Arlo Mckinley in Salt Lake City: Show Review

Arlo Mckinley in Salt Lake City

When I returned home to the South earlier this month, Arlo Mckinley’s third album This Mess We’re In was one of my soundtracks as I wound my way through old haunts and fond memories. Seeing Mckinley at SLC’s Urban Lounge was like a brief reunion with my peoples.

Also he brought down some serious country jams.

Mckinley in Salt Lake City for the first time

Not only was this Arlo’s first time stopping in Zion, he told the crowd it was his first voyage west of the Colorado River. And he made every minute of it. Mckinley’s music is alt country without the alt; I hate to say southern rock because that sounds so Marshall Tucker Band-y, but it’s honestly not an INAPPROPRIATE label. Arlo absolutely has a Lynyrd Skynyrd thing going, and it’s amaze.

McKinley’s ballads are good but he is strongest when the band opens up and tears into the rock riffs. He brings all the guns: four guitars, including a pedal steel and slide guitar. When the pedal kicked in on opener “We Were Alright” from 2020’s Die Western, it was positively divine.

As the show started, Mckinley looked every bit a 200 South busker in a knit cap and hoodie, which he gradually shed to maintain body temperature. He played for fully 90 minutes on Wednesday. At times the show was tight and practiced, at other times oddly raw with elongated pauses between songs while fumbling with equipment and tuning guitars. He is sweet in his absence of guile, making ribald jokes and explaining to the audience this was his last song, “unless you make me play more. I guess that’s up to you.” It was an older, more subdued audience but they got him out for an encore.

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Arlo Mckinley's new album, This Mess We're In

Besides “We Were Alright,” highlights from his current album included “I Wish I” and “To Die For.” He also performed a bluesy, whiskey-soaked cover of Sinéad’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” and John Prine’s “Storm Windows.” The band gradually abandoned Arlo later in the show for several solo numbers then rejoined him for closer “To Die For.”

Thanks to his prompting, the crowd was able to coax him back onstage for two encores. This included the night’s highlight, a barnstorming eight-minute version of “Rushintherug.” It really showed off the power of the four guitar front including a blistering slide guitar solo and welcome graduation of driving percussion. Absolutely the top song performance I’ve seen all year. 5/5 stars would recommend.

Here is the studio version of “Rushintherug.”

Mckinley in Salt Lake City, a man of the people

If the audience was more subdued, it wasn’t hesitant to buy shots for Arlo and he wasn’t hesitant to oblige. After an hour and a half of drinking, playing and singing, Mckinley still spent time after the show shaking hands with fans and taking group photos. It really was sweet. It’s not every night you see someone willing to set aside the rock god persona to share laughs and hugs with the audience one on one.

Maybe it was my Southern bias, but I was smitten by his innocence. Look — I spend so much money on music, I NEVER buy merch. But it was Arlo’s first trip out West and I wanted to help pay for his trip home. So I bought an overpriced t-shirt, and you can too right here. Buy a shirt or a lid, definitely download This Mess We’re In and support an American original. Arlo’s upcoming tour dates after some photos.

Arlo Mckinley in Salt Lake City

Arlo Mckinley playing in Utah for the first time

Band supporting Arlo Mckinley

Arlo Mckinley and band

Arlo Mckinley's pedal steel

Arlo McKinley in Salt Lake City

Arlo Mckinley meets fans in Utah

Arlo Mckinley takes pictures with fans in Utah

Arlo Mckinley tour dates:

  • 10/27 – Garden City (Boise), ID – Visual Arts Collective
  • 10/29 – Whitefish, MT – Remington Bar
  • 10/30 – Spokane, WA – Lucky You Lounge
  • 11/3 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
  • 11/4 – Seattle, WA – Tractor Tavern
  • 11/5 – Bend, OR – Volcanic Theatre
  • 11/8 – San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
  • 11/10 – Los Angeles, CA – Gold-Diggers
  • 11/11 – San Diego, CA – Voodoo Room at House of Blues
  • 11/13 – Pioneertown, CA – Pappy & Harriet’s

Best albums of 2022 so far

rope lights on window

The sheer volume of music right now – full-lengths, EP’s, digital exclusives, singles, B-sides, remixes, extended mixes, reissues – all make it hard to keep up. How do you know if you’ve EVEN HEARD the best albums of 2022 so far with so much noise?

We’re all in this together, so let’s have a look at the best albums of 2022 so far.


Best albums of 2022 so far: Once Twice Melody by Beach House

To start, let’s just note the year 2022 launched with the final installment and formal release of Once Twice Melody by Beach House. It is an epic dreamwork, one worth the time and scope across all 18 tracks. Once Twice Melody will likely be high on many people’s Best Of Decade lists, not just 2022. Even as I write this and listen to the song “ESP,” I question how rational I am not putting this in my top spot.

Buy this remarkable album and judge for yourself.

Other terrific works this year that will find many Top 10 lists:

Not Feeling It

basket sad clown

Next, a few albums that left me underwhelmed.

I buy very little music sight unseen — as in, almost zero. However this year several of my favorite bands released new music and I bought it on spec. Did I not give them enough of a chance? Was I in a bad mood? I don’t know…a friend is persuading me to go back and revisit them. But these albums didn’t change my life.

First among them, as reliable as rain, Spoon. Lucifer on the Sofa is Spoon’s first album since 2017’s Hot Thoughts. I’ve never NOT liked Spoon. Not ever. But this one has not cut through for me. However, I did enjoy single “Wild.” It sounds like a straight up INXS tribute, and I am here for every second of it.

Alright since I’m such a crabby pants about Spoon…a few other big name releases that fell short:

  • Animal CollectiveTime Skiffs
  • Kendrick LamarMr. Morale and the Big Steppers
  • Cate LeBonPompeii
  • A Place to Bury StrangersSee Through You
  • The SmileA Light for Attracting Attention

It’s probably me.

Best of 2022 So Far

Best albums of 2022 so far: We've Been Going About This All Wrong by Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten has been on my radar for years but We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong is the first album that really took me aback. It has everything you could want…inflections of Emmylou Harris… dancier tracks… dense numbers layered like bucolic shoegaze. The thing I love most about this album is the way Van Etten starts many of her songs with the simplest musical ideas — and they grow into these epic, crashing things at the end.

Sit with “Born” for the full five minutes to hear this kind of masterful arrangement.

I think Van Etten has released one of the best albums of 2022 so far, so buy it here.