LOVELOUD 2019: Engaging as Ever

Dan+Reynolds+performs+at+LOVELOUD+Festival+2019.+Courtesy+Jerod+Harris%2FGetty+Images+for+LOVELOUD+Festival.
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LOVELOUD 2019: Engaging as Ever

Dan Reynolds performs at LOVELOUD Festival 2019. Courtesy Jerod Harris/Getty Images for LOVELOUD Festival.

Dan Reynolds performs at LOVELOUD Festival 2019. Courtesy Jerod Harris/Getty Images for LOVELOUD Festival.

Getty Images for LOVELOUD Festiv

Dan Reynolds performs at LOVELOUD Festival 2019. Courtesy Jerod Harris/Getty Images for LOVELOUD Festival.

Getty Images for LOVELOUD Festiv

Getty Images for LOVELOUD Festiv

Dan Reynolds performs at LOVELOUD Festival 2019. Courtesy Jerod Harris/Getty Images for LOVELOUD Festival.

By Christopher Payne

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For its third year running, the LOVELOUD Festival brought thousands of people together with a message of unconditional love and support for all LGBTQ youth in Utah and across the world. Dan Reynolds — founder of LOVELOUD and lead singer of Imagine Dragons — has made it his mission to “ignite and progress” this conversation, especially in such a traditionally conservative and religious state like Utah. Growing up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints himself, Reynolds now works tirelessly to foster communication and acceptance between the historically opposed sides of religion and the LGBTQ community.

This music festival took place on June 29 at the USANA Amphitheater, boasting an impressive lineup of musicians and generating a massive turnout. Some fans and supporters began lining up as early as 11 a.m., and the amphitheater’s 20,000 seats were packed as the final set concluded at 11 p.m. Performances began with alternative R&B and hip hop artist Gnash and went on to include performers across all sorts of genres — pop icon Kesha, punk rock band Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers, alternative rock band PVRIS, modern pop artist Daya, folk-rock singer Miya Folick, country musician Ty Herndon, Paul Cardall, Brandon Stansell, Aja Volkman, Tyler Glenn from Neon Trees, Tegan and Sara, Parson James, K. Flay, AJR, Shamir, Vivek Shraya, Vincint, Andy Allo, Utah-based Foreign Figures and, of course, Reynolds himself.

Reynolds spent this year’s festival discussing the abnormally high rates of suicide among LGBTQ youth. But this statistic, he argued, misleadingly places the focus on these young people rather than the broken societies and systems that need to be changed. He called upon all families and communities to make that effort to love and accept. As a straight, white, privileged man himself, Reynolds called to all others with that same privilege to be allies in this fight. The path forward, he preaches every year, is through love and community.

AJR performs at LOVELOUD Festival 2019. Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for LOVELOUD Festival

Every other speaker and musician brought their own unique perspective and message to the day. Laura Jane Grace, a transgender woman, used her music to foreground her personal struggles with mental illness along with a message of appreciating life. Mahdia Lynn spoke on the work she has done to create an inclusive Muslim community that values women and LGBTQ members. The non-binary Shamir embraced queer identity in a beautiful performance. Daya spoke on her experience of recently coming out as bisexual.

Two speakers came forward with their perspectives as gay alumni from Brigham Young University — 2019 valedictorian Matt Easton and mascot Charlie Bird. Performers like K. Flay and AJR played songs about embracing your differences and making the most of your life. Speakers presented on behalf of organizations like Encircle, Born Perfect, Equality Utah and Project Contrast that work to support LGBTQ communities or defend their legal rights. YouTubers and activists alike, from Shannon Beveridge and host Kalen Allen to Savannah Skyler and Emma Gonzalez, were present to express their support and call for working towards a better future. Kesha, in her typical wild, nasty, flashy and powerful fashion, took the time to express her love and support for the community before tearing up the stage and stealing the audience’s clothes.

Experience LOVELOUD for yourself next year and consider supporting some of these vital pro-LGBTQ organizations. In the meantime, tune in to K-Ute Radio for their LOVELOUD coverage and hear their backstage interviews with prominent figures from the event.

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@PaynefullyChris