Photos by Aaron Thackeray and Soren McCarty.
SoCo Music Experience
Saturday, June 28, 2008, Coors Field Parking Lot
Better than: Drinking a shot of SoCo.
So what’s the first thing that pops into your head when someone says, “Let’s go to a fest at Coors Field’s parking lot!” Your response would either be “No,” or “it better be free.” If somebody said “free show” and “Gnarls Barkley,” I would venture to guess that you would say “no-brainer.”
And so Saturday, the Holliday jersey’s that normally stalk the parking lot were replaced for the day by skinny jeans, awful Mohawks and some weird dude dressed in a skirt tripping on acid. Luckily, or surprisingly, the music drowned any fashion sense out.
I got there just in time to catch the tail end of Dead Confederate and jet over the local stage to see Hot IQ’s as they started rocking the stage. The thing I enjoy about these guys is that they are so reliable -- they always put on a great show. Even though the stage didn’t really suit its strong points, the band plowed through with the force of a fun, soft, bulldozer.
I walked around for a bit after Hot IQ’s and took in the scenery, which was complete sensory overload with products, products and more products. That was probably appropriate to lead into San Francisco’s Bassnecter (nee Lorin Ashton), whose music is an amalgam of styles, made easily from the comfort of a laptop and turntables. Probably better suited for the afterparty, Bassnecter’s set seemed like one long MTV commercial.
Dizzy, I headed back to the local stage and stood around for P-Nuckle’s set. Fun loving of, course, and ready to party, the members of P-Nuckle did what they do best and entertained the crowd. And while the band’s music is certainly not my thing it was a relief to hear some music that actually had some -- dare I say -- soul.
In what was a somewhat strange transition from the fun and bounce of P-Nuckle, we headed to the main stage to see Blonde Redhead. Spotty the other times I've seen the band, this time out the act seemed to have at all and seemed very comfortable with the larger stage. I don’t think there is more arresting voice (or even stage presence) in rock music right now than singer Kazu Makino, and her vocals powered the bands entire set. Playing material that ranged from their new record 23 all the way to Fake Can Be Just As Good, Blonde Redhead was the highlight of the day.
Voted “Denver’s Most Likely to Succeed 2008,” the Swayback battled through some equipment problems to deliver one of its most aggressive shows in recent memory.
Gnarls Barkley closed out the night, with Cee-Lo Green's voice echoing through the parking lot. In full rock band mode, and surrounded by set pieces left over from the Super Mario Brothers set, the act hit a sweet spot with the crowd over and over as it ran through songs from Odd Couple, the act's latest album. As Danger Mouse held everything together on the organ, Cee-Lo was allowed to run wild with his lunatic ranting. When the band launched into “Crazy,” the crowd of course went, uh, crazy. As the outfit rolled through the rest of its material, it proved that it's more than just a one-hit wonder, and made a case for being one of the more interesting bands out today.
-- Jeremy Brashaw
Personal Bias: Most outdoor fests get it wrong by overlapping different bands, however it was great to have the opposing stages, with the bands going one after the other.
Random Detail: Watching Blonde Redhead reconfigure its older, jagged punk material into weepy ballads was probably on of the coolest things about its set.
By the Way: Cee-Lo looked completely ridiculous and embarrassed as he held the ubiquitous bottle of Southern Comfort during Gnarls’ last song.