Noah Hunt and Kenny Wayne Shepherd of the Kenny Wayne Shepherd band are photographed during their performances on the 2008 Experience Hendrix Tribute Tour in Seattle, WA. Photo: Steven C. Pesant

Experience Hendrix @ Eccles Theater 03.06


Experience Hendrix is the technical answer to the famed Jimi Hendrix expression/question, “Are you experienced?” And if you saw this show, you could confidently answer yes. Everyone else has to settle for this review. Reading this review will make you quasi-experienced, so the next time the integrity of your experience comes under fire, you can confidently … shrug your shoulders. Experience Hendrix is referenced initially before the show as a type of Electric Church, and if that makes you think of something in Vegas, you’re not far off.

The Theater

The house lights discoed throughout the show inside Eccles Theater, giving the space a definite Electric Church-y feel. Later, I discovered that a traveling lighting person was manually flipping them because this wasn’t a feature the theater naturally had. The outside of Eccles Theater resembles the most gorgeous game of Connect Four you’ve ever scene. Except, instead of chips, we have giant, golden balls floating mindlessly above the heads of the meandering foyer crowd.

The Crowd

I’ll address the crowd like a loving parent might suggest cowboy boots are a bad idea for a child skateboarding. Just because you are from Utah does not mean that you should dress for everything as if it were an outdoor sporting event. I almost felt bad for the three people there that did rock it out on their apparent ladies night. Yay for you, ladies! Khakis are for everything but rock shows! What the crowd lacked in apparel, they made up for in spirit. I don’t know what was stored away in those fanny packs, but I’ll gladly take two. A lot of shows in big, beautiful theaters host subdued, clap-after-song-type folks. Like, the elegance of the theater shames people into acting proper. This crowd took that, sprinkled some keef on it, rolled it up and smoked it, because the late ’60s came back for a bit that night. I was hit by a beer can … can’t say that that’s happened to me in a decade or two.

The Music

Legendary Blues guitarist Buddy Guy is photographed on stage during his performance on the Experience Hendrix Tour in 2004. Photo: Steven C. Pesant
Photo: Steven C. Pesant.

Picture the world’s most amazing game of musical chairs—except you’re like, “Fuck chairs. I want the most legendary, not-currently-obligated collection of rock gods out there.” Then in a moment of brilliance, you’re like, “Instead of taking away a chair/rock god, we swap them out for a second to bring in more rock gods.” If this version of musical chairs suits you, then brace for impact, because these gods can call the thunder. We have Billy Cox, Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Jonny Lang, Zakk Wilde, Dweezel Zappa, Chris Layton, Mato Nanji, Noah Hunt and others all taking turns within the Jimi Hendrix catalogue. There was a “Foxy Lady” and “Castles Made of Sand.” There was a “Purple Haze” after we sang “Hey Joe.” It was like a battle of beyond-epic guitar solos, and in these battles, we had no losers (except the beer cleanup guy …). Wilde is a terrifying viking that gives great hugs to fans. Guy is the sexiest 80-year-old I’ve ever seen, and Shepard has a magical orange guitar that blinded front-row gazers with its glittery brilliance. Take all these things and display them before a digital background brought to you by Windows XP and boom … experience attained. Question answered.

What Was Learned

Some guitarists can play the guitar with their teeth, while others are accomplished playing behind their heads. To those of us that find the harmonica daunting, these types of stage performances are mesmerizing. Guitar notes in deep solos start to sound like words, and after enough of them you can actually speak guitar. “Voodoo Child” takes on a whole new meaning once you learn this. Going to church in this manner is nothing like real church and doesn’t count toward your soul or anything. Rock shows are about demons anyway. This is where you let them out and raise enough hell to give them a place to go. Before every show on this tour, they give an incredible guitar away to some deserving person. Hendrix did the same before his shows.


Experience Hendrix was certainly that and a wonderful memory to stare off and get lost into. Utah crowds never disappoint and once again we are blessed with a community that supports our artistic whereabouts.

Wherever they may be.