The second-annual Crucial Fest launches Wednesday, June 20, at The Woodshed, beginning a 14-concert program that will carry over two weeks at six different venues. And some fans thought it wouldn’t return—pshhh.
In early 2011, Crucial Fest began with an epiphany, or, at least, with the realization of a problem: There’s not an adequate amount of rock festivals in Utah—the kind with loud, independent, unabashed rockers with a penchant for pissing people off and having a great time doing it.
So, Jarom Bischoff, Jesse Cassar, Thomas Kessinger, Jon Paxton and a slew of supporters helped put together 2011’s two-week festival. The event saw over 50 bands playing 10 different venues throughout Salt Lake City and culminated in a takeover of Liberty Park for a massive outdoor showcase. But as the shows played to sellout crowds, the biggest question wasn’t whether or not the fest would succeed, but whether the entire venture was worth the effort.
“I was very proud of it,” Bischoff says. “I remember having a little moment with Dreu Hudson at each show where we would smile and say, ‘One for one,’ at the first show and then, ‘Two for two,’ referring to the success of each show as the crowd showed up and the bands delivered amazing performances. That ended with, ‘Seven out of seven!’”
When the group knew they’d be back in 2012, they immediately examined the problem areas from 2011—the first being the Liberty Park show. While the outdoor event had been a big hit, the planning turned into a nightmare when it came to permits, insurance, setup and a dozen more issues the public never saw. Because of this, the all-day show was eliminated.
The second biggest issue was Sunday showcases. “It became clear to me that Salt Lakians are programmed to party their hardest on Saturday night, making Sunday a bit anticlimactic,” Bischoff says. “People were so hungover on Sunday that this year we’re going to let it truly be a day of rest.”
Once those pieces were resolved, the lineup for the festival became the most important piece of planning. The first half of the selection process was finding the right locals, including some of 2011’s stellar lineup, to fit the bill. The decisions were made based on what kind of sounds, genre or vibe the organizers wanted to have each night. Prominent local rockers headlining this year include Top Dead Celebrity, Red Bennies, Thunderfist, Subrosa, I Am the Ocean, Cornered by Zombies, DÍNE, The Suicycles, Loom and Huldra. Then they wanted quality national acts, to boot. In January, Bischoff sent feelers to every contact he had, and three booking companies helped cover both coasts for prime indie-rock bands. They landed on Black Elk, Author & Punisher, Norska, Bone Dance and He Whose Ox Is Gored.
This year, the festival will feature two shows a night, Thursday through Saturday. Hosting venues include The Woodshed, Burt’s Tiki Lounge, The Urban Lounge, Kilby Court, Bar Deluxe and the new and improved Shred Shed. To fill the void of the Liberty Park concert experience, Kilby stepped up by providing daytime outdoor showcases for both Saturday events, complete with vendors and a second stage outside at the end of the street. In total, over 70 bands will take over downtown with plans to deafen rock fans with every genre possible.
“We wouldn’t be doing this if we thought this festival was anything less than crucial to the music scene,” Bischoff says. “We throw this music festival in hopes that Salt Lake City will one day claim its place as one of the great music towns of the United States. There is a cultural mix and a dynamic here that is not found elsewhere; it makes for some of the most passionate and creative music on the planet.”
CRUCIAL FEST 2012
June 20-23 & 27-30
$10 at door, $20 all-ages wristband, $25 21+ wristband