The Word

By By Makena Walsh

By Makena Walsh

Though an apathetic cringe may accompany any mention of the clichd “college-is-for-horizon-broadening” adage, the U truly is a place to abandon prejudices of youth and acquire a more comprehensive cultural awareness.

Art is an effective catalyst for this broadening and music is one of its most powerful mediums. By the grace of Salt Lake City’s burgeoning underground arts scenes, the U’s student body is privy to a wealth of quality music in an array of unique venues.

Every week, The Word will provide you with the inside scoop on the hottest events going on in the city of Salt. Today, we introduce you to the shops, bars and back-alleys where these events will go down.

Slowtrain, 221 E. 300 South

Slowtrain is the quintessentially comfortable inner-city record store. What distinguishes this particular locale from others, however, is its superior musical selection. Whether you’re the most elite indie-hipster or an average radio-rock consumer, a random selection from this store’s many rows of CDs will supply a quality addition to your iTunes library.

Slowtrain’s walls are adorned with local artwork, which acts like the stars on the breast of a decorated general, providing respite for wandering eyes sore from scanning innumerable album titles. With owners who have a quality ear and enough vinyl to appease seekers of the nostalgic needle scratch, Slowtrain’s superb taste and eclecticism make it an excellent choice for any foray in auditory entertainment.

Bada Bean, 1302 S. 500 East

Bada Bean’s squat, unimpressive structure on the southwest corner of Liberty Park is an integral part of Salt Lake City’s diminutive hip-hop scene that regularly hosts all-ages indie shows.

Artists provide their own equipment, so sound quality ranges from mediocre to poor, but that doesn’t inhibit the Bean’s energetic crowds from bobbing hands and heads in hip-hop homage — or the bass from shaking the building’s northern glass wall so violently that its destruction seems imminent.

On top of that, the shows are usually free, so you won’t need a stamp when you venture outside to avoid eardrum injury or shattering glass — or simply to ply your rhymes in the freestyle ciphers outside.

Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West

One’s first visit to Kilby Court may be somewhat unnerving — what with its location at the end of an alley in Salt Lake City’s urban outskirts — evocative of the dark cul-de-sac where Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered (forcing him to adopt the symbol of the bat in a quest for retributive, vigilante justice).

After entering this Salt Lake indie-music stronghold’s wooden fences, the sinister faade of Gotham quickly gives way to an endearing, urban romanticism.

Said fence surrounds a courtyard, the south end of which is met with a humble shed/merch post/art gallery. The north end possesses a garage where a low stage and ceiling heighten the already intimate setting.

Kilby books a variety of up-and-coming local and touring bands — in the past including the likes of Bright Eyes, Cursive and Death Cab for Cutie — making it an ideal venue to catch your favorite relatively unknown indie heroes before they burst into the limelight.

The Depot, 400 W. South Temple

A far cry from Kilby Court, The Depot is Salt Lake City’s upper-crust, 21-and-older music venue — which means bigger acts with bigger ticket prices.

Perhaps financed by the venue’s expensive bar, the sound is excellent, providing loud, crystal-clear noise for your well-known headliners. With a large open area in front of the stage surrounded by tables and chairs, you can Lindy Hop the night away on the dance floor or relax at one of the tables and

(provided it’s not too crowded) still retain a decent vantage of the stage.

Booking here is across the board, but there’s usually at least one worthwhile performance every month.

Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East

One glance into the smoky haze of this city tenement bar’s modest aesthetics reveals everything that its name implies: The Urban Lounge is a college-town haunt that offers collegiate drinks as intoxicating as its collegiate atmosphere.

Hosting shows from a variety of genres ranging from folk to electronica to hip-hop, Urban Lounge just might boast of booking the most eclectic acts in Salt Lake City.

Two giant speakers, suspended above the stage by thick metal chains, power the venue’s diverse array of musical performances. These Neolithic Kabuto guardians leer menacingly over a medium-sized stage and point to a moderately priced bar area and pool tables.

True to the overall squalid ambience of the venue, these gravel amplifiers tend to crackle and pop, emitting a sound completely appropriate for their surroundings. This is urban in the grimy sense of the word — bereft of elegant, young, professional studio connotations and perfect for collegiate memory-making.

Monk’s House of Jazz, 19 E. 200 South

Sort of like the Urban Lounge with lower ceilings and red carpet, Monk’s House of Jazz is a smaller substitute for its nearby counterpart.

Trepidation may ensue when descending the soiled staircase leading to the den of Monk’s (which is reminiscent of a contemporary Dante’s Inferno), but quell your fears of hellish torment and you will be met with a delightful set from either a local or touring indie, reggae or hip-hop band.

With a low cover charge and a comfortable setting, Monk’s produces the dizzy weekend atmosphere of a casino while providing a refuge from scholastic stresses.

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Lennie Mahler