Red Rocks in Morrison, Colorado, is without question one of the most beautiful settings to see music. The backdrop is dramatic night or day, and the acoustics are out of this world. At this year’s Monolith Festival, not a single band failed to mention just how special playing the main stage is.
This was second year of the Monolith Festival, and organizers put together a monster lineup of indie talent that pulled in people from all over the country. Overall the festival ran very smoothly, with plenty of space to move. The outdoor stages were easily accessible, even after a show had already started. The inside stages were a little makeshift and got packed to capacity when bands like the Presets or Does It Offend You, Yeah? were on, but they were great for bands with a smaller following.
Any time you have a festival of this size, there are going to be scheduling casualties. Foals and Tokyo Police Club were both victims at Monolith; their early-afternoon time slots were well before most of the crowd had shown up. Cut Copy’s popularity was also severely underestimated; they were stuck with a 4:30 p.m. spot that didn’t much fit the after-dark mood of their music.
Seeing the high-powered instrumentals of Holy Fuck back to back with A Place to Bury Strangers made for a nice combination. Vampire Weekend played an animated set running, through their debut album while adding a few new songs to an enthusiastic crowd response. Atmosphere drew a big crowd of devoted fans and seemed determined to make people forget about the bad weather. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson put on an engaging set that justified all the recent Internet buzz and was one of the real surprises of the weekend.
The Kills played fiery, flaunting their full-blown rockstar attitude, having no problem filling up the stage with nothing more than a guy, a girl, a guitar and a pre-programmed drum machine. And Red Rocks proved to be the perfect venue for Band of Horses. Lead singer Ben Bridwell’s voice soared over the crowd and their set seemed to be the best fit for the natural environment.
TV on the Radio had some travel difficulties, and there was some fear they wouldn’t be able to play it all. But they did everything short of hijacking a private jet and arrived minutes before they were supposed to go on. Their set was cut short due to time constraints, but they made the most of it, filling up a little less than an hour with tracks spanning from their first ever single, “Young Liars,” to the recently released “Golden Age.” They seemed to have most energy of any band at the festival and received the biggest crowd response as a result.
Both headliners suffered some very bad luck. Weather changed once the sun went down at Red Rocks, and on Saturday Devotchka saw a beautiful late-summer day turn into swirling winds and cold rain leaving them with little more than a scattering of a crowd by the time they took the stage. On Sunday Justice lost their sound for a few minutes, and they got it back in time to work the crowd into a dancing frenzy only to have it blown out for good before smashing up their equipment in frustration.
Monolith has its kinks, but for a second-year festival there was little to complain about. With Red Rocks as a home base, organizers shouldn’t have a problem attracting fans or talent in the ensuing years.
Photo Credit: Bryan Whitefield/Prefixmag.com