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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New server, new site, new look.

Blogger has been absolutely wonderful, but I'm turning this blog into a proper online magazine, and the first step is making the switch to WordPress. Now if you go to, you will see our brand new site. We'd never be at this point if all of you didn't help make this blog so damn popular.


Mike L. Barker

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Arcade Fire with Local Natives at UVU

"They heard me singing and they told me to stop. 'Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock.'"

The first time I heard Arcade Fire was over six years ago. My friend Nick Cline sent me a link, over MSN, to a video of them playing "Laika" on Conan. I wasn't blown away, but I loved the setup they had, with a string duo, accordion, and two guys wearing motorcycle helmets as percussion. I was especially intrigued by the frontman, Win Butler, as he played a Fender Jaguar, the same guitar that I owned (and still play in every show to this day). Arcade Fire was the band that I had wanted so badly to make for years. But I was only 17 at the time so they easily beat me to the punch.

Nick sent me a few of their songs. I still had a hard time getting past Butler's voice, but I really enjoyed it overall. I downloaded their entire discography. (Only the self-titled EP and Funeral at that point.) After I graduated high school, I spent much of Summer 2005 lazily hanging around my parents' house in Los Alamos, New Mexico. For my 18th birthday, I received an iPod. I mostly used it when walking my dogs, and Arcade Fire quickly became the number one band for me to listen to. Songs like "I'm Sleeping in a Submarine" and "Crown of Love" constantly bounced around in my head. I hadn't fallen so in love with a band since first discovering Sonic Youth some three years before that.

When I moved to Provo that August to attend BYU, I even started the "Arcade Fire group" for BYU students back in Facebook's early days. (I don't think it ever got past 60 members at its peak.) I was just completely enamored by them and must have listened to Funeral dozens of times that year. They were the band that I wanted to start, and they did it a thousand times better than I could have ever imagined. I thought that as soon as this band had a few albums under their belt, they would be my favorite band.

I wanted to see them live so bad, but they never came anywhere close to me. I left for my mission in 2006, only to discover (to my chagrin) on my return that Arcade Fire played at Thanksgiving Point in 2007. "Oh well," I thought, "they will come back to Utah shortly." Two years went by, and it seemed that they only played dates in Europe and big cities along coasts. Was I doomed to never see my favorite band? It was killing me. But then, fresh off the success of winning the Grammy for Best Album, they announced a new tour. And they were playing in Orem! I didn't even have to drive an hour to Salt Lake - only the ten minutes to Utah Valley University! I purchased my ticket as soon as possible, and anxiously awaited for a month and a half for April 11 to arrive.

Ladies and gentlemen, my life may be complete and I can finally die in peace. I have seen Arcade Fire, my favorite band, live, and it was magnificent. I have never been to such a big concert before, packed tightly like an anchovy in a tin box, but Arcade Fire has become the biggest Alternative Rock band in the world and the crowd inside the UCCU Center proved that. I knew so many people around me at the show, like it was a culmination of all my show-going over the past couple years. People I've reviewed in this blog like Jenn Blosil, Cody Taylor, and even the guys from The Angel Murkurker were up in the front with me. The Brothers Cisneros, who have done so much to help Muse Music, were against the stage. Former and current bandmates of mine, members of Shark Speed, Jacket Weather, and Fictionist, and so many other friends all came to the show. And we were all there to enjoy the world's greatest band.

Local Natives, from LA, opened for Arcade Fire. They only played for half an hour but they really blew the audience away. I hadn't heard them before, but my friends told me they were good and now I respect their opinions even more. Their mix of noises, vocal harmonies, and great energy were a wonderful way to pump up the audience. They most definitely made at least one new fan last night.

Once they finished, the insufferable pushing began. People who don't hang out in line for an hour and half before going in prefer to fight their way to the front, but what happens is a lot of rather aggressive pushing back and forth that becomes impossible to control. It wasn't too bad for me, but we had a lot of rather small young women in our group who were getting crushed. These people came so close to completely ruining the entire concert, and they are everything that is wrong with humanity and should be punched in the face.

When Arcade Fire came to the stage, things only got worse. And they started with "Month of May", the hardest song in their entire catalogue. An audience full of hipsters don't know how to mosh though, so it just turned into a lot of passive-aggressive pushing. I was singing along to every single word, but I had gotten completely separated from my friends and was basically forcing myself to enjoy the show. The highlight of the beginning of the show was when they played "Rococo". It's a great song, but it's also one of my least favorites from The Suburbs. The song is about hipsters, and the repeated chorus of the word "Rococo" is about how they "use big words that they don't understand". The grand majority of the audience was not singing along to the verses, but everyone was singing that word over and over, and I wonder if that's a joke on Arcade Fire's part. Much of The Suburbs is them digging at the sort of people that listen to them because it's "cool", and they crafted a song that would go over the heads of anyone not paying enough attention. Win Butler kept smiling during the chorus, and I wondered if that was because he understood the irony or if he just enjoyed having people sing his song. I loved it either way, as smug as that makes me. I got to laugh to myself as I hated every single person around me.

But then suddenly, the anger stopped, and we were were all just enjoying this wonderful band together. The audience was one. The pushing and crowding continued, but smiles replaced frowns. People were holding each other and singing together. If you haven't chanted the chorus of "Wake Up" in an arena of thousands, you have missed out on a vital experience of life. During "Haiti", I may have been the only person in the audience who knew every word (including the French ones) because as I was singing along, Régine was looking right at me, which melted my heart. We had a duet. They played so many of my favorite songs... songs that I've listened to dozens if not hundreds of times. The band was just happy to be playing music, always smiling and just glad that so many people enjoy their hard work.

They played a three song encore: "Ready to Start", "Keep the Car Running", and "The Sprawl II". All fantastic songs, the second was my favorite from Neon Bible and I was so happy when Win pulled out the mandolin. They ended "Sprawl II" with Régine's big ribbons, like she did on Saturday Night Live. It was this wonderful celebration of music and life. We were all disgusting and sweaty and thirsty and hungry and bruised and broken and no one cared. They could have played for another hour. They left the stage, and I've never seen an audience so blown away. Everyone I talked to said the same thing: "That was the best concert ever."

And it was. I have seen the world's greatest band live and up close. They are an inspiration to artists of any kind everywhere.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Review of Sugar Ray at Riverwoods

My ward (yes I am one of the many, many Mormons in Provo) had its Winter Semester Closing Social last night, and I was in charge of the talent show. By the time we finally got out of there, most of the local shows were underway and I wasn't planning on spending any money. The only thing left was Sugar Ray at the Riverwoods. It was free and they used to be one of America's biggest bands, so I hopped in a car with some friends to check it out.

Guess again.
A few thousand people were there, all with the same idea as me. I'm sure there were some hardcore Sugar Ray fans in the audience, perhaps the last of their kind. But for the most part, it was full of the zoobiest zoobies that ever zoobed.* Suddenly I was hit with the grand realization that I don't fit in with these people at all. It's something I've often thought about, but it had been a very long time since I was in a group of zoobies so large. When did backwards baseball caps become cool again? Oh, that's right: never.

This guy, a douchebag? No way!
Sugar Ray was already up on the stage and "performing" by the time we got there. First, I must give it up to the actual band, who did a wonderful job playing and are some fine musicians. But Mark McGrath decided to spend the whole time talking into the mic while some morning radio DJ played sound bites from Will Ferrell movies. It did not feel like a concert at all. It definitely felt like a party, but not the kind of party that I like to attend. Mark McGrath's slicked back hair and sunglasses made me question if it was actually him or just some imposter. Bring back the spiky hair, dude! At least he gets me props for hosting VH1's 100 Most Shocking Moments in Rock & Roll back in the day.

Though I must say, when they finished the set with "Fly", the 11 year old in me suddenly came back and I was singing along. It was a wonderful pop song back in a more innocent day, just as boy bands were beginning to roam the Earth. So, thanks for that, Sugar Ray.

*Urban Dictionary defines "zoobie" as the following:
A zoobie is a derogatory term for a certain genre of people who attend BYU. The term evolved from the word zoo, which was a common nickname for the university in the 80's. Possible explanations for this nickname may include the chaotic, often carnival-like atmosphere of raging hormones and desperate hunting for mates.
A zoobie is the quintessential BYU student. A zoobie is just a member of the flock of sheep. Zoobies don't think for themselves, they are the oblivious morons who roam BYU campus in droves.
You can't tell a zoobie by appearance only, although there is certainly a stereotyped look. Preppy sweater boys and plastic girls are often associated with zoobiehood.
"DUDE!! Did you see that hot girl walk by?"
"Yeah, she's a zoobie."
"Oh, f**k that!!"

Friday, April 8, 2011

Great Local Food Joints

First off, shows this weekend:
Friday April 8
Saturday April 9
This is a music blog, but I would like to take some time out to discuss some places in Provo that have been doing a lot to support culture in Provo.

The Parlor

For the past few months, The Parlor has been my number one pizzeria. I can barely remember what other pizza even tastes like. Located at 80 West Center St. in Provo, the Parlor often goes unnoticed as it is wedged between different Asian restaurants. But it has the best pizza in town, and it's affordable for poor college students like me. They have a variety of great specialty pizzas, like (my favorite) the meat-lover's Aleman or the delicious buffalo chicken Boyer. Plus they have the best buffalo wings around, along with many great desserts. I know this whole paragraph sounds like an ad for the Parlor, but trust me, I'm not getting paid to do this. I just really like the pizza and want you to go.

Marie Heywood, owner and manager, does a lot to support the local music scene here in Provo. A couple weeks ago, she stayed open until 3 AM so the Chasing Kings/Eyes Lips Eyes show could have an after party. The Parlor stays open for local shows quite often. On many nights, they offer discounts for people that come in with a stamp from Velour or Muse. And on Wednesday nights, they host a concert night where local musicians can perform. I've seen Archie CrisantoCasanova Frankenstein, and Tighty Willis play live shows there. I myself have performed inside. And I have seen Marie and her employees at a number of local shows, enjoying the music. Marie even judged a night at Velour's Battle of the Bands last winter!

Unfortunately, the Parlor is preparing to close on April 30. Despite being completely awesome and extremely delicious, it has not had all the exposure it deserves. That means that you have three weeks to eat there, and I suggest you go at least once a week before it closes, starting today. So go with some friends, a loved one, or even have them deliver it to your house so you can eat it in your undies as you stream Netflix on your X-Box.

Sammy's Cafe

Around the corner from the Parlor is Sammy's, which has some of the best shakes in town. Their pie shakes use actual slices of pie. The sweet potato fries are delicious. And the burgers are greasy as hell, just the way I like them. Sammy's has a cozy little spot at 27 North 100 West. It's a very small burger joint, so I tend to go there much more in the summer where I can sit at an outside table. On warm summer nights, I'll grab a shake or Italian soda at Sammy's once or twice a week.

Sammy's also works as a free venue in the warmer months. A few weeks ago they blocked off the street to host a huge outdoor concert with Fictionist. But lots of local acts have the chance to play there on weekend nights. (Though I personally find the stage to be a little scary.) Fans, burger-eaters, and passersby alike all have a chance to see a band for free. It's a great way to build a reputation as a band, and get practice performing. And Sammy's is just across from 100 Block so it's only a short walk from Velour, Muse, or the Deathstar if you're attending another show.

And for you college kids with Starving Student Cards, Sammy's always has some great deals on there.

Saigon Noodle House

This is Provo's hidden gem. At 440 West 300 South in Provo is the most affordable, most unknown Asian restaurant in this wonderful town. For $5, you can get a huge plate of a great food, along with egg drop soup. Plus they have some spicy stuff. They don't do anything for local music as far as I know, but it's such a great little place that I want people to know about it. Seriously, try it out.

I know this was a rather unconventional post, but there's a lot going on here in Provo that people need to know about. There are some I left out, like Guru's which is another great place, but I've only been a couple times and am therefore unqualified to discuss it (great quesadillas though). Go to these awesome places, especially the Parlor before it closes! And don't forget all the wonderful shows this weekend.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I would like to start off by saying that The Grove Theater, a new venue in Pleasant Grove located in a wonderful building with a very high capacity, is looking for bands to play there. Contact (Nate Baldwin) to play there!

As you can already see, we're starting to make some changes to this blog. We are now known as The Provo Music Guide. You can become a fan on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. There are now a small handful of writers, and we are always looking for more! We have a new domain name registered and within the next few weeks will be leaving Blogger in order to add some needed features.

One thing that we really want Provo musicians and fans alike to have is a database of our many local acts. So right now we've created a list of all the bands we could think of. That list will include links to the bands' music, Facebook/Myspace/official pages, and if the band is willing, contact information for press and booking purposes. I am including the list in this post so you all can help me make it as accurate as possible. (Please note that some of these bands are recently defunct or have moved from Provo, but I include them anyway.)

90s Television
Abby Normal
Adding Machines
The Apache
The Archer’s Apple
Archie Crisanto
Aubrey & Alexander
Baby Ghosts
Benton Paul
Big Trub
Blind Actuaries
Book on Tapeworm
Boots to the Moon
Boy and His Balloon
The Brocks
The Broken Spells
Burnt Reynolds & His Hot Bones
Caleb Loveless
Calm Paradox
Casanova Frankenstein
Chance Lewis
Chasing Xan
Code Hero
Cody Rigby
Cody Taylor
Colleen Green
Cory Mon & the Starlight Gospel
Crab Scratch Ecstasy
The Crylics
Denney in Stereo
Desert Noises
The Devil Whale
Dream Eater
Drew Danburry
Eden Express
Emily Brown
Eyes Lips Eyes
Father Time
The Federal Party Players
Ferocious Oaks
Follow the Earth
Ghost in a Jar
Glowing Heads
Goodnight Annabelle
Gypsy Cab
Hard Drive to France
Holy Water Buffalo
The Howitzers
Imagine Dragons
In Dreaming
Isaac Russel
J. Wride
Jacket Weather
Jennifer Blosil
John Ross Boyce & His Troubles
John Thomas Marco
Joshua James
Just for the Record
Kathleen Frewin
Katie Brandeburg
Kite Theory
Lindsey Stirling
The Lovecapades
The Lucky Crickets
The Lunatic
Lucid 8
Mad Diving Barons
Mason Porter
Matt Weidauer
The Mighty Sequoyah
Nate Baldwin & the Sound
The Neighbors
Neon Trees
Night Night
OK Ikumi
The Old Grey Geese
Pablo Blaqk
Parlor Hawk
Prince of Whales
Red Orange
Return to Sender
Ring of Scribes
Rollercoaster for Henry
Ryan Innes
Sayde Price
The Second Estate
The Second Round
Seve vs. Evan
Shady Chapel
Shark Speed
The Soft Bler
Street Legal
Tighty Willis
Till We Have Faces
Toy Bombs
Vibe Rising
Vibrant Sound
White Elephant
Wild Apples
The Whits

As you can see, it's a very big list. Help from anyone and everyone is very much appreciated and necessary for a project like this. I am not looking to exclude anyone, but please keep in mind that I am only included bands rooted in Utah County, and no bands that have broken up for more than a year or so. The comment box below is there for you to help me out! Or you can send me an e-mail. Thanks for the support and love!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Drew Danburry opens a barbershop, gets albums reviewed here

First off, have you guys seen The Angel Murkurker videos? They're a trio of local comedians who release a new video every Monday. Please subscribe to their channel and help support local comedy.

Drew Danburry has done a lot for Provo's music scene over the years, but last year he retired from performing music in order to grow a mustache and open an old-fashioned barbershop. In honor of the opening of The Danburry Barber Shop, I decided to talk a little bit about the two rather different albums Drew released last year. You can download the two albums here for FREE. ("" and "", though I highly recommend you also download "".)

Drew Danburry - Goodnight Dannii

This upbeat music sounds like it could belong right in the 1950s, but Drew adds a modern twist to his songs. Mixing folk, rockabilly, doo wop, and gospel, Goodnight Dannii is his best work to date. Danburry's personality shines through every song. The songs are usually short, though their titles tend to be lengthy. The guitars are acoustic, but the energy can get very manic. Danburry often foregoes traditional song structure, though the album is filled with so many familiar and catchy melodies that it could be difficult to notice.

Goodnight Dannii is a musical, starring a happy protagonist who occasionally has to rally his friends ("Artex Died in Truth or Consequences, NM"), sometimes gets down ("Hero Kensan"), has dawning realizations ("Dispersing the Veil"), and sings a short duet ("Aubrey Debauchery"). Danburry guides us through an emotional experience, letting his unique, boyish voice tell the tale.

The album has a pleasant flow, though I find the song order somewhat peculiar and not what I would personally do. The album starts off with a slow indie folk song, but quickly gains a fast pace. Suddenly you could be dancing to every song. But then just as abruptly, Goodnight Dannii returns to its soft beginning and remains that way until the end. I would like to hear those ballads interrupted by something like "Optimus Prime is Dead".

But it is an excellent album, one of the best to come out of Provo. Please download it and listen.

The Apache - Apache, The

Danburry's other release last year, Apache, The, was a hard rock side project. All those fast songs I was missing from Goodnight Dannii can be found here, with appropriate instrumentation. A lot of people did not know that the Apache even existed, as they lasted only as long as the album. I like this album more than Goodnight Dannii, but that has more to do with personal taste than anything. The band chose to remain as anonymous as possible, though Danburry's voice and songwriting are very firmly planted all over the record. I believe that Pat Boyer of Gypsy Cab and The Federal Party Players, plays lead guitar on the album. Pat is maybe the best blues rock guitarist in Provo, and his talents are what separate The Apache from Drew Danburry more than anything else.

The album's most known song is "Robert Redford or Kristen Wiig (1973)", a song that sounds more like Danburry than anything else on Apache, The. (All the album's song titles are two famous people and a year, 1973 refers to the year that The Sting was released and also when Wiig was born.) It's a classic Southern Rock song, complete with wailing chorus and everything. You could throw this on a radio station between Lynyrd Skynyrd and Kansas and no one would bat an eye. But I prefer "James Coburn or Samantha Morton (1833)" for it's harder edge. Both are fine songs though.

Despite the anonymity and collaborators, Apache, The is still very much a Drew Danburry album. One could seamlessly alternate between this and Goodnight Dannii without the two feeling disjointed. I think they work well as sister albums. One is rock and one is folk, but they are two sides of the same coin. And they really show what music in Provo is all about. Nearly every band here sounds something like one or the other. Danburry has left a very large footprint on the Provo music scene, even if there are many do not recognize the influence.

His effort inspires me, personally. In a world where we become increasingly global yet personally disconnected, we need to do all we can to support ourselves locally. Provo is rich with the arts, but it takes effort and it takes dedication from people like Danburry. He is now putting that energy towards his barbershop, which I hope stays open for a very long time and becomes outrageously successful. But we can all do our part, employing our talents for the good of others. In this time of economic struggle, the arts often suffer as we need to concentrate on our basic needs, but I hope we can find the time and effort to enjoy those things that make life good - whether it's pizza at The Parlor, a show at Velour, or a haircut and shave from an old-fashioned barber.