Last night, Velour Live Music Gallery hosted part one of its fourth annual Cowboys and Indies festival, a two-night event that attempts to bridge the gap between Provo’s dominant genres — folk and indie — by putting leading local acts from both camps on the same stage. On Friday, Velour manager Corey Fox managed to roll out a line-up nearly as diverse as the crowd in attendance.
First to play was the religiously themed and angst-ridden Salt Lake group, the Second Estate. Though the group’s lead singer had a powerful, captivating voice, his dramatic stop and start delivery of scriptural quotations over pounding acoustic guitar and brushed drums was not exactly conducive to getting the party started.
Next to take the stage were Provo favorites Shark Speed. There could not have been a greater shift in feeling in crowd if MGMT had just followed Bright Eyes. So far as I have gathered, Shark Speed’s indie stylings have been somewhat divisive in Provo — gaining a large following, but also becoming the butt of almost all the indie jokes I’ve heard recently. Regardless of one’s position on the group, I can attest they got the crowd moving with their upbeat guitar work. The song “Cast Off Dance Off” (featuring a trumpet) was an audience favorite.
Salt Lake’s the Devil Whale brought a little more pop sensibility to their folksy set and even went into full rock mode on their closing track, screaming the final refrains. Unfortunately, it seemed that a number of people had either left or just gone outside after Shark Speed’s set, perhaps because the Devil Whale are not quite as well known in Provo, especially among the high school set. Nonetheless, they showed solid musicianship to accompany their unquestionably indie hair.
The undisputed stars of the show, however, were Imagine Dragons. Those who read my review of their self-titled EP just a few days ago will remember my tepid response to their music, but I must confess — their live show blew me away. I think I would go see this band anywhere. (More on this coming in a future article.) Drawing their set list from new material as well as old favorites, they had the crowd in the palm of their hand through dance numbers and emotionally wrenching slow jams (tears on stage, even). Much to everyone’s delight, they opened everything up for their encore — huge, empassioned vocals, hard hitting drums, dancing, and one hell of a guitar solo.
Overall, Cowboys and Indies is a good collaborative effort, aimed at building unity between the two scenes. I would have to say Friday night’s show seemed to be only marginally successful in that regard, as the indies seemed to garner much more crowd attention and appreciation than their cowboy counterparts.
Tonight’s show promises to be equally entertaining with Seve Vs. Evan and Moses taking the stage, among others. Come dance to your heart’s content — or sit around and joke with your friends about the inevitable fashion mistakes and moves of those who do!
William Sutton is a popular culture correspondent for Rhombus.
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