Saturday was the start of the Monolith Festival and we were ready. The morning dawned perfect and gorgeous (and by dawned I mean 10am) and our parking lot tailgate went off without a hitch. Well, some hitches. We forgot utensils to flip burgers with and so mix CDs were sacrificed to the angry Weber gods.
I’d never heard New Zealand’s The Veils before, so their set was the perfect way to start a weekend designed for new musical discoveries. Silhouetted against the massive Ship Rock on the New Belgium Stage, their set impressed me with chimey notes, a bluesy groove, and Morrissey-esque vocals. I learned that the band Travis was instrumental in originally signing them to the Rough Trade label, where their latest album Nux Vomica was released in 2006.
Advice For Young Mothers To Be – The Veils
After the Veils it was off to the WOXY stage down in the inner bowels of the Red Rocks Visitors Center. So many of us never even knew that stages could fit down there, but fit they somehow did. Pictured below is the box o’ fun that Port O’Brien brought their pots and pans and lids and wooden spoons in for the riotous closer to their set. Alaskan Adventures indeed. Their set was a definite standout of the entire weekend for me, moving from a strong rootsy vibe to chaotic joy, all interlaced with phenomenal melodies. Just to give them that extra punch of alt-country cred, they actually have a guy in the band (guitar) named Zebedee Zaits. I would see them again live absolutely, and their All We Could Do Was Sing album may be on my tops list this year.
I Woke Up Today – Port O’Brien
After hearing stories from several friends and relatives who actually have travelled to faraway cities to see Superdrag on their current club reunion tour, I was excited to finally be getting to see them for myself. Their set was relentless and rocking and still felt very vital. I’d love to find a way to bring them back to Denver to pack a small sweaty club of our own. They played a varied set drawing from the range of past albums and ace new tunes like “Filthy and Afraid.” And you know what I have to admit? It was more fun than I thought it would be to sing along and wonder just who exactly sucked out the feeling.
Filthy and Afraid – Superdrag
From Melbourne Australia, Cut Copy‘s mainstage set was some of the most fun I had all day, unexpected in the bright daylight. Their synthy alternative indie-dance sound bounced around off the massive rocks flanking the crowd and funnelled all that energy back into the writhing masses. Some of the most enthusiastic dancing I saw all day took place at this show (probably because folks had room to dance — in contrast to their labelmates The Presets whose later set downstairs was so crowded that the fire marshals came to remove a few of us).
Feel The Love – Cut Copy
Shortly before Holy Fuck took the New Belgium Stage around 5pm, my friends and I decided that every time someone says their band name, either an angel dies or the baby Jesus cries. I also feel like I need to call and apologize to my mom. But none of that is relevant to the soaring sounds that they send shooting out from their huddled mass of collective intensity on stage. Their set was very similar to the one I saw at Coachella, down to closing with the magnificent “Lovely Allen,” and I remain fascinated by their blend of electronic sounds with completely real rock.
Lovely Allen – Holy Fuck
AND! These videos that I shot both give me a delicious frisson of delight down my spine:
HOLY FUCK AT MONOLITH, UP CLOSE
HOLY FUCK CLOSING SONG: “LOVELY ALLEN” AT MONOLITH
The Night Marchers came from nowhere (okay, San Diego) and blew me away with their filthy retro garage rock. A friend mentioned that I should check out this group fronted by Rocket From The Crypt’s John Reis — and after hearing their tunes alternate between punk, surf and straight up devil’s apocalypse, I was glad I heeded his call.
I Wanna Deadbeat You – The Night Marchers
White Denim was simply insane, like someone reincarnated Jimi Hendrix and we were gonna get the guitar-lighting festival moment all over again. Hard to believe it’s just a handful of skinny young guys, but they sounded blow-your-hair-back good (and loud!). I felt fortunate to see them on the small WOXY stage because they could be playing much larger venues in no time.
Paint Silver Gold – White Denim
I will admit that there are others who know much more than I do about Minneapolis duo Atmosphere and their glass house of dark hip hop, but I do know that I was mesmerized by the girls in the front row who kept lifting out their bare breasts and vigorously shaking them at the guys. I mean, like Motley Crue action going on at my very own indie rock festival. I was so proud. And no, I didn’t get pictures.
Devotchka was dizzying and musically dazzling as usual (even as sleety rain spat down on us), and it felt fitting to have a Denver band headline the main stage on opening night. Amidst instruments wrapped in christmas lights, and theatrically keening melodies played on exotic instruments, the crowd warmly received these hometown indie-gypsies.
…But my favorite show of the late-night set came from Denver’s slightly-less-well-known musical collective, the multiple membered Everything Absent Or Distorted. As if the band name wasn’t enough of a mouthful (go ahead. say EAOD. we do), they pack enough random musicians onstage that their near-midnight set on one of the underground stages seemed like we just crashed band practice amongst friends. As a late addition to the Monolith schedule, not many folks found this show. But I was glad I peeled myself away from the end of Devotchka’s set to see them leap and twist and yell and play.
Reprising a collaboration from the Underground Music Showcase last month, they finally launched into a cover of this song with an unbounded, melodic ferocity — and I almost busted a spleen from singing along:
Glad Girls – Guided By Voices
Passion Pit came and Passion Pit played that dang song which the moment I even think about it (like oh! right now! it’s happening right now) it starts looping in my head like someone implanted a tiny robot to sing it in there. I can hear it clear as day. They kicked off the Saturday night afterparty and shortly after, I kicked off some wandering and drinking and talking, and oh there was an unexpected limo ride involved. So it is with my apologies that my reporting back dwindles to a close here for Saturday at Monolith.
But oh! We had a whole ‘nother day of fun to come. We’re just getting started.
Sleepyhead – Passion Pit
PS – I saw lots of other bands that I am too overwhelmed to write coherently about, but notably The Muslims (what Chris wrote was both true and more punctual since he blogged when I was off sleeping instead) and The Morning Benders were really grand. See everyone from Saturday: Part One, Part Two
[Superdrag setlist photo credit the formidable John Moore]