Jeffery Hacker has long been involved with shaping Salt Lake City’s Music Scene. His passionate presence is widely felt, whether it’s through Djing his famed Dance Evolution parties as DJ DJ/DC, bartending and managing at Metro Music Hall, or by his enthusiastic and constant promotion of local and touring acts. For these reasons, he has earned a place as a staple in Salt Lake City’s growing underground music community.
Unfortunately, because of the Coronavirus pandemic there is a necessity for the implementation of a Statewide lockdown and quarantine. One of the consequences is Salt Lake’s nightlife coming to a complete and sudden halt. Among the many industries affected by these measure is entertainment, with venues like Metro Music Hall temporally shuttering it’s doors.
For the first time since 2004, Hacker has had to find a new gig to sustain himself and his family until Metro Music Hall opens up again. I caught up with Hacker to see how things are going. We discussed his legendary DJ nights, the importance of Salt Lake City’s nightlife, managing Metro Music Hall, meeting Peter Hook and more.
NixBeat: You used to run a weekly DJ night called Dance Evolution. How did this night start and what kind of music did you play?
Hacker: At the time it started out of necessity. We wanted to dance to all kinds of music and the only thing available in SLC at the time were dedicated genre nights. Going out and hearing everything from The Faint to Usher sounded like a great time, so we just did it ourselves. Every night always started out as indie as possible, morphing into more of a pop night around 11 and ending with as much punk, emo and metal as the crowd would let me get away with for giant sing-a-longs. It was awesome seeing people from different social groups meeting each other and becoming friends. We actually hosted several “DE TATTOO” days where we partnered with Goodtimes Tattoo and they just tattooed DE logos on everyone. Seeing all the different types of people coming in bonding with their new friends is something I don’t think any of us will ever forget.
NixBeat: In a Facebook post from December 8th, 2016, it was mentioned Dance Evolution went through a lot of changes, including jail time. How did Dance Dance Evolution Evolve over time?
Hacker: As the night got bigger I always ended up catering to the masses more. Honestly that’s my biggest regret over the years. I think what made the night special was exposing people to music they didn’t know and changing that up to keep up with random requests took the soul of the night away. It was still super fun, but I think the night should have gone the other direction and become 100% indie dance. I did have a stint on house arrest for a DUI (don’t drink and drive kids) but luckily DE had built up enough DJ’s over the years to have plenty of people fill in. I actually moved to Denver for a year as well, and even though I managed to fly back to SLC almost every week for the party. There were still some shows I wasn’t able to make it. Thankfully Brenton Leu, Justin Hollister, Tyler Lusk and Erik Olsen came into my life and became the best party throwers this city has ever seen. They held down the fort just fine.
NixBeat: In the same Facebook Event Post, the description mentioned that Dance Dance Evolution helped bridge communities in Salt Lake City. How did Dance Dance Evolution accomplish this?
Hacker: We threw a weekly party for over 13 years, in that time we were lucky enough to meet what feels like just about everyone in SLC. I think our specialty was focusing on crossing genres not just in what music I played but also what guests we would bring in. One of my favorite memories of all time was one of our infamous water slide parties. During the summer we would get a giant 33 foot tall water slide set up on the patio and people would just go insane. At one of these parties we had a touring death metal package performing alongside the legendary drag performer Ursula Major. Needless to say every single person looked insanely confused as they arrived but by the end of the night literally every single person in the venue was just having a blast on the water slide with their new best friends. It wasn’t all debauchery though, we also were lucky enough to be at the right place and right time to help some people out in need. We’ve hosted countless benefits which really shined a light on how amazing the people in this city are, and seeing people at their best always breaks down barriers and helps people come together.
NixBeat: What about DJ nights do you think are important to a music community?
Hacker: I’m from a generation where “going dancing” was everything. I met all my friends at a dance night. I met my wife at Area 51, and hit on her by getting Max the DJ to play her song next. I think for a lot of people going dancing at a club playing a specific type of music is how they find “their people”. Once they become a regular they know they’ve found their home. It becomes a part of their routine and in a lot of ways it’s their singular release from the day to day grind of their lives. Dance nights are VITAL to the music community as a whole because they become the primary source of in-person networking. I can’t count how many shows were booked and planned out on the patio of metro at a DE party.
NixBeat: How did you become involved with operating Metro Music Hall and what kind of changes have you seen it go through?
Hacker: Super long and confusing story so here is a short version: Years ago we were at the Trapp Door (which is where the Metro is currently located) and the staff was treated very unfairly by the owner so 100% of us left and went to take over a venue called Club Edge. About two years after we took over Edge, the owners sold it and the new owners kept all of us on. After a while there the new owners wanted a better location, so we moved to the 200 S. location and changed the name to the Metro Bar. Again a few years later they decided they wanted a bigger location so we came full circle and moved back to the original location of the Trapp Door. These owners eventually decided to sell as well so I begged them to sell to Will Sartain and Lance Saunders with S&S Presents. They obliged and now I work with the best team this city has ever seen. Slowly but surely they’ve transformed the newly named Metro Music Hall into what I honestly believe to be the greatest venue in Salt Lake. Full circle.
NixBeat: What kind of clientele typically attends concerts at Metro Music Hall?
Hacker: Honestly? Every type you can imagine. We host all manner of events so the age range varies from 21-80. I would say the regulars could be described as open minded and enthusiastic music lovers. It doesn’t matter what the show is, they will always be there with open ears.
NixBeat: Metro Music hall has attracted big name and local acts to play there. Some of these acts include MC5, The Black Lips and Gary Neumann. What has been your favorite show(s) at Metro Music Hall?
Hacker: My absolute #1 show will probably forever be Peter Hook. I get star struck super easy and usually I will shy away from acts I’m super into, but Peter was just the nicest guy ever. Realizing I was having a normal conversation with a living legend to this day gives me butterflies. Death From Above 1979 was another act I couldn’t believe played here. I’ve played them multiple times a night, every night I’ve dj’d and here they were on our stage. I felt the same way about The Faint, The Presets, Cut/Copy and dozens of others. We’ve hosted Doyle and Michael Graves of The Misfits several times too. If 15 year old me knew that one day I’d be eating birthday cake with Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein I would have died.
NixBeat: What are some Salt Lake City bands you are currently enjoying and what about them makes them stand out?
Hacker: Choir Boy is pretty much my favorite band right now in general, so it helps that not only are they from here but several of the members work at Metro from time to time. Mortigi Tempo, Lord Vox, Violet Temper and NVM are bringing a whole new scene to the city I think on top of being the most consistently impressive bands I’ve seen.
NixBeat: With the onset of the Coronavirus, a lockdown order has been issued on Salt Lake City’s venues, bars and restaurants. How has this affected Salt Lake City’s nightlife and music community?
Hacker: It drove a stake through our hearts. Right now there is absolutely nothing to be done though.
NixBeat: How are you and the rest of employees of Metro Music Hall coping with the lockdown?
Hacker: Some of us found new jobs to fill the gap until we can open again. I luckily snagged a spot at Amazon which is my first new job since 2004, so it’s kind of fun.
NixBeat: Are you seeing any attempts to rally behind those affected by the Coronavirus Lockdown?
Hacker: I think right now it feels like a lot of help is up in the air. I’ve seen many groups pop up attempting to set up financial aid for musicians and serve industry people but I think right now most people are waiting on the government to figure something out.
NixBeat: Do you think Salt Lake City’s nightlife and music scene will be able to recover from the effects of the Coronavirus?
Hacker: 100% I know we will recover fully. Unfortunately though, I think it will take a lot longer than we might think. I don’t want to speculate and risk being wrong, so I’ll just say it can’t come quickly enough.
Brad Wheeler, photo by Mike Jones
Don’t Touch That Dial!
KUAA and Brad Wheeler Groove a Mix of World Music
Tune your radio dial to 99.9 FM, and if you are within range, you will hear the unique sounds emanating from Utah’s newest radio station, KUAA.
Founded by Derek Dryer and now headed by (Bad) Brad Wheeler, this non-profit station broadcasts a diverse mix of multicultural and bilingual music spanning genres and styles. Originally, KUAA (the Utah’s newest radio station) broadcasted from within a closet at the Arts Alliance building on 663 West and 100 South. In late 2017, Dryer wanted to really establish KUAA and brought in Wheeler shortly after he departed from KRCL. Initially, Wheeler was hesitant about getting involved and says, “I wasn’t really sure if his audience would embrace me.”
However, Wheeler offered to take over for 72 hours to see if he could make the station live up to Dryer’s expectation. After Wheeler programmed a multilingual mix for KUAA, the station began attracting attention. “I don’t really feel like I did it so much — I feel like the music did it on its own,” Wheeler says.
Check out the full article, published at Utah Stories.com!
Spread The Disease
August 23rd, 2018
Mortigi Tempo produced something delightfully refreshing and different with their new album. It’s called Spread The Disease. After a pint it’s the kind of music that leaves an infectiously subversive impression. Stylistically, Mortigi Temp seem to touch a kind of indie-rock twirling with elements of industrial influencing post punk that somehow mixes into a gothic feeling ensemble. To be sure, it’s the sort of music that celebrates the ominous while invoking a surrender to move about like an idiot after too manic inducing substances.
Spread The Disease firmly grabs a hold of it’s listener and electrifies them to dance. This is evident within only listening to the first few seconds of the first track “Spread The Disease.” This song starts off with an intro featuring a politically charged PSA on the dangers of complacent boredom courtesy of a prerecorded reading of Wallace Shawn’s “My Dinner With Andre.” It’s dark and warms up for a wild post punky ride of a tune with a strong back beat and erry synth. Think of Love and Rockets with a dash of Killing Joke infused with HMLTD.
The entirety of Spread The Disease is like a wild ride. “Chrome Plated Cookies” breaks off the previous tracks path into the realm of something groovy and indie. While “Jesse Wants To Steal” breaks into a sound invoking nostalgia for early noughties alternative rock.
Further down the track listing each additional tune comes across with a stark difference from that of before. By the end, this albums concluding track “Aftermath” leaves one feeling a bit empty inside—not unlike the commercial driven culture that the first track warns against.
From start to finish Spread The Disease is brilliant. It pulls it’s listener through the depths of being warned against a rampant self-contented culture. It it is done so in a superbly entertaining way and performed with music that begins by begging one to dance and then to gradually succumb to the mind numbing effects of sounds found in droning of Neo-psychedelia.
MortigiTempo have a unique talent and they superbly demonstrate it through a diversity in style that truly shows offs the majesty of their skill. As a whole Spread The Disease is well worth the listen and it’ll be interesting to see what MortigiTempo comes out with next. Be sure to watch them closely.
Once a month, Piper Down echoes with rock n’ roll music that defined the 1950’s and early 1960’s. The event behind the music is called Salt Lake Rockabilly Presents. It is a themed club night with live bands and both digital and vinyl DJ’s spinning original Rockabilly, Doo Wop, R&B, Hillbilly, Western Swing and more. It is hosted by Paul “Woody” Woodmansey and Jon Grippe. Woodmansey collaborative partnership with Grippe began shortly after moving to Utah from England. “Jon was one of the first Rockabilly people I met here in Salt Lake and he had been putting on shows over the past decade or so.” Woodmansey says, “He had contacts with the owner of Piper Down and we decided that it would be a good place to start a regular night for Rockabilly music.”
Read the full article published at Utah Stories!!
Los YaYaz have blazed through the Salt Lake City music scene by combining the wild and primitive style of Los Yetis and Los Saicos with the intensity of The Sonics. This new record maintains their iconic blended style with all the trappings of repressed teenage angst and longing desperation. Their delivery is raw and if I didn’t know better I would have sworn Born Dead was some long lost garage-punk- unknown. Historically, Los YaYaz perform both in English and Spanish. Born Dead, however, has all tracks recorded in English. This album was recorded live, and is only available on cassette or via their bandcamp.
Born Dead contains covers of well-known tracks like The Sonics “The Hustler” and Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man.” Listening to these covers it’s clear that the Los Yayaz have done their homework and almost own each song as their own. The the cover of The Bel-Aires “Ya Ha Be Be,” really shows of Los YaYaz their musical tightness. It comes across as a more comfortable tune to cover as it appears that they are having a blast recording this track.
Out of all the covers on Born Dead, “All Black & Hairy” is easily my favorite. This track captures the haunting nature of Screaming Lord Sutch with the moody yet dirty nature of rock n’ roll found six feet deep. Joining Los YaYaz on the organ for “All Black & Hairy” is producer Dennis Fuller (also of The Boys Ranch).
The real magic on Born Dead is the original Los YaYaz material. Largely written by vocalist Mariano Wilson,songs such as “Just a Little Bit” and “Sad and Blue” stay true to 1960’s garage rock form by betraying the familiar teenage garage punk themes of snotty adolescent defiance and love. With “Sad and Blue” the Los YaYaz boast a real moody groover. In a way it almost reminds me of the recently unearthed Sites N’ Sounds “The Night Is So Dark.” The difference between the two is a discernible roughness that will inspire listeners to sway and stomp their way to the grave.
The only departure of from the garage rock sound is with Aaron’s Wilkinson’s’ “Nerd Basher.” While definitely influenced by a more aggressive late 1966 garage rock sound, this track falls more in line with the attitude of 1970’s punk with the jet-fuel aggression of The MC5.
Overall, Los YaYaz bring a much needed revived sense of passion into garage rock. It’s clear that with Born Dead that they have refined their sound. Furthermore, these guys know their roots and have yet to cease bringing back a bordering untamed nature. Their use of covers are fine here and there, and they do them justice, but Los YaYaz demonstrates the knack for solid material with their own songs. Looking forward, I hope to hear more Los YaYaz originals—maybe even a return to some Spanish sung tunes.
It would be a tragedy if Born Dead is lost to unknown pages of history, so do yourself a favor and pick up their tape. Los YaYaz’s Born Dead demonstrates that rock n’ roll is here to stay and it’ll never die. Born Dead is a must own for anyone who boasts a love for garage rock. Pick it up.
Also check out their new music video for “The Shadow.”
At last Rebel Rebel have released their EP The Gospel Truth. This record superbly reveals a sound that infuses the infectious, yet, bubbly nature of indie rock with the attitude of ’70s CBGB punk inspired glam. In other words, think of Rebel Rebel channeling Franz Ferdinand taking cues from Lou Reed who in turn just watched a set played by Talking Heads or The Revelons.
Rebel Rebel are unique act to catch. They don’t boast a heavily overused punk style, but rather come into their own without relying on clichés. Furthermore, these cats they have always remained sincere and humble and it shows with this record.
Their EP is good and has some killer tracks. Most notable are the “The Gospel Truth” and “Jen Puked.” “The Gospel Truth” is fast and punchy. After immediately switching this on and I’m hooked by the in-your face sound. It’s a whirlwind of a song that makes me want to jump about like an idiot who recently discovered the dealing power of sugar and caffeine.
“Jen Puked” follows in this vein. It’s a track with a killer drum beat building up into a wild punky tune that is vibrant with electric energy. This song shows off a defiant passion lead by vocalist Mason Keller Comstock and it perfectly blends punk and indie into a fast and snotty wallop.
I recommend checking this EP out. The Gospel Truth is a fun listen that highlights Rebel Rebel’s maturing sound. I’m interested to see where they go from here and if this record reveals anything, I’m sure what they have next will be worth a listen. So pay attention.
Vague Space is the venue that is replacing Daley’s Clothing in Sugar House. Owner and operator, Spencer Daley, started Daley’s Clothing in 2015. It was originally called Daley’s Men’s Shop, but once the clothing store began selling women’s clothing, it was renamed to be all-inclusive and non-gender specific.
In 2016, Daley set his sights on establishing a small DIY venue in the basement of the shop. He was keenly aware of the loss suffered by Salt Lake’s creative community during the Sugar House redevelopment that started in 2007. Daley says, “The lack of a music venue in Sugar House is surprising considering the origin where Sugar House came from.”
Check out the full article on Vague Space published by Utah Stories!!
In response to the protests on Saturday August 11 in Charlottesville, Virginia, the League of Native American Voters organized a rally against racism at the Salt Lake City and County Building. Around 2000 protesters attended. Whole many groups participated—such as Antifa, Black Lives Matter, Democratic Socialists, Indigenous resistance, Students for a Democratic Society, Pandos, Utah Against Police Brutality, and others. There were also many individuals who came to show solidarity, with some being armed. Observing the growing crowd of demonstrators, one protestor, Josh Straugther said, “Being here is amazing, because… this is not the most black city out here.”
Read the full article published by Utah Stories!!
Quiet Oaks’ second album Pretty Alright exemplifies the indie take of alternative rock pleas for desperation. In an odd way Quiet Oaks have a sort of feel-good aspect to an otherwise sensitive sound. This is a largely thanks to the emotional pleas cried out by vocalist Dane Sandberg. With Sanberg at the helm, one could think of Pretty Alright as trudging forth from the misunderstood indie noise that seeks to infuses it’self in an all grown up sound thanks to a prominent backing of a sort of raucous blues rock style.
In this album, listeners will be hard pressed to look passed Quiet Oaks use of heavy instrumentals to back Sandbergs passionate vocals. it’s a style that consistently sets a stirring tone throughout Pretty Alright. This is particularly evident by the first track “The Go Getter.” The top tracks o be found here are “Keep It Together” with “They Don’t Need You” and “I Don’t Bleed” following close behind.
“Keep It Together” comes across as reflective and dramatic. It has a strong build up and solid delivery. If the result of listening to this track doesn’t invoke the notions of the feelies, then by all means questions your own empathy.
“They Don’t Need You” relies strongly on the vocalists emotional yelling to keep the attention focused on the song. However in this day and age such reliance may be what shows off the ability to be passionate. This all mixed in with a slight up-tempo groove this tracks ball rolling. “I Don’t Bleed” also has a strong build up with a constant groove. This track may invoke one to move about and possibly even slow dance with that someone special. If this album had a baby maker track to it, “I Don’t Bleed” is definitely it.
Other tracks on this album seem to offer a glimpse into something slightly brighter. This is particularly exposed in “Father Knows” and “Guns.” Both move closer toward the rock n’ roll end of the spectrum.
Overall Pretty Alright is just that. These are songs that impose the notions of sensitivity while daring you to feel good. Quiet Oaks are having the Pretty Alright release show at Urban Lounge on March 17, 2017. So, come out, hold your lighter high, and give way to your feely feelings.
For more on Quiet Oaks, visit their Facebook or their website: http://quietoaksmusic.com/
Quiet Oaks “Let Me Ignore You”