People packed downtown to here these two great acts, which made for a great sight if not always the greatest concert-going experience. It was hot and crowded and much of the throng were completely oblivious to who the performers were, but these negative elements were more than overshadowed by the brilliance evidenced onstage.
Austin, Texas-based indie rockers Okkervil River opened the concert with a blazing set full of unparalleled musicianship and ample vocal pyrotechnics by frontman Will Sheff. The set was passionate and energetic throughout, featuring Okkervil’s unique brand of rock, tinged with just enough Americana to make it go down silky smooth. Sheff’s unique yowl dominated the evening as the vocalist’s commanding stage presence put the audience in the palm of his hand. Right down to the final notes of set closer (and yesterday’s Song of the Day) “Unless Its Kicks,” Okkervil River captivated the swelling crowd and ably set the stage for the evening’s headliner.
Sam Beam, the lone folk bard behind Iron & Wine, took the stage in his familiar way: calmly and with a massive beard. I mean, that thing is huge. Beam grabbed the crowd’s attention in a much different — yet equally effective — way than Okkervil: by being deathly quiet. Standing alone on the Gallivan stage with just his acoustic guitar, Beam kicked the set off with his infamous cover of the Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights,” a move which immediately enraptured the audience and inspired a mass singalong.
Beam sang/whispered through his extensive catalog, including the haunting and well-received “Naked As We Came.” (Perhaps the saddest song in the history of American music.) Often straining to hear Beam masterfully finger the guitar’s fretboard and croon his simple folk songs, the huge audience fell quiet — or as quiet as a bunch of people who’ve never listened to Iron & Wine before and are really just there for the beer and something to do can be. Running through material from every phase of his career, Beam captured the hearts of his Salt Lake faithful (and maybe converted a few more) in a truly magnificent set that underscores just what a great opportunity the Twilight Concert Series presents to Utah music lovers.
To further explore the beauty of Sam Beam, take a moment to peruse the tracks included below.
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