SALT LAKE CITY — If you think outdoor concerts are strictly reserved for sweltering July evenings, think again. Utah indie band The National Parks are heading to Antelope Island State Park for an outdoor benefit concert on the first day of fall, and for lead singer Brady Parks, playing in one of Utah's most recognizable landmarks is a perfect pairing — even if it isn't a national park.
“A lot of our writing has to do with … the symbolism that nature has and the parallels between nature and a lot of aspects of our lives. … It’s a beautiful thing and something that inspires me to keep writing and making music,” Parks said in an interview with the Deseret News.
Thanks to The National Parks' commitment to the outdoors, they were an easy choice for the Friends of Antelope Island, a nonprofit organization committed to preserving the natural beauties of Antelope Island, when they started looking for the right group for a benefit concert.
"'We’ve never done anything like (having a concert) on the island,'” Ed Payne, president of Friends of Antelope Island, recalled saying in a meeting. "That resonated with everyone on the board."
The Friends of Antelope Island are a busy group. They support Antelope Island fundraising projects and activities and raise money to improve trails, build restrooms, add more camping spots and even redesign the Antelope Island's visitors center. Over the years, the organization has sponsored countless events — from moonlight bike rides to cowboy poetry events to the yearly bison roundup. However, an outdoor concert was a new endeavor.
Thanks in large part to his 35-years of experience as executive producer for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performances, namely "Music and the Spoken Word," Friends of Antelope Island recruited Payne to help fundraise for Antelope Island.
“Our hope with this concert is that we want the young people to come out and discover Antelope Island for the first time," he said. "We want this to be an event where people can come together and enjoy the island … (and) we want this to become a yearly thing.”
The board saw this as an opportunity not only to unite the community and showcase Antelope Island but also to highlight local talent. While brainstorming bands to headline the concert, it didn’t take long for them to pin The National Parks.
“Because of their folk music and … their inspiration about the land and the beauties of the Earth … we thought, 'Boy, who better to do our first concert than The National Parks,'" Payne said. "They’re great … they’re energetic … and their popularity is growing like crazy.”
For Parks, a concert on Antelope Island is an event in and of itself — and the fact that he's the one performing makes it especially sweet.
“Every time we tell someone we're playing on Antelope Island, they’re like, 'No way, that's so cool,'" he said. "And so it's just in itself generating a lot of buzz because of where it's at.”
Established in 2013, The National Parks are Colorado-native Parks, Utahn Sydney MacFarlane on keyboard and vocals, drummer Cameron Brannelly and violinist Megan Taylor Parks, who is married to Brady Parks.
“We just kind of started jamming together and instantly had this musical connection and we’ve been playing music together ever since,” Brady Parks said.
Garnering nearly 400,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, the indie-folk band known for their distinctive vocal harmonies and nature-inspired lyrics is just getting started. But no matter how popular they are nationwide, Utah is home base for the band.
“There’s a lot of fans that have seen how far we’ve come. … We feel very welcomed and loved and special here in Utah," Macfarlane said. "There’s a different kind of feeling when we play here locally that we love."Comment on this story
Parks said this will be the National Parks final show in Utah for a while before they hit the road to tour their 2017 album "Places" and take time off to continue writing.
“This show is … one we’re really, really excited about," he said. "We’re just going to go all out and have the time of our lives!”
If you go …
What: Autumn Equinox Benefit Concert on Antelope Island featuring The National Parks
When: Saturday, Sept. 22, 7 p.m.
Where: Antelope Island, North White Rocks Bay
How much: $23