The LOVELOUD music festival, a celebration of Utah’s LGBTQ community, is returning to the state for the second year in a row. Although, this time the festival has slightly less support from the LDS Church. Tyler Glenn, the lead singer of Neon Trees and LOVELOUD co-founder, said last year's event was a healing experience for him.
Glenn went through a very public faith crisis two years ago. As an openly gay Mormon, he decided to walk away from LDS Church in order to leave behind the stigma and pain he was experiencing and he signaled that exit with his solo album “Excommunication.”
The songs, the lyrics, the music videos. They were provocative. Including a scene in which Glenn spits on a portrait of Mormonism’s founder Joseph Smith.
“I think I stayed in an angry place for a while and then I left that angry place,” Glenn said. “But people only knew me as being in an angry place.”
Glenn was nervous about performing in last year’s LOVELOUD festival with his band Neon Trees. It was his first time performing in Utah County since releasing his solo album.
He knew most of the 20,000 people in attendance would be Mormon and he wasn’t sure how he’d be received.
Once he hit the stage and the crowd was enthusiastically singing along, his worries washed away.
“It was just so healing” Glenn said. “I still get emotional about it.”
Glenn is also featured in the recent HBO documentary “Believer,” which follows the effort to put last year’s concert together. The organizers, who were struggling to sell tickets, got a leg up with a last minute endorsement from the LDS Church.
But this year, Glenn said they’re fine standing on their own without that support.
“This year is a lot about inclusivity in the queer community and showing off that we’re just like you,” Glenn said.
LOVELOUD will take place tomorrow at the University of Utah’s Rice Eccles stadium with high profile speakers, including Apple’s openly gay CEO Tim Cook. The music festival’s founder, Dan Reynolds, will headline the event with his band Imagine Dragons.