Despite everything else that happened in 2021, the year brought us several cool new spots that opened up in Salt Lake City, or became their own little pockets of local culture. From dives to dancing, here are some new spots to get your music, and that you should definitely visit in 2022.
Blue Genes (239 S. 500 East): A bold rebrand came to the next-door neighbor of downtown venue The Urban Lounge towards the end of 2021, and it couldn't be a more exciting one. The former restaurant and brunch standby Rye Diner and Drinks gave way to a new vision, despite already being a popular and very stylish establishment. After Rye closed during the pandemic, a massive remodel took place, and the formerly Instagram-perfect space with warm wooden fixtures and clean lines has become a chic, mid-century-inspired hi-ball bar and diner instead—Blue Genes. And readers, it is an improvement—not just because at night the space opens up for late night snacks, DJs, dancing and even karaoke on Wednesday nights. Atomic lighting fixtures, a back and a front bar, a huge venue-spanning mural of the Bonneville Salt Flats and classic diner seating all add to the charm of Blue Genes. And with Rye brunch intact on weekend mornings, it really feels like a spot that has it all. Blue Genes is now a 21+ venue, and you can learn more at bluegenesslc.com.
Tailgate Tavern (3550 S. State Street): A South Salt Lake dive has found a new name and a new blossoming reputation for itself. Touché Tavern is no more, having transformed into the Tailgate Tavern, a cowboy dive in all the ways that count. Located way down the way on State Street, Tailgate Tavern couldn't be more unassuming on the outside, but it's got all the warm trappings of a good dive bar on the inside—pool tables, enough neons to keep the place glowing and of course, a small stage. On that stage plenty of locals have started to migrate on over, whether for their open mic nights or for promoted nights of music, which so far have included names like Carl Carbonell, Tom Bennett, J-Rad Cooley, Lee Rafugee, Lord Vox, Jacob T. Skeen and Daniel Young. If you can't tell already, Tailgate is already making itself home to plenty of SLC's best rock 'n' roll and country-leaning acts. On their opening night this past September, Bad Brad Wheeler even made an appearance. On Thursday nights, they have karaoke, and online you can find a schedule of their open mic nights, too, so whether you want to see some entertainment or be the entertainment, Tailgate Tavern is the place for you to be. They've even got an upcoming show to poke your head into this Friday, Jan. 7, featuring Phantom Thrusters, Modern Speed and Heavy Pulp. Visit tailgatetavernslc.com or follow them on Instagram at @tailgatetavernslc to keep up with this shiny new dive.
801 Salon (801 S. 800 East): Glasses-ware shop by day, arts hub by night, 801 Salon is exactly that—an arts exhibition space with an emphasis on work from right here in the 801. Located in the 9th and 9th-adjacent block of 8th and 8th, near other hip shops in black-painted buildings like Vantage and Peasantries & Pleasantries, 801 Salon lives in Vis. Optics. The funky glasses shop effortlessly transforms into a multi-use venue for 801 events, stripping the specs from the walls to leave space for 801 Salon to blossom into whatever it is for the evening. Exhibitions so far have included a show of art by Andrew Alba, music from Angel Magic and Bobo, a local dancer showcase, and collaborations with local businesses. The exhibits come on the third Saturday of each month, and past performance nights have been free with the option to donate to performers. Though not a regular fixture of the performance scene just yet, 801 Salon makes for a comfortable place to mill around, do some socializing and keep up with the local arts. Their next exhibit, 801 Salon No. 5, will feature the work of Ty Davis and Breaker music on Saturday, Jan. 15. Find more details at @801.salon on Instagram.
Aces High Saloon (1588 S. State): True SLC rockers, metalheads and, well, really anyone who owns a leather jacket probably already know well of Aces High Saloon, a fairly new bar that's home to a certain breed of Salt Laker. You can't miss the State Street bar, with its barred windows and frequent row of motorcycles out front. It tries, and succeeds, in looking like an outlaw hideout, and for the modern tough guy, it totally is. That's because it's also just a classic dive, with pool, corn hole, poker and blackjack cards available—and, of course, regular music. The bar's unique in its musical offerings, too, in that it not only pulls in locals like Captain Daniel's Sunnybrook Sailors, Crook & The Bluff and local vinyl DJs, but touring acts, too. Visit on a music night and expect any iteration of metal, rock 'n' roll and outlaw country up on the stage. The venue's also got some other unique stuff going for it, like classic video games and a bar grub menu that can be made veggie friendly. So whether you roll up on a chopper or not, make sure you check this new spot out. Get more details as aceshighsaloon.com.