The Twilight Concert Series Concludes: NEKO CASE and CROOKED FINGERS

Thursday evening was the concluding concert of the Salt Lake City annual Twilight Concert Series, leaving us with a totally memorable evening. Tonight's concert was the pinnacle of a wonderful concert series, one focusing more on Indie Rock and Alternative Hip-Hop more than any previous series. In years past, we have been treated with legendary Bluegrass/Americana artists, such as Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson, as well as great Folk artists, like Patty Griffin and Jane Siberry. We've seen Michael Franti and Spearhead, Alison Brown and her Jazz quartet and Buckwheat Zydeco. But, Thursday brought about one of the best I've seen.

Part of my excitement for this show, could go back to a year and a half ago, when Neko played a show at Club Suede, in the outskirts of Park City, Utah. The show was relatively cheap, but I didn't know anyone that wanted to attend, and I did not feel like making the journey by myself. So, I didn't go to the show.

Fast forward until this summer, when I found out that my opportunity to see Neko had come around, yet again, and this time it was close, and this time it was FREE. I looked at my work schedule, and saw that it was not on one of my scheduled days off, so I just realized that I would need to make sure I was off work at a reasonable time, and get as close to the stage as possible.

Then came the surgery, and the 3 week recovery period.

Because of my extended leave of absence from work, I was able to go secure a spot right in front of the stage. I laid out my blanket in the dirt (DIRT??) in front of the stage, and spent a quiet afternoon to myself. Well, almost myself. This experience was surreal for me, as in years past there would often be an army of people (well, an army of 10-15 people), who would be scattered around the Gallivan Center grounds, waiting for that magical moment of 1:30, when they could set their blankets up in front of the stage. As this year was a little different... the grass in front of the stage has been utterly destroyed, leaving a patch of dirt...I was the only one physically present at 1:30. There were blankets that had already been set up, but towards the rear of the main grassy area.

I was alone, enjoying a little quiet time in the shade, when an elderly homeless man came up and asked me if he could perch on my side of the blanket. Because it's really not in my nature to be a "d-bag", I told him he could sit down for a few hours, but that my children were probably going to come, and he would need to relocate at that time. I was hoping he would get bored, and move camp, but he ended up staying the entire time. My only regret is that I didn't think to take a picture, to post on the blog. That would have been amusing. He must have been a learned bum, as he spent the entire afternoon scouring a newspaper. He had his quirky habits, which included going to various locations getting cups of water (he had 2-3 different cups of beverage at any given time) or Coke. I don't know if he was "mixing" things into his Coke, but at no point did I see or smell alcohol. I also learned a valuable thing from my homeless friend. Well, 2 valuable things... first, I learned to make sure and remove all pieces of grass and straw from any facial hair that I may have (he wasn't very successful at doing that), and second, he taught me that the best way to keep yourself cool, in the summer sun, is to pull a shirt up over your head. As the sun crept down the west side of the Gallivan Center, there was a half hour where I was literally baking in the sun. As I had an outer button up shirt, over the Pink Floyd t-shirt that I was wearing, I was able to take his advice, and I was indeed, much cooler. Thank you, homeless guy.

NOW, onto the concert.

The opening act was CROOKED FINGERS, who was a very interesting Indie Rock band, based out of Austin... and Chicago... and Sweden. I think. Regardless, the band is fronted by former ARCHERS OF LOAF member, Eric Bachmann. Where Crooked Fingers initially began as a solo project for Bachmann, he now tours with a band of four. A male drummer, a female violinist/guitarist and a female bass guitarist. Both females add backing vocals, which created a beautiful atmosphere in the music, as they usually sang extremely tight, chill inducing harmonies. Where the early part of their set was mainly nylon string guitar, cleverly finger picked by Bachman, with just harmony vocals and the occasional violin, the latter part of the set featured some more raucous music, featuring two guitars, and an alternate tuning to normal guitar work, creating the ability to make some noise. I would definitely consider myself a new fan of Crooked Fingers, if only the live music at this point.

Because of my diligence in getting to the Gallivan Center so early, I managed to secure a spot directly in front of the barricade, right at center stage. There were a couple of ballsy teen aged girls who felt that they could go stand in front of my blanket, on the little six inch piece of plastic (at the base of the barricade) that wasn't covered, but because I was at least smart enough to place my satchel right in front of the barricade, before going for my final potty stop, I had a spot for myself.

Neko, with her extrememly talented band, took the stage at a little after 8:00. They barrelled through a lengthy set, playing most of the songs that I wanted to hear, including "Margaret Vs. Pauline", "Hold On, Hold On", "Maybe Sparrow", "Deep Red Bells", among others. The absent song on my wish list, was "Furnace Room Lullaby". BUT, in addition to these songs, we were treated to upwards of five or six songs from her forthcoming album (sorry fans, not due out until next Spring), including several originals, as well as a beautiful, yet haunting Harry Nillson cover.

Included are several pictures from the concert. Maybe I will try and figure out how to do that Flickr thing, today, and then treat you to a slideshow of the show. Until then...

Now playing: Neko Case - Star Witness
via FoxyTunes