Ear Openers | City Guide | Salt Lake City Weekly

Ear Openers 

Where To Mosh-Or Gently Nod Your Head-To Local Music And Touring Acts

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It’s not a rare thing for me to attend a concert and hear the band say something like, “We love playing in Salt Lake City; this place is awesome.” And with our vibrant music scene, filled with devoted and passionate people, it’s no wonder they do. For the citizens of Salt Lake City, every band is “our band,” and SLC and the surrounding areas have a wide variety of venues to host live music, providing numerous options for crafting a musical night out. Whether you’re looking for an intimate set with your favorite singer-songwriter or a rowdy rock show, Salt Lake City has a seat (or spot on the dance floor) with your name on it.

Bar Deluxe
This State Street mainstay can easily wear a lot of hats, whether a singer-songwriter is baring her soul onstage, a crowd with beers in hand is packed in for a rock & roll getdown, or a few friends are blowing off midweek steam by playing a few rounds of pool and enjoying some drinks. With its long bar (which extends from the pool-table area into the dance floor), roomy stage, unpretentious vibe, mixture of standing room and seating, and perfectly non-claustrophobic, just-out-of-downtown location, Bar Deluxe can meet (and exceed) any music-viewing expectation. 666 S. State, 801-532-2914, BarDeluxeSLC.com

The Complex
If you had four tickets and the ability to slow down time, you could wander between The Complex’s four separate venues and experience a diverse smorgasbord of live music—from rock to indie pop to metal—from four different acts all playing at the same time. The humongous, 42,000-square-foot building welcomes the 21-and-over-crowd (Vertigo, The Vibe) and gives the all-agers plenty of space (The Grand, Rockwell) as well. Open since 2010, this former new kid on the block now runs the block. 536 W. 100 South, 888-316-5387, TheComplexSLC.com

The Depot
When arriving at this large venue housed in the historic downtown Union Pacific Depot, you’ll see lots and lots of stairs. Stepping off at the second floor will reveal a huge standing area if you prefer to get up close and personal with the band, but continuing to the third-floor mezzanine provides a bird’s-eye view of the musical proceedings, as well as space to sit—a rare luxury at live shows—so you can relax and enjoy a frosty beer while your ears revel in the excellent sound system. Musical acts are a mix of veterans (The Reverend Horton Heat, Social Distortion) and trendy, groundbreaking acts (Chvrches, Mogwai). If a popular band is sure to attract a huge crowd, they’re often given two shows in two nights, one for the 21-plus folks and another that welcomes all ages. 400 W. South Temple, 801-355-5522, DepotSLC.com

The Great Saltair
This all-ages venue lies at the very edge of the Great Salt Lake, in a historic location that was previously known as the “Coney Island of the West.” Built in 1893, The Great Saltair’s golden domes give it a castle-like appearance, and its remote location—with fantastic views of the lake and Stansbury Island—make for a unique concert-going experience. Inside, an expansive main area is sizeable enough to hold large crowds, and 21-and-over folks have the run of the roomy mezzanine upstairs if they wish to enjoy a drink and view the show from above. During warm months, some events are even held on the lawn outside, and the acts (mostly national) that hit the stage range from indie-rock to dubstep. 12408 W. Saltair Drive, Magna, 435-243-7258, TheSaltair.com

The State Room
If you’re one of those discerning concert-goers who wishes to watch the band in peace, in a comfy seat and with a microbrew in hand, The State Room is the place for you. Its location in a refurbished children’s theater means rows of raised seats that never let you get stuck behind a tall person, and the old church pews are a charming, comfy touch. There’s also a large standing area in front of the stage if you’re the dancing type. The national acts that blow through here are top-shelf quality, from bluegrass and blues to country, rock and pop, and the venue’s smaller capacity (300 folks) makes for intimate performances filled only with people who are truly there for the music. 638 S. State, 801-596-3560, TheStateRoom.com


In the Venue/Club Sound
It might sound confusing, so allow us to shed some light: In the Venue and Club Sound are indeed housed in the same building, but have the ability to host completely separate shows. What results is interesting intermixing between crowds, half of whom might be there to check out a hardcore act, while the other half showed up for indie pop. Whether it’s a wild dance night or a set from a big-name touring act, In the Venue is well-equipped with a huge layout, dance cages and large stage. Keep in mind that In the Venue caters to the all-ages crowd first and foremost, so if you’re in the mood for an adult beverage, you’ll get to enjoy that on the balcony or rooftop patio. The convenient location can’t be beat: Its close proximity to Salt Lake Central Station allows you to take Trax or FrontRunner to the show and breeze on in without having to bother with parking a car—or splurging on a taxi afterward if you’ve had a few to drink. 219 S. 600 West, 801-359-3219, InTheVenueSLC.com

Kilby Court
If this all-ages favorite were anything other than a tiny garage at the end of a small, almost-hidden road, you just couldn’t call it Kilby Court. With tons of personality and charm, Kilby Court sticks in the minds of music lovers who are now allowed at 21-and-over venues, and welcomes new generations of musically minded folks. The firepit—where many an impromptu performance has been drummed up—strings of Christmas lights inside and complete lack of a buffer zone between the audience and the musicians (indie rock, alt-country, rock and more) all make Kilby Court a memorable place to see your favorite band. And whether that band is a national touring act or one of a group of locals playing a holiday show, the evening will be a cozy one. 741 S. Kilby Court (330 West), 801-364-3538, KilbyCourt.com

Liquid Joe’s
At this weekend favorite, the only days that exist are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday—what’s a “Monday”? Wednesday through Friday, entertainment ranges from EDM-fueled dance parties to local and touring rock and metal acts (including mainstays The Metal Gods), but Saturday belongs to the über-popular Spazmatics, the nerd-tastic ’80s tribute band that can pump up the audience into night-long party mode. Liquid Joe’s might be a bit out of the way for clubbers who tend to stick to the downtown scene, but it’s well worth the trip south. 1249 E. 3300 South, 801-467-5637, LiquidJoes.net

Burt’s Tiki Lounge
A true dive in all its glory, Burt’s Tiki Lounge doesn’t care about your shoes, the patches on your jacket or your carefully glued mohawk. Its only concern is blasting your ears with good music by touring and local metal, rock, punk and psychobilly acts. So, leave your attitude at the door, crack open a PBR and enjoy the cacophony. Live music comes forth from these speakers seven days a week, the drinks are good and cheap, and the interior—plastered with band stickers—is like a visual history book of the acts that have shaken the venue’s walls. 726 S. State, 801-521-0572, Facebook.com/Burts.TikiLounge


Lo-Fi Cafe
Located in the space previously occupied by Sin City, Lo-Fi Cafe is a live-music-centric bar that also serves drinks and a full menu of food. A number of diverse local and national bands hit the stage there, from hip-hop and indie rock to metal and jazz. Ample parking keeps things stress-free, and the relatively small size of the space gives you an up-close and personal view of your favorite bands. 445 S. 400 West, 801-364-4325, Facebook.com/LoFiCafe

Muse Music Cafe
It’s no secret that Provo is a hotbed for musical magic, and Muse Music Cafe is one of the city’s main all-ages spots that host the burgeoning scene’s exemplary talent. Whether the night brings a small band that’s just getting started or one that’s hit the big time and is making a return visit to their hometown, Muse’s smaller stage means concert-goers are almost right in the middle of the action. A wallet-friendly—only $1—open-mic night on Wednesdays gives brand-new musicians the opportunity to prove their mettle, and music lovers the chance to hear something entirely new. Plus, the “cafe” portion of the venue’s name isn’t just there for looks: Snacks (grilled-cheese sandwiches!) and cold and hot drinks are available should you get the munchies. 151 N. University Ave., Provo, MuseMusicCafe.com

Park City Live
This 21-and-over music venue is located at the top of Main Street in Park City, and boasts one of the best sound systems around. Coming through those speakers is music from bands so diverse, it seems like it might be an accident—but that’s just how Park City Live rolls. From electronic dance duos, dubstep and a mix of DJs, to bluegrass, reggae, jam-based rock and indie rock, this venue has something to suit everyone’s taste. And the large dance floor gives concert-goers the room they need to fully enjoy the tunes. 427 Main, Park City, 435-649-9123, ParkCityLive.net

The Project
This new all-ages venue opened in early 2013 in the Granary District, but it’s already enticing big-name hip-hop artists to its stage. Founded as a collaboration between Elm Productions, Positive SLC and Inkwell Printing, The Project’s location inside a renovated 15,000-square-foot warehouse means the standing area in front of the stage is huge, so you’ll never get elbowed by a sweaty stranger in the crowd. The stage is nice and big, too. In addition to local and national hip-hop acts, you’ll also find a variety of local bands, from rock to punk. 258 W. 700 South, 385-259-8295, Facebook.com/TheProjectSLC

The Shred Shed
Located in the heart of downtown, all-ages venue The Shred Shed might not seem like much more than a medium-size room with graffiti on the walls and a small stage in the back, but it’s a place the young people who play and listen to music there can call their own. The local and national acts that perform here are diverse, to say the least, with styles that range from punk, hardcore and metal to folk-rock, chiptune and hip-hop. The Shred Shed has a double role as an art gallery, allowing it to cater to artists in a variety of mediums. Sure, it’s rough around the edges, but that’s The Shred Shed’s appeal. 60 E. Exchange Place (360 South), 801-410-0661, ShredShedSLC.com


The Urban Lounge
If you’re on the hunt for cutting-edge music in Salt Lake City, The Urban Lounge stands out among other venues with its consistency in booking the moment’s trendiest acts—but it’s not just a hipster haven. No matter who’s onstage, everyone is welcome on the dance floor, whether they want to sway politely with a drink in hand at the railing off to the side, or enthusiastically shake their stuff smack in front of the stage. There’s a large bar if you find yourself feeling thirsty, as well as a roomy patio out back, and don’t miss the entertaining graffiti in the bathrooms. A row of restaurant-style booths along the back wall and couches near the back door provide comfy spots to relax, but you’ll probably be too busy gettin’ down to notice your tired feet. 241 S. 500 East, 801-746-0557, TheUrbanLoungeSLC.com

The Salt Haus
Located adjacent to The Pickle Factory in the Granary District, The Salt Haus is one of the best spots to experience Salt Lake City’s underground music and art scene. The space’s minimal, warehouse-like look allows the colorful graffiti-covered walls to really pop, and the small stage is frequented by mostly local bands, with some touring acts mixed in. Genres represented are eclectic, ranging from punk to hip-hop. And The Salt Haus—which celebrated its first anniversary in November 2013—is more than just a music venue, featuring local-centric events as diverse as spoken-word performances and art shows. 735 S. 400 West, 801-577-1093, Facebook.com/TheSaltHaus

Velour Live Music Gallery
Beautifully decorated in all its vintage-chic, kitschy glory by owner Corey Fox, Provo’s Velour is a treat for the eyes—think secondhand furniture, cool knick-knacks and stained glass. And as local rock, pop, alt-country and other up-and-coming bands light up the stage, Velour is also a treat for the ears. Many local bands that have made it big—Imagine Dragons, Fictionist and others—played some of their first shows at Velour, and with weekly open-mic nights, album-release shows, concerts and a few annual events, there’s always something noteworthy happening. Also, in the back, there’s an impossibly charming roped-off VIP section that’s essentially a diorama of a tiny living room that seats only a few people—the stars must be smiling down upon you if you’re granted entry. 135 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-818-2263, VelourLive.com

Welcome to the Neighborhood(s)!

The 16 Utahns You Need to Meet

Dive Into the Art Scene

Browsing & Buying

How to Get Here, There & Everywhere

No Skis, No Problem

Resort Report

Local Live Music Spots

SLC Bars & Clubs

Meatless Meals

Nosh Around the Clock

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