Monolith Festival 2008 @ Red Rocks, Denver CO
I still can’t believe how many great concerts I just saw this past weekend in Denver. It was one great show after another. There was no one particular performance I was waiting for, so it felt like the concert that just kept giving. It would have taken me months to see all of these bands as they made tour stops in NYC. Plus, I would have had to fork over multiple Ticketmaster fees and sit through some not-so-great opening bands.
The Monolith Festival included two outdoor stages, two indoor, and one smaller side stage for acoustic sets. Getting from stage to stage wasn’t too difficult, as long as you’ve been training on your stair-master. I have to say that if this crowd wasn’t already physically fit, they certainly were by the end of the weekend. The hike up the steps from the main stage to the 3 other stages took some endurance and good quads. The people who organized the event did a great job, as every band’s performance started on time, and the changing of the gear went like clockwork. I was quite impressed. With only thirty minutes between sets, the crew had no problem moving things right along. The one drawback to the Red Rocks venue was that the weather changed dramatically once the sun went down. It went from a 70-degree summer day to a chilly 45 degree evening. On the first day, I wore jeans, t-shirt, and sandals, which was fine until about 7pm. On the second day I was prepared and packed a hat, gloves, fleece jacket, sneakers and a blanket. At least the indoor stages were a nice break from the sun during the day and place to warm up in during the evening. But you cannot beat the scenery at Red Rocks. During the day, you’re surrounded by massive rock formations, mountains in the distance, and a view for miles. At night, the city skyline was illuminated in the distance.
Let’s get to the music…here’s a list of the bands I saw this weekend.
The Hood Internet
Del The Funky Homosapien
Band of Horses
The Avett Brothers
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
TV on the Radio
Tokyo Police Club
Why I like Monolith Festival:
1) Band of Horses
2) There are no “opening” bands. By picking and choosing the bands I wanted to see, there was no need to sit and endure a band I didn’t want to see as I waited for another band. Also, every band had decent lighting, good sound, and enough time to play. Though, Port O’Brien should have had at least 45 minutes. They made the trip from California just to play their 30 minute set, but it was well worth it, at least that’s what I gathered from the big crowd that turned out for their 2 pm show.
3) Unlike a film festival, where each film viewing is at least an hour and a half, at Monolith you can just watch a little bit of a band’s set and then leave if you want to go catch another band’s performance. And people don’t even have to stand to let you out.
4) Cloud Cult. And sightings of its band members throughout the festival.
5) Not only was every band in awe of the scenery, they were in awe of the lineup and really excited to be there. Lots of band members were seen listening to other bands, something they probably don’t get to do too often while on the road. It made it a really supportive atmosphere and the artists just blended in with the crowd.
6) DeVotchKa’s string section, horn section, and the tuba decked out in red lights.
7) Band of Horses. Yeah, they get two spots on the list.
8 ) A rain-free Vampire Weekend performance!!! We were owed that one.
Some other highlights:
– Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings put on a very entertaining show. Shoes come off, members of the crowd come onstage, and Sharon Jones gets a good aerobic workout. It was nice to hear a female voice, as all of the other bands I saw (except for CSS at the very end) were lead by male vocals.
– Port O’Brien’s toe-tapping, pan-banging, “I Woke up Today” got the crowd revved up during a set early on Day 1.
– I overheard an event staffer describe The Avett Brothers as “The Amish Beatles.” It wouldn’t be my choice of words, but they get my vote for the best dressed band of the weekend.
– After an audio glitch at the kick-off part at the Bluebird Theater, The Dutchess and The Duke decided to ditch their amps and microphones and stand in the middle of the crowd to finish their set in gather-round-the-campfire style.
– Band of Horses singer Ben Bridwell brought toys for the crowd to play with–a light-up frisbee and another frisbee with a ball in the middle. When the toys seemed to disappear in the crowd, Bridwell wondered why nobody wanted to play. Also, his song dedication to his 4-month old daughter was sweet. I swear I saw her wearing teeny tiny pink headphones.
– CSS lead singer Lovefoxxx announced that she felt like Mariah Carey with all the cold mountain wind blowing through her hair. No need for wind machines at Red Rocks.
Here’s a pic from the Port O’Brien performance:
And the audience participation section of the show:
Some other pics:
And look how the huge red rocks provide the backdrop of the set:
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Tags: band of horses, DeVotchKa, monolith festival, port o'brien, red rocks, sharon jones and the dap kings, the avett brothers, the fratellis, vampire weekend