Tony Esposito providing vocals for White Reaper, opening group for Spoon. Photo:

Spoon have been at it a long time, releasing indie gems since 1996 up to their most recent undertaking, the slightly spaced-out Hot Thoughts, for which they are currently touring. Spoon stopped at Salt Lake’s The Depot with a young group of lovable punks, White Reaper. The two bands were an odd match, their sounds only similar in volume and energy, but that was all that really mattered. I wondered how the aging crowd—there were as many silver foxes in attendance as young bucks—would dig the rapid, nonstop onslaught of something between MxPx and Misfits. Turns out that the older portion of the crowd wasn’t all that rickety beneath their Local H and Built to Spill T-shirts—they fared just fine. White Reaper showed everyone a great time and played their accessible, hour-long set with vigor. Their pedal-to-the-metal aesthetic was a great primer for the main act.

Spoon took the stage around 9:30 p.m., opening with a song from the new album: “Do I Have to Talk You Into It.” It was a smooth beginning, quiet to start and culminating with something I was expecting. I’ve loved frontman Britt Daniel for years with his unique vocals and clever guitar plucking. He’s always been able to bring it live—he can wail, and crowds love him. He didn’t disappoint at The Depot, and nor did his bandmates. Jim Eno is no slouch, either: His drumming is every bit as impressive as Daniel’s charismatic persona.

There was a stretch of four crowd favorites in the middle of the set that really engaged the whole place. There were people cutting a rug in the furthest corners of the venue while Spoon played “I Turn My Camera On,” “The Beast and the Dragon, Adored,” “Don’t You Evah” and “Do You” without a hard break between the songs. Even the light show, which was fabulous throughout, pushed the vibe from one track to the next, hitting the crowd squarely in the chest and making no bones about doing it.

That group of songs got everyone revved up, which, I guess, was a perfect time for an intermission. For the next several minutes, the band, sans the guy with the keyboard and the drum machines, left the stage, and all we got was ambient noise with ambient lights. When the band returned, they started up again just like they did to begin the whole performance: slowly, quietly building back to a steady pace.

As I mentioned, Spoon aren’t a new band. They’ve done a lot of things over the past couple of decades. They have performed a lot of shows, and Daniel spoke of them. He talked about doing two in a row at the same venue, something he said the band likes to avoid, and apologized to fans for doing it out of necessity. He also mentioned a show from long ago at which he got into a tussle on stage. He couldn’t remember the venue, but the loyal listeners, hanging onto all of his words, quickly jogged his memory, yelling to him that it was at the Zephyr Club. I hadn’t thought about the Zephyr Club for years, and it helped to put into perspective just how long Spoon has been something worth following.

Before the encore, the show ended with the title track from the latest album, which was well done and fitting. But as the crowd cheered, Daniel came back out alone and blew me away with a solid rendition of “I Summon You,”  playing solo on his knees behind a fan that was making the whole thing that much more dramatic. It was great.

I think I can see why Spoon were touring with White Reaper. Their sound is different, but their origins are the same. Spoon have gotten older, and their production and preferences have changed, evolved. Their suits are pressed and tailored these days, but under the pleats and buttons, they are the same band I discovered who tore shit down and scuffled onstage. –Billy Swartzfager

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Gods, Heros and Monsters, held at Studio Elevn in downtown Salt Lake City, featuring pieces and performances from various local artists curated by Anne Cummings.

Artists included Steven Larson, Jenevieve Hubbard, Matt Monson, Jon Lang, Philip Lambert, Jeffrey Hale, Portia Snow, D Hake Brinckerhoff, Randall Lake, Zeke Higham, Vio Wolf, Hilary W. Jacobsen, Sri Whipple, Isaac Hastings, Tyler Bloomquist, Adrian Prazen, Joshua Johnston, Mesun Choi, Lisa Aerin Collett. Performances by Jenevieve Hubbard and Jorge Rojas.

Photography by Logan Sorenson /

Drummer Dominic Howard and bassist Chris Wolstenholme playing with changing patterns on the panels behind. Photo:

USANA Amphitheater, out in West Valley, opened its gates to the flood of fans that started arriving hours before the show even began. With Muse returning to Salt Lake City after a four-year pause, bringing supporting musical groups 30 Seconds to Mars and PVRIS, eager fans filled this outdoor venue by the tens of thousands.

Opening group PVRIS (pronounced “Paris”) took the stage while the light was still over the audience’s shoulders and half the attendees were getting beer and finding their seats. The music started and the section upfront sang along, swaying to the beat of the music. PVRIS played in a slower-paced style and reminded of Paramore and Halsey with a sound that is ethereal, dance and pop in one.

Next up onstage is Thirty Seconds to Mars, entering one by one from the darkness and only lit up by a giant pyramid in the rear and center. Jared Leto joined onstage after the lights and beats become one pulsing presence. The 1990s-formed group have had plenty of airplay over the years, and it definitely showed with the crowd singing along. Leto left the stage, interacting with the audience and jamming one of the band’s most well-known hits, “The Kill,” while sitting at the center. With guests being invited onstage, getting screamed at by fans and singing and dancing with a Rock Star Jesus in Pajamas, this performance was widely appreciated.

Finally, after a slight intermission for a bathroom break and a refill, the venue went dark and all one could hear was the shrieking of the crowd, awaiting Muse to melt their faces. Panels of light flashed with colorful rectangles as a beat started pulsing: the familiar “Psycho” intro. The beat became more prevalent as the colors continued to flash, revealing three silhouettes. The music and the lights were in full blast as voices screamed, “Fucking psycho!” and the band broke loose with a fantastic light show. Bassist Chris Wolstenholme rocked his head, drummer Dominic Howard hammered out the beat to the familiar hits and lead singer Matthew Bellamy donned slatted sunglasses and a hidden camera projecting his image as an oversized, distorted projection of himself on the panels all across the stage. Muse continued playing hits from their albums Black Holes and Revelations, The 2nd Law and Absolution, delighting audiences with live renditions of new favorites such as “Dead Inside” and “Mercy.” Fans ranged from hands-in-the-air, screaming enthusiasts to the stoic, silent type and all in between, all taking in the same high-energy, intense, pounding musical experience that only Muse can deliver.

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Joan and John Cusack talk about their careers, their beginnings and their favorite experiences during filming. Photo:

The fifth annual Salt Lake Comic Con (and ninth event overall) begins Thursday morning. With the first day usually being the slowest of the three-day event, people had the hallways to themselves, having the full attention of the vendors and artists as well as a great seat at the special guest panels inside the Grand Ballroom. Guests attending Day One were treated to Q&A sessions from Stargate SG-1’s Christopher Judge, Guardians of the Galaxy’s Michael Rooker and Terminator’s Michael Biehn. Each panel filled with fans in various cosplay and asking questions about their favorite film stars, getting some information and occasionally stumping the talented guests’ knowledge with geek trivia.

Day Two of the popular convention started off a bit earlier and with a bang with TV and film legend Dick Van Dyke. The 91-year-old actor was greeted onstage by Comic Con‘s Bryan Brandonberg and Dan Farr. Van Dyke was accompanied by his wife, Arlene Silver, and the three, along with the crowd, began to sing “Happy Birthday” for her special day. Other panel guests included Gates McFadden and Will Wheaton from the hit TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and if their onstage reunion weren’t enough, a custom-made Funko Pop figurine was auctioned off to benefit hurricane victims, selling for over $700.

Continuing with the Grand Ballroom guest list were Jewel Staite from the short-lived, much-loved TV show Firefly; the Back to the Future stars Christopher Lloyd and Tom Wilson; and the iconic brother-sister duo that is John and Joan Cusack. The audience was very much appreciative of the thoughts and experiences shared by all, especially from Joan Cusack telling audience members she was “terrified” starting out. Her brother shared his luck in the beginning of his acting career as he was doing stage production in Chicago when he “heard people were hiring for teenagers.” Outside of the Grand Ballroom, attendees were also invited to additional activities such as the Geek Show Podcast, recorded live at the Con, autographs from their favorite authors, artists or actors, and the chance to treat themselves to a piece of artwork or craftwork from the Artist Alley.

Day Three began packed and continued throughout the day with guests by the thousands entering and exiting, getting a bite from the plethora of food trucks or local restaurants in the area. The vendor floor and Artist Alley were filled, with people standing shoulder-to-shoulder throughout the event and each conference room in the building hosting their own mini-experiences. Back at the Grand Ballroom, more small- and big-screen talent continued with the fan-driven Q&A with Elijah Wood from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Zachary Levi from the Chuck series and Stephen Amell of The Arrow.

Along with the shopping opportunities, the cosplay interaction, the fans and the geekdom, these guests came together for a weekend of sci-fi, anime, comedy and more. The action-crazed, fun-filled experience continued to be a draw for people of all ages.

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Ballet West and Epic Brewing join to gether for an evening of Beer and Ballet. Featuring craft beer from Epic Brewing, delicious appetizers from The Annex and a special glimpse of the final dress rehearsal of “The Rite of Spring,” this event at Salt Lake City’s Capitol Theater invites guests and dancers from the company to share tasty food, brews and preview a new production from Ballet West.

Photos: Logan Sorenson /

Read Amanda Rock’s review of the event here.