SMALL FONT / BIG TUNES: Boyfriend Sushi Town (@ Kilby Block Party)

SMALL FONT / BIG TUNES: Boyfriend Sushi Town (@ Kilby Block Party)

I love music festival season, and I love the time before music festival season starts when all the lineup posters come out and everyone gets themselves into a real tizzy. Yass headliner. Boo undercard. Idk who any of these small print bands are...omg I'm so old. I love it all. A good festival poster is like one of those gigantic menus at a diner, that advertises omelettes and pancakes, but also spaghetti and steak and liver and onions and meatloaf and spanikopita. Like the hell do they store that much food in the kitchen???

Anyway, trying out a little mini-content vertical on I Enjoy Music where I pick a band that I have never heard of that appears in small font on a 2024 festival lineup poster, and give them a listen. I'll learn something new. Maybe you'll learn something new too. And maybe we'll both go to a festival and show up right when the gates open and see one of these bands play. And then we'll hug the rail the rest of the day until we pass out during the headliner.

Also please know, I don't mean this blog conceit to be a like "awww look at the little band in the tiny font" condescending thing. (See, Pacing's recent tweet, 'I love when people put my songs on playlists that are called like "the most obscure tiniest unpopular miniscule loser indie artists we discovered under a dumpster'".) Truly I'm just in this for the music discovery. Fests are the perfect places to find new bands to love. So the font might be small but that's just in the context of the fest! Kendrick Lamar was in the smallest font in the Coachella lineup in 2012! He headlined five years later! That's why I'm calling this thing SMALL FONT / BIG TUNES.

First up: Boyfriend Sushi Town, playing Kilby Block Party in May 2024, in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah. I chose them because the Kilby Block Party lineup is flamin' hot, and because the name Boyfriend Sushi Town really stood out to me.

Who is in the band?

First of all, shout out to music journalism, because I got to learn about Boyfriend Sushi Town through a 2022 profile in Slug Mag (Salt Lake City's premier alterna-publication.) The original lineup of the band was singer/guitarist Moses Coker, bassist Peter Carney, violinist Ethan Guertler and drummer DJ Casto. But the profile marked the apparent demise of the original lineup of the band shortly after the release of their 2021 debut album Rufus. Slug Mag made it sound like Boyfriend Sushi Town as we know it would cease to be, and their debut album would be their last. Happily, they have put out a new album just last month called Player.

The description from this YouTube video of Boyfriend Sushi Town playing live three weeks ago bears a list of names — Moses Coker, Ethan Guertler, Brandon Cocard, Harry Hagan — and I believe this is their current live / full-band lineup. Cocard (who is also in the band hi again) and Hagan were listed in the Slug profile as having recorded Rufus through their music studio, Mirror Machine. Side note: it also looks like Cocard and Hagan are both very good at snowboarding.

Where are they located?

Salt Lake City, Utah. They are locals to the domain of the Kilby Block Party.

What is their music like?

It's GREAT. There are a couple important components to Boyfriend Sushi Town's music. One is the prominent inclusion of Guertler's violin, which lopes around their tunes like a sorrowful little guy, or slices through the proceedings like a sharp bread knife. Another is a remarkable rock-genre-fluidity; listening to Player, I marveled at the smooth switch-ups between post-rock, folk rock, alt rock...sometimes the vocals are hushed, or plainly spoken, or screamed...sometimes the band sounds like they're from the late '80s, and sometimes they sound like they're from the early '00s, and sometimes they sound like they're playing traditional music from a very long time ago.

A standout song to me is "Insurance," which starts quiet and ends huge. Its lyrics about an unexpected visit to the ICU culminate in a gut-punch emotional moment that recedes into eerily pleasant piano. It covers so much sonic ground that I was surprised to realize it was only 2 minutes and five seconds long. "Hometown Hero" is another standout — a bitterly jaunty song that invokes the claustrophobia of not leaving home: "I love where I'm from / Everyone I know knows everything I've done."

TBH I was trying a usual dipshit blogger tactic when writing this, pawing at the history of rock to try to find something to compare Boyfriend Sushi Town to. Are they like Mogwai? Pedro the Lion? Early Bright Eyes? Guess what — they are not "like" any of those acts. I think they're doing something unique: the pulverized rock genres, the ability to strip the songs down to just acoustic guitar and vocals for live performances, the lyrical storytelling, the seriousness living side-by-side with playfulness. When I was going down a Boyfriend Sushi Town rabbit hole, I was delighted to see the below video, filmed at an acoustic BST performance this past summer. 1:30 in, someone screams "FREE BIRD" and they actually play it. With violin subbed in for the guitar solo. It's awesome.

Where did the band name come from?

I DM'd the band on IG and asked, because I had to know. "Our name came from a sushi restaurant that went out of business that I liked a bunch and in their honor I named the band after them!" the account (whose admin, I believe, is singer/guitarist Moses Coker) responded. That's just wonderful. It's a great name.

Any last thoughts?

It's funny to ask that question to myself. I am a new and hearty fan of Boyfriend Sushi Town!

Find Boyfriend Sushi Town's link aggregation here. And hey, if you like I Enjoy Music? Tell a friend about it.