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Sacramento duo’s bucket list: Bring loud and proud rock ‘n’ roll to Concerts in the Park

Get the front-row view of Franz Ferdinand at Sacramento park

Grammy-nominated post-punk revival group Franz Ferdinand headlined at the Concert in the Park series at Sacramento’s Cesar Chavez Plaza on Friday, May 18.
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Grammy-nominated post-punk revival group Franz Ferdinand headlined at the Concert in the Park series at Sacramento’s Cesar Chavez Plaza on Friday, May 18.

Starting a music career isn’t easy.

Singer/guitar player Elijah Jenkins and drummer Tyler Downie and their 1999 Toyota Sienna know the routine. The rock duo known as Cities You Wish You Were From stay committed even when shows sometimes result in only 50 people and they make $200.

They won’t have to go far next Friday, though – and they should play for a large crowd.

Cities You Wish You Were From will perform at Concerts in the Park on Friday alongside Analog Us, John Hamilton and headliner Lyrics Born.

Jenkins, 39, and Downie, 35, formed the dynamic duo in November 2016 after Downie finally convinced Jenkins to let him join. He asked numerous times, proving how invested he was in creating something great.

Their sound is like a chameleon, ranging from old blues to old gospel and rock. Each track packs soul with a twist of grunge and a bit of darkness in their lyrics.

Son House, Motorhead and Queens of the Stone Age are some of many who inspire them to create music they say is “everyman’s rock ‘n’ roll.”

“Tyler and I have the same aesthetic. We have very similar personalities and approaches to life so when we’re playing live there’s a lot of stuff we can do by just looking at each other,” Jenkins said. “That nonverbal communication is important, especially since there’s only two of us so we have a lot of energy.”

The band had no name when it first started but was later inspired by a lyric.

“It was a lyric from a song we don’t play anymore,” Jenkins said. “[It is] a reflection of how we were frustrated that people bitch about Sacramento all the time. They’re like ‘I hate it here, I don’t want to be here.’ You have no … idea of what a small town is. It’s that idea of where you always want to be somewhere you’re not.”

Though there’s only two of them, they say they bring high energy to every performance.

“I think people are always surprised that two people can make as much noise as we do,” Downie said. “Not just noise but that we really represent a five-piece band with two people and that’s surprising. But I think it’s also alluring to people.”

This will be the band’s first time playing Concerts in the Park, and they are more than excited to play in their hometown for hundreds of people, if not more.

“It’s been a dream of mine since I moved to Sacramento and I went to Concerts in the Park for the first time,” Downie said. “As a musician it has been kind of on my bucket list and like Elijah said, being main support for somebody as iconic as Lyrics Born. It’s a local show but it’s a big show and Concerts in the Park just has a great vibe.”

The band released their album, Cywywf, in 2018 and plan to tour more in the coming months. They want to be so good they are “impossible to ignore.”

“What I want people to understand about our band is when you watch us, ours is sort of a time to let go of your inhibitions,” Jenkins said. “It’s OK to just listen to loud, old school rock n’ roll and dance. It’s not always about being the coolest. Sometimes it’s just about being the most heartfelt and that’s what we hope people see is that we’re very, very heartfelt at what we do and we hope that’s infectious.”

If you go

Who: Cities You Wish You Were From

When: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday, May 31

Where: Cesar Chavez Plaza, 9th and J Streets

Cost: Free

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