By Zach Collier
In the words of Mayor John Curtis as he greeted the audience from the Rooftop stage: “You couldn’t plan a better weekend.” Fourth of July Weekend this year is packed full of events. While we’ve still got Tim McGraw and The Aces’ performance at Stadium of Fire to look forward to tonight, last night was a dream. From the Freedom Days Festival taking place on the east side of University – complete with a Ferris Wheel – to Rooftop Concert Series dominating the west side of University, last night was a dream.
After having a delicious and filling dinner at China Garden Chinese Food, I was able to check out the booths set up around Rooftop. Maple Mountain Brew Co. was serving up samples of their craft sodas, including their signature blend of Root Beer. Maple Mountain was at last month’s concert as well, supplying the crowd with an ample supply of Birch Beer and Ginger Beer. The company is currently working on constructing the first microbrewery within Provo city limits, where they will create both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
I was also able to check out the new Sub Zero Ice Cream and Yogurt location, which is now open for business on Center Street. Sub Zero co-founders Jerry and Naomi Hancock carefully researched the historic building that the store now resides in, restoring original aspects of its construction like stamped ceilings and hardwood floors. A wonderful addition is a sweet looking spiral staircase leading to an upper dining area. The room had been sealed off for years and is now accessible again. From that room you get a wonderful view of the LDS Provo City Center Temple and the length of Center Street. Sub Zero will be hosting a grand opening celebration on July 7th at 12PM to welcome the downtown community into their world of flash frozen ice cream.
Hive Riot kicked things off last night at 7:30PM, warming up an already buzzing crowd with their 80’s inspired synth pop. It was cool to see Dustin Gledhill’s keytar action in person. Hive Riot is one of those bands you have to see at least once. The scarves, the vests, the glitter, the electronic drum kits; it’s something else. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there were definitely some fun moments where the bass lines evoked some spontaneous responses from the crowd and got them moving. Many Hive Riot fans were out, proudly repping their merch. They’re gaining a loyal fanbase, and that’s always fun to see.
Hands down, RKDN was the highlight of the night. You could tell that they were stoked to be there, but they didn’t dwell on how awesome it must have been to be in front of one of Downtown Provo’s largest summer gatherings. Instead, they expressed sincere gratitude and then treated the occasion like they would every other show – by putting on a rhythmically tight, energetic performance full of well crafted synth rock songs. You can tell that RKDN is a well-oiled machine at this point. Lead singer Matt Orr has such a knack for getting the crowd involved and singing along to melodies that are easy to learn and almost impossible to forget.
After RKDN’s performance, Jeremy Warner of Studio C took the stage before Rooftop’s sponsorship acknowledgements. He announced that August’s Rooftop Concert Series would be headlined by legendary Orange County ska/punk group The Aquabats. This is huge news, as the group has a large cult following and will no doubt draw a ton of Rooftop newcomers to next month’s show. It’ll be interesting to see who else is on the bill.
The National Parks were this month’s big headliners. Everywhere you looked, people were wearing National Parks t-shirts. It was unreal. While the band’s first number got off to a rocky start, ultimately things turned out well. I think the rough opening stemmed from a combination of things: nerves, because the band has always dreamed of headlining Rooftop; some monitoring issues, as the harmonies were uncharacteristically off for the first half of the song; and some live mix problems the band had no control over. The violin was initially pretty shrill and overpowered everything else on stage. Fortunately, things were corrected by the time they started their second number and the band was back on top of their game for the rest of the night. I was relieved.
I loved watching The National Parks. They were the first band I saw perform at a Rooftop Concert Series show, back when they were largely stripped down and Brady Parks was playing his own kick drum. Now, they’re seasoned performers. They have an energy and vigor that I never could have imagined would come from them. It was fun to see them all over the stage, moving along to the music and enjoying the crap out of their night. The audience loved it as well. They knew the words to the local classics as well as the newer material from their sophomore album, Until I Live. As a fan of the song “Wind & Anchor” myself, it was emotionally moving to see the crowd stomping, clapping, and singing their hearts out to the outro. Gave me all sorts of feels.
It was a memorable night. What impresses me most about Rooftop Concert Series is the spirit about the event. You feel like anything is possible. While Rooftop definitely caters to a teenage/young adult demographic, it’s so cool to see children, parents, and the elderly not only in attendance, but welcomed and treated with respect. People from all walks of life are together, supporting local businesses, celebrating local causes, and listening to local music. It’s an atmosphere I hope lasts for decades to come. Because let’s be real: there’s nothing like this anywhere else in the world.
Make sure to like Rooftop Concert Series on Facebook. You can listen to RKDN’s “Silver” below. Keep an eye out for a full August lineup announcement on Reach Provo. We’ll see you the first Friday of August.