Tyler Glenn, frontman for Neon Trees,
performs at benefit concert in Murrieta, Ca.
Neon Trees, the ‘not’ Mormon band, recently returned to the place where lead singer, Tyler Glen, and guitarist, Chris Allen, both grew up: Murrieta, Calif. – and which happens to also be where I live. When I heard that the band was actually returning to do a benefit concert, at one of our local high schools, of all places, I just knew that I had to cover these local heroes’ coming home story!

If you follow the band, you know how ridiculous that sounds, considering they’ve just returned from playing massive concerts around the world, and opened for some pretty major players in the music industry. Yes, Neon Trees is on the rise and their growth is only expected to go up!

I say ‘not’ Mormon, because Neon Trees, although all members have LDS roots, each serving a fulltime mission for The Church of Jesus Christ ofLatter-day Saints, their music is made for a wide-audience. The bands' popularity over the last few years has soared, globally, which made this ‘homecoming’ concert a huge deal in Murrieta: small town boys make it BIG – come home ‘rock stars’! 

Like that kind of 'huge'!

Wanting to cover this story on a broader scale, I decided to be bold and contact the right editor at Deseret News, Aaron Shill, to inquire if he would consider allowing this local, Mormon blogger, cover the concert set right in my backyard; knowing it would be of interest to many of their readers – considering the band, as now formed, was launched from Provo, UT.

To my shock, he agreed!

The Deseret News has finally published my article covering the June 8th, Murrieta Neon Trees' Benefit Concert, after vacations and some necessary editing to take the material I submitted and boil it down to a ‘news’ piece. I must say, he did a great job making sure all the interview material that I acquired from Glenn and Allen is showcased - and rightfully so – it’s good stuff! (Don't miss it)

Chris Allen and Tyler Glenn, perform together in
Neon Trees' benefit concert, Murrieta, CA.
It was a delight to chat with Chris Allen, a true gentleman, and correspond with Tyler Glenn, via email, through his manager. However, the local enthusiasm for the concert, and my outreach within my community was cut extremely short, due to word-count limits – and so with this post, I preface/compliment my work at Deseret News, for my readers, with this ‘exclusive’ look behind my article on DN.

The simplest way to explain how this remarkable concert came about... ‘trees’ actually - family roots. The Glenn and Allen Families’ both have a rich history within the local community and are members of the Murrieta Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - as am I. In essence, Neon Trees is a current family history story of sorts, with its’ beginnings rooted in home, which is why this concert was special to so many - and in the process of it all put Murrieta, California, on the map!

Tyler and Chris were just two guys growing up who happened to go to the same church, both having a deep passion for music, which ultimately brought them together and would place them on the path to realizing their ‘Neon Trees’ dream. The relationship that they formed those many years ago is part of the roots which sustain the band today.

Tyler Glenn, live on stage, at benefit concert
in Murrieta, CA., to raise much needed funds
for local high school.
Kimberly Peeler of Murrieta, has known Chris and Tyler for 17 years, and shares this fun observation of how she’s witnessed the growth of Neon Trees:

“It has been so much fun! We started out going to shows with less than a hundred people. And look at them now! One comparison comes to mind...I remember a New Year’s Eve about four years ago, our family was racing through Salt lake City trying to find the outdoor stage they were playing on. It was midnight, and we could hear their music bouncing off the walls of the buildings as we tried to figure out which street to run down to get to them. I remember we were freezing! We got to the stage just in time to hear them play their last two songs for a pretty small crowd. This past New Year's Eve, they played Dick Clark's Rockin New Year's Eve, live, in Times Square!!!! It has just been so much fun watching their dreams come true!”

As Neon Trees have grown, this is a band whose roots prove deep, as evidenced when Vista Murrieta High School Principal, Darren Daniel, put the heat on Allen’s younger brother, Jordan Allen, about doing a benefit concert to raise needed funds. Little did Daniel know at the time, but that Allen’s dad, Brian Allen, had been needling him for a good three years to come home and give a concert; but where in Murrieta was always a problem.

Principal Daniel shared with me that, at nearly the same time the two largest “extra curricular” programs in the school approached him, each, with a huge challenge: needed funding for a 10-year mandatory helmet replacement and $350 per band member uniforms, and basically said, “What are you going to do about it”? Funding for such things has been drastically cut from school budgets.

The stars aligned and through the hard work of, in particular, Brian Allen and Daniel’s’ team, the Neon Trees Benefit Concert at Vista Murrieta High School became a reality!

STOP! Must Watch Video here

Video: 101.3 The Mix - Meet some of the key people who made Neon Trees' Vista Murrieta High School Benefit Concert Happen! 

The concert became a sort of walk down memory lane for the entire band, as even members, Elaine Bradley and Branden Campbell, lived in Murrieta for a short time while Neon Trees was still trying to get off the ground.

During the concert, of that period, Tyler Glenn told the Murrieta/Inland Empire crowd that, “ For a while all of us lived here and it was a low time. We were doing a lot of things we shouldn't...” Glenn also told the audience, “We wrote this song in a garage on Whitewood.” (Allen's parents' home) The band then played “Sins of My Youth” to a group that seemed to ‘get it’.

Opening the Neon Trees concert at Vista Murrieta High School, Tyler Glenn enthusiastically shouted to the screaming crowd, “It’s a real swell thing that you all decided to show up here on a Saturday night!”

I can tell you, firsthand, as a 25-year-Murrieta-resident, that everyone around me at the concert was ‘one’ at that moment, knowing just how significantly funny and joyful that statement was – because NEON TREES is the biggest thing to EVER happen in our city!

I don’t know what these kids did in their youth that they don’t want to talk about, but everybody I had the privilege to talk to, about both Chris and Tyler, and what it was like to know them growing up, and who still know them now that they’ve made it, had nothing but good things to talk about when sharing thoughts about these really nice guys.

Amateur Video: Neon Trees, Everybody Talks
 Vista Murrieta High School Concert

Robbie Parks, of Murrieta, has known Chris Allen since they were nine and remembers when Allen would organize groups of kids to go up to the Santa Rosa Plateau, a local conservation area, to do service by picking up trash. Said Parks (A recent convert to the Mormon Church), “…for some reason that sticks out. Chris was always one of the nicest people to be around. I don't think anyone that knew him, did not like Christopher Cordely. He is just an all around nice guy.” Parks’ also said, “The cool thing about Neon Trees playing in Murrieta, to me, is that they have not forgotten their roots, and that I am going to be in the right town for their show this year.”

Those roots, are about family, friends and the community Neon Trees is still connected to as they continue their successful career going forward, from wherever they decide to call home, on any given day - and which keep them grounded by helping them to remember who they are, wherever they travel on this planet.

Amateur Video: Neon Trees',Tyler Glenn, live, in concert at Vista Murrieta High School, performs one of the bands' biggest hits, "Animal"

Andrea Dowden, a longtime resident of Murrieta and friend of Glenn and Allen, attended the concert with her brother and a few close friends. Andrea said she had a great time at the concert, and enjoyed seeing a bunch of people she hadn’t seen in a long time. She commented on what a talented singer Tyler is and how good the band was that night. “I’m really happy for them and their success. I remember when they were just a garage band, handing out cd’s to their friends. I still have some of them.” shared, Dowden. She also expressed how fun it is to watch Neon Trees progress and witness all of their accomplishments.

Greg and Ana Dowden, Andrea Dowden, Megan Dunagan,
Ashley Smith ,and Josh Mezin get together to see old friends',
Chris Allen and Tyler Glenn, perform at benefit concert in Murrieta, Ca.

Andrea’s brother, Greg Dowden, really enjoyed how Glenn reminisced and shared personal experiences throughout the concert about growing up and living in Murrieta – very relatable. At one point Tyler said that he loved and hated growing up in Murrieta, all at the same time! Greg seemed most impressed with @Tylerinacoma’s “great energy on stage and incredible voice”. (Tweeted message: follow Glen on Twitter)"

There are not a lot of successful bands, the caliber of Neon Trees, who would have a top-notch high school principal speak as highly about them as does Darren Daniel, nor feel as comfortable about inviting the entire community to bring their family to enjoy a show together and listen to them. That kind of band doesn’t just happen. That kind of band starts with great individuals’ deeply rooted in families, friends and communities that care about each other and then grows up into - at least with these four individuals’ - Neon Trees!

Chris Allen, Elaine Bradley, Maggie Avants, Kathryn Skaggs,
Branden Campbell and Tyler Glenn

I want to personally thank both Chris Allen and Tyler Glenn, for their great personal contributions to my Deseret News article. It was a treat to be able to sneak into the VIP 'meet-and-greet' just prior to the concert, say a quick ‘hello’ and have a dorky snapshot (I made Maggie Avants, editor at Murrieta Patch, take this pic with me!) taken with the entire band; not expected. I had a great time covering this story and very much appreciate Deseret News allowing me to share it with a wider audience.

I made my sister, Elizabeth Ross, go to the concert with me.
We had a blast!
Although I didn’t grow-up with Neon Trees, I am now a growing fan! I very much respect the work ethic of this group, the standards they strive for within a rough industry - and wish them all the best for ongoing success.

Now, head on over to Deseret News and read what Tyler and Chris have to say about all of these things that I've talked about here: Neon Trees returns to Murrieta, Calif., for benefit concert, hasn't forgotten roots. (Feel free to 'like' and 'share' - thanks)

Kathryn Skaggs

Concert photos: Studio 94 Photograpy

Neon Trees on Twitter

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