The days leading up to Summer Salt’s arrival in Madison were rainy and dreary, but their concert at the Majestic on Friday night made it clear that summer was not over yet.
It was the first time that I had participated in an indoor concert since the start of the pandemic. The staff at the Majestic were efficient and thorough in checking the vaccine cards at the door. I wasn’t used to people brushing against me, but I quickly found myself rocking to the beach tunes of Summer Salt.
Summer Salt had two openings, which perfectly matched their indie-rock vibe, but also tackled heavier topics.
The Breakup Shoes rocked the crowd. Their energy was incredible, with guitarist Jake Peña coming up to the balcony at one point. The Majestic was perfect for times like this; All the music was so close to the audience.
I saw several people pull out their phones during the Breakup Shoes set to search for them on Spotify. Their merchandising table was quite crowded after the show. It seemed like a lot of people, including me, wanted to know more about them.
Covey then took to the stage, which had a slightly harsher rock side with a level of angst and heaviness that doesn’t usually appear in Summer Salt’s music. Their frontman, Tom Freeman, took a few minutes to tell the story of “Sam Jam”. I can’t explain this song in the space I have here, but it’s definitely worth listening to to understand why we all sang the last verse over and over again.
The first two have been great companions for Summer Salt, and I’m sure I’ll be discovering more of their music. However, they played for about two hours, which was a bit too long, and I could feel my expectation for the main act slowly fading away.
The harsher rock elements of the openers were perfectly balanced when Summer Salt took to the stage. They settled in slower tempos but still charmed the crowd. Everything was pure bliss, from Eugene Chung’s smiles to Matthew Terry’s dance steps to all the guitar riffs and flourishes.
Summer Salt’s discography has evolved over the years, but they still retain their airy and calming rock roots, even on October-themed songs like “Hocus Pocus”.
There were classic songs, like “Revvin ‘my Cj7” and “Driving to Hawaii”, that the whole crowd rocked to. When the crowd sang “Driving to Hawaii” Terry replaced “Driving to Wisconsin”, which everyone shouted in approval. I forgot how much I love when bands show their love for Wisconsin, even if they tell every city. They asked the crowd why Wisconsin is famous and we shouted cheese which made me proud.
There was a good balance between contemplative songs and those that are just plain fun. There was also a good mix between the songs from their last album and their old discography. The contrast between these moments for the group was truly significant.
They ended their set with “Time Away from Home”, a song I listened to in the summer before going back to college. This song is about exploration and turmoil, a feeling they always portrayed in their early work.
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Compare that with the slow motion “Lewa Lani” of their new record Sequoia Moon. There is a nice line: “you know, it’s kinda nice to be back home. This line hit me so hard, like I was growing up and doing things alongside the band.
Watching live music again was like coming home, and it was picked up by all the artists on Friday night. I know the audience felt it too. The concert seemed like a big cloud had risen, and Summer Salt rained down sunshine and happiness.
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