If you're a music fan, you'll be at Monolith this weekend — and this is what should be on your must-see list

What are you doing this weekend? If you're a music fan, I'm guessing you'll be at Red Rocks for Monolith. And if you're not planning on heading up there, you should: This year's lineup is simply murderous. There are so many killer acts playing, I'm getting a migraine just trying to put together my itinerary, a list that includes a slew of white-hot blogosphere darlings, such as Does It Offend You, Yeah?, A Place to Bury Strangers, CSS, the Night Marchers, the Presets, White Denim and Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, along with some recent discoveries like the Rosewood Thieves, the Muslims, Pomegranates and PWRFL Power. Absolute must-sees, in order of their appearance:

Who: Blitzen Trapper

When: Saturday, 3:50 p.m.


Monolith Festival

Where: Gigbot Stage

Why: Blitzen Trapper, with its pristine indie roots rock, hails from Portland, but the act's folkier fare and livelier electric sendups, both marked by crisp melodies and vibrant harmonies, could just as easily have existed in the Laurel Canyon scene of the late '60s and early '70s. Expect the band to perform material from its new album, Furr, due out on September 23.

Who: Holy Fuck

When: Saturday, 5 p.m.

Where: New Belgium Stage

Why: An analog synth answer to Explosions in the Sky, with songs that build from a cluster of bleeps, squeals and squelches into a cacophony of dense electro grooves, Toronto's Holy Fuck sounds like a sweaty group of vintage instruments groping each other indiscriminately in the dark expanses of some super-sketchy, super-exclusive after-hours club in Berlin.

Who: The Giraffes

When: Saturday, 9:10 p.m.

Where: Gigbot Stage

Why: The name of the previous group is a perfect description of the awestruck reaction you're likely to have after seeing this band for the first time. Those who say rock is dead or bemoan the fact that it isn't dangerous anymore have obviously never seen the Giraffes — because if they had, they would know that their music is a lot like hugging a hand grenade.

Who: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

When: Sunday, 5:45 p.m.

Where: Esurance Main Stage

Why: I wasn't around during the heyday of the Motown era, so I can only imagine what it must have been like. And what I imagine sounds and looks a lot like this, with Sharon Jones cast as the ultra-magnetic diva and the Dap Kings, who have also backed Amy Winehouse, reprising the role of the Funk Brothers. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are considered to be at the vanguard of the retro-soul renaissance, and with good reason.

Who: Band of Horses

When: Sunday, 7:15 p.m.

Where: Esurance Main Stage

Why: Guided by the blissed-out, helium-pitched vocals of Ben Bridwell, Band of Horses has perfected a shimmery brand of glacially paced indie rock that falls comfortably between Perfect From Now On-era Built to Spill and It Still Moves-era My Morning Jacket, with an even more pastoral grandeur — if you can fathom that.

Who: Akron/Family

When: Sunday, 8 p.m.

Where: New Belgium Stage

Why: The last time I saw Akron/Family was at Emo's, during SXSW this past spring. Slim Cessna's Auto Club had just finished its set, and Monolith curator Matt Fecher was all up in my grill, foaming at the mouth as he went on about this band. Up until then, I was a marginal fan, at best — but there was something about the outfit's driving acoustic minimalism, its gang vocals and tribal-like presentation in Austin that won me over.

Who: TV on the Radio

When: Sunday, 8:45 p.m.

Where: Esurance Main Stage

Why: For my money, TV on the Radio's music has been among the most captivating produced in any genre over the past decade — a merger of heady, textured indie rock and vintage soul as challenging as it is invigorating. At Monolith, the band is expected to perform songs from its forthcoming record Dear Science, which also hits shelves on September 23. Suffice it to say, I'm eager to hear what's next.


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