Text: Randy Washington
Photos: Robert Castro
The second Sunday in September brought not only a cold morning to Morrison, but it also brought handfuls of bands ready to end this Colorado summer in style. The final day of the Monolith festival at Red Rocks would be a day for the amphitheater to remember. The five stages strewn about the park would be the stomping ground for close to forty bands. Here’s a recap of a few...
Tokyo Police Club were one of the first bands to take the stage and keep it warm after Devotchka closed it out the night previous. Hailing from Canada, these four made Colorado a stop on their very puddle-jumpy tour. TPC fans were able to be treated to their boys playing in an intimate setting in a major venue. Most everyone was able to watch the band from the first 10 rows as they played from the main stage in a early slot.
Truly embracing the festival atmosphere and the sheer beauty of the mountains, vocalist David Monks took a moment in the set and said “Hold on...I’m gonna take a picture,” Many of the bands throughout the fest commented on how awestruck they were by the venue itself. Tokyo Police Club were able to fit songs from their EPs and LP Elephant Shell into a tightly rolled 45 minute set and were gracious enough to go meet fans up at the top level and sign autographs.
After catching the middle sections of The Avett Brothers set from the top row of the main stage, we jumped over to the New Belgium stage to catch Tilly and the Wall. Being right up front fifteen minutes before the set allowed everyone to catch the sound check which might as well have been part of the set itself.
The set popped off, the band of five rushed on stage chanting over and over “Oh shit! What what! Monolith! Let’s fuck it up!” They killed it for close to an hour with high energy upbeat songs, and more sequins and spandex than a drag show. Pulling from an arsenal of three albums reaching back to 2004, the crowd freaked out at the start of every track but especially “Beat Control”, a strong dance track off the Omaha based band’s latest release “O” and self titled EP.
Tilly and the Wall shared the same stage with CSS who closed out the night up top. These two powerful bands will be on tour with each other lighting up the west coast until the end of the month.
It would have been hard to top Tilly and The wall's performance but the male-female duo known as simply The Kills, took the stage and gave us hit after hit all while maintaining a serious and intense stage presence. With the sun setting and the Mile High air become chilly, The Kills started with opener "URA Fever", and set the tone for a electric set. The Kills brought the cool factor to Monolith like Brando brought in "A Street Car Named Desire".
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings took the mainstage around six. In classic diva style, The Dap Kings took the stage without the star of the show. Two songs were enough to peak the anticipation of the waiting crowd. Madame Jones came on to the stage wearing a pink, white, black floral dress ready to throw it down. That ensemble could have filled an entire three hour set. They showed no sign of tiring as Sharon talked between songs about traveling to different cities and comparing her legs to Tina Turner’s. Bringing a crisp, timeless sound to the stage was a true sign of Monolith’s wide rage of bands this year.
These nine will be moving on to mash out a set at Austin City Limits in at the end of the month. They’ll take a break and then head on to do the VooDoo fest in New Orleans in October.
As the thin air became cooler, it was time for one of the most anticipated bands of the two-day festival. Band of Horses took the stage playing a mesmerizing set from their catalog. With a mix of songs from Everything All The Time and Cease To Begin, it was there hit "The Funeral" that set the mood for probably the most inspiring set of the day. With tremendous crowd interaction between songs Band Of Horses threw down the perfect set.
At eleven o’clock, TV on the Radio called the festival and said that their bus broke down in Salt Lake but they were still planning on making it. Festival heads were not counting on them to show, but they were able to make it and actually start at right about they were scheduled to. When they took the stage, frontman Tunde Adebimpe said that he was happy to be there seeing as they had to work so hard to make it happen. Looking and sounding as if they had been chillin’ backstage all day, the butter-smooth jazz/electro/funk style swelled and filled the chilly space between Ship and Creation Rock. Giving us a healthy dose on newly released Dear Science, the new songs wowed the crowd over song after song after song. TV on the Radio would be the last band to play before Justice took the main stage.
It was one final trek up to the New Belgium Stage to catch CSS, standing next to Chris from Gorilla Vs Bear we were talking about the crazy outfit that LoveFoxxx was wearing. It can only be described as a fluffy, pom-pom ball of happiness. As much energy these guys and gals brought im surprised they did not succumb to the high altitude thin air. With LoveFoxxx hovering inches from me i could not help from absorbing the energy myself and busting out my best rendition of the "Cabbage Patch". One of the most energetic sets I had a chance to see.
To say that Justice was the most anticipated act at the fest would be a massive understatement. Hundreds stacked in row upon row as the sun settled in behind the venue. Two massive grids of nine Marshall amps (which were actually cleverly disguised stage lights) were wheeled on to the stage and flanked both sides of the DJ booth. Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé took the stage and jumped right into their set throwing the stacks of people in to frenzy mode. Slated to play all the way to midnight, the Christian duo stood behind the lit up crucifix and threw down the first track off †. Running into a small technical glitch causing the audio equipment to short out for about two or three minutes did not stop the boys from throwing down perfectly blended tracks from their whole portfolio.
I’m pretty sure that everyone else in Morrison would agree that the most memorable moment of the actual musical part of the show would be when they got to the track Never Be Alone. Everyone in the venue, whether or not they knew that track, were singing along when Augé raised his hands and beckoned the crowd to fill in the audio as he dropped the beat.
As it turned out, that sing along would happen again. Thirty nine minutes into the set, the same electrical glitch would occur again - but this time unable to be salvaged. As the crowd grew antsy, someone from the front row began to sing:
“WE ARE...YOUR FRIENDS!
YOU’LL NEVER BE ALONE AGIAN!
C’MON! C’MON! C’MON! C’MON!”
Eventually, the rest of the fans joined in as if to say, coincidentally, “We won’t leave you Justice. We will stick it out as long as it takes to fix this thing!” But all the chanting in the world would not fix this blown fuse. When Rosnay was informed on by a stage tech that the set was bricked, he grabbed the keyboard out from behind the booth and chucked it in front of the glowing cross. He then came out and got on his knees in apology, got up, picked up the synth and bashed it into the concrete stage.
Regardless of the set being shortened, Justice killed that show and was the perfect act to close out this amazing two days of summers-end’s Monolith festival.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Text: Randy Washington