December 28, 2009

What would you do if I sang out of tune?

Another great music moment from 2009, while we’re gettin’ end-of-the-year nostalgic: John McCauley from Deer Tick singing in the crowd with me and many of my friends at the Monolith Woxy.com stage in September. Wow, we really fail on the second verse (but a terrific moment regardless).

Deer Tick puts on a marvelous, blistering live show — even whilst McCauley wears a kilt, a Betty Boop shirt, and white aviator sunglasses. Hey, sometimes it just works. Deer Tick’s Born On Flag Day was a solid contender this year and worth your time. They also released an iTunes-only More Fuel For The Fire EP recently to tide us over while they finish up their third album, due out in 2010.

Baltimore Blues No. 1 (live) – Deer Tick

And a favorite ragged old sad-sap one from Born On Flag Day:

Smith Hill – Deer Tick

I could drink myself to death tonight
Or I could stand and give a toast
To those who made it out alive
It’s you I’ll miss the most…

September 19, 2009

The wet, wet glory of Monolith 2009 (come see what we saw)

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The third annual Monolith Festival took over scenic Red Rocks in Colorado last weekend, with one of the most pleasantly-varied assortment of music yet, and I found much to entertain my ears. Perhaps I was more motivated this year than last, but despite the rain Saturday and drizzles on Sunday, I constantly found myself making tough choices between acts slotted simultaneously that I wanted to see. It’s good to have more than enough choices at a festival, running back and forth to catch the next buzzed-about act — and I certainly did at Monolith this year, along with lots of other folks.

Having just come from the massively spread-out Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, I was struck by how small and intimate this festival still feels. Despite being packed in with several thousand of my closest concert-going friends of the Western States region, Monolith still felt like a boutique arrangement, with five stages squeezed into the rather compact natural park. I got to see some terrific folks.

Let’s start with a nice assortment of three videos I shot, showing why this is a marvelous festival:

Anni Rossi – “West Coast”



Rahzel – Beatboxing to “Seven Nation Army” and “Sexy Back”
(White Stripes and Justin Timberlake covers)



Monotonix, not yet showing his hairy buttcrack.



The diversity of artists this year was terrific. From discovering a new singer-songwriter with clever lyrics and gorgeous viola-playing skills (like Chicago’s Anni Rossi, who reminded me of Regina Spektor with strings), to clapping and hooting along while Rahzel (from The Roots) beatboxed his way through some wickedly enjoyable covers (that’s me laughing on the video when he announces “Remix!” and then does just that), to the roiling crowd response to Tel Aviv punk/rocker/remover-of-clothes Monotonix (who performed most of his set on the shoulders of the audience, and pulled his terrycloth shorts off in glee), Monolith kept me hopping (and climbing).

LISTEN to how I fell in love:
West Coast – Anni Rossi



Concert-companion Dainon and I are gonna tell you about a few other loves we each experienced during the weekend. One that we both agreed on is The Features from Tennessee, recently signed to Kings of Leon’s 429 Records, and one of the absolute best live shows I’ve seen in a long time: propulsive, melodic, catchy rock with a winning wail. I told the Facebook during the set that I thought I’d just bruised my thighs with the force of my leg-drumming. Their set meandered from awkward-punk-pop songs about falling in love on a Thursday to blistering rockers like this one:

Dainon says: True to the name they’ve attached to their music, The Features ought to really be featured on your radios, car stereos, and subconscious. Add one tiny, bearded man-wail to some of the loudest feeling music in all of Monolith (they filled up alla that wide open, Red-Rocked empty space) and you’re left with a band that demands you stay with them as they go about propelling themselves forward. Onward and up and through the hoops that should make ‘em famous. Prediction? They’ll be big. The band will overcome their height. The Features make you proud to be a lover of music. They’re a budding secret that needs passing on.

Thursday – The Features



Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes were definitely the most visually and kinetically stimulating band I had the pleasure of getting up close and personal with all weekend. I’m not sure I’d listen often to their utopian fantasy music that belongs frolicking wildly in a peyote-induced dream somewhere, for sure, but this band (fronted by a man not named Edward Sharpe, like whoa) wowed me with their obvious joy.

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Dainon says: Cotton Jones looks like a bunch of guys had just stumbled in from a sleepy, fishing town (after a long hard day of the deep-sea fishing even) and decided to try their hand at some sangin. This is the beautiful stuff, the kind that sounded best on that darkened stage with those red lights—ambiance was on their side. This is the performance that invited the festival audience to catch its breath before stumbling on to the next. It was as invited as it was needed. In this world, flannel was spoken and razors were ignored. In this place, love is whispered through sidelong glances, key tickling and warm-on-a-rainy-day songs.

I (Heather) love this song even more after seeing it shimmer and slowly coalesce live:

Blood Red Sentimental Blues – Cotton Jones

I just thought I’d tell ya, all the demons have been slain / there’s no need for hesitation, honey I been re-arranged…

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Denver’s Natural Selection at the opening night party was more fun to dance to than Chromeo’s shiny DJ set, for sure. I love basslines that make my chest vibrate and my teeth rattle in my head while I shake my hips. That sounds like some sort of torture method as I read that sentence back but trust me, it is fun. This bi-city band (Denver + St Louis, somehow) is a “funk-disco attack” of the finest variety — and appears to have a required uniform of a) awesome denim mini-cutoffs b) gold pants and a vest, no shirt or c) neon. Totally works for me.

naturally-selected



Dainon says: The Grates are a happier, skippier take on that early No Doubt action, whether you choose to squint your eyes and go about seeing Gwen in its lead singer or not. There’s a sailor suit here, lots and lots of skipping and a smile so bright, your heart has no choice but to go boom (read into that whatever you choose to). She even took time to tell us about her having farted about 100 times since she’d got there on account of that crazy CO altitude. What’s more? It was endearing. Then again, what isn’t in an Australian accent? All’s I know is I wanted a hug when it was all over, if just to transfer some of that pixie-tastic energy over my way. For a good time, pick up either of their two albums. For a better one, go to a show and give the singer a shoulder ride when she asks for one, because she will. She so will.

grates



I mused out loud during M. Ward‘s dense and gorgeously-rocking set that I seem to forget how much I adore his music. This was the first time I had seen him live solo (once with She in SF), and I decided during his set that a) Post-War is probably on my list of top ten albums from this decade that I will continue to listen to for years and years to come and b) his catalog really expands and becomes much more raggedly rocking in concert, in a very very good way. I was also transfixed by his anachronistic peculiarness, which reminded me of a traveling salesman+blues musician from the 1930s or something, one that truly knows his way with a guitar. He’s so interesting to watch, and completely his own.

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Dainon says: There’s a weird energy that accompanies Of Montreal and its stage show, though it never fails to puzzle me. I can’t make sense of what’s going on, though I try so earnestly to do so, every single damn time even. Still, if you can manage to get past the tiger-headed humans, the half-naked men, the munching on genitalia, the leotards, the sparkling blue eye makeup and the feather boas, well then, Of Montreal treats you right. They’ve a show to go with their story to go with their music. As in they’ve got groove in their respective hearts. Is it Prince light, as goes the rampant accusation? Maybe. One thing’s for certain … the band’s avid followers will make the floor shake every single time, even if it is made of heavy rock. Boogie yer two shoes, indeed.

of-montreal



All my pics –and more commentary– are over on Facebook, if you’d like to see the rest of what we did and how we barely survived (spoiler: Dainon had a run-in with a drag queen, I got my lip caught in a can while shotgunning a beer). It was a long, pretty rad weekend:

Opening Night & Saturday
Sunday



And here’s a few more, just because there was so much to see. Next year, you should come.

CHROMEO (video: “Tenderoni“)
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DEER TICK
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GIRL TALK
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PHOENIX
phoenix(what album cover does that remind me of?!?)

YEAH YEAH YEAHS
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September 10, 2009

Win tickets to Sunday’s Monolith from The Grates

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Why is lead singer Patience (yes, that’s her real name) of Australian band The Grates so excited up there? It could be because she has 2 tickets to Sunday’s Monolith Festival to giveaway to YOU, as well as a copy of their new album Teeth Lost, Hearts Won.

Email me a story about a time when patience was important to you, or why we need Patience, or something rad about Australia (other than that my little brother is moving there, omg news of the family last night)! I will pick a winner at noon tomorrow, that’s 12pm Mountain Standard Time, Friday. Include your full name with your email entry, k?

gratesjpgThe Grates play the Monolith kickoff party tomorrow night, and at the festival Sunday at 2pm. I saw them at SXSW (which is actually what that picture up top is from) and they were a blast.

Burn Bridges – The Grates







Teeth Lost, Hearts Won is out Tuesday, Sept 15th. It was produced by Peter Katis (Frightened Rabbit, The National) and features guest appearances by Kori Gardner of Mates of State (vocals on “Milk Eyes“) and Tim Fite (vocals on “Not Today”).

Monolith is this weekend!

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The third annual Monolith Festival takes over the dramatically scenic crags of Red Rocks this weekend, with more music than you can shake a stick at or, say, run up and down a gazillion stairs for. You wouldn’t think it possible, but the organizers manage to fit five separate stages within the historic park, taking full advantage of the gorgeous views of Denver in the distance and the rosy rocks all around.

For the last two years, Monolith has packed in a sizable number of good artists, both well-known and fledgling newbies. This year is no different, with dozens of folks I want to see at what still feels like a boutique festival, in a very good way. You can get thisclose to the bands and get from stage to stage fairly easily (while toning your glutes — did I mention the stairs?). I plan to make the very most of my weekend this weekend — tickets are still available, and I think you should come too.

This year, Fuel/Friends contributor-pal Dainon is coming to the fest with me, to help cover all the goodness that is rarin’ to occur. We’ve each picked a handful of bands we are putting down as “can’t miss” on our Gigbot schedules. Who would you add? And why aren’t you coming? Oh, you are? Okay, good.



HEATHER & DAINON DO MONOLITH: 2009 EDITION

cymbalsHB: Simply from the band name Cymbals Eat Guitars, this Staten Island band had me at hello, before I even experienced their massively sweeping, shimmering music that alternates between chaotic lo-fi punk and the most enormous moments of Explosions In The Sky. There’s a lot of buzz behind this group after only a self-released album (it grew wings when Pitchfork named it Best New Music]. It’s like Chocolate Eats Guacamole, or Using Your Turn Signal Eats Long Hot Showers. I mean, if good eats good, you end up with something even more amazing, methinks. Let’s go see.

And The Hazy Sea – Cymbals Eat Guitars
[Saturday 5:40pm, WOXY.com stage]



KRS481_CDF142_outDM: There’s a reason why I saw Thao with The Get Down Stay Down three times in a row, three concerts in a row, three days in a row earlier this year (something I refer to as my own personal Three Thao Tour) … and it has to do with the honesty that accompanies a Thao Nguyen performance. She loses herself in her craft every single time she plays: the eyes shut and the guitar is wielded like a battle axe. Now that she’s got a new album on the horizon, with lots more shiny new songs to show off, this is an unequivocal no-brainer.

Bag of Hammers – Thao Nguyen
[Saturday 2:30pm, main stage]



frightenedrabbit-02-bigHB: I apparently like having my insides pulled out of me in devastating fashion. This makes me a good candidate for sorority girl in a slasher film or, since we’re actually talking in metaphors here, attending a Frightened Rabbit show. Fronted by a pair of literate brothers from Selkirk, Scotland, Frightened Rabbit released one of my favorite albums in 2007 and puts on a powerfully visceral, poundingly jangly, truly honest show. I will not miss this one.

The Modern Leper – Frightened Rabbit
[Saturday 3:30pm, main stage]



cotton-jonesDM: I hesitate to say I want to see Cotton Jones, only because it doesn’t seem like they’ve a rabid following, not that I can tell. I’d kinda sorta like to keep it that way, too. Liked ‘em when they were Page France but, with the organ in the mix, listening to their album is akin to filling my mouth with candy jawbreakers and not wanting to share. If you decide to show, just try and keep it down, yeah?

Blood Red Sentimental Blues – Cotton Jones
[Saturday 7:00pm, WOXY.com stage]



ok-goHB: Yes, OK Go does that genius dance in their backyard. Four years ago when that video came out, we didn’t have the luxury that we do now of sitting at a bar with friends watching it on an iPhone, as I did a couple of weeks ago. And guess what? It’s still marvelous. And I’ve always truly dug the sexy, driving pop sound of their music and its roots in semiotic intelligentsia (frontman Damian Kulash majored in it, and loves to create word images and twist a lyric so it rolls off the tongue just right). Dancing or no, this will be a really fun set to see.

You’re So Damn Hot – OK Go
[Saturday 4:45pm, main stage]



chromeo-coverDM: It seems like Fancy Footwork has been around forever now, right? Do you know Chromeo? Do you know they could prolly work you into a dancier, sweatier mess than Girl Talk? Did you know they lucked themselves straight into a time machine, picked up some sounds from both Hall and Oates in 1978 and polished them off for the rest of us to benefit from? Well, if you didn’t … you do now.

Fancy Footwork – Chromeo
[Sunday 8:45pm, Southern Comfort stage, also DJing the VIP/Opening party Friday night]



born-on-flag-day-deer-tickHB: Nothing about a band called Deer Tick can be mistaken for enchanted twee pop, or, as their MySpace page says, they are “0% indie rock. Believe it, butt-head.” There’s a good helping of rustic twang here, but not that this is a whistlin’ Dixie mullet-hunting way to spend an hour of your Sunday at Monolith. Think the old-time radio sounds of M. Ward (also on the bill this weekend) meets the rowdiest of The Felice Brothers but with a piercingly ragged, whiskey-soaked howl, and you’ll be on the right track.

Smith Hill – Deer Tick
[Sunday 7:00pm, WOXY.com stage]



edward-sharpe-the-magnetic-zeros-from-below-2009DM: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros are the new freak-folky Devendra Banharts of the festival. If their Dave Letterman network television debut taught us anything, it’s that all we need is love. And beards. And an absolute bare minimum of four tambourines.

40 Day Dream – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
[Saturday 3:00pm, Southern Comfort stage]



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[my pic up top from last year’s fest, poster by Mile44.com]

September 9, 2009

you could be my guiding light, shining on the vinyl bright

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The Features are a little band from Sparta, Tennessee who deserve more attention than they get, and ever since I first heard their fresh and off-kilter pop in 2005, I’ve been wanting to see them live. Finally, that’s happening this weekend at the Monolith Festival (1:30pm Sunday on the mainstage), where I’ll also get to dance around and doot-doot-doo to songs from their new sophomore album.

Some Kind of Salvation came out this summer on the brand-new Kings of Leon imprint of Bug Music, the first signing by KoL. I think I’ve always thought of The Features more as quirky multi-instrumental indie-pop — maybe in the same breath as The Format, since I first heard both on the same shiny mix CD from a prescient friend in 2005. But listening to their development on this album I definitely hear a tinge of what we might call anthemic Southern howl that attracted the Followills to their doorstep.

200px-somekindofsalvation Lions – The Features

(watch a few more new songs on their Lake Fever Session from last month)





There’s a bright and bold awkwardness to their music, and I mean that in a completely wonderful way. They’ve been playing together since junior high (they’re my age now, so that’s a long time) and have hoed a long row to get to the place where their sophomore album is garnering some well-deserved buzz. After their 2004 debut release, they were dropped by Universal Records, allegedly for not agreeing to cover a Beatles song for a commercial. Their current sophomore album was first self-released last year, before Kings of Leon met them, toured with them, and got behind their latest efforts.

But still and forever, I think this song from their 2004 album Exhibit A might be one of my favorite songs to put on a mixtape ever; it captures that jittery bliss of music so perfectly for me.

Blow it Out – The Features

Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down
other times I’m probably found
somewhere between a pair of huge
speakers pushed by vacuum tubes

Let it down, watch it go round & round
here I’ve found that I’m alright

If you’re happy and you know it
turn the volume up and blow it out
Blow it out

You could be my guiding light
shining on the vinyl bright
To help me find a place that’s best
where I can lay my arm to rest…


In addition to Monolith, The Features are touring a ton this fall, including many dates with those Kings of Leon.

September 3, 2009

Let’s go bowling with Monolith (opening party!)

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I’m just back from Outside Lands and already ready to do it again. Lucky for me, the third Monolith Festival solidifies the music lovers of Denver into one seething mass of awesomeness next weekend. For those of you who are considering coming out (and you should) get the VIP pass so you can come bowling with me on Friday at the Kick-Off Parties!

On Friday, September 11th, two simultaneous parties will take over The Gothic and next-door Moe’s BBQ & Bowling (yum!) on South Broadway. Shall we have a dance party while eating tasty shredded pork and coleslaw, and bowling?

Yes. Yes, I think we should.

1-2-3-GO! – HotTUB (oh please let that band name be a Will Ferrell reference)
Science Is Golden – The Grates
15 Up To Colfax – Natural Selection
(of Denver’s Bocumast label)
Bonafied Lovin (Yuksek remix) – Chromeo



DETAILS: MONOLITH KICK-OFF PARTIES
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 11TH

Both parties are happening side by side at The Gothic and Moes. Grab your VIP Pass and bounce back & forth between both events! Re-entry is permitted but once you leave a venue, you may have to wait in line to get back in, if we are at capacity. We stongly encourage everyone to get there early to avoid the line.

Southern Comfort Presents Kick-Off Party at The Gothic:
Doors: 6:30 PM * 21 + to enter * Admission subject to capacity
*** Complimentary fresh Chipotle cuisine for the first 150 through the door plus 2 complimentary Southern Comfort cocktails from 6:30-8 PM.
*** Southern Comfort will be giving away hundreds of limited edition screen printed Monolith Kick-off posters designed by Denver’s own Lindsey Kuhn at Swamp Graphics

11:15 PM The Cool Kids
10:35 PM Boyhollow
9:45 PM The Grates
9:00 PM Sugar and Gold
8:15 PM Woodhands
7:30 PM The Parson Red Heads
6:30 PM The Love Jones Affair

Antics/Filter Kick-Off Party at Moes BBQ
Doors open at 8:30 * Must be 18 or older for admission * Admission subject to capacity
***Check out the activity cars and give-a-ways in front of the venue. Live silk-screening, Rockband and more!
*** Free Bowling and Shoe Rental from 9pm to 11pm
Moe’s features a slick arcade, 8 lanes of bowling, full bar, BBQ and live music room. The music will be pumping throughout the entire venue!

10:30 PM Chromeo (DJ Set) – Spinning for at least 90 minutes.
9:45 PM Hot Tub
9 PM Natural Selection



See you next Friday, and hey – go customize your schedule over at Gigbot. Gigbot loves you.

May 19, 2009

So who’s coming to Colorado to Monolith festivate with me?

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The lineup announcements started yesterday for the 3rd annual Monolith Festival, coming to Red Rocks September 12th and 13th. This year, the acts are being released incrementally through Facebook updates and Tweets (we are SO hip to the jive here in the Colorado) — whetting our appetites a little at a time, rather than unleashing all the artists on the world at once.

Since yesterday morning, they have announced Starfucker (such a fun show at SXSW), Girl Talk, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, Denver’s Speakeasy Tiger, Method Man & Redman, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, and Health. More announcements will follow in the days to come, and by mid-June we’ll know exactly what choices we will have come September.

I’m in! Come play.

Pop Song – Starfucker
Play Your Part (Pt. 1) – Girl Talk
Bag of Hammers – Thao and the Get Down Stay Down
Story – Speakeasy Tiger
Broken Language – Method Man & Redman
Young Adult Friction – The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
Crimewave – Health

September 21, 2008

Monolith :: Sunday rocks us on so many levels

On the second day of its second year, Monolith solidified its place as a festival to be reckoned with. Also, Jesus took the stage in a glowing cloud of blue light — oh wait, no that’s Band of Horses. Close to divine.

Although the attendance this year was a ways from capacity, Monolith is still one of the better festivals I’ve been to recently, with its diverse lineup of acts –from hip hop to acoustic indie, cock rock to electronica– and gorgeous Colorado scenery. Maybe it’s just our mountain air but everyone seemed to be in a good mood. Each time slot had at least one band I wanted to see, usually three or sometimes four. I could live the festival through another few rounds (with permission from my liver, of course) in order to see all the acts I missed. Kudos all around this year on a solid festival well done.

If Monolith returns in ’09, I still hold onto the hope that they can bribe somebody from the Dept of Parks and Wildlife or whatever, and find a way to incorporate camping on some of the rolling land stretching out around Red Rocks (what a gorgeous location, right?) to make it more of a destination festival, like Coachella. Staying six miles down the highway at the Sheraton West was nice but not quite the same.

So Sunday — armed with Chipotle and some parking lot libations — we rolled in for day two of the festival. After braving the unseasonably nasty elements the night before, we were pleased to see gorgeous skies again that this time stayed all day. The remnants of summer were the perfect backdrop to the sunny music of Pomegranates, the first whole set I caught on Sunday.

Pomegranates sound at once epic and approachable — music that demands you take notice but in such a chiming, iridescent way. Over sugary flourishes, their multilayered percussion built and anticipated then crashed down in avalanches of catharsis. I loved their set. WOXY sponsored their stage, and also loves them; check a full live Lounge Act set here.

Appreciations – Pomegranates


I heard the hard-driving scowl and Southern rock of American Bang reverberating through a wall and tentatively opened the door to see who was playing. I was summarily knocked flat; theirs was one of those sets you happen upon and everyone walks out saying, “Who WAS that?!” Kings of Leon comparisons are easy (before KOL got all clean cut and pretty) with their Nashville roots, classic rock swagger, screams and skinny jeans. It’s stuff to play loud from your 1970 Chevelle while you drive to get tickets for the Aerosmith show, and it was great.

The Stones – American Bang


Tokyo Police Club played at the mid-afternoon mark, and the kids from Saddle Creek seemed competent on the large stage and unrestrained in their delight. I always think I hear a smile in Dave Monks’ voice on this song, and you can see it in the pictures below.

Tessellate – Tokyo Police Club


For the final song of the Avett Brothers‘ sundrenched set on Sunday aftenoon, bassist Bob Crawford laid aside the gorgeous baroque curves of his golden standup bass and picked up an electric guitar. As the band raged and thrashed their sweaty bodies through that final song, a sort of transliteration hit me. The electric guitar personified the same sentiment of outright rock that their whole set had spoken, but in the language of things like banjos.

Moreso than the first time I saw them a few weeks ago, this set was gutting to me. I kept finding myself riveted by a wry twist of lyric in a song that was new to me, or marvelling at how their voices blended, cooperated, and fought in the way that only brothers can. Their set caught the attention of the casual listeners and the unfamiliar — even the gruff security guard down in the photo pit. I noticed him listening intently, and then forsaking his post to turn around and gape as they launched into “Die, Die, Die.” He pressed me for all the details I knew about them and actually took notes. I think a lot of folks walked away with a desire to seek out more.

The Avetts have recently spent a few weeks in the studio with producer Rick Rubin for a new album due out in the Spring. They played one of those new songs, a sweet and simple tune called “Standing With You.” When I heard it last week I was struck by the lyric, “So many nights go by like a flash, from a camera without any film” — so much so that I typed it into my phone as a memo. Maybe I took a shine to it because I have a horrible memory. But I was pleased to find this video [via] and I ripped the tune for now (so I won’t forget):

Standing With You (live at Monolith) – The Avett Brothers


With my head spinning from the Avetts, I climbed the 472 stairs to see the talent show spectacle of
Tilly And The Wall. Their set was infectiously amazing fun because they have a tap-dancer as percussionist, don’t ya know. I never learned tap dance, but if I had, this is precisely the band I would want to be in.

Bessa – Tilly And The Wall


I only caught the tail end of the set from sexy London garage punk duo The Kills, but as I wedged myself into the area between the edge of the stage, some scaffolding, and various amps to try and get a few good pics while I enjoyed their sounds, Jamie Hince spotted me and directed a little bit of his rock god energy my way. Blending equal parts Bowie and PJ Harvey with that clear White Stripes energy, I was impressed.

Ura Fever – The Kills


Band of Horses was seriously meant to play a venue like Red Rocks. Along with recent groups like My Morning Jacket who have sent their majestic songs cascading through the oxygenless air to rain down upon the happy masses, Ben Bridwell’s haunting high tenor sounded flawless, the band powerful in that setting.

The Funeral (live on KEXP) – Band of Horses


Airborne Toxic Event has been busy in the week since Monolith, defending their art to the soulcrushers at Pitchfork, but at the show I saw they were single-mindedly focused on bringing their songs to life. They played on one of the smallest stages Monolith had to offer and packed it in — imagine the swells of this immense and cinematic song bouncing off the wall of red rock in that underground cubbyhole. Is it just me, or is this a great song? “You just have to see her; you know that she’ll break you in two.”

Sometime Around Midnight – Airborne Toxic Event


After Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip impressed the heck out of me at Coachella, I told everyone who was undecided in the late afternoon that their set was the one to see. With their intelligent and literate songcraft mixed with can’t-sit-still beats, I wasn’t disappointed this time either. Theirs was the single most crowded show I saw on the WOXY stage. There were two entrances into the hallway pitstop where the stage was wedged, and both doors had a line 20-30 people deep trying to get in to hear them. Deservedly so.

Thou Shalt Always Kill – Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip
(the original version, which I like better than the cut that made the album)


Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS) was in their element headlining the second stage in the gusty September wind while the tightly-packed crowd danced under the stars. They sounded fantastic and fun, although I must say that Lovefoxx kind of confused me with that fluffy thing that maybe she borrowed from Bjork. By that point in the night it is good to know that Matt Picasso and I were on the same page; he wrote about the “poofiness that defied gravity” and admitted “while I should’ve probably been focused on how great they sounded, I kept thinking ‘wow, that Christmas tree thing is amazing.’” I’m so right there with you buddy. But the best thing was that watching her dance in it made me want to dance too. Which I suppose is the point.

Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex (Switch feat Mapei Mix) – Cansei De Ser Sexy


Finally, after a full day of marvelous music, French electronica duo Justice took the stage with what can only be described as massively imposing stage presence. As Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay peeked over the top of a gigantic stack of amps and blinking machines, behind their trademark glowing cross, the crowd prepared to dance. They unleashed a visceral, hedonistic crush of danceable sound (despite a few sound problems that broke up the set early on). It was a rather epic ending to an epic weekend.

DVNO – Justice


All the rest of the pics from Sunday: Part One, Part Two

Saturday’s review
Friday’s Opening Night Party

September 18, 2008

Saturday :: Monolith under gorgeous blue skies (which turned upon us but we almost didn’t care)

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]

September 17, 2008

Friday :: Monolith kicks off in hot style

I survived Monolith, but I might not survive this subsequent week. Sad but true. It’s been a brutal one. For now, let’s talk about all the fun we had in the halcyon days of yore (okay 3 days ago) and the excellent variety of music that rocked Colorado this past weekend.

The Second Annual Monolith Festival started with a bang, a clatter, some violins and paintings on easels — and lots of really good tunes. Friday night at the Bluebird was the official kickoff party for all the folks coming from far and wide, including my blogger friends at My Old Kentucky Blog, Gorilla vs Bear, You Ain’t No Picasso, Muzzle of Bees, and Between Love and Like. Thanks to the unique naming preferences of bloggers, that sentence looks like a randomly generated collection of nouns.

The air was electric with anticipation when the Young Coyotes took the stage, in a bit of a coming-out party (there were some folks from labels in attendance to see them, something they deserve every bit of). Several friends that I ran into kept asking me if I knew who this band was and how good they were. Their propulsive melodies and massive percussion started the festival off right. As I recently wrote for the Colorado Music Buzz, “Young Coyotes play earnestly and with joyful abandon, and that’s something that will always be worth hearing.”

Momentary Drowning – Young Coyotes

I unfortunately missed the set by Seattle duo The Dutchess and The Duke in the middle of the evening (mmm I wandered off) but the final act on the bill was riveting: the epic multisensory performance of Cloud Cult.

It was an experience unlike any other show I’ve been at. I have always been fascinated by the visual arts and the vibrancy of the brushstroke, the choice of colors — so I was left amazed by the creation of art springing fertile from the music as it was performed. The music was dramatic, ethereal, and powerful. Some of the songs were sung with one shoe off and one shoe on. We’re not sure why.

Chain Reaction – Cloud Cult

See the rest of my colorful pics from opening night here.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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