Cassettes and Catharsis: Sego End North American Tour With Big Velour Show

Lead singer and guitarist Spencer Petersen sings in front of the band's 850-tape backdrop at Velour Live Music Gallery on September 1, 2018.

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“Mrs. Doubtfire.” “Phonics.” “A Goofy Movie.” What video cassettes were lying around your entertainment center growing up? Singer and guitarist Spencer Petersen of Sego likes watching the audience mull that question.

When the band capped off their second North American tour of 2018 at Velour last Saturday, Sept. 3, they performed in front of a backdrop of 850 real VHS tapes, strung together like a massive quilt, as well as a few small blankets hanging under the marquee outside.

“It was interesting watching people stare intently at the cassettes … making a mental list of which they’d seen and where they were when they saw it,” Petersen said after the show. “[We were] not trying to blow anyone’s mind, but it was cool seeing people interact with it.”

Also helping them recreate that childhood feeling was a TV resting on stage left showing old NBA basketball highlights. “As much as possible, we like to create a slightly less typical environment for our shows,” Petersen added.

Taking into account Sego’s sound, the nostalgia play certainly jives. Their brand of indie pop blends modern production with 80s-style electronic flourishes. The nuances make for good headphone listening while the big beats seem retrofitted for a live audience.

Saturday’s audience could certainly attest. By the time the thumping bass and atonal guitar kicked in on “20 Years Tall”, a setlist mainstay which they played third, the crowd’s energy reached a fever pitch and didn’t let up until the lights came up.

A portion of Sego’s cassette-themed decor hangs under the marquee on Saturday, September 3, at Velour Live Music Gallery.

Sego has spent years cultivating a following in Utah, and it showed in the positive turnout. Petersen and his full-time bandmate, Thomas Carroll, cut their teeth in the Provo scene alongside Neon Trees, Fictionist and others. They started Sego in 2014 and, even after relocating to an old pasta factory in Los Angeles, have continued to play Velour, the Rooftop Concert Series and other events in the Beehive State ever since.

A portion of Sego’s cassette-themed decor hangs under the marquee on Saturday, September 3, at Velour Live Music Gallery.

“[Utah is a] very complex place, but it somehow happens to be the perfect storm for rock shows,” Petersen said. “I tell people everywhere we go that there is something special about doing shows in Utah and especially Provo.

Lily Laren, a recent UVU graduate who came out from Millcreek for the show, said she discovered them at 2016’s Timpanogos Music Festival at UVU, where she was drawn to what she saw as “originality”. She hasn’t missed a Utah gig since.

“I was like, ‘Man, I’ve never heard anything like this,’ Laren said. “It was just a total original. You just lose yourself in the beat.”

Sego shared the bill with old friends — Pinguin Mofex, an elusive noise rock outfit, and Kasadoom, fronted by an old friend of Sego in their debut live performance.

Toward the end of Pinguin Mofex’s set, lead singer Nate Pyfer (who is also a teacher at UVU in the digital audio department) announced an all-night party at the venue. The audience got the message — this was an event, not just a show, something Petersen hoped would get across. Their recent tour included multiple car issues and what Peterson describes as a “major accident” in New Mexico.

“The Provo show was definitely on the horizon pulling us through,” Petersen said. “[It] felt very cathartic.”

Photo Credit: Robby Poffenberger

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