For those who don’t know Utah very well, they might think our great state is more likely to produce the town from Footloose than great music (and they wouldn’t be too off, as Footloose was primarily filmed in Utah). What those non-Utahans don’t realize is that they’ve been listening to bands on the radio that have come from here for years. Thanks to a burgeoning music scene both in the capital of Salt Lake City and down in Utah County, Utah-native bands are on the rise. To counter the doubters of Utah’s greatness, I’ve compiled this list of some of the best musicians to come out of Utah.
Royal Bliss – Formed in Salt Lake City in 1997, this rock band has been dubbed the “Unluckiest Band in Rock,” due to several members sustaining injuries, totaled cars, lawsuits, and a few breakups. Despite their hardships, Royal Bliss has recorded 8 albums and has played for sold-out crowds. Best song: “Devils and Angels.”
The Used – This rock band formed in Orem in 2001. Since then, their claims to fame have included gold and platinum status for their albums internationally and over 3 million records sold. The Used has been described as “emo,” “punk rock,” and “pop rock.” The band remains strong despite replacing a few members and the death of the lead singer’s loved one in 2004. Best song: “I Caught Fire.”
Meg & Dia – Sisters Meg and Dia Frampton formed this rock band in Draper in 2004. Their first album, self-released Our Home is Gone, showcased mostly acoustic songs, and all of the 1,000 copies produced were distributed personally by the sisters. Since their second album, their success has picked up, with one song featured in the movie TMNT and being the opening act on tour for bands such as Cute is What We Aim For and Angels & Airwaves. Though the band remains relatively unknown, their song “The Mighty R-E-A-L” is the official anthem of Real Salt Lake. Best song: “Monster.”
Neon Trees – Originating from Provo, this alternative rock band came together in 2005. Neon Trees is a Utah favorite, having been chosen as Band of the Year in 2009 by City Weekly. Interestingly, all four musicians are members of the LDS Church. The band rose to national fame after opening for The Killers. Their song “Animal” climbed the charts, reaching No. 13 on Billboard. They’ve also performed with Panic! At the Disco, 30 Seconds to Mars, My Chemical Romance, and Duran Duran. Best song: “Animal.”
Imagine Dragons – Currently Utah’s darling, Imagine Dragons came together in Provo in 2008. Two of the members were attending BYU at the time, and the band went on to win BYU’s Battle of the Bands later that year. Imagine Dragons quickly gained international success, with nods from MTV, Billboard Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Amazon.com. Successes have included multiple chart-topping songs, numerous live performances on TV, and a sold-out tour of the U.S. Their song “Radioactive” went triple platinum. Best song: “Radioactive” (but I also really like “On Top of the World”).
Fictionist – Although this alternative rock band has roots dating back to 2000, they didn’t become Fictionist until 2009. Formed in Provo, Fictionist is still rising in success. They can boast multiple Independent Music Awards, a performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and were contestants in the Rolling Stone competition “Do You Wanna Be A Rock ‘n Roll Star?” Best song: “Blue-eyed Universe.”
These are the best and most famous bands to come out of Utah in the past 15 years, but I’ve probably missed some good lesser-known musicians. Who is your favorite local band? Where in Utah do you go to check out the local music scene? Comment below!
“Royal Bliss.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Bliss. (7 August 2013).
“The Used.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_used. (7 August 2013).
“Meg & Dia.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meg_%26_Dia. (7 August 2013).
“Neon Trees.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neon_trees. (7 August 2013).
“Imagine Dragons.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imagine_Dragons. (7 August 2013).
“Fictionist.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fictionist. (7 August 2013).