Thousands swarm downtown to celebrate New Year
The first band to play the stage at The Gallivan Center on Monday night was Night Sweats.
Considering that the temperatures had dipped below 20 degrees by the time the local band hit the stage, the name of the group struck the band's keyboard player Chris Murphy as amusing.
"It's polar opposites," he said minutes before their performance.
Frigid temperatures and TRAX delays for the most part didn't dim Utahns' enthusiasm to come out for the third and final night of EVE, the Downtown Alliance's annual New Year's Eve celebration across the city, from The Gateway in the west to Broadway Centre Theatre in the east, and nearly every place in between.
More than 30,000 people participated in at least one event tied to EVE, where a $15 pass allowed revelers to enjoy activities at The Leonardo, the Off-Broadway Theatre, Temple Square, the Clark Planetarium, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, and Discovery Gateway, said Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance.
The centerpiece of this year's festivities was The Gallivan Center, where national acts (Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Nick Waterhouse, Blind Pilot and !!!) were brought in for the first time to share the stage with local acts David Williams, Night Sweats and No-Nation Orchestra. By the end of the first night, about 1,000 people made it to The Gallivan Center; about 2,500 came on the second night; and an estimated crowd of 15,000 was expected by the time fireworks were to explode over the sky at the end of the third night's music. The ice-skating rink adjacent to The Gallivan Center proved to be a draw for many, who stayed for pyrotechnics once their toes were too numb.
Some of the early, hardy souls waiting for Night Sweats to open the third night's music were Chip and Fanone Parkinson, who brought their teenage daughter and niece to the snow-covered grass next to the lip of the stage. The family had just moved to Salt Lake City from Connecticut six weeks ago, and years of braving the elements of the Constitution State resulted in the family owning, and wearing, several layers of warmth. Last year, the family went to Times Square to watch the ball drop at midnight, and the quartet had no intention of letting Utah cold deter them. "We're going to go all the way," Chip said of the family's fortitude for staying until midnight.
Those who saw Night Sweats were treated to one of the highlights of the entire three days, with singer and multi-instrumentalist Scott Selfridge and his comrades delivering an electronica-dipped rock set with Selfridge's bartione recalling Ian Curtis of Joy Division and the percussion-heavy sound reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails' "Pretty Hate Machine." Before Selfridge took the stage, he told The Tribune that during soundcheck, the microphone felt "like an icicle," but during his set he bared his hands and soul.
Bonus points should be awarded to Stephen Chai, who performed during Night Sweat's set and led No-Nation Orchestra in the set that immediately followed. He said the last time he had played The Gallivan Center was the summer of 2011, and "the last time it was too hot." He needed to be reminded that he should be careful what he wished for.
Although online sales doubled last year's total, Mathis said, "We always think about what we could do differently."
There is one thing that should definitely be on hand 363 days from now. Mathis said he heard "loud and clear" that many patrons missed last year's Salt Palace ballroom full of bounce-house rides: "I didn't realize the depth of emotion about bounce-houses."