Wasn’t one of the supposed benefits for relocating Salt Lake’s most popular summer event from Gallivan Center—a move necessitated by the construction on the downtown plaza—to Pioneer Park the ability to accommodate the ever-increasing crowd size? After all, one of the biggest complaints with Gallivan was that unless you showed up wicked early, there was almost no chance of actually seeing the performance, and much less enjoying it. And forget actually getting a beer or going to the bathroom at Gallivan, unless that was your focus and you decided to spend the concert standing in lines at the back of the plaza.
So, the spacious Pioneer Park held promise as a venue to take the pressure off of the crowds, and an expanded marketplace seemed like a great way to cut down the beer, food and bathroom lines. Sadly, it’s reasonable to say that organizers of last night’s show did little to fix some of the biggest flaws in Salt Lake’s premier summer event.
The ridiculous size of the crowd—evident before getting into the park by the lines that stretched more than a block along 300 West while Modest Mouse was playing—can be attributed to the anticipation that comes with with premier bands, especially Modest Mouse, as well as the novelty of the first show of the summer. But the crowd was, obviously, much larger than organizers planned for, leading to more up-close-and-personal encounters with smelly/sweaty/beer-soaked people than I want. Also, the crowd size meant that the massive lines for food and drinks remained, as well as the everyone for themselves crap-shoot that is the bathroom queue.
Regardless, while the planning was shoddy, the performances of Avi Buffalo and Modest Mouse were as to be expected—better than average, but not overwhelmingly fantastic.
Avi Buffalo has generated a lot of buzz this year, and the group of incredibly cute and cuddly (as well as talented), hormone oozing, future college students (ok, probably not future students) were fantastic. Who better to rock out Salt Lake’s entire population of tween hipsters than one of the more talented indie-rock-pop groups in the business? Never before has there been, in one location, sooo many skinny jeans (guys more so than gals), shoelace belts and Tom Cruise Rayban sunglasses. Oh, and don’t forget beanies (it’s July, right?). Avi Buffalo’s 45 minutes of electric indie rock were a great way to launch this summer’s lineup.
Modest Mouse performed well enough to not disappoint anyone, but not so well as get people really excited. Sticking to their usual stuff, the band killed some songs while sleepwalking through others. It was entertaining to watch the band members bounce around the stage like Mexican jumping beans while staying in sync with the crowd. Overall, it was a solid start to what could, potentially, be the best summer concert series yet.
Generally, most people in attendance, which included everyone from college-aged hipsters to downtown professionals to wine-guzzling parents, seemed content with the music and unhappy with the crowds. In fact, many people seemed to wear out early and leave midway through Modest Mouse, despite the music.
Overall, last night was yet another great (and free) Twilight Concert, and despite the crush of humanity, the buzz was electric and the atmosphere generally positive. Plus, the sound was better than Gallivan, making the concert at least listenable from almost anywhere. But the issues that dogged the Gallivan shows have not changed at the much larger Pioneer Park, at least on the first night.