dance world vibe and combined the hip-hop and electronic sounds with the awesome stage production. As the lasers grew more amazing, RL Grime continued to wow the crowd. Playing “Core,” one of his most well-known songs, he was hoisted into the air for the last hurrah of his set. Salt Lake City cheered the wonderful artists, grateful for the opportunity to experience a show like this.

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Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel perform together as the fantastic duo, Phantogram. Photo: ColtonMarsalaPhotography.com

After their raucous summer performance as part of Big Grams during this year’s Twilight Concert Series, Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter ripped through Salt Lake City on Tuesday night as Phantogram in a whirlwind performance at In The Venue. During their first visit to Salt Lake City a few years ago, the duo brought their innovative electric-pop music to crowds at Kilby Court. Over time, their progress has been exciting to witness firsthand, advancing from smaller venues to Twilight and onto massive, sold-out shows of their own. It should be no surprise that Phantogram loves playing in Salt Lake City, where so many adoring fans have continued in their support as the group grew into the musical powerhouse they are today.

Doors opened at 7 p.m. as the line wrapped around the block while people hoped to get the best view of the evening. Many university students were off for Fall Break, which brought the city to life with the unusual nightlife. As people shuffled into In The Venue, lines at the merch booth, bar and bathrooms grew longer. The upstairs balcony quickly filled with Phanto-fanatics eagerly waiting to hear a mix of old classics and new releases from the evening’s act.

James Hinton, an artist known as The Range hailing from New York, opened the night with his beat machine, delivering a fresh, new sound found on his 2016 album, Potential. The crowd enjoyed not only his vibrant music, but also his energetic stage presence and rich light show. His 45-minute set kept the crowd engaged and the energy high for Phantogram.

As the lights went out, a transparent curtain, was raised between the stage and the crowd. The light projected the silhouettes of Phantogram onto the curtain as the captivating instrumentals of “Funeral Pyre” mesmerized the crowd. Strobe lights bounced of the giant disco ball glittering above the crowd, and the room filled with a bright energy that elevated the atmosphere to a new high. Both Barthel and Carter could not get enough of Salt Lake City’s love. They showed an enormous amount of gratitude to the loyal fanbase that has become their family here in the city. After the third song of their set, the scrim dropped to reveal Phantogram, bathed in colorful spotlights and frothy fog. The duo followed up with songs “Mouthful of Diamonds” and “Black Out Days,” among the many other crowd favorites that filled out the rest of their set. By the end, Phantogram had proven to have graced the presence of the crowd on Tuesday night. By the end of the evening, the crowd was chanting “one more song” until Phantogram finally acquiesced and fulfilled everyone’s wishes with their encore, “Fall In Love,” a much-loved song from their album Voices.

Wayne Coyne sings. Photo: ColtonMarsalaPhotography.com

Turning down Historic 25th Street, people were filling the sidewalks on their way to the Ogden Amphitheater for the opening show of the Ogden Twilight Concert Series. The hot afternoon sun beat down from the perfectly clear, blue skies over individuals flocking the area, having traveled from all directions to join together for this event. As part of the tickets for Twilight, a Frontrunner pass was included so many concert goers were using the rail system to travel from all over the state.  

Upon entering the amphitheater, we made a beeline to the ATM, as many of the vendors were cash only. For pizza, snow cones and beer, the lines were long but joyful as people enjoyed the beautiful day, bathing in the upbeat ambience created by good music. During the opening music, people lounged on the grass, the bleachers, and the VIP seating area. Fans were dressed in bright T-shirts and makeup, some even wearing unicorn horns and gems. Night Marcher, pulling inspiration from the ancient ghostly warriors of Hawaii, performed their psychedelic, soul music as the local opener. B|_ank, a longtime collaborator with the Flaming Lips and the passion project of William Passionfruit Hicks, beat the drums in a methodical, electronic performance. His experimental music kept the crowd engaged as they basked in the June summer sun.  

As the sun lowered in the sky, the stage emptied as the crews prepped for the Flaming Lips performance. Tinfoil-looking instruments and bright, deflated objects were brought onstage. A kid robot opened the show with a brief introduction of Ogden Twilight’s sponsors and supporters. Those seated in the crowd rose to their feet as a member of The Flaming Lips began to come onstage. The final member of the band, Wayne Coyne, appeared centerstage in a bright white suit, with glittery gems bedazzling his face.   

As the first song began, giant balloons and confetti fell from the sky, which created a magical childlike fun. Adults and kids alike smiled and laughed as The Flaming Lips performed their first song. Coyne brought a giant series of custom balloons, reading “F*ck Yeah Ogden,” that he sent off into the crowd to be pulled apart and collected by fans. As the song came to an end, the crew began pumping up a giant pink blob that soon turned into the shape of a robot. As the song “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” began to play, Coyne asked the crowd to join in a vigorous karate chop at the beginning of the song. The evening continued much in this same way, with a childlike creativity and amusement seen in the giant unicorn that Coyne rode through the crowd while wearing a set of rainbow wings to the massive clear bubble that encased the lead singer as he bounced along the heads of the crowd.  

Reflecting on the show, it was one of the best, interactive performances given by any artist, making everyone in the amphitheater smiling broadly. Ogden Twilight and all their supporters could not have picked a better band to set the stage for the rest of this summer’s shows.

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“No matter where life takes me, find me with a smile.” Photo: ColtonMarsalaPhotography.com

The stage was set on Tuesday night amid the crisp, November fall climate as fans arrived in mass to Saltair to enjoy the evening’s musical performance by Pittsburgh native Mac Miller, accompanied by openers Clockwork and SOULECTION ft. Whooligan. As traffic weaved and funneled through I-80, concertgoers were treated to a vivid sunset over the Great Salt Lake. As the sun softly set behind the Salt Flats, more and more Mac Miller enthusiasts crowded outside the venue, waiting for their chance to get the best spot possible to witness the evening’s performance. The all-aged crowd excitedly mingled at the merchandise booths, the ATM and then eventually the stage as they waited for the set to begin. The bar was prepped for a wild night, selling cheap, canned beer for just $4, while the main grill fed hungry fans with a menu of corn dogs, burgers and fries. Finally, Clockwork opened the evening’s act with a large set of popular mixes as attendees grooved to popular mixes like The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside” and Kid Cudi‘s “Day ‘N’ Night.”

As the unique historical venue filled with more and more people, the atmosphere in the large ballroom rose higher and higher. The lines at the bar grew deeper and longer as guests prepped for the coming energetic show. After Clockwork, SOULECTION feat. Whooligan followed, engaging with the lively crowd, full of beaming smiles and anticipation for the main act. Soulection’s electropop music resounded loudly through the venue, especially with his rendition of Chance the Rapper’s “Favorite Song,” which ignited a new vibrancy to the expansive Salt Flats—music could be heard for miles around the venue.

After the opening sets, the stage darkened for a few moments as the stage crew prepped for the moment everyone had been waiting for. The excited but impatient crowd began to chant Mac Miller’s name as the tension grew. Suddenly, Miller exploded onto the brightly lit stage. His dynamic hand movements mesmerized concertgoers while he rattled off his hypnotic raps. Then, in celebration of the recent release of his new album, The Divine Feminine, Mac Miller performed new selections like “Stay,” “We” and “Dang!” Each song elicited a ferocious roar from fans as Miller played a set consisting of a mixture of both new and old songs. In between numbers, the young rapper warmly reminisced with the SLC crowd about a late-night rave festival he had played years before at Saltair. His dedication to the Salt Lake City scene showed in his heartfelt lyrics, his spirited dance moves,= and the unique light shows that dynamically changed for each song. His adoring fans will remember the night featuring Mac Miller for a long time to come, as they patiently await his next epic return to Salt Lake City.

"Dancing eyes are deep ultraviolet you."

The second show of the Ogden Twilight series kicked off on another beautifully hot summer day. The trek to the amphitheater was full of rush hour traffic so it was easy to see why a FrontRunner pass was included with each ticket. Finally arriving to the show, people were slowly meandering into the venue, psyched on the return performance of Little Dragon. Equally anticipated were local band The Ugly Boys and opener Com Truise. Lucky Slice, Thai Curry, and Craft Burger vended delicious meals while Maui Wowi made fresh ice cream and Squatters provided delectable local beer.

The show started with a bang when overly-enthusiastic fans attempted to jump the VIP fence and dance front row. The security quickly escorted them out, but there was much fun to still be had. The Ugly Boys kick-started the show with their jams. They were enthusiastic and jump-started the crowd in the midst of the setting, sweltering sun. Their purple velvet shoes danced across the stage,mingling with the dancing feet of their fans. As Com Truise set began, more people joined the arena. One of many projects by Seth Haley‘s, Com Truise presented his electro-funk DJ set, a perfect supplement to Little Dragon’s style. Fans were primed and ready for the headlining performance. 

Returning for the second summer in a row (the last time being for the SLC Twilight) Little Dragon stepped on stage in the dusky summer light. The quartet of performers, Yukimi Nagano (vocals, percussion), Erik Bodin (drums), Fredrik Källgren Wallin (bass) and Håkan Wirenstrand (keyboards) were dressed in brightly colored clothes. Nagano wore a bright shimmering tunic, a gossamer veil and purple Nikes. Throughout the show she danced with a meditative rhythm that delighted and enthralled the crowd. Their opening song included her banging on a red jam-block in time with the methodic playing of the drummer. After the first song, she switched to a small tambourine. The crowd was stoked on their performance, dancing along energetically to each song. The concert ended and the fans rushed out of the venue, speeding off to catch the last FrontRunner of the night.

All photos: Colton Marsala

Shanghaii smiles to his SLC hip-hop family. Photo: ColtonMarsalaPhotography.com

On Nov. 25, Hip Hop Roots teamed up with VSTRO and more than a dozen of Utah’s favorite local businesses to bring a unique twist to the madness surrounding Black Friday.

Organized and hosted by local legend Burnell Washburn, this month’s event was a free show dedicated to shining light on the local businesses that make our community’s culture great. The event was an incredible success, with a packed house at Metro Music Hall and good vibes radiating from every corner. Washburn started the show with an open mic cypher, in which he encouraged any artist of any type to join him onstage for some freestyle sessions. The energy seemed to get more and more hyped throughout the night, as some of Utah’s most respected local artists took the stage, including Shanghaii, Malev Da Shinobi, The Outsiders and even a surprise set from Dine Krew. The event also included an epic raffle giveaway featuring prizes from local businesses, such as Even Stevens Sandwiches, SLC Ink, Nectar Collector, The Stockist, Publik Coffee, Wasatch Brewery, Pig & a Jelly Jar, Flower Power Productions, Borosyndicate, Dancing Crane, Eggs in the City, The Xnation and more.

After the festivities concluded, attendees left and right were overheard saying things like “This is legit the best night of my life” or “I’m already excited for the next one” as they ate delicious waffles from Bruges and watched the NVS FAM paint a live graffiti mural out back on the patio.

Overall, the event was a major win for local business and artist culture at large. The community was stoked, not only to win some epic prizes and see their favorite local performers rock the stage, but also to come together and help a good cause. Every Hip Hop Roots event donates money and goods to a different charity or cause, and a portion of all proceeds were donated to help the movement at Standing Rock, along with food and clothing donations going to the Utah Food Bank. The lineup for next month has not been officially announced just yet, but we have confirmed that Hip Hop Roots will return to the newly remodeled Metro Music Hall on Dec. 30, just in time to ring in the new year with more positive vibes and charity.

About Hip Hop Roots: Hip Hop Roots is a world-class platform for artistic culture and community that started over seven years ago in Las Vegas, Nevada. After becoming the longest-running hip-hop show in Las Vegas, the platform eventually expanded to San Diego, Boise, Cedar Rapids and Salt Lake City, becoming an iconic staple in the world of underground hip-hop throughout the process.

Hip Hop Roots events have featured everyone from first-timers to the world’s most respected artists, including Krs-One, Immortal Technique, Hieroglyphics, Mac Lethal, Wu-Tang Clan and countless others.

Hip Hop Roots is dedicated to cultivating powerful communities, where the use of artistic culture as a vehicle makes a positive impact on the world. Providing an authentic experience and a damn good time, HHR events often include open mic cyphers, live graffiti art, local vendors, food trucks, breakdancing, and live performances by both local and international talent.

Photo: Colton Marsala

Another Thursday night brought another exciting show to Ogden Twilight. Fans from all over the state gathered at the Ogden Amphitheater to watch another set of amazing artists. Hopping on the Frontrunner at North Temple station, crowds of people joined everyday commuters on their way to Ogden. A packed train was filled with friends, laughter and good conversation. The hour-long train ride felt quick, as did the anticipation-filled jaunt over to the venue. The street on the way over had many cool bars, shops and restaurants, collectively offering something for everyone.

You could hear methodic drum beats from down the street as we were welcomed into the venue by the floating electronic music of Mooninite, the performing name of local artist Andrew Aguilera. Next on was electronic hybrid act Slow Magic. His trademark mask list up in the sun as he carried his drums through the crowd and played among his fans. Young kids sat on the front of the stage enjoying the music up close. Throughout, crowds wandered the venue, eating and drinking from the many vendors at the show. As fans awaited Bonobo, the sun began to wane on the summer solstice.

Amid flashing lights, Bonobo and his band walked onstage. The best part of the whole show was seeing how much they enjoyed playing music together. The drummer and keyboardist would frequently jam out together, visibly enjoying their expressive, expansive music. Bonobo himself switched between the soundboard and the guitar, giving his fans an amazing, diverse set. As the sun set, the stage lights glowed brighter and twinkled in starry bursts. Bonobo brought out vocalist Szjerdene, who added her lilting voice to the group’s music. Szjerdene made an appearance at Bonobo’s last show in Utah, and her contribution was once again the perfect addition to the set.

After Bonobo’s final song, the crowd dispersed into every direction. Nearby bar Yes! was hosting an afterparty show featuring local group Talia Keys and the Love. The band rocked the crowded bar as fans danced and sang along. The nightlife and entertainment was a great experience, and Ogden is a great town to enjoy it in.

All Photos: Colton Marsala