Frech is a recent addition to the Utah music scene after moving from Nashville and is like an upbeat country Julia Stone. She played her new single, “Speak Softer, Love Louder,” as well as songs from her first two albums, Home and Reality. She has another single coming out in August, with a third album soon after that.
Howard played a relatively short set of upbeat, mostly original acoustic songs about love (I know, love songs from a singer/songwriter? Wha-what?) that belong in romantic comedies. He jumped back on stage later, during Lenka’s set to play “Stuck Like Glue,” a duet the two of them wrote together in England that Howard and was released on Howard’s 2014 album, Living in Stereo.
Between songs, Howard was pretty charming; after he got the whole crowd to whistle along with him in “Can’t Break a Broken Heart,” he said he’d get on Wikipedia and change it to say, “beautiful mountains, great skiing, super at whistling.” It was a smart move—a lot of the time, bands show their love for a city by inserting the name of said city into the chorus, right? He did his research. Good work, Howard.
He pulled the crowd back to the ’90s with an acoustic cover of Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” which he used to play at open mic nights back in England. He morphed into a few other covers; at the end of “Falling For You,” he transitioned into Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” and Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.”
Lenka came out with her band, guitarist Trey Lockerbie, bassist Blake Straus and drummer Taylor Dexter, and started into tracks of her newest record, Bright Side. It is bright, but she’s multi-faceted.
“Sometimes it feels good to wallow in depression. And then you claw your way out and realize things are better on the other side, but sometimes it feels good to be sad,” she said, during our chat before the show.
Bright Side is full of positive hits, like “Long Way Home,” “Unique” and the title track, all of which she played during her set. Her toddler son had a lot of influence on what kind of moods made it onto the record.
“I was writing and recording this album last year, with this two-year-old jumping up and down saying, ‘No, mommy, I don’t like that song,’ and ‘Yeah, mommy, I like this one.’ I also felt very reenergized and rejuvenated because I spent a year just being a mom. Children are very nourishing and he really recharged my batteries and I wanted to please him. This album is upbeat and fun with lots of rhythms,” she said.
The album hadn’t originally been plotted out—it came together when she saw that she had eight songs recorded (which had been requested by various film and TV projects), and decided she only needed a few more for a record.
“I realized [the general theme] was living on the bright side—not just looking at the bright side, but also positive thinking, choosing my reality and living on the bright side. And it all came together,” she said.
They opened with “Blue Skies,” which they played again during the encore—but that time, she and the band busted out a bossa nova version. It was the first time they had performed that version, after it came together spontaneously during a sound check.
Before Bright Side, Lenka released a more melancholy, indie album called Shadows. She played several songs from that album, as well as from her 2011 release, Two. “Two Heartbeats” is a song she wrote while pregnant, which tells the perspective of her son when he was in the womb. It’s gloomy, and underneath, has a continuous track of either the actual sonogram or a pretty real-sounding heartbeat.
She also played a gloomy version of “Don’t Let Me Fall,” from her debut, self-titled album. It was slower, like a lullaby, and if it hadn’t still been cute, would have sounded like a slinky nightclub melody tune.
Her version of “The Show” was also less plinky than usual, and “Here to Stay,” was mellow, had a screamy, progressive-rock guitar solo, but finished with a true Lenka glittery outline.
The last surprise from Lenka (other than when she threw chocolate kisses into the audience at the beginning of the encore, and the bossa nova “Blue Skies,” which would have, chronologically, been the real last surprises), was a cover of Milky Chance’s “Stolen Dance,” which she had originally covered when a German radio station asked her to perform a cover.
Sure, she’s a fix for those with a pop sugar-tooth. But she does melancholy quite well too.
“I think everything is darkness and light,” she said during the interview. “You’ve got to accept that to feel good and you’ve got to know that things change.”