Hello music world! I’m Cole, and I’m the newest member to join the Coma Collective team. I first approached Max about joining Coma a few months back, but really I just wanted my own business card. Turns out, I have to earn it. So, Max reached out with an option to do some writing to help cover a wider range of topics. So, here goes nothing. Take a look a local’s perspective on a rapidly expanding music town!
Salt Lake City, Utah. By day, the city is busy with people as they walk, bike, drive or train from point A to point B. From the outside it looks like any other regular city, however, this city is surrounded by the beautiful Wasatch mountains, has tremendous outdoor recreation, and a booming economy. (It has weird liquor laws but please, don’t let that stop you from visiting).
By night, Salt Lake has an exciting and eclectic music vibe, which seems to surprise a lot of people. No matter what kind of music you’re into, you can’t throw a rock in this city without hitting a fellow rock, reggae, rap, hip-hop, or metal musician or music lover. And nowadays, new music venues seem to be popping up on every block.
Like most everything else in Salt Lake, music has been strongly influenced by the LDS Church (again, please don’t let that stop you from visiting). But everything has to start somewhere, right? The state’s most famous musical group is The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, founded in 1910. They have produced over 100 albums and in 2012, Billboard Magazine named them the year-end, Top Charting Traditional Classical Album of the year. I know they don’t stand out to most, but they actually are pretty damn good to anyone with a true ear for musicianship.
Over the years, the music in Salt Lake City began to evolve, and in the early 2000’s, the scene exploded producing the likes of Neon Trees, Imagine Dragons, The Moth & the Flame, and everyone’s favorite emo band from their childhood, The Used. Don’t get me wrong, I know that cities everywhere produce big name bands, but Utah isn’t very often at the forefront of people’s minds when they think of music-producing cities. Regardless, it is pretty cool that Salt Lake has produced quite a few big-name-bands (and more to come). However, the coolest part of the Salt Lake music scene? The locals.
Like many other cities, the locals here love their music. On any given night in Salt Lake, you can find live music, really anywhere. Classic venues like Urban Lounge, In the Venue, Kilby Court and The Royal play host to both internationally-acclaimed artists and small underground heroes on tour sleeping on friends’ floors or in their rusty old vans. Side note: I saw Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls for the first time at Urban Lounge; one of the best shows I have ever been to. The Urban Lounge holds around 500 people and Frank had the entire place moving with a light show that reminded me of a Pink Floyd concert. It was awesome. The best part about all of these venues is most hold shows every night of the week and usually for an entrance fee of under $10. For anyone not form here, the words “inexpensive”, “live music” and “Utah” don’t often collide in the same sentence. Well here it is, when it comes to cheap, live music, Salt Lake City, Utah is just as good as any.
A constant presence of the music scene, placed smack in the middle of downtown, is The Heavy Metal Shop. Born in 1987, the shop sells exclusively metal and hard rock music. I know what you’re thinking, an economic disaster. Well it has truly stood the test of time. As a Salt Lake staple, the streets are scattered with locals who rep their Heavy Metal Shop tee’s and sweatshirts. As a local and a fan of metal music, owning a Heavy Metal Shop sweatshirt is a must.
Finally, Salt Lake is becoming a very progressive place. As millennial’s fill the streets of downtown, the city has begun to attract indie-style artists who are forced to make a tour stop in Salt Lake in order to satisfy the immense population of those with an ear for new music. And new music Salt Lake City has! Some of my personal faves include, The National Parks, Candy’s River House, The Wednesday People, and Thurderfist. (Make sure to check out The National Parks’ brand new album Places released just this year).
As a music lover in Salt Lake City, whether it be metal, rock, rap, hip-hop, indie or really whatever may float your boat, the music scene is blowing up here. As it grows, for bands and musicians traveling the states, the city that was once a small pit-stop has now become a must-stop on tour.