Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monolith Madness Day 1

As if I didn't learn my lesson from last year, I should have done some serious stretching knowing I was to embark on another Monolith Music Festival at the beautiful Red Rocks Amphitheater. The stairs from hell once again got the best of me as the stage setup was the same as it was last year, the Esurance Main Stage at the bottom, the New Belgium Stage at the top and others spread out across the visitors center down stairs. I arrived Saturday just in time to catch up-and-comers Foals from Oxford, England. I had come across these guys by my good friends over at Ultra8201, who have featured them a few times on their blog. Their set time was rather early and only had but a handful of people in the stands when they went out. That did not stop the jolly-lads from across the pond from delivering a tight sounding set highlighted by stand out track "Olympic Airways". Not a bad way to start the day and the fact that they had fresh Qdoba in the media tent to satisfy my hunger.

After enjoying the complimentary nacho bar and Tito's Vodka (gotta love Austin), I stayed to catch Aussie's Cut/Copy, who also could have benefited from maybe playing at a later time.  The show went on as they gave the Colorado crowd something to get the hips moving.  Currently on a joint tour with fellow Monolith performers The Presets, Cut/Copy delivered their electro-pop method of madness.  With a steady dose of In Ghost Colours the set was highlighted by the sensual vocals of Dan Whitford on "Lights and Music".
It was now time to climb the stairs to the New Belgium Stage to catch noise-outfit Holy Fuck, who played a ear numbing set. Many in attendance hailed it as one of the highlights of the first day of the festival. With an array of sounds and effects it was the fan favorite "Lovely Allen", that wowed the crowd and sent them into a frenzy.It was now time to go back down the stairs and catch The Fratellis (not the bad guys from The Goonies, but rather the band from Glasgow), don't get me wrong I got myself a steady dose of these guys two years ago at SXSW, but with a new album just released I was eager to hear how different it was from the first.  The crowd did not seem to familiar with the band until they played radio friendly an iPod Hall of Fame track "Flathead".  It was then when the first few rows of the venue became an impromptu dance club as the crowd sang the chorus as if it was still fresh in their minds.
Next on the agenda was Boost Mobile spokesman Mr. Mickey Avalon. Although I really don't consider myself a huge fan I was still curious to catch his act live. The whole front row of the stage seemed to be very familiar with most of his songs. Hearing "Jane Fonda", on an episode of Entourage, It soon became a staple among my DJ sets. While most critics consider him a gimmick, he seemed to win the Mile High crowd with his slapstick lyrics and minimal beats. Oh and he did bring some scandilly clad friends on stage with him who were not afraid to flaunt their goods.

As the night started to get chilly it was time to throw on the cardigan and khakis and set the mood right for Vampire Weekend. Having a chance to see these dapper dans at SXSW, I was pretty excited as where many in attendance to see the "buzz band" of the year. I would have to say I did get on the bandwagon and have yet to get off when it comes to the unique sound that reminds me of a Paul Simon mash-up of indie alternative with a hint of African roots. Still hanging on to the #9 spot on my top ten of 2008 it was good to see the boys in an awesome setting.
In what would be my final trek up to the New Belgium Stage for the day, I was not going to miss one of the few hip-hop acts on the bill. Hailing from the legendary Hieroglyphics crew Del the Funky Homosapien took the stage to a pretty packed stage. Being an old fan of the Hieroglyphics crew this was my first time seeing Del. Often lending his vocals to the Gorillaz project fronted by Blur frontman Damon Albarn it is Del's unique emcee style that gives the Gorillaz their substance and street credibility on songs such as "Clint Eastwood", and "Rock The House".
As Silversun Pickups took the stage, a slight battle against the elements began to wreck havoc on the days weather. With a brisk chill in the air and some slight combination of sleet/rain did not stop the Los Angelinos from playing one the festivals more intense shows. As with many of the performers on the bill, the common theme among them was there awe for such a unique and beautiful setting unrivaled by any venue in the business. The band made us well aware how great they felt to play such a venue. I had a chance to see these guys a few weeks ago during the DNC at the Manifest Hope Gallery, and played and almost identical set. With hits such as "Lazy Eye", "Little Lover So Polite", and "Melatonin", the crowd braved the elements and enjoyed a tight set.
Normally reserved for second stage headliners amongst the festival circuit it was nice of the Monolith promoters to make Denver's own Devotchka the headliners for the first day of the festival. Having a chance to see this band on several occasions now, most notably a killer set at SXSW earlier this year, Devotchka is a band you have to enjoy by listening to the incredible talents of each member of the group. In particular the way Nick Urata's vocals mesmerize you with each lyric accompanied by the unique gypsy/flamenco infused sound from the talented foursome. With a guitar in one hand and bottle of wine in the other the clock struck midnight and day one was in the books.