One of the charming aspects of Salt Lake City is being surrounded by everything that I need at a moment’s notice. Before stopping into the show, I grabbed a few drinks at Wasted Space and had a bite to eat at The Pie Hole—both within earshot of The Shred Shed– a beautiful example of SLC’s cultural geography. As part of theThree of Clubs Tour, Flagship, Little Daylight and Terraplane Sun hit Salt Lake on their way to Vancouver, putting on a show that was engaging throughout the bands’ performances as well as between sets.
Flagship started out the evening with a solid stage presence that actively ignored the lack of a crowd. I’m not saying this to passive-aggressively bash on scene goers—legitimately, I was one of three composing the audience for their set, and the other two were drunk-and-disorderlies whom I coerced into joining me for the evening. Flagship’s combination of flange delay and reverb announced the arrival of chill-wave finally having caught up to 2014, which meshed perfectly with the atmosphere of the night. The lack of bodies only created a tone of familiarity among the few strangers congregated by obligation, for which Drake Margolnick’s voice and Grant Harding’s keys created an ethereal soundtrack, giving momentum that carried on long after the set had ended. While Flagship generally carries a full course, they only played four songs, which I will allow myself to believe were played exclusively for me, and ended with a dreamy lament, “Gold and Silver” from their 2013 album, Flagship.
While waiting for Little Daylight, various members from Flagship and Terraplane Sun where displaying their congeniality outside when the doorman excitedly announced there were officially three paying attendees. Fifteen to 20 more followed suit through the door as I made casual conversation with Margolnick and Lyle Riddle on drums for Terraplane Sun, neither of whom flashed smiles for party favors and where perfectly content talking about architecture and scoping out nearby parking garage rooftops. I eventually made my way back inside—I hadn’t been touring with Little Daylight, so I felt it appropriate to want to watch their set.
I have a history of being unforgiving to the floor when small crowds are involved, the misconception often being that I gauge a show’s validity based on head count. What irks me is not small numbers, but immobile statues, staring at a phenomenal stage performance. Fortunately, Little Daylights vibrancy is potently contagious. The second Nikki Taylor started melodically larking, fans skipped straight past shoulder-twitching and foot tapping and jumped straight to, loosely, interpretive street dancing. Even I gave my best rendition of Elaine Benes “full-body dry-heave set to music.” Easy synth-pop music, chirping stories of self-empowerment with flair and romance, accompanied by a star-shaped red tambourine, has never led Little Daylight astray. The trio fed off the crowd’s energy, and it was evident, Taylor belongs on a stage. They attempted ending the set with their hit "Overdose," and where quickly egged on to preform an encore. A small and appreciative crowd can’t be turned down when unbridled enthusiasm is turned up to 11. After the encore finished there was a collective gasp for air, a gratifying, silent scream from my body warned my oxygen-deprived brain that dancing to Little Daylight was the most exercise I had all week, quite possibly all month.
When reading the lineup, I couldn’t imagine the transition from the ’80s glamour of Little Daylight to Terraplane Sun would be anything other than uncomfortable.
Terraplane Sun, however, returned the night to the smell of leather shoes and smooth hard roots music in stride. Ben Rothbard’s voice turns to smoke when the repetition of “I don’t want to get out’’ hits more than half way through my personal favorite, “Ya Never Know.” Gabe Feenberg jumping from keys to brass physically gave me goose bumps. I couldn’t help but stomp and rhythmically clap at full volume through the set list. Dominating the stage, the bands powerful performance didn’t yield to tone changes. Attempting to name the 20 folk-spliced genres used to taste test Terraplane Sun seems rather daunting. Instead, I’d like to ask them to preemptively start a soundtrack for a Wes Anderson/Quinton Tarintino film based on the fictitious lives of The Soggy Bottom Boys. That request seems more reasonable. While “Get Me Golden” was clearly the crowd pleaser, with churchy-organ and soul to spare, that left the room wanting a second encore for the evening; the unexpected cover of Radiohead’s “15 Step” was the perfect surprise to end the night on.
With two bands performing extra songs, the perfect balance of dance, indie and folk, and the intimately comfortable dynamic between the bands and the crowd, anyone not at The Shred Shed Tuesday night truly missed an amazing show. The Three Of Clubs Tour ends April 24 in San Diego, Calif. I would have no hesitation in jumping in my car to make the next show.