What it was like: Dealing with irritating crowd control issues to see a band of middling quality.
The masses are starting to become an issue.
A little before 5 p.m., getting access to the Woxy stage to see Twilight Sad was an exercise in patience and forbearance.
A large milling crowd blocked the entrance on one side, with Red Rocks staff guarding the doors and saying the crowd inside had exceeded the fire code. On the other side, people were entering and exiting one at a time. I took in the majority of the show from a vantage point right outside the doors, and from what I saw, the effort to get in was hardly worth the stress.
That's not to say that Twilight Sad didn't provide a solid set. The ban's resonant, ringing synth overtones and pounding beats, combined with vocalist James Graham's plaintive, pleading vocals, was reminiscent of '80s groups like New Order and the Smiths.
But the overwhelming size of the crowd, as well as the headaches involved in getting in the doors, made an average performance from the Scottish ensemble seem a bit sub par. The group definitely made full use of the space's theatrics - the strobes and dramatic lighting in the darkened hall added to the effect.
But with frequent spates of ear-splitting feedback, as well as a very large gap between two songs, the ambiance quickly wore off.
Verdict: Too crowded, too poorly mixed to be truly enjoyable. -- AGTigercity, 6:20 p.m.
What it was like: Sometimes looks can be quite deceiving.
It was a bit bizarre watching the guys in New York-based Tigercity and hearing the music they were playing. It was an odd juxtaposition watching a singer who looked kind of like the son of Shel Silverstein singing with a group of rag-tag indie rockers, but instead they were burning a serious disco inferno throughout a lot of cuts. And when the bald and bearded singer Bill Gillim started singing falsetto a few cuts into the set, it was kind of jarring because what he was singing didn't quite match the body. Not that it was a bad thing, it was just a little weird. But once you get past the looks, the music was pretty damn good. The guys locked into some pretty deep and funky disco grooves that were completely danceable and got the crowd clapping along. When Gillim wasn't rocking the falsetto, his smooth vocal delivery recalled Brian Ferry at times.
Verdict: These tigers know all about dance beats. -- JSDeer Tick, 7 p.m.
What it was like: Whiskey and warmth.
Deer Tick sound more or less like a straight up folk band. They've got the comfort-food vocal delivered in a world weary tone. Except the dude delivering it has a gold tooth and white sunglasses. Oh and a kilt. He's wearing a kilt. I talked about how I feel about folk from ironic city slickers yesterday (I don't really like it), but Deer Tick are too good for me to care. It's just too wonderful; their music fills you. I can imagine how it might find you in a dark moment in life and haul you from the edge. Plus, after the set our aforementioned singer jumped down in the crowd and started a sing along to "With A Little Help From My Friends," and how can you not love that?
Verdict: If it's classic folk happiness you seek, Deer Tick is exactly what you need. -- KMRachel Goodrich, 7:15 p.m.
What it was like: Seeing a gal from another time roll it up in songs.
There's something endearing as hell about gal that plays ukulele and a kazoo wedged in harmonic holder. Well, that and a gal who's got a sweet voice and keeps a bottle of Wild Turkey on stage. Backed by her "band" jokingly called the Laughing Empanadas, which was made up of a bassist a gal who played a kick drum with mallets and an occasional cymbal crash, Miami-based Rachel Goodrich played a divine set. During the saucy new number "Through the Light," a guy walked by and said, "pretty damn good." It was better than damn good, even as simple and sparse as it was. "If You're Mine" was delightful, with her singing about how she liked old guitars, and something about how she likes them tender and she likes them rough, and I'm pretty sure wasn't referring to old guitars. She also played some songs from her latest album, Tinker Toys, like "The Terminal Song," "Little Brass Bear" and "Dope Song." And just as she started singing about blue skies on the last song, which went back and forth between a waltz and 4/4 time, it started raining. But it didn't really matter since that gal's got a voice that's probably sunny all the time.
Verdict: A quirky and divine set. -- JSPassion Pit, 5:30 p.m.
What It Was Like: High-pitched emotronica.
Wow, do people like Passion Pit. Lots of people. The entire upper area that makes up the SoCo stage was absolutely jam-packed with people, and every one of them seemed really excited for Passion Pit. For the life of me, I couldn't really see why. Some of the songs sounded incredibly retro, like they wouldn't be a bit out of place anchoring a John Hughes soundtrack. That wasn't necessarily a killer. No, the killer was the singer's heavy reliance on a caterwauling falsetto that was apparently supposed to communicate emotion and passion, but instead communicated "My Pants are too tight, and I may have injured my sack because of it." Based on fans' reactions, this band clearly inspires excitement, but the vocals seem to be a love/hate proposition, and for me, it was hate.
Verdict: Cut way, way down on that tortured falsetto and I will give you another chance. Or not, your fans seem to dig it. Whatever. -- CC