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As an outsider who has only lived in Utah for about two years, Roy said the first Utah band she became aware of was new-wave revivalists Neon Trees, which has seen both of its full-length albums on Mercury Records become national smashes.
"Debby and I first learned of Provo through them," she said. "I met them while living on the East Coast, and Debby while traveling from her home base in California. While touring our respective sides of the country, both of us clearly saw how incredibly hard they were working at making their dream a reality. We both believe that drive and focus are what will get results. Talent and connections will give you a base, sure, but your success will be short-lived if you don’t focus on the bigger picture."
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For a Spotify playlist of Utah County music: http://spoti.fi/YYOqBw
The sense of community in Provo continues to excite Roy. "As far as recognition and applause go, I definitely feel a sense of Provo pride, and I know others do, too," she said. "While a city by definition, we definitely maintain a small-town feel, so when one of our own does something great, we feel a connection to it on a personal level."
North vs. south » Those who visit Velour or Muse sense the difference between those clubs and clubs in Salt Lake City. There is not only a community of bands, but a community of listeners. One example is the growing popularity of Provo’s Rooftop Concert Series.
Fox acknowledges there are a lot of great, hard-working bands in Salt Lake and some good places to play, but his focus is different.
"Most clubs in Salt Lake are bars that either cater to national touring acts or are just looking to book local bands as fun entertainment for the bar crowd," he said. "In a bar-heavy scene, it’s easy for bands to get in the routine of playing too often or just showing up and playing to built-in crowds."
Fox said Velour is different.
"My motivation was to create a stage where I could find local talent and push them to accomplish more," he said. "Also, being an all-ages venue, it forces bands to get creative with branding and promotion to draw people to the shows. It also serves as a great platform for the development of young artists who can’t play at 21-and-over clubs."
One curious feature of the clubs in Provo is that there seems to be less distracting audience noise and more respect given to performers.
"Trust me, we have some shows filled with college freshmen that haven’t figured that out yet," said Fox, "but yes, [respect] is one of our goals."
Fox said the absence of alcohol means the performance is the only focus of the crowd.
"We also consider Velour a ‘listening room,’ and we want the crowds to respect the performers and to respect their neighbors who are trying to listen," he said. "The crowd reaction in between songs can be greater because the crowd is actually fans of the band rather than random people socializing in a bar."
Some musicians say there is nothing worse than some dunce yapping in the background when you’re playing. That’s a reason to avoid Salt Lake City, which has developed a reputation for boisterous — and alcohol-soused — crowds.
Damien Jurado is a Seattle-based singer-songwriter who performs in Utah — but makes it a point to avoid Salt Lake City because he finds the crowds especially noisy.
"I haven’t played Salt Lake City in a long time. I’d rather play Velour in Provo," Jurado said. "Most club-owners don’t give a s---. But Corey does. They appreciate people coming there. They have a great crowd."
The future » The question now is whether the hype over a particular Utah County "sound" will die down or help the state, proving to the rest of the country that Utah-grown bands have the talent and personality to appeal to people from Scranton, Pa., to Bakersfield, Calif.
"I don’t think that you can define a Utah County ‘sound’ since most of these bands are succeeding in different genres of music, but I would definitely say that the Utah County music scene itself has been underhyped for sure, even in Provo," Fox said. "I honestly think that Provo could end up rivaling past music scenes in Seattle or Brooklyn and I’m just waiting for everyone to catch on. … [I] would definitely like to see more local awareness, pride and support."
Roy agreed. "I think Utah County music overall is underhyped," she said. "There is a tremendous amount of talent here."
Other Utah bands have differing opinions, but some look at the attention as a sign that national success can come to a band anywhere in the country.Next Page >
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