This Weekend: Monolith Festival @ Red Rocks, Friday, September 14

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Monolith festival, Day One Friday, September 14 Red Rocks Amphitheatre Better than: Seeing a band you know nothing about and really digging them

By the time I got to the top of Red Rocks, all sweaty and wheezy, I realized that I’d just missed Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, which was a bummer since I had heard that the Indiana trio (not so big after all) played an awesome set of swampy Zydeco-soaked blues. A friend told me the busty gal playing the washboard was a wonderful sight to behold.

But hey, I wasn't going to let it get me down. So I caught the tail end of the enormously energetic Syracuse, New York-based Ra Ra Riot playing to a packed room on the WOXY.com stage downstairs of the Visitor’s Center. It’s always cool as hell to see string players like the two gals in the Riot and Cloud Cult rocking out.

Next door at the Rock Room, De Novo Dahl was doing its sound check. I was mildly fascinated by their Nashville Nudie outfits and the gal with the strawberry blonde hair, so I made a mental note to come back and check them out.

Upstairs on the New Belgium stage, Britain’s Editors opened the set with “Bones,” sounding like Joy Division’s Ian Curtis being backed by early-‘80s U2, followed by solid versions “Bullets,” “An End Has to Start” and “Blood.” But halfway through the group’s set, the songs started to melt into each other. The hi-hat beats, bass lines and high register guitar riffs all began to essentially sound like the same song, but with different lyrics.

I made it back downstairs in time to catch the end of De Novo Dahl’s set, and I was completely blown away by these guys (and gal), who seemed to be having a hell of lot of fun on stage. The room was nearly packed, so I was standing near the door outside, and this gal comes up to me and says how the acoustics suck in the WOXY room. “But then again, I’ve smoked pot and I’m overly analytical,” she says. “I feel like a reporter. But don’t tell anyone.” And then she was gone.

I shifted my focus back to watching the those cats in De Novo Dahl, who were blasting out their tune “Shout,” which was amazingly infectious, so much so that a half a dozen people where humming the chorus while walking out after the group’s set. That tune’s gonna be huge some day. The thing that’s awesome about festivals like these is that you can see a band that you know absolutely know nothing about and get completely floored. If you missed their set, they’ll be back in town October, 1 opening for Hot Hot Heat at the Gothic Theatre.

The singer and guitarist from Editors came down to check out the Brooklyn-trio Mobius Band, which makes sense since the two bands have previously toured together. The first half of Mobius’s set was somewhat subdued, almost like an edgier Postal Service, but they ramped up the intensity for the last few cuts. -- Jon Solomon

Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: I was impressed how well everything was organized, especially for a festival of this magnitude. Random Detail: I saw a pudgy guy with long, stringy hair wearing a Heaven & Hell tour shirt. Did he somehow mistake Monolith for Ozzfest? By the Way: Did anyone try the hemp ice cream?

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