Monolith Festival, Day Two September 15, 2007 Red Rocks Amphitheatre Better than: Day one -- and my expectations.
Before I even arrived for day two I was filled with fear and loathing of the stairs. I still hadn’t recovered from the first day’s exertions, so I celebrated my arrival by literally collapsing on a bench and refusing to move. My sloth meant I caught the entirety of the Little Ones, seen here, on the main stage, a band I had never heard of and had no intention of covering that turned out to be all right. The singer reminded me of Geddy Lee, which sort of made the whole thing sound like a much poppier, more giddy version of Rush, without all the prog wanking.
Once I felt I could move again I made the trek to the very top and resolved to stay there basically all day. The decision turned out pretty well, as I caught a bunch of great sets on the New Belgium stage and the indoor stages. Matt and Kim won me over with sheer enthusiasm and catchy, relentlessly happy, barebones synth-punk. It was unbelievably fun stuff. Inside I caught an incredible set by Nathan and Stephen that had a bunch of new material.
Hot IQs delivered some unfamiliar material, as well, along with excellent performances of their recorded work. The playing was all excellent, but the pixie-cute, gum-popping drummer deserves special mention. Not because she’s hot (she is) but because she’s awesome -- she’d be just as awesome if she weighed 300 pounds and had a face like a horse. The set highlights were “Retromuff,” “Firecracker,” “Duck and Cover” and a new song about science; picking out favorite moments was sort of like picking your favorite bite of an ice cream sundae -- it was all delicious.
I wandered out to catch a bit of Spoon before heading to my next assignment, and I’m glad I did. Spoon albums are great, but Spoon live is a potent reminder that this is a rock band we’re talking about. The set was incendiary and showcased Britt Daniel’s excellent guitar work. This set was the one thing that convinced me to walk down the stairs again: just far enough to get the full effect, but farther down than I’d been all day.
Machine Gun Blues drew me back. I was one of a select few, though -- the room was nearly empty, likely as a result of the group being scheduled as the same time as the Flaming Lips. Singer Aaron Collins made a joke of it, introducing the band as the Flaming Lips. The joke held a strage truth though. Just as the Lips are famous for their bombastic, bizarre shows, the Blues are know in Denver for their own brand of insane rock and roll theater. Collins and crew don’t use confetti cannons or Santa suits, just dirty-ass rock riffs and a more-or-less birthday suit. By the third song, Collins had stripped down to his underwear and writhing on the floor, channeling everyone from Jim Morrison through Iggy Pop to whoever else is playing that role these days -- besides Collins, that is. It was fun, it was dumb and it was really fucking loud. Yeah, that’s rock and roll.
A quick take on the stuff I took a quick listen to:
Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s sounded like a pretty decent rock band from what I could hear, but not good enough to convince me to climb down to hear better.
White Rabbits had a really solid, classic pop/rock sound with some modern style, and a few nice songs, but the room was way too crowded for me to suffer through with so many other things going on nearby.
Au Revoir Simone were playing a nice, dreamy sounding synth pop set as I walked through. It sounded pleasant, but a little lightweight.
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The Flaming Lips were the Flaming Lips. It was goofy, fun and had some great songs, but Wayne Coyne talked a wee bit too much and it hurt the pacing. -- Cory Casciato
Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: I don’t love festivals. Too much going on to really absorb anything.
Random Detail: I was tempted to do violence to an obnoxious drunk who felt a lot more strongly than I did about Coyne’s tendency to talk a bit too much, and felt compelled to try to shout him down, even after Coyne did start singing. I resisted the temptation -- barely.
By the Way: The attendance seemed really low, especially in the early part of the day and evening.