And then there were three ...
The Provo Rooftop Concert Series kicked off its 10th and final season on Friday as a large, boisterous crowd turned out to catch a trio of musical acts that have made a name for themselves during the event’s highly successful run. The National Parks headlined the show, with opening acts Mindy Gledhill and Robert Loud setting the stage for an evening featuring some of the best the Provo music scene has to offer.
Friday’s show was the first of the final four Rooftop shows planned. Artists for the remaining three dates have yet to be announced.
The National Parks have practically grown up at the Rooftop Concert Series — first as spectators, then as performers — and the enormity of headlining the first show of the popular event’s closing season was not lost on them. It wasn’t hard to remember a few years ago when the band was getting its first shot to command the Rooftop stage, and the group’s live swagger has only multiplied since then.
“This is magical right here,” frontman, vocalist and guitarist Brady Parks told the amped audience partway through the show. “I feel so much energy coming from you guys, it’s unbelievable.”
That may indeed be true, but The National Parks were up to the task of generating their own energy as well. The upfront stage trio of Parks, keyboardist/vocalist Sydney Macfarlane and fiddler Megan Taylor Parks were a blur of energy all night long, with frenetic dancing and a high-octane stage presence that kept the crowd thoroughly engaged as the band ran through 16 songs over the course of an hour and 10 minutes. Additionally, Cam Brannelly was a rock behind the drums.
At one point, Brady Parks jumped down into the open pit in front of the stage, and stood up against the temporary barriers to bask in the crowd’s adulation.
Brady Parks made a point of mentioning that the band’s experiences in Provo are woven through the group’s music and lyrics.
“We started this band together right here in Provo,” he said. “And the songs we wrote happened right here in the streets of Provo.”
Highlights of The National Parks’ set included opener “Monsters of the North,” “Coracão,” “Currents,” “Wind & Anchor” (which featured the audience singing the “I Belong to You” chorus line back at the band), “1953,” “Places” and “I Can Feel It.”
The band even introduced a brand new song, “Waiting For Lightning.”
“We’ve been working on a lot of new music,” Brady Parks told the crowd. “We’ve been recording like crazy. We’ve been writing a lot of new stuff, we can’t wait for you to hear it. We can’t wait, so we’re going to play it right now.”
The band closed its set with a faux two-song encore featuring “You Are Gold” and “As We Ran.”
Robert Loud, the side band project of Provo music fixture Robbie Connolly, opened the show. Connolly, a current touring member of international rock band The Killers as well as a member of Fictionist, fronted the five-piece electronic-based band, which at times featured anywhere from two to four members playing keyboards at any one time.
Connolly drew the biggest cheers, however, whenever he picked up the guitar to unleash a welcome solo.
Crowd participation hit a crescendo when the band covered the New Radicals hit “You Get What You Give.”
Connolly turned one of his experiences traveling with The Killers into a song.
“We go all over the world,” Connolly said. “Sometimes I meet people I’ve heard about my whole life. And sometimes it trips me out, but I try not to let it. This next song is about Weezer.”
That song is titled “Rivers Cuomo,” after the Weezer frontman, and it was also a highlight.
Gledhill held down the middle slot on the bill Friday. Her appearance at Rooftop was apropos — she was a co-founder of the event in its infancy years.
“We set out to make this Rooftop Concert Series part of a dream,” Gledhill said late in her set. “I think we achieved that dream.”
Gledhill performed 12 songs, showcasing her lush vocal abilities and quirky stage presence.