SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) — If you’re looking into something fun this weekend, you might want to head to the Utah State Fairpark where there will be a massive multi-day music event.
It’s the Kilby Block Party, and there’s something for everyone. The impressive 50+ artist lineup features internationally renowned artists like The Strokes, The Pixies, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Pavement, as well as over a dozen local bands, including Ritt Momney and The Backseat Lovers.
Nic Smith, the managing director of S&S Presents, which is running the event, said it’s taken hours and hours of hard work and has been over a year in the making.
“To us, this is like our dream lineup that we’ve been hoping for since we started the first one. To see it turn out this way is really inspiring,” said Smith. “It’s something where if you like at least one of the bands playing, there’s a good chance you’ll like 20 others. It’s curated that way to bridge gaps between genres.”
The first Kilby Block Party was in 2019 in celebration of Kilby Court’s 20th anniversary. Kilby Court is described as a small all-ages garage venue on 7th South and 3rd West and is beloved in the local music community. The first block party was along the neighborhood of the venue and headlined by Death Cab for Cutie.
This year’s will be the 4th year of the block party and Smith said it has grown immensely since that first one. “The turnout we had for the first Kilby Block Party was really great. It inspired us to do it again every year,” Smith said.
Last year’s show was at Library Square, and it sold out within days. Smith said it was moved to the Utah State Fairpark this year for more space. He said they will be able to host up to 30,000 people.
“We wanted to do it bigger next year and the fairgrounds have a nice layout. You can do three times as many people as we did for Kilby three,” Smith said. “We’re gonna have about 40 percent of those attendees coming in from out of state.”
In the past, it’s been a two-day event, but a third day has been added this year for even more music and fun.
Building up to the festival, there has been highlight shows at Urban Lounge, also run by S&S Presents, to give a sneak peek of the local artists that are performing.
ABC4 met with three of those bands — Musor, The Plastic Cherries, and Josh Doss & the Cancers. The bands shared how pivotal Kilby Court has been in the community for local and up-and-coming touring artists coming through.
“If you went to at least one Kilby show a week, with just a band you didn’t know, I guarantee one of those bands in five years is going to be huge,” said Wayne Burdick, who plays the drums with The Plastic Cherries .”If you go down the list of huge indie bands, every single one played at Kilby.”
That includes names like Neon Trees, Young the Giant, Cuco, and Macklemore.
“Kilby Court is legendary in the scene, I think it’s really important to a lot of us. Just being able to go out to those shows and see your favorite bands play in a really beautiful intimate setting is a wonderful experience and it’s been an honor to play shows at Kilby Court,” said Shelby Maddock, the singer of The Plastic Cherries.
“It’s got a very special energy there. It’s just a small little garage, but when it gets packed and sweaty, it’s a fun spot,” said Christian Claflin, bassist for Josh Doss & the Cancers.
Now, these bands say they’ve been focusing on preparing for the Block Party, which some of them say is the biggest stage they’ve ever played.
“It’s gonna be the biggest show for us definitely in those six years that we’ve been together, so just having the opportunity to do it and play along these really huge name bands means a lot to us,” said Javier Catalan, the bassist for Musor. “It’s making us work harder, making us work toward different things, exploring and experimenting with new things.”
Catalan said it’s hard to quite pin down their sound, but described it as rock and roll. Drummer Diego Delgado added that most of their friends describe it as psychedelic music. Catalan shared that last year the band released a four-song self-titled EP and the new single Spooky Cumbia last month. They said they are focusing on creating more new music, with the Block Party as a big inspiration for them.
When asking The Plastic Cherries about how they’re preparing for the big show, bassist Stephen Cox said they’re working on figuring out “just the right” outfits. Keyboardist Natalie Hamilton shared that their recent on-stage experiences have helped the band get ready for such a big festival.
“We went to LA, we did a tour in California, we just played in New York, I feel like with how much we’ve been playing other places, like a variety of different types of shows, we’ve gotten a lot of practice. It’s helped us feel really confident and I think that’s been one of the biggest things, the time we have put in and a lot of hard work,” Keyboardist Hamilton said. “We’re approaching this and I’m feeling not super scared, but just like ‘yea this is gonna be really fun’. I’m proud that we are doing this, I’m excited because we’ve done a lot to make this a really good event.”
Maddock, the singer for The Plastic Cherries, said that they’re working on a sequel to their first album Sunshine. She shared that the band started as a duo between her and guitarist Joe Maddock. While their debut album was recorded between the two of them, the upcoming album will be created with their new full-line up and embrace that dynamic. She said that fans will be able to hear some new songs from the upcoming album at the festival, such as the single Lovers on the Run.
Josh Doss, the guitarist of Josh Doss and the Cancers, described their sound as being deeply rooted in country with good old rock and roll, which you can get a taste of on their EP I’m a Fool/Oh Boy. He shared that it’s their first festival and they’ve been excitedly gearing up for it.
“It’s so cool to see Utah have something of this size and to involve the local community,” said Claflin, bassist for Josh Doss and the Cancers. “We’re just working really hard and trying our best every day and we hope that’s what people see on stage, that we just give it our best and we try and put on a fun show.”
Smith says a lot has gone into making sure everything is ready for the festival, including bringing more hands on deck. He says it takes around 1,200 people to run the event.
“We’ve done a lot of improvements on production, our talent team has grown, they’ve been thinking about this festival for over a year just trying to perfect everything,” Smith said. “For us, this is a lot bigger than we are used to, our sort of our DIY business model, so now we’re trying to grow into making something that’s really unique and special for a live music event.”
Smith said they have a lot of people helping build the festival out, including help from out of state who are teaching them how to do an event this size. “We’re learning a lot and I think it’s going to be a big step up this year,” Smith said.
Many of the local acts share that they’re excited to play alongside the bands that inspire them.
“Seeing bands I grew up with loving like the strokes will be super special to come full circle and see them on the big stage,” said The Plastic Cherries bassist Cox.
The Plastic Cherries guitarist Joe Maddock also attributed Pavement as one of their biggest inspirations, as well as The Pixies and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. “We played our first show just a year and a half ago and now we are sharing a stage with some of our biggest heroes, it’s like a dream come true, we are elated,” he said.
“I’m excited to see Deerhoof, The Pixies, The Osees,” said Tate Grimshaw, drummer with Josh Doss and the Cancers.
The band members also shared they’re looking forward to being able to share their love of music. “It’s a good opportunity for people to hear us, I think we are pretty different from a lot of the bands playing so it’s gonna be fun,” Doss, Singer for Josh Doss and the Cancers said.
Musor Bassist Catalan said that every time they go on stage, it’s amazing. “It’s just that feeling, it’s amazing to feel the people so close and seeing what we love to do, we really enjoy that connection with the people,” Catalan said.
You can still purchase tickets for the Kilby Court Block Party on their website.