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In the southwest United States, sandwiched between Nevada and Colorado, Utah is a humble desert state. For the most part, Utah lacks a strong music identity. However, music enthusiasts will see the charm in this dilemma. Amateur artists have ample opportunity to practice and preform, while residents seek an expansion in live music shows and venues. For those interested in watching concerts in Utah, let’s explore current advantages and future possibilities ingrained in Utah’s music landscape.
Utah thrives in the summer, providing an array of concert series
Utah adores its outdoor music, providing a slew of concerts and festivals in the summer. The Red Butte Garden Outdoor Concert Series is one of the most popular. Affiliated with the University of Utah and located in Salt Lake City, this series of concerts brings in national talent from yesterday and today. In 2018, Sheryl Crow and Caitlyn Smith kicked off the series, followed by artists such as Counting Cows, Death Cab for Cutie, Men Without Hats, Brandi Carlile, Indigo Girls, and Billy Idol.
The USANA Ampitheater also brings in popular artists in the summer months, but it expands the country, pop, and alternative of the Red Butte Garden Outdoor Concert Series, weaving in punk, metal, and rock sounds into the lineup. This year’s performers included Pentatonix, Keithe Urban, Paramore, Foster the People, G-Eazy, Weezer, Slayer, Stone Temple Pilots, Marilyn Manson, Foreigner, Shinedown, The Pixies, and Avenged Sevenfold. Luke Bryan and Ozzy Osbourne will round off the calendar this year.
Other outdoor series that drive Utah’s music scene in the summer are: Bluebird Café Concert Series; Sounds of Summer Concert Series; Snowbasin Blues, Brews & BBQ Concert Series; Deer Valley Music Festival; Deer Valley Concert Series; St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights Concert Series; Ogden Twilight; and, Sandy Amphitheater. With so many concerts lined up each summer, music mavens will find themselves at a show every weekend.
Utah’s live music scene offers an organic reprieve from theatrical, overly-produced shows
Although Utah is skipped over on many national and international tours, local musicians offer something sparsely seen in those types of commercialized performances. Artists have the chance to create something raw, unrefined, and real. This more equal opportunity music scene benefits newer artists, ensuring that musicians who want to learn from other groups and practice their skills have a sounding board in the community. Collaborative showcases offer artists the chance to define a sound and build an audience. Although some complain about a lack of large venues for casual shows, smaller spaces allow everyone to get involved in the arts. Jazzy Java Rock ‘n’ Roll Grill is one of these places. With few venues, musicians find a way to get to know listeners.
A handful of well-known bands have members with ties to Utah, such as The Aces, Fictionist, Neon Trees, Kaskade, The Killers, and Imagine Dragons. Before making it to larger stages, they played local gigs and developed their musical talents in Utah. It takes time to be great.
What is the appeal of this type of understated music environment? Listeners who are looking for a casual, uncontrived music scene will find it in Utah. Harken back to the days of grimy garage bands and haphazard house parties here. Regulars at concerts will quickly become familiar faces.
Utah’s music scene has room to grow
Part of the appeal of music in Utah is that the arts and entertainment industries have room to grow. People in the music scene covet more venues to reach broader audiences. Although more venues are found by the state's largest universities, listeners and musicians want more. With a desire for elevated night life, Utah might be a good place for people who want to contribute to the creation of a music community from its start. Plus, unlike established music scenes, musicians and listeners need not worry about being pushed out of defined, strict standbys in the state. For listeners eager to be a part of something from the start, Utah is a wonderful place to catch a show.