The last weekend of showcases for the CWMAs spared no expense in aligning stellar local bands to play for eager fans of live, local music. The three competing bands to occupy the stage of The Complex presented
convincing confirmations that they fully deserved their nomination for
Band of the Year. Whether these selections secure the title and
bragging rights from amongst the two weekend’s worth of top-notch CWMA showcases is
of less importance than their individual successes.That said, it was one hell of a show.
The 321s kicked off the event. Their explosive debut onto the Salt Lake City rock scene began in 2011, but audience members unaware of this fact would be hard-pressed to find evidence of the project’s fledgling beginnings. The 321s' power-chord-driven soul and blues was impressively tight. Amidst guitarist Christopher Stevenson’s confident delivery and vocalist Kris Fenn’s stylishly sung melodies, the dance floor grooved and swayed. The group’s set easily transitioned from Motown-esque ballads to energetic, rocking pop. No matter the tempo or influence though, the result was consistently strong.The audience whom each band repectedly attracted were compatible and like-minded listeners. So, when the band left the stage, the 5-piece outfit’s impact resounded.
In the recent history of SLC’s local music environment, the members of Palace of Buddies have rarely been absent from the arena. Lead singer and guitarist Tim Myers and vocalist, drummer and multi-instrumentalist Nick Foster have hit the stage and studio with Pushing Up Daisies, Tempered, and My Destiny, among others. POB, the duo’s experimental electronic undertaking, began performing in 2009, and continues to gain well-deserved respect as an exciting output of inspired and creative material. Whether they were seamlessly breaking out newly written pieces, or trumpeting their familiar staples, Buddies made heads turn in their experimental direction. Their music is characterized by a sober complexity that, by way of Foster’s rhythmic underpinnings, leaves concertgoers’ heads nodding, their feet moving and their beers flowing.
Max Pain & the Groovies have recruited a sizable following through their near-constant gigging in locally and throughout the West. And tonight, the boisterous rockers satisfyinglymet their equally rowdy audience with an instantaneous burst of distortion and ambition. Their performance would never depart from that powerful opening-volume level. Not dissimilar from the standard Max Pain & the Groovies show, the members’ shaggy and raw demeanor carried them through a set full of their blues-drenched romps. Their music naturally grips fans of real and stripped-down rock 'n' roll, with interludes of Sabbath riffs, and glimpses of Iggy and the Stooges’ raw power.
Leaning into the crowd, lead singer David Johnson delivered the lyrics of the last few numbers to a chorus of passionate, fist-pumping fans, and watched The Complex’s security staff panic to control various crowd-surfing hooligans. The performance packaged a solid get-go, a memorable finale and an overall meaty set of psychedelic rock. It surely proved to have an impact on ballot voters' decisions.
Photos by Meredith Newsome