Concert Reviews

This Weekend: Monolith Festival @ Red Rocks, Saturday, September 15

Monolith Festival, Day Two Saturday, September 15 Red Rocks Amphitheater Better than: Sweating to the Oldies

Bob Log III walked on stage wearing a motorcycle helmet with a telephone attached to the visor and black Elvis-inspired studded jumpsuit.

“I’d like to introduce the band,” he said. “My left foot on cymbal. My right foot on bass drum. And my hands on guitar.”

Throughout his set, he’d introduce the songs like, “This is a song about dancing under a big rock,” or “Here’s a song about going into other people’s rock-filled canyons and getting into trouble” or “This one’s about my little friend who sticks out sometimes, and sometimes he doesn’t – I’m talking my finger.”

Thing is, if he didn’t introduce the songs, you’d have no idea what the hell was coming out of his mouth since singing with a telephone rigged as a microphone made his lyrics nearly indecipherable. One of the few tunes that was remotely recognizable was “Boob Scotch,” which he played while two gals from the crowd each straddled one of his legs, and bounced around as Log he worked the bass drum and hi-hat.

While watching Margo & the Nuclear So and Sos on the main stage, a guy walked behind me and said to his friend, “This band’s horrible, whoever they are.” While the band’s set might’ve been a tad on the uninspired side, it wasn’t that bad. It’s just that seeing these guys in an outdoor venue doesn’t really do them justice. Although they’ve written and played some wonderful songs like “Paper Kitten Nightmare” and “Skeleton Key,” maybe they’re just better to see indoors. But they did manage to get two guys not wearing shirts dancing at which a friend said, “It’s not a festival until shirtless guys start dancing.”

Early in William Elliott Whitmore’s set on the Acoustic Stage, he told the crowd, “I love every neck of the woods, but I’ll love Iowa forever.” Here’s a guy who sounds like he could’ve been recorded in the Iowa backwoods decades ago by famed musicologist Alan Lomax. Close your eyes and listen to Whitmore sing a song like “Burn Your Body” with his gruff, sonorous voice and it’s easy to imagine a guy in his sixties who’s hopped trains for decades, not the tattooed Whitmore who’ll turn thirty next year. He played an amazing set of folky blues, going back and forth between his banjo and acoustic guitar, and closed out his set with foot-stomping version of “Johnny Law.”

Lawrence, Kansas-based Minus Story kicked off a brilliant set “Stitch Me Up” and kept the momentum flowing throughout. Singer Jordan Geiger switched between guitar and keyboards while guitarist Andy Byers had some fascinating sounds coming out of his Vox amp. At times, his guitar sounded like a steel drum and at one point he was on his knees twisting knobs on his effects pedals, coaxing an unusual array of guitar sounds. The band’s last song began as a pensive ballad that swelled into in a thick, noisy wall of distortion that was just, well, beautiful.

Speaking of beautiful, a bit later Au Revoir Simone served up a superb set of dreamy, vocal harmony-driven synth-pop. While “Casio” and “lovely” aren’t often used in the same sentence, the trio’s melodies are delightful. It’s quite easy to see why AIR will be taking the group along on the road during its European tour this fall. -- Jon Solomon

Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: It was a bit disheartening seeing some of the bands on the main stage play for so few people. Random Detail: Dude that played tambourine for Brian Jones Massacre, what’s up with the inverted goatee thing? By the Way: De Novo Dahl, still wearing their Nashville get-ups from the previous night, watched the Flaming Lips from front row center.

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Sean Cronin