How do you not get excited for the announcement of the perennial live music bargain of the year, where you can gorge on food truck fare and guzzle beer in a public park without getting a citation? I know, right?!
As it does every year, the Twilight Concert Series brings anticipation and, finally, fruition as we learn what we’ll be doing every Thursday night for two months. Not just that, but it’s also interesting to see how festival organizers at the City Arts Council will manage to bridge indie credibility and commercial appeal in their curation of the festival. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the series, and they really kicked it up a notch, booking an incredibly satisfying slate.
Below, City Weekly gives you the exclusive scoop on who’s gonna fill Pioneer Park with true notes and joy. Well, most of the lineup, anyway—Aug. 24 remains a question mark. “We wish we could [disclose the mystery act], says Arts Council Program Manager, Jesse Schaefer in an email. “That’s still in the works. Stay tuned, we hope to announce that ASAP.” Same goes for the slate of local openers—so far, they’ve announced only one, although Schaefer promises that, again, Twilight will feature local opening acts at all seven shows.
We’ll update you when they update us. In the meantime, click through this 2017 Twilight Concert Series playlist.
July 20: Little Dragon, Xenia Rubinos, Angel Magic
Twilight—actual twilight, not the series—and straight-up, starry nights is the perfect setting for Swedish electro-pop outfit Little Dragon and their dark, dreamy, soul-infused songs. They’re touring behind their upcoming fifth album, Season High (Loma Vista, 2017). Back in September, I wrote that Xenia Rubinos embodies jazz chanteuse Billie Holiday, indie folkie Jolie Holland and even a bit of bass-slinging funk mama Betty Davis asking, “Who on earth could conjure Holiday’s smooth, jazz vox, Holland’s adorable indie hipster croon and Davis’s funky swagger? She’s kinda goofy, totally adorable and fairly badass—a singer-rapper-instrumentalist straight from our subconscious dreams. Mmmm-mm! Homegrown electropop duo Angel Magic, recording for esteemed local electronica label Hel Audio, open the show.
July 27: Kurt Vile & The Violators, Whitney
Vile’s a helluva misnomer for this dude, who’s like a new-school Tom Petty, bringing Pavement-esque indie smarts to heartland rock, with a soul swagger, too. The man is a rockstar for the 21st Century, someday to be a legend. Support act Whitney comes from the Bloomington, Ind.-based Secretly Canadian label, which signs nothing but goodness. Serious goodness, if you were a fan of the Smith Westerns—the band is two-thirds comprised of SW alums: Max Kakacek and Julien Erlich. Check out the vinyl recording version of their debut LP Light Upon the Lakeon YouTube and hear their sunny psych-pop-soul tunes with all that staticky needle-hiss. That’s the second best thing to experiencing this bill in the park tonight, just as you come of your Pie ‘n’ Beer Day hangover.
August 3: Kamasi Washington, Antibalas
Is it me or is jazz is becoming less fringe, and at speed? I mean, would you have predicted a straight-up jazz cat like sax blaster Kamasi Washington would be a Twilight headliner? Even with his crossover cred from guesting on albums by Ryan Adams, Thundercat and Run the Jewels, or performing with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Chaka Khan and Suicidal Tendencies/Infectious Grooves frontguy “Cyco” Mike Muir, a night of Kamasi’s cool, Coltrane-esque instrumentals isn’t what you’d expect from the series. But it’s a fit, for sure—and he sounds so good, I’d sit through a front-to-back performance of his nearly three-hour album The Epic (Brainfeeder, 2015) under a starry sky. With afrobeat orchestra Antibalas as support, tonight’s show is gonna be all about atmosphere.
August 10: Solange, Kaytranada
There are two types of people in this world: Those who like Beyoncé, and those who are like, “Why?” Sure, we need divas, but some argue she ain’t all that. Cue the angry comments: Her sister’s music is miles better. In fact, Solange’s A Seat at the Table (Saint/Columbia, 2016) is eminently listenable—just so, so good—without indulging in pop tropes like bling, boasting and vocal showboating. It’s mood music as much as club music, meaning you can dance to it while hammered or kick back on a Sunday afternoon in a La-Z-Boy with headphones and find it equally enjoyable. Speakin’ of chill jams, Haitian/Canadian DJ Kaytranada does it well, puttin’ out some headphone phodda of his own on 99.9% (XL/HW&W, 2016). He’s not exclusively mellow, though—you can expect some more uptempo numbers to get the crowd worked up before Solange lays it down.
August 17: Cat Power, special guest TBA
Oh, man … Cat Power in Salt Lake City is always a treat, and not just because Chan Marshall is crush fodder. That’s a plus, of course, but the woman wears her pain like stage clothes—and you can feel it. It’s intimate and rather terrifying, if that’s your freaky thing. It’s mine, for sure. Whether she’s playing the mopey guitar songs that made her an indie household name or the electronica introduced on 2012’s Sun (Matador), it’s gonna sound so sweet under the night sky.
August 31: The Roots, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires
Speakin’ of true notes: whose are truer than The Roots? Hell, “true notes” was even part of their slogan for their Okay Player imprint back in the day. Now look at ‘em, they’re a late-night talkshow house band—and they haven’t lost any cool points. And, being a band, performing hip-hop on live instruments, they have a ton. This is probably the biggest and baddest Twilight show, ever, since it also includes Charles Bradley, who’s not only one of the greatest living soul singers, but a chill dude, himself. What’s cooler than a soul cover of a Black Sabbath song? Not bothering to lip-synch in the video for it, letting your emotion-lined face convey every broken-hearted lyric. This is the one, folks. Get your tickets fast.
And there you have it. Who are you the most excited to see? And for that matter, what's been the most memorable concert you've seen in these 30 years of Twilight?