"We've based a lot of our decisions on history. This is our sixth time with Def Leppard, and they've sold out every time," said Dave McKay, vice president of United Concerts, which handles the bookings for Usana, The Depot and other venues. "So I'm gonna continue to go to the well. As long as they want to keep playing here, and as long as people continue to buy tickets to see them, we'll keep booking them."
While Usana's slate has its share of younger acts, it also includes the likes of REO Speedwagon, Styx, Don Felder, Iron Maiden, Steve Miller Band, Peter Frampton, Depeche Mode, Foreigner, Cheap Trick, Scorpions, Megadeth and an "I Love the '90s" event.
Red Butte's outdoor concert series features — among others — Jethro Tull by Ian Anderson, Santana, ZZ Top and the "Retro Futura Tour," which consists of '80s pop acts Howard Jones, The English Beat and Men Without Hats.
The lineups at the amphitheaters in Sandy and Layton include Collective Soul, Ann Wilson of Heart, Air Supply, Peter Cetera, YES and Toto, and a show consisting of former singers from Journey, Foreigner and Asia. (Click here for the summer's full slate.)
It all comes down to capitalizing on demographics, given that, as McKay noted quite straightforwardly, "Our main philosophy is to book shows that make money."
So part of it is getting acts that appeal to older audiences, as they tend to be more established in jobs and therefore have more expendable income to use on things such as concerts.
Such acts, however, are ultimately successful because it's not just graybeards in the audience going to see the graybeards onstage.
"When I hit that stage," Poison frontman Bret Michaels noted before a solo show at Usana last year, "it's three generations of fans that I feel blessed to be out there [with]."
Chris Mautz, who works as Red Butte's concert promoter, said a big component is that musicians who've been around and been popular for a while inevitably have had the opportunity to gain more fans as a result of fandom being passed down to the next generation.
"I'm getting the sense that some of the older bands are beginning to dip into a younger crowd. They're continuing to have an influence on younger, emerging audiences," he said. "Music has an ability to continue that legacy of one influence to another. We're seeing that cross-section."
Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell said in a previous interview that his band easily could have died out in the '90s with the advent of grunge — and almost did.
But what ultimately proved the band's saving grace was its discovery by and appeal to a new generation.
"Something happened at the end of the '90s and the early 2000s where, all of a sudden, it was kind of acceptable to like Def Leppard again. This was around the advent of the internet, and people were getting into file-sharing and stuff. And we noticed all of a sudden that there were younger people coming to our shows and singing the songs. And so we thought, 'OK, this must be the upside of music piracy!' " Campbell said. "The younger generations that were coming to our shows, they quite probably didn't buy our records, but at least they bought a T-shirt and a concert ticket. … And we continued to see that grow and grow — our audience has become more multigenerational. And I must say that's encouraging to us, that does make us want to continue to do this."
One reason for the generational crossover is that many established acts are effective in putting on a live show that hooks people for good.