Last October, Salt Lake City officials announced that the popular Twilight Concert Series was going on hiatus due to years of ballooning budgets and requests for emergency funding.
Then, this past February, the nonprofit Salt Lake City Arts Council said the long-running downtown music festival was getting a reprieve, thanks to its new partnership with Broadway Media.
And on Thursday morning, the Arts Council and Broadway Media revealed the payoff of their four-month crunch to make it happen.
The five-show lineup, to take place once again at the Gallivan Center, will include EDM superstar Diplo (Aug. 16); electronica singer-songwriter Robert DeLong (Aug. 23); indie-alt rock band Moon Taxi (Aug. 30); rapper Snoop Dogg’s funk persona, DJ Snoopadelic (Sept. 6); and rising pop sensation King Princess (Sept. 13).
“[For] a traditional show, we book strictly based upon commercial numbers and how many people we’re gonna get in and how we’re gonna monetize this. Twilight is done, really, as an artistic curation,” said Jake Jensen, Broadway Media’s vice president for promotions and events.
“That is a big thing with the Salt Lake Arts Council, where every single artist has to have a story, every single artist has a message. There is a diversity when it comes to the lineup,” he said. ”… We really tried to keep within that same theme this year, and mix in a whole variety of things that fit their specific needs.”
Though the Gallivan Center has a 10,000-capacity maximum, each Twilight show will be capped at 7,000. Meanwhile, all tickets will be $10 in advance (online via twilightconcerts.com and 24.tix.com, and at Graywhale locations), and $15 day of show at the venue box office. A season pass is available for $50, which includes early entry to the venue for each show, and expedited season pass holder entry.
There will be on-site entertainment, food trucks and restaurant booths, plus beer, wine and other alcohol options.
Given that this year’s iteration of Twilight was very late in the making — “We are behind the eight ball a little bit, as far as booking talent,” Broadway president Kayvon Motiee acknowledged back in February — Jensen was pleased with how things worked out, though he admitted to myriad moments of frustration along the way in a process he conceded was “110 percent” more of a challenge than he expected.
“It’s been very stressful. I’m not gonna lie,” he said. “It partly had to do with time. On a show like this, this is normally something that you put together in a year; we did it in 120 days.”
That said, he did have a few things working in his favor.
For one, Broadway’s extensive relationships with artists and management, plus Jensen’s experience in putting together other festival-type shows, made an impact both in booking talent and doing so at a cost that fit into the budget.
Furthermore, the decision to move the Thursday night series back to Gallivan — where it took place for years before renovations moved it to Pioneer Park — impacted both advance planning as well as the bottom line. In short, the infrastructure costs associated with hosting the event at Pioneer Park (namely, weekly set-ups and tear-downs) had grown burdensome.
“We adapted Twilight this year with bringing it back to Gallivan Center, because that’s where we can keep that $10 ticket, and be able to keep that accessibility,” Jensen said. “It would no longer be financially feasible to have kept it at Pioneer Park and still keep it an accessible $10 ticket.”
That was a significant consideration. Changing the financing of the series was a necessity to continue it.
Karen Krieger, the Arts Council’s executive director until recently, acknowledged in 2016 that although city funding for Twilight had increased over the years, it had not kept pace with expenditures required for artist fees, production fees, insurance costs, public safety and cleanup.
And the past two years had seen about $250,000 in emergency, unallocated city funding go toward staging the Twilight schedules. Meanwhile, the Arts Council had approached the City Council in a January 2017 work session with a request for an annual $200,000 increase in the Twilight budget.
Multiple requests for comment from the Arts Council were not returned.
For now, at least, Twilight’s future remains up in the air. The agreement signed between the Arts Council and Broadway was for this year’s series only.
Jensen, however, believes Broadway has provided an efficient pathway forward for the series, and would like the opportunity to show what it can do with a whole year to plan it.
“We didn’t invest in this just to do it one-and-done, we invested in this to be able to help make a series that can be profitable and self-sustaining moving forward in the future,” he said. “ … We are hoping that we will have done our job well enough that there will be opportunities for us to continue making this thing work.
“I’m sure as the last note is sung on the stage, I will have a sidebar going, ‘When are we gonna meet?’” Jensen added with a laugh. “But [right now], we’re focusing on this year and making sure we do this year correct.”
That, of course, is to be determined. The lineup reveal always draws a strong reaction among Twilight aficionados.
Jensen knew that going in. Now, he just hopes that this combination of established stars and intriguing up-and-comers will prove enticing enough for audiences.
“Some people will love it, some people will hate it. That is the nature of doing shows,” he said. “… Hopefully we won’t suck this year, and people will have those positive experiences!”
Jake Jensen on 2018 Twilight performers:
Diplo • “If you look at the Mount Rushmore of EDM music, he is one of the heads on there. You look at his amazing career, with how he started, to now being one of the highest-paid DJs in the world, with both underground and corporate success. That was really an easy pick for the Arts Council and us.”
Robert DeLong • “If you’ve had a chance to see Robert DeLong live, it’s a pretty amazing live show — he’s one of those artists who will take a really simple beat and be able to build and create this entire tapestry around it with just himself by using a mix of regular acoustic instruments and digital electronics, to create these things that are just absolutely fantastic.”
Moon Taxi • “We’re talking about groups that have messages — Moon Taxi, you get into their lyrics, you get into the artistry behind their music, and it’s some pretty fantastic … I guess you could call it alternative poetry. It’s really neat. We’re definitely a fan of Moon Taxi — we think people will like them.”
DJ Snoopadelic • “We all know Snoop has a variety of different versions of himself — Snoop Lion is his reggae one, he has a gospel version; Snoop is doing a project right now, and he’s done it at Electric Forest and a whole bunch of these big festivals, where it’s basically Snoop Dogg’s journey through funk and time. So not your traditional Snoop Dogg set — it’s a combination of a live plus a DJ set, just different elements. It’s something different you’ll see.”
King Princess • “Every single year we have an act who genuinely has that story, genuinely has something to say that’s culturally relevant or culturally important for that moment. … King Princess, if you haven’t heard of her now, by the end of this summer you will have. In the last 60 days, she’s done just under 90 million plays on Spotify. This girl has absolutely blown up in the last couple of weeks. She is a lesbian girl from New York who has the most incredibly soulful storytelling voice I’ve ever heard. Her debut work is her telling her story through queerness, as she has said. … We think it’ll be a great note to end the series on, because it gives you a message, it gives you something to think about, it tells a story, and it does so in just absolutely beautiful fashion.”