Twilight Concert Series
Musical performances aim to please audiophiles and families alike
There’s a real magic to twilight. But a twilight concert? Even better. As the sun sets on Salt Lake City, the western faces of the skyscrapers catch the golden light. In the heart of the city, people begin to gather prior to showtime. Food trucks and vendors set up. Roadies prepare for the show. More people flow in. This shindig is known to attract upward of 10,000 people and showcases world-class musicians — Solange, St. Vincent, Matisyahu, The Roots, Modest Mouse, Andrew Bird — on an outdoor stage for $10 a ticket. In 2018, the 30-year running Twilight Concert Series returns to its former home at downtown’s Gallivan Plaza. It will feature five concerts, each with one national act and one local act.
Don't miss it. Here’s why:
Outdoor Music at its Finest
A weekly shindig with 10,000 friends, you say? One that costs $10 and offers world-class musicians playing in a downtown park? It sounds too good to be true, but nope, this dream has been a reality in Salt Lake City every summer for the past 30 years.
The Twilight Concert Series, presented by the Salt Lake Arts Council and Broadway Media, has fostered hundreds of vibrant Thursdays since its inauguration. The concerts are a high point of the hottest season and the place where teens, hipsters, familie, and audiophiles of all walks of life congregate to enjoy some tunes.
The series began in the summer of 1988, under the moniker Brown Bag Twilight Series, and hosted 11 free concerts in the Salt Lake Arts Center (now UMOCA) sculpture courtyard. Starting in the mid-’90s, the series moved to Gallivan Center and was there until it moved to Pioneer Park in 2010. At its current location, there have been 48 concerts thus far. The series began charging admission in 2012.
Over the series’ history, it has attracted huge acts from every category of music, featuring bands such as The Black Keys, Big Boi, Wu-Tang Clan, The Decemberists, Sonic Youth, Girl Talk, Iron & Wine, Beck, and so many more. The list is an incredibly diverse assortment of acts, styles and genres — indie rock, reggae, hip hop, electronic, acoustic and more. This diversity is in line with the mission of the series: “to connect audiences with the arts by presenting world-renowned musicians who reflect strong artistic values and diverse social principles in a way that creates vibrancy in downtown Salt Lake City.”
A night at Pioneer Park exemplifies this. As folks begin to congregate on the lawn in front of the stage, you are likely to see families spread out on blankets, eating food from the Twilight Food Market, which offers myriad culinary options from more than 20 food trucks and pop-up restaurants. It creates a grand festival-like atmosphere with local food and beverages. Looking further around the venue, there’s folks chatting and taking selfies, others drinking cold libations sold on site, and still more showing the goods and crafts they purchased at the Craft Market. Presented in conjunction with Craft Lake City DIY Festival, the market showcases local artisans specializing in mediums such as screen printing, jewelry, electronics, and much more.
Then, music starts to come over the speakers and it’s one of the best local bands taking the stage to warm up the crowd. For each of the 2018 season’s five concerts, a Utah band will open.
Story by Austen Diamond