Summers in Salt Lake City have never been so fun. Saturday July 11th, Steve Downs and Even Stevens Sandwiches hosted Givestock, a family-friendly festival for guests of all ages held in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City. The event featured local artists displaying and selling their creations, eateries such as Saturday‘s Waffle, Blake’s Gourmet food truck, while beverages from Wasatch Brewery were also available for the crowds. Organizations such as Wasatch Roller Derby hosted a fun water dunking tank, while Uber and Financially Fit and other non-profit organizations gave information about their passions.
Salt Lakers from all over headed downtown to enjoy the weekend—from playing corn hole in the Givestock corn hole contest, to seeing the goods and wares of crotchet, knittings and face painters. Attendees played their chances to win Givestock merchandise or a sandwich at the Even Stevens Sanchwich tent, all the while surviving the heat in the open-air venue.
Live Musical guests included First Daze, Andrew Cole, Vincent Draper, Genevieve Smith, Charles Elsworth, Dealin’ In Dirt. These bands took over the Northeast Pavilion on the acoustic stage. Other local talent such as Folk Hogan, BEACHMAN, Melodicious, Daisy and the Moonshines, Melo, Westward The Tide, Zodiac Empire, VanLadyLove played on the main outdoors stage. The evening ended with opening act The Str!ke and the highlighted event Cold War Kids.

Visiting the United States as well as parts of our northern Canadian neighbor while on their newest North American Tour, the Fratellis grace Salt Lake City with their own playful blend of playful, garage, alternative and—at times—punk rock musical style. This group originates from Glasgow, Scotland and consisting of lead singer and guitarist Jon Fratelli, bass player Barry Fratelli with Drummer Mince Fratelli both providing back up vocals. With the release of their fourth album Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied, The Fratellis have found a sturdy fan base in all pockets of the world. Performing hits such as Flathead, Chelsea Dagger, and Henrietta as well as new instantly gratifying tracks Jeannie Nitro, and She’s Not Gone Yet But She’s Leaving, the trio definitely gives the lucky Urban Lounge Monday night crowd a treat as a successful first visit to Salt Lake City.

The ’80s-defining rock band The Cure come to Salt Lake City during their international tour. This English group formed in the 1970s and soon invaded and dominated the soundtrack of a decade. Fans from all over the Salt Lake Valley poured into the Maverick Center in West Valley City. Groups of families, friends, mother-daughter duos, goth kids and veteran fans all bought tickets to see the band onstage, many audibly exclaiming that they had never been able to see them live and have waited for years for the opportunity.

After a lengthy setup time, the guitars were set and the drums shone with The Cure’s logo. This arena was packed almost to capacity was ready for some rock music from the post-goth musicians. Robert Smith entered the stage in near darkness as the other band members followed suit. With no fuss and no introduction, they grabbed their instruments and began to play. The audience erupted with applause and screams as people in the seated front area ignored security and rushed to the barricades to stand as close to the stage as possible. Leaning forward, torsos stretched toward the stage, the fans stared, both directly and through their phones, as the first song ended and washed the crowd over with warmth and nostalgia.

Smith took the audience through time: The hits that one would hear on the radio in 1987 sounded as fresh as if they were just written today. Smith effortlessly played and sang as if it were second nature, still sporting that signature, Edward Scissorhands-meets-tumbleweed hair and rocking along with fellow musicians Simon Gallup (bass), Reeves Gabrels (guitar) Roger O’Donnell (keyboard) and Jason Cooper (drums). The Cure put on a lengthy show that was both a reminiscence of peoples’ pasts and a must-see for younger generations.

Kentucky rock band Cage the Elephant stopped in Salt Lake City on their tour for the release of their fourth studio album, Tell Me I’m Pretty, with the Salt Lake City suburbia–reared rocker Brogan Kelby and his supporting musicians.

The Complex filled in with crowds of teens and ’80s kids eager to hear “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.” The summer heat of the evening made the lines to the water fountain long, and at the front of the house, people stuck together, mashed into the metal barricades.

Powering through the heat, fans cheered for Brogan Kelby and his band members as they played a mixture of indie pop and garage rock, sounding like the stepchild of Maroon 5 and OK Go. The Utah-raised musician captivated the audience as fans enjoyed the music and gestured to stage security for water.

After a short set change, the crowd was packed to the brim as one after another, the members of Cage the Elephant took the stage. Bassist Daniel Tichenor, drummer Jared Champion, Brad Shultz and newest member Matthan Minster took their positions, instruments in hand, as lead singer Matt Shultz grabbed the mic and stared the audience down as if to say, “Are you ready?”

Without hesitation, the guitars strummed up as the drums kicked into a familiar tune that had the fans screaming from the get-go. Moving nonstop as they played song after song at an energy level dialed to 11, multiple members of the band took to climbing the speakers, leaning into the crowd and finishing off with a lunging crowd surf by Matt Shultz.

With a lengthy set list and much-appreciated audience interaction, all audience members were dripping with sweat, their own or otherwise, and not a single fan had a second thought about staying for the loud, wet and amazing encore.

The Acoustic Space, a newer venue in downtown Salt Lake City, opened its doors as part of their ongoing Summer Jam Series 2016. The July 22 lineup included headliner James Junius and supporting musicians Andrew Goldring and Anthony Peña.

With aesthetic choices throughout the venue such as a custom-made bar in the back of house, artwork from Jimmi Toro and carved wooden furniture to accompany the acoustic foam panels lining the main room, The Acoustic Space has a unique studio/workshop/living room vibe.

As guests arrived to this Gateway venue, they were greeted by co-owners and operators Bob and Jacki Chilton. Guests were able to purchase a beer, soda or lemon drops and cinnamon candies at the rear of the venue while finding their seats. The stage was set with two spotlights front and center. Performers chatted in the green room just adjacent to the bar and loading entrance as people took their seats.

First to perform was the young musician Anthony Peña, who played a variety of original and inspired covers from select songwriters, providing guitar and vocals to these both English- and Spanish-language pieces.

Andrew Goldring, the second musician for the evening, took the stage in a standing position with an electric guitar in hand, bringing a noticeable change in pace.  Providing a more rock n’ roll sound, Andrew continues the one-man, one-guitar setup as he swung from rock to acoustic-style ballads.

With a small break in between sets, the stage setup changed from a single stool or mic stand to a keyboard, guitar and a complex custom pedalboard. Accompanied by a projector and dance lighting, James Junius created unique and whimsical songs with combinations of guitar, vocals, synthesizers and keyboard, using reverb for creative effect.

Song after song and at the end of each set, applause burst from the small but enthusiastic audience.

On Sept. 26, American folk/rock band The Avett Brothers played at a favorite local venue, Red Butte Amphitheater. With Utah summer in full swing, locals and visitors, sponsors and families made their way to their spots on the sprawling grasses. With their camping chairs, blankets, coolers and sunglasses, people came as early as possible to get the best possible view of the stage.

Red Butte Amphitheater was full of eager concertgoers, who settled into their spots, beer or wine glass in hand and ready for the music to begin. Local musician Cory Mon took the stage with a guitar in hand and a kick drum at his feet. Self-described as “roots rock,” Cory had a calm yet engaging sound that provided a perfect buildup to the headlining musical act. Utilizing up to three instruments at a time, Cory Mon’s energy was felt throughout his music, in the lyrics and the stories behind them.

After a lively one-man set, the guests in the audience took a minute to refill their glasses, put some cheese on their crackers and put their kids on top of some standing shoulders for the best vantage point, just as the sun lowered enough to open both eyes.

The Avett Brothers took the stage, greeting their Salt Lake City fans and taking up their instruments. Consisting of brothers Scott (guitar) and Seth Avett (piano) as well as Bob Crawford (double bass) and Joe Kwon (cello), The Avett Brothers played a mix of playful folk, backcountry rock and bluegrass. Salt Lake City fans cheered and yelled for their favorite hits. As part of the annual season of Red Butte Outdoor Concert Series, everyone within earshot of the venue went all out on this summer evening.

Rap artist Pusha T, musical guest for Twilight Concert Series. Photo: Logan Sorenson / @Lmsorenson

In the summertime, Salt Lake City brings life to the downtown Pioneer Park. When it’s not the weekend’s Downtown Farmer’s Market, it must be Thursday’s Twilight Concert Series. Thousands of people from all over the Salt Lake Valley slowly poured into the musical arena, fenced off with plenty of beer and wine options and food trucks galore lining the grounds for the thousands of hungry guests. With gates open before any music begins, guests can visit merch booths bye Graywhale, Discrete, SLUG, x96 and City Weekly before snagging their spot at the front barricade to await the performances.

After the crowds congregated in the summer sun, the audience turned their focus to the stage. Local group Grits Green gathered onstage, providing a welcome break from the silence with an energetic set of their dance hip-hop style. This larger ensemble incites some dancing and plenty of smiles from the crowd with rap tracks such as “Straight No Chaser.”

After a change in set, the sun lowered, the crowd thickened, puffs of smoke arose from within the anonymity of the audience and musical guest Digable Planets arrived on mic. Blending a fusion of hip-hop, rap and jazz, the trio definitely kept the energy up, engaging the crowd with their controlled and commanding performance.

Sunset, thick crowd, thick smoke—DJ Rick Geez pumped out some remixed hits and pumped up the crowd for hip-hop artist Pusha T to take the stage. Twilight was rocked by the rap, the mood and the energy of the performance. Lyric after lyric from the stage was screamed right back by the audience as the show continued to ramp up the exuberance of the atmosphere late into the night.

Fitz of Fitz and The Tantrums flashing some awesome neon stage lighting for Twilight. Photo: @Lmsorenson

Pioneer Park opens its grounds on this final Thursday of the Twilight Concert Series in Salt Lake City. To send off the summer with this last installment of the downtown SLC music festival, Fitz and The Tantrums and Shorty Trombone & Orleans Avenue played with opening local musical guest The National Parks. Overcast skies loomed over the park as crowds from all over the valley and the nearby Salt Lake Comic Con made their way into the grounds.

First to the stage was local group The National Parks, named for lead singer Brady Parks. This rock/pop ensemble consisting of keyboard, violin, drums, guitar and trumpet formed in Provo, Utah, and is currently touring the U.S. The group stopped back in the home state for a performance in Pioneer Park for the Twilight Concert Series.

Shorty Trombone took the stage next and changed the genre slightly, taking the sounds back to Louisiana. Consisting of Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Michael Ballard, Pete Murano, Dan Oestreicher, Joey Peebles and BK Jackson. They provided some great New Orleans–style hip-hop, funk and brass hits.

The audience was showered with a few drops of rain as the overcast day brought a welcome break to the summer heat. With food truck selections in everyone’s stomachs and a beer in some hands, the crowd got restless while waiting for Fitz and the Tantrums to start the final show of the Twilight Concert Series. To a slow building beat, the members of the band took the stage, and screams filled the air as Fitz himself took the mic in a purple haze–filled stage. Concertgoers sang along and squealed with every lyric and beat as the stylized modern pop raged onstage. Providing backup vocals were Noelle Scaggs along with members James King (saxophone and flute), Joseph Karnes (bass), John Wicks (drums) and Jeremy Ruzumna (keyboard). This was definitely a high-energy show that was a welcome thrill for the audience and a great way to close out the annual musical event that is the Twilight Concert Series.

Star of the hit Netflix series Stranger Things, Millie Bobby Brown tells the audience that she can't hear their cheering. Photo: @Lmsorenson

Salt Lake Comic Con 2016, the massive biannual event that has proven that Salt Lake City and Utah is a boiling hotspot of geekdom, movie buffs and fantasy, kicked off Sept. 1 at the Salt Palace Convention Center. The reported hundred thousand of fans, cosplayers and special guests made their way to the city center and pour into the massive convention center at every angle while avoiding stairs and low ceilings to preserve their elaborate cosplay props.

With three days of activities to sort through in this weekend of chaos, guests have many choices. There are hundreds of shops selling merchandise such as T-shirts, hats, model weapons, video games and, of course, comics! If books are more your thing, you will not be let down: Row after row of authors have their works for sale, ranging from fantasy sci-fi to straight-up fan fiction from established favorites. You can also make your way to artist alley, where many talented painters, illustrators and handmade craft artists have a plethora of one-of-a-kind pieces on display and for sale.

If you are the diehard type, you can purchase autographs from a wide selection of special guests, or you can pony up a few bucks more and snag a photo op with your favorite TV or movie actor or an acclaimed fantasy author.

While all was fun and good, some people definitely got exhausted while walking the miles and miles of attractions with young ones in tow. These folks were welcome to head to KidCon, a special section of Salt Lake Comic Con specifically catered to the youngest of fans. Kids can run amok in this area’s castle structures, get their face painted, pose with professional cosplayers for a photo, get a balloon animal or even make their own foam sword. Giving parents and guardians a quick break from the convention, this is a most appreciated feature of the Comic Con floor area.

For many, the real meat and potatoes of events such as Salt Lake Comic Con are the panels. With anticipated and sometimes surprise appearances by famous actors and Q&As with some of the most well-known geek personalities, web stars and authors, every room in the hallways of the Salt Palace had something special to offer each fan.

Lead singer Kristine Leschper of Mothers. Photo: Logan Sorenson @Lmsorenson

With their fourth album Default released and a few tour stops done, the incredible Band of Skulls, from Southampton, England, returned to Salt Lake City to play an intimate show at the downtown favorite Urban Lounge with musical guest Mothers opening.

Lines formed before doors opened at the venue as the temperature finally dropped below 60 degrees for the first time in months. Folks braved the chill in their jean shorts and dresses underneath the marquee. As the doors opened, people flocked to secure their spots, snag a table and grab a beer before the music started. After a little time had passed and fans at least had a chance to mingle, opening guests Mothers took the stage. An ensemble from Athens, Georgia consisting of Kristine Leschper (vocals), Matthew Anderegg (drums), Drew Kirby (guitar) and Chris Goggans (bass), Mothers play a slow-to-rise, experimental indie rock. With pacing that ranged from calm psychedelic to the quick and furious, this group most certainly had the audience entranced as they swayed along throughout the room.

With a few beers now and a whetted appetite for more, the concertgoers conversed among themselves about the hits they were eager to hear as they crowded the front of the house. As the lights dimmed and the room filled with smoke from the corners of the stage, Band of Skulls members arose from stage right and began to hit the notes. Drummer Matt Hayward gave the hard hits that signify the upcoming plethora of songs from albums old and new, including Sweet Sour, Himalayan and I Know What I Am. Fans not only sway and rock out to the amazing music taking over their brains, but they also screamed the lyrics right back. Noticeably enjoying the set, band members Emma Richardson (bass/vocals) and Russell Marsden (guitar/vocals) made their way around the stage and smiled at the fantastic energy emanating from the dimly lit, hazy area. Fans of the band and others along for the ride were definitely well served as the fantastic rock music melted off their ears.