In moving to SLC, my first music club experience came via The Urban Lounge. Not that I actually went in, mind you. Instead, the venue sat just down the street from Dick N Dixies, a bar where I found kinship through a weekly Monday evening gathering that brought together writers along with folks who’d want to talk to writers. The Urban was a curiosity for a month or more, the names of the headlining acts coming-and-going from that small marquee above the front door. “What was inside?,” I wondered.
Took a minute, but I finally made it through the door and found myself in a positively-excellent small-to-mid-sized music club. Nice stage, good sound, decent selection of local beer. And the real winner? To be honest, that’d be the men’s room, a functional space that not only serves its role, it approximates the joys of being inside an Airstream or country motel room. Photos show a well-appointed women’s room, as well, with stellar animal-based wallpaper. Well done, bathroom designer, you done good!
Those appeals aside, shows are what’ll keep you coming back. And over the past week-and-change, a trio of gigs brought me through those doors in Central City.
Destroyer with Rosali, April 26
Sometimes a new artist cuts through the clutter and asks for added attention. Rosali’s a songwriter, guitarist and vocalist heading up a self-named band. Taken by the sound of Rosali’s 2021 album No Medium, I headed into the venue as much to see her band as the evening’s headliner, Destroyer, an act with a nice, long history. The room was relatively sparse for Rosali’s set—people seemed to have their opening act antennae up and were smoking or making their way to the venue as she and her talented backing band worked through a set of pleasing indie pop/rock.
Destroyer, then, walked onstage with good vibes already in the room and the crowd reciprocated. In this case, that meant rapt attention. When songs ended, vocalist and bandleader Dan Bejar spent more time sipping at his Modelo than in engaging the room, but the folks were there for the band. Had actual pins dropped between the songs, we’d have all heard them. As a sign of respect, it was pretty profound.
Destroyer employ a mid-tempo sound, with some instrumentation swapping and a big wall of sound, supplied by Bejar’s six associates, a group that’s seen a fair amount of arrivals and subtractions over the years. Trumpeter JP Carter frequently stole the show, his heavily processed and looped horn the band’s not-so-secret weapon. They had the crowd in the palm of their hand, and it’s always impressive to see, hear, witness, experience a band in that element. This was a band and audience in lockstep.
First Daze with Elowyn and Daytime Lover, April 28
Speaking of audiences…does a quiet, respectful audience necessarily equate a good audience? Or can a boisterous, lively room give just the same love back to a performer? Let’s investigate!
On an evening in which three of SLC’s bright young indie rock acts were sharing a stage, First Daze drew the headlining slot, having released a self-titled album on streaming services that morning. The crowd built steadily as the acts moved through the evening, growing by half with each of the sets from Elowyn and Daytime Lover (who, themselves, released a nice album called I Was Asleep earlier this spring.) The mood was a good one and the phrase “release party” had a heavy emphasis on the latter word once the three-piece First Daze hit the stage.
Dual lead vocalists/acoustic guitarists Taylor Lines and Gui Peláez have created a solid, introspective, thoughtful sound, one that bumps up a bit against their self-titled mission of “makin’ music takin’ names.” If their music and words require a bit of quiet for max effect, the audience wasn’t feeling that, chatting at high volume from the opening cut, be that on the dance floor, near the bar or on the perimeter of the room. To be honest, as someone who was experiencing the group for a first time, it was…a challenge. But it appeared that the band’s friends, who came in out in force, were having a time.
The First Daze had their moment, they chatted and danced and laughed their way through a show that maybe called for a bit of active listening. They won. But there’s always the record, which can be enjoyed anytime, in as quiet an environment as you’d like.
Pink Mountaintops with Ashley Shadow and Beneath the Sparrows, May 2
We come to discuss a local band here, one that was an unlisted part of this three-band lineup. But not without noting that the headliner, Pink Mountaintops, makes the kind of a droning-yet-tuneful noise that’s reminiscent of The Dream Syndicate and similar ‘80s/‘90s kin. And we’ll say that Ashley Shadow, playing on this bill as a two-piece, creates the kind of slow, slightly-spooky rock that calls out a night around the fire pit on a chilled October evening—lovely, just lovely.
But it was the night’s first act, the SLC group Beneath the Sparrows that provides our vignette here. Drummer Noah Taub, back in the fold for this gig, provided a solid foundation and vocalist/guitarist Dave Crespo was an engaging frontman, at one point calling his band’s appearance the equivalent of getting some unexpected mozzarella sticks before a meal. Funny guy!
But our shout-out today goes to bassist Jordan Jaeger. When the band began, there weren’t a dozen souls in the Urban and three of them left within a couple of songs. Though a few more would eventually trail in, the band’s audience never topped 20 for this Monday night opening gig, though Jaeger was playing as if in front of a crowd of 2,000. He bobbed, he weaved, he bent, he laughed, he grimaced, he put on a show. He perfectly fits the role needed for his band’s muscular, straight-forward rock’n’roll and, on this night, earned his stripes. He was worth every penny.
241 S. 500 East, SLC