KALEO to Open Red Butte Garden Season

Red Butte Garden’s 2022 Outdoor Concert Series lineup is set and the Easter egg hunt for tickets is on. Scoring Red Butte concert tickets aren’t for the indecisive or faint of heart, but well worth the persistence if you succeed. This season’s eclectic lineup kicks off on May 18, 2022, with the blues-infused Icelandic rock band KALEO. (And yes, they spell it in ALL CAPS.)

Yes, Icelandic. The land of Bjork. It’s a country known more for volcanoes and glaciers than rock ’n’ roll exports. That changed in 2016 when KALEO erupted on the American music scene with their highly-acclaimed and million-selling debut album A/B. Backed by a triumvirate of strong singles, KALEO broke through with the certified double-platinum hit “Way Down We Go” and reached number one on the US Billboard Alternative Song Chart. “No Good” earned them a 2017 Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance and “Broken Bones” was featured in primetime on Grey’s Anatomy

That’s a Herculean feat for any artist trying to break into the American music charts, never mind an unknown freshman quartet from Iceland. Perhaps their meteoric rise on the American music scene wouldn’t be as noteworthy if they hit the charts with a flash-in-the-pan and soon forgotten Eurovision dance hit, but KALEO breached the fortress walls with organically raw Mississippi Delta blues tinged with Pacific Northwest garage grunge. The improbability soon washes away when you listen to their music. Frontman JJ Juliusson’s deep, soulful voice lends itself perfectly to southern chain gang blues, ballads, or modern indie-rock melodies. It’s kind of like that first time you heard Chris Stapleton singing lead with The Steeldrivers or Eddie Vedder taking the Seattle sound somewhere new. That’s KALEO. Fun fact: kaleo is a Hawaiian word meaning voice, sound. Very appropriate.

In 2021 they released a new album titled Surface Sounds and this spring they’re hitting the road with a stop at Red Butte Garden. Surface Sounds is a solid follow-up to A/B. Juliusson took a new approach for Surface Sounds, from the found sounds of the surface around him that he interpolated into the songs—from birds singing to the ambient noise of Icelandic waterfalls. He sought inspiration in both the tangible world around him and the emotional one within. “Brother Run Fast” is a great new song that’ll surely be featured on many rock/blues/roots playlists. “I Want More” and “Break My Baby” are both Triple A No. 6 singles.

Bones Owens is the well-paired opener for the May 18 Red Butte show with his hard-driving, rustic garage grunge sound. The Nashville-based roots rocker blends a more retro thunderous blues sound with solid songs like “White Lines” and “Keep It Close.”  

On May 18 there’ll be some musical claps of thunder on the mountain as Owens and KALEO open up our outdoor concert season with some hard-charging soulful rock and blues. Way down we go!

  • Who: KALEO
  • What: An Icelandic blues/rock band (yes, there is one) 
  • Where: Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre
  • When: May 18, 2022
  • Tickets: redbuttegarden.org

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John Nelsonhttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
John Nelson covers the local music scene for Salt Lake magazine. He is a 20-year veteran of Uncle Sam’s Flying Circus with a lifelong addiction to American roots music, live music venues, craft beer and baseball.

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