While the lineup at Red Butte Garden is all over the map stylistically, many concertgoers anxiously awaiting shows featuring Sheryl Crow, Steve Martin or Al Green will probably have to resort to Wikipedia for a any type of knowledge of The Shins or Bon Iver, pictured above.
And not many of the people who will be at the shows likely expected to ever see either band there - The Shins headline a sold-out show Monday, Bon Iver does the same on Tuesday - as recently as 2007. Both bands have really taken off in popularity in the past few years.
While The Shins have been around since 1997, and lead singer James Mercer has been writing music since 1992, this is clearly a high-water mark for the band in terms of popularity. They're touring behind their latest release, "Port of Morrow," which was released on their own label but through CBS, as well.
That these guys are headlining a major summer show here and also across the West is a testament to the power of sticking around - and pursuing what you do because you believe in it. The Shins have steadily increased their fan base simply by writing good songs. Mercer's got a distinctive voice and also lended his voice to 2009's awesome "Broken Bells" project.
Success has come a lot faster for Bon Iver - a French phrase meaning "good winter" - but Justin Vernon has created a singular sound since taking the rock world by surprise with the sterling "For Emma, Forever Ago," back in 2008.
After the little-known indie DeYarmond Edison broke up in 2007, Vernon retreated to his native Wisconsin and wrote what would become one of the most unique sounding releases of the last five years. With its bizarre lyrics, but irresistible melodies evident on such songs as "Skinny Love," and "Re: Stacks" grew on people who had heard the record, and then it took off largely based on its positive reviews and word-of-mouth.
Vernon has since become a rock star and gone on "Saturday Night live" and worked with Kanye West, but he still looks like a clerk at a used bookstore and his group's latest release preserves the band's signature sound.
Both of these shows sold out fast, despite neither group being a household name or getting on mainstream radio. Kudos to Red Butte for booking such hip, and completely deserving, bands to start its 2012 season.