This is a story I wrote in June 2011 about the first fest:
Nearly 60 hard-rock bands. Eight shows. Five days. Twelve dollars. Those are the numbers for Crucial Fest, a new music showcase."This is the first independent music fest in Salt Lake City," said Jarom Bischoff, a local musician and head of label Exigent Records, one of the festival's sponsors. "This fest is crucial for the music community for rockers."Bischoff and his team have accepted 12 nationally touring bands to the festival, but his focus is to unite the greater Salt Lake City hard-rock community, while ideally attracting more fans to local venues and shows. All this comes with an enticing price point: A wristband that serves as admission for all of the shows is only $12 (when purchased in advance).Bischoff took his cue for the event from The Fest in Gainesville, Fla., an annual showcase for punk bands, with a sprinkling of indie rock, country and metal acts, who perform in a dozen small venues around downtown.Bischoff has enlisted similar-size Salt Lake City clubs, such as Kilby Court, Urban Lounge and Burt's Tiki Lounge.Will Sartain, co-owner of Kilby Court and Urban Lounge, welcomed Bischoff's idea."It's great to have a local festival," said Sartain, who knows Bischoff from the latter's former membership in the band Loom. "The guys in the bands have always been good to us, so we were happy to do it."While most of the shows are at local clubs, the centerpiece of Crucial Fest is a free concert at Liberty Park on June 18. Local hard-rock bands such as Loom, Muscle Hawk, I Am the Ocean and Accidente will share three stages with national bands such as North Dakota's Sleeping In Gethsemane and Oregon's Microtia."I have a lot of high hopes for this," said Brandon Schiwal, bass player for Sleeping In Gethsemane. The first tour that band had ever done was with Loom, and band members know many of the local and national bands performing at Crucial Fest. "We consider it as kind of a family reunion."Microtia musician Tim Steiner said hard-rock festivals on a smaller scale are rare. But when they happen, they can be fruitful as fellow musicians realize that a rising tide helps all boats."I find that when there's rivalries, it comes from inexperience," he said. "When I started my first band in high school, I wanted to be better than everyone. But now it's all about good music."Networking and forming relationships with other bands is just as important in the music world as in the corporate world. Tours happen when like-minded musicians come together, Steiner said.Convincing local bands to participate wasn't difficult."[Bischoff] seems like a pretty motivated guy," said Ben Dodds, bass player for local band Accidente and formerly of influential band Form of a Rocket. "He wants to cultivate a scene in Salt Lake City. He had a clear vision of what he wanted to do. Salt Lake hasn't had a festival like this."With the plans set, Bischoff just hopes that local audience show up to support local musicians."What the bands are missing is a crowd," said Bischoff, adding that many emerging bands haven't had enough stage time to develop a devoted fanbase. "[Local bands] want to be a part of something."