With the warmth of the day slipping away with the setting of the sun, Red Butte was packed with an unusually young crowd sporting backward baseball caps, beardless faces and the faint odor of unwashed undergrads. Red Butte’s Executive Director Gregory Lee offered his last sponsor rundown in advance of Tash Sultana’s and the Teskey Brothers performance and thanked us all for attending the season’s final show, as is tradition.
The Teskey Brothers took stage and immediately started grooving on a shuffle tune called “Man of the Universe.” Drums, bass, two hollow-body guitars, a trumpet and a trombone accompanied lead singer Josh Teskey’s savory vocals. Sam Teskey, one of the band’s guitarists, showed off his chops with a few screaming solos that woke the crowd up a bit. The band laid into slow, sultry songs one after another, each with a different bluesy flavor.The Teskey Brothers sounded great and the crowd concurred. Spectators crowded the barrier in front of the stage, swaying and jumping with the songs. Josh Teskey dominated the set with his soulful singing, but I thought the heavy, instrumental brass sections with furious guitar riffing were actually The Teskey Brothers’ strongest moments. The band finished with a slow ballad called “Hold Me,” and Josh got the crowd clapping, singing and swaying along for the closing bars of the set.
The event’s main event, Tash Sultana,is a solo performer who packed the stage with a collection of musical doodads. Synths, guitar pedals, a trumpet, a drum machine and a healthy selection of percussion instruments filled two tables which had been brought out. For décor, neon lights, a massive stack of stage lights, and a collection of five extra tall digital screens blazed to life. With a guitar lick already reverberating in the air, Tash jumped onto the stage from the darkness and started working magic. Tash was at one moment, kneeling and fiddling with guitar pedals—at the next, running across the front of the stage while shredding a fearsome guitar solo. All the while, the digital screens blasted our eyes with trippy patterns and hi-res musically responsive LED creations.
Weed is always in the air at outdoor concerts, but I’ve never smelled as much at Red Butte as at this show Tash Sultana’s concert. Plumes of smoke rivaled the fog machines for output during the first half of the concert. Tash offered helpful suggestions to encourage the toking crowd: “If you’re going to smoke a joint, smoke it now,” before breaking into the emotional waves of “Can’t Buy Happiness.” Tash, continued to turn up the heat with stoner-friendly visuals and long spiraling musical solos constructed especially for vision-questing minds.
Tash put on an audio/visual experience live I’ve never experienced before, this was easily the best production of the season. Huge wandering patterns and colors cascaded across the LED array as Tash ran every which way across the stage, soloing on guitar, horn, and percussion alike. The set ended with an explosive cover of “The Jungle” which featured a five-minute guitar interlude before climaxing in furious shredding. The incessant cheering of the crowd was enough to convince Tash to play an encore, and with a couple heartfelt acoustic songs, Tash sent us all home with smiles on our faces and knowledge of a Red Butte Season done well.
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