Salt Lake City is known for expansive mountain ranges, powdery white snow, and an ominous, billowing temple toppling over the minuscule downtown. It’s no secret that people don’t flock to Salt Lake for the bewitching art and music scene. Although, Salt Lake City is one of the few major metropolis’ boasting a noteworthy local scene for the arts for hundreds of miles. With Idaho and Wyoming bordering closest to SLC, it’s no wonder young people make their way to the quaint city as opposed to moving to the coasts, so much further from home. Salt Lake City has been experiencing undoubtable growth within the last few years. College students and hipster youth alike are eager to catch a live show, just like any other city, so venues are scattered about. Some are known for metal shows, others focus on a folk singer with just his guitar playing in the back of a dimly lit bar. Whatever you are listening to – this isn’t the all inclusive guide for you. Sorry, I don’t have a clue about the best dubstep venues. But if you stumble upon our smoggy city, I can point you in the right direction of where to see a psychedelic act or the venue The Growlers are going to be boring the shit out of you with the same “Beach Goth” songs twice a year.
Urban Lounge – 241 S. 500 E.
Urban Lounge is my favorite venue in Salt Lake City. Urban Lounge is located just past the few high rises that litter downtown. The venue itself isn’t massive by any means. It’s vibe oozes garage rocker. Once you walk through the entry doors you’ll see, most likely, a merch table with your favorite band’s shwag on your right just before the door to the green room. The stage is also on the right with the bar tucked in the left corner of the small space. Just past the bar double doors lead you out to the smoker’s sanctuary, the enclosed patio. The patio feels almost as big as the venue itself, although that’s probably some kind of illusion built up by being out in the open. String lights criss cross above nicotine addict heads, most of them burnt out, with just a few lit bulbs twinkling in the moonlight. Between sets the patio is always packed, even in the dead of winter. It’s where 20 something year olds mingle out of the deafening sound coming from inside. The sound itself at Urban is good in particular for bands, this is not the place where you want to “feel the bass” for a house music show. On many nights a half awake Xanax addict sways behind the sound booth controlling the reverb for The Black Angels on stage. Urban Lounge is infinitely cooler than the rest of the venues in the city. It’s a divey spot, but not so much so that it loses it’s charm or welcoming demeanor. Urban boasts the best touring acts that come to the city, if you dig indie, garage, doom, fuzz, etc. Upcoming shows at Urban Lounge – David Bowie Tribute Night 2.17, Crocodiles 2.27, Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah 3.15
Kilby Court – 748 W. Kilby Court
Kilby Court is an all ages venue tucked West of downtown amongst abandoned warehouses or converted skate sanctuaries. It’s important to note it’s “all ages” because in Utah that means there is no bar or alcohol on site. Kilby Court is hidden at the end of a dead end side street. Kids roam the dimly lit side street, chain smoking cigarettes, anxiously waiting for their favorite acts to start performing from inside the tiny building with a barely there stage. I’ve mostly only walked in through the load-in door, which is just to the left of the entry door and the box office. There’s a large patio in the center behind the entryway. The cramped building to the right is where the merch is sold and the venue is the larger building to the left. The stage is just a foot or two above the ground. The room is basically a box with a stage. Teenagers and adults alike cram themselves into the room to see whatever band got them out to Kilby. Maybe they just wanted to get out of their mom’s basement, who knows. The whole set up is by far the strangest of any venue I’ve ever seen, not to mention the whole no booze thing is a pretty big bummer. Upcoming shows at Kilby Court – Cherry Glazerr 2.4, The Orwells 3.23, Methyl Ethel 4.8
Garage On Beck – 1199 Beck St.
The Garage is a perfect staple summer venue. The Garage is North of Salt Lake City in the industrial part of town. The air is constantly fogged by the smoke stacks spewing pollution into the atmosphere. The whole bar is consumed by the smell of Sulfur, that weird, stale, rotten egg smell. Despite all of this, the parking lot is always over flowing with American made motorcycles, tattooed waitstaff to take your beer and burger order, and the summer stage is located outside. The back is open and more spacious than the two bar areas inside combined. The ground is covered in a deep orange-brown sand, so wear your best cowboy boots for the occasion. I myself am not a musician, but all of my friends who have played at The Garage complain about their sound guy. Some even going as far to say he purposefully has sabotaged their set. He looks like a mix between Willie Nelson and Santa Claus, but a whole hell of a lot more intimidating. From my experience, both L.A. Witch and Spindrift absolutely killed their live performances, so who knows what the truth may be. Maybe this guy is just a dick that hates local musicians. Either way, The Garage has yet to let me down, especially because they have one of the better beer selections for a SLC venue. Upcoming shows at Garage On Beck – Probably nothing until Summer.
Metro Music Hall – 615 W. 100 S.
Metro was recently snagged by the owners of Urban Lounge and Kilby Court, so the venue has undergone some major changes in the last month, none of which I’ve had a chance to see yet. Prior to the new ownership Metro was known for metal or drag shows. It’s located in a seedier part of town, so don’t leave any valuables in your car if you’re planning on driving out there. The venue was recently gutted and, from what I’ve heard, the pool tables in the back of the strangely long venue have been removed. The only time I’ve gone to Metro was pretty recently for The Night Beats and Mystery Lights show. I utterly enjoyed playing pool in the back between sets, so I’m a bit sad to hear the tables are gone. The bar is better stocked than Urban, but the set up is a little more claustrophobic due to how long and thin the venue itself is. I have no idea what the remodel looks like quite yet, but I’m sure I’ll find out in due time. Metro also boasts a smoking patio, good news for social smokers. Upcoming shows at Metro – Allah Las 4.8
The State Room – 638 State St.
Once upon a time I saw Pentagram at The State Room, named after the street it’s located on, and from what I remember of the show the venue was pretty cool. The front area was a smoking patio and the first room you walked in was both a bar and the merch area. Then once you pass through another door down a hallway you enter the venue.There’s quite a bit of room in front of the stage and leveled seating that goes all the way up the back of the space in typical event center fashion. The sound was good, the layout equally as good so it’s a worthy venue if they are hosting a decent show. Upcoming shows at The State Room – Tennis 3.3, Foxygen 4.5
The Depot – 400 W. South Temple
The Depot is the largest venue on this list. It’s located just outside the Gateway Mall, that has been rundown by an ever aggressive homeless population. The space has a massive downstairs and upstairs, both with a bar. The top floor overlooks the large stage and floor space below. There is seating scattered around the venue, so if standing is not your thing you can rest your lazy bones. Depending on the show, standing room can be plentiful, but if it’s sold out things can get hostile on the main floor. My favorite show at The Depot was a three hour long set with Brian Jonestown Massacre. Anton Newcombe was in a good mood and their whole set went off without a hitch. Upcoming shows at The Depot – Minus The Bear 3.11, The Growlers 3.28