(Published in Jackson Hole Weekly, additional content added)

Center steps out of comfort zone with Civil Twilight
The Center for the Arts has never staged a band like Civil Twilight. Not even close. Elements of early U2, Coldplay, Radiohead, and a Bono-esque falsetto courtesy of lead vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Steven McKellar, Civil Twilight has a piano-driven, poppy alt-rock sound that’s often swirling in a depth of analog delay and atmospheric ambience. Lyrically and vocally, the music is emotional and passionate—sadness, hope, regret, love. The music engulfs these emotions, exponentially growing towards the epic. Then, a piano ballad winds you down.

A quartet, three of the members grew up together and formed the band in Cape Town, South Africa. The two brothers—Steven and guitarist Andrew McKellar along with drummer Richard Wouters were joined by keyboardist Kevin Dailey earlier this year. In 2005, the original trio emigrated to L.A. with high hopes, eventually landing in Nashville, the latter of which inspired the lyrical base of sophomore release, Holy Weather. The McKellar brothers’ first taste of music was more classical, less classic rock.

“(Our) mom was a classical pianist so she used to play around the house,” Andrew said. “We would have opera playing on our CD player. Then I got into my teenage years and started listening to grunge.”

“America is an incredible place of opportunity. As a foreigner coming here, it’s like the Promised Land,” Steven told USA Today last July. “[Our heritage] makes our music more nostalgic. We still see America as a place where we need to prove ourselves.”

Civil Twilight, 7 p.m., Thursday, at the Center Theater. Tickets are $15/rear balcony, $25/main balcony and $35/orchestra. Jazz-fusion trio Michael Scalabrino and Spatial Relations opens. JHCenterForTheArts.org, 733-4900.