By Zach Collier
Rooftop Concert Series is fun not just for the music, but for the energetic atmosphere it creates. It’s a blast to walk the streets and see the goings on. The smell of food wafting through the air; hopeful young musicians and fledgling businesses shoving flyers into your hands; established businesses with booths and products available for sampling. Last month, we said Downtown Provo’s Rooftop Concert Series appears to get bigger every year. Judging by last night’s concert, you could say it grows monthly.
Commerce is alive and well in Provo City. All the same booths from last month were back last night (merch booth, valet bike parking, Utah Bubble Sports, etc.) with several notable additions. Allens Camera had set up a photo booth and was providing pictures for concert goers. The camera store has been a local Provo establishment since 1946. It was good to see them out and engaged in the festivities. Big Door Network has a location on Center Street -so they didn’t need to set up a booth – but the video production company opened its doors and allowed the public inside to view a small art gallery. The Refugee Action Network was also on site, providing information on their free language assistance, hosting programs, and job skills workshops for refugees.
Sub Zero Ice Cream and Yogurt had a flashy new sign up at its new location on Center Street – just in time for the event. While not open yet, the sign was creating quite the stir. Attendees kept trying to enter the store only to find it still under construction. It was a great way to raise awareness for the new location. This will be the third Sub Zero location in Provo.
The LoveStrange started off the night with their original music. They were high energy, playing their signature art rock that’s at once classic and modern. Their retro vibe made them a perfect opening act for a David Bowie tribute concert. LoveStrange producer Nate Pyfer made an on stage appearance, providing guitar for one of their songs. Karl Strange seemed in his element – comfortable, welcoming, but still quirky and mysterious. It was a good show. The band provided free LoveStrange LoveShades via two booths positioned to either side of the stage in the back of the crowd, giving new listeners something to take home with them.
After The LoveStrange left the stage, a community announcement was made concerning Elijah Kent Buxton, 23, who passed away after a long fight with cancer. “Local music has lost a bright star with the passing of Elijah Kent Buxton,” Muse Music later posted to Facebook. “Always there with a smile and an encouraging word, he was a friend to many and will be missed by all who knew him.” The on stage tribute from Kaneischa Johnson was particularly touching.
Around 8:30PM, a sunset cast a golden glow on the east side of the city blocks, while the west sides sat in a beautiful deep blue. The David Bowie Tribute Band took the stage, starting things off with an energetic number featuring the lead vocals of Scott Vance from The New Electric Sound, Paul Jacobsen, and Jackson and Megan Larsen from Westward the Tide. It got things off to a wonderful start, and featured some delightfully prominent cowbell. The band followed that up with a pleasant rendition of “Ziggy Stardust,” featuring the powerful vocals of former Voice contestant Dustin Christensen.
I’ll be honest, the tribute shows are probably my least favorite concerts of Rooftop Concert Series. I’m of the opinion that if I want to hear the music of a specific artist, I’ll see them in person. Where that’s not possible, as in the case of David Bowie, I’ll listen to his records. I’m not a huge fan of tribute bands. That being said, it should be noted that the band had their act together. While nothing was particularly mind blowing, you could tell that they knew their parts and were having a blast up there on stage. That made all the difference.
The rest of the night was full of appearances from members of well known Provo acts, like Chris Crabb from The Strike, Tessa Barton from Luna Lune, and Branden Campbell of Neon Trees. By the end of the night, all of the enlisted performers were on stage having a good time. You could see members of House of Lewis and Fictionist, as well as Karl Strange, June Audio producer Scott Wiley and Neon Trees drummer Elaine Bradley.
After the show, The Provo Film Society hosted a special screening of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, which stars David Bowie as Jareth, The Goblin King. The film aired at Big Door’s location on Center. While it was a free screening, all 60 seats available for the screening filled up. It’s cool to see organizations go above and beyond to support Rooftop by providing additional festivities.
Overall, the tribute shows are much lower energy gatherings than the concerts that draw the devoted fans of specific bands, but tribute shows have their benefits. If you take a look around, you see conversations. You see warm greetings and laughter-filled conversations. People have all kinds of food in their hands from restaurants up and down Center. The concert brings people downtown and then provides a pleasant soundtrack to the proceedings. The tribute concert isn’t just about the music. It’s a reason to get out and enjoy the real world. It’s a reason to try new things, to appreciate the talents of others, to remember those who have passed, and to support something everyone should love – this city we call home.
Make sure to like Rooftop Concert Series on Facebook. You can listen to Elijah Buxton’s “Inside Out” below. Look for future Rooftop lineup announcements on Reach Provo. We’ll see you the first Friday of July.