Photos from Monolith, Day Two
In addition to the independent acts I profiled on Monday and the big names from Friday at the Monolith Festival this past weekend, I enjoyed an absolutely packed lineup on Saturday and some gorgeous weather. I was wishing all afternoon that I had worn shorts instead of jeans, and in September in Colorado, that's a good day when it's that warm and delicious.
BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE
Okay, so even though I've had the DiG documentary (about the BJM, eccentric frontman Anton Newcombe, and their love/hate relationship with the Dandy Warhols) sitting in its pert little red Netflix envelope staring at me from the kitchen counter for about a week before Monolith, I didn't get the chance to watch it until Monday. I sooo would have appreciated this performance more if I had.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre was more influential and buzzworthy in the mid-90s than I previously knew, mixing psychedelica guitar rock, Britpop, and shoegaze into a unique San Francisco-grown blend. This concert represented at least a partial reunion of original members of a band that dissolved several times, actually, as Anton Newcombe is surly, egotistical and notoriously hard to work with (verbally destroying and punching out members of his own band on stage, kicking audience members in the head, and basically thinking he's some kind of son of God). We were marvelling a bit about his diatribes even during the Monolith set ("How about you give me a F*CKING D?") and now, oh now it's all clear. If you were at all wondering during the set who this guy thought he was, rent the documentary and it will all make sense exactly who he thinks he is.
There he is, looking like Neil Young off to the left, with original tambourine man Joel Gion front and center again. Joel says he's quit the band dozens of times, and he retains that same odd panache of years past, that blase smirk on his face as he jangles his stuff - not bad, just kind of looks like a monkey. Or a Gallagher brother.
Not to let the personalities obscure the music - I thought they were really good and I seriously need to check out a few of their back catalog albums. They have a retrospective called Tepid Peppermint Wonderland out now, and also have a new album called We Are The Radio available on TeePee Records.
Wisdom - Brian Jonestown Massacre
London's Art Brut played as the sun was starting to set, and they put on a fun show with lead singer Eddie Argos's spoken/sung lyrics in the Streets-meets-Sex Pistols vein, and general frolickery, all running out into the crowd. They were another one that I thought I might have appreciated more in a smaller venue where the energy would have been more concentrated and refracted.
Moving To L.A. - Art Brut
I was anticipating this set, and Earl Greyhound from NYC didn't disappoint. We saw this threesome walking around during the day and man alive they just carry themselves like rockstars. I mean seriously - those are some pink velvet pants. We had it stuck in our minds that Earl Greyhound had said about themselves that they were "as heavy as Led Zeppelin, but way less obnoxious," but in reality, SPIN wrote that, so now I feel relieved that I can like them without secretly holding that statement against them. They were blistering, just oozing confidence and rock 'n' roll strut with a lush heavy sound. I also loved what Kamara Thomas brought to the band with her intense basslines and vocals that perfectly complemented Matt Whyte. I didn't get any pictures of drummer Ricc Sheridan, but he was unrelenting.
S.O.S. - Earl Greyhound
VIDEO: THE WAY WE GET BY (LIVE AT MONOLITH)
Spoon was fantastic, absolutely one of my favorite acts that I saw all weekend. I love their varied and soulful rhythms, the howling lyrics, the general cleverness of their music. You can see how they rocked "The Way We Get By," as well as my favorite song on the new album "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" (when was the last time you heard a modern day lyric reference a dressing gown? Here, that's where), and "I Turn My Camera On." I love you Britt Daniel.
I Turn My Camera On - Spoon
THE FESTIVAL "SCENE"
Merry Swankster has also written some commentary on the fest and, although the overall review from those shores is positive, the writer said, "However excellent the lineup was, nothing about Monolith conveyed the feeling of a real 'festival'. If the long term goal of Monolith includes efforts in making it a destination festival which attracts audiences located outside immediate driving areas, organizers will need to seriously think how something unique can added to the experience. . . I don't know if kettle corn, funnel cakes, and hippie knick knacks (none available at Monolith) change things, but slapping the word festival on all day music concerts doesn't either."
My personal opinion of Monolith would be completely different -- I thought it was top notch, and I got what I came for. What else should be added? It had a fantastic, formidable lineup of artists to both rival other fests last weekend like Austin City Limits and Treasure Island Music Festival (in fact, there were a lot of overlapping appearances). As a Colorado festival, it also set itself apart with roughly fifteen acts hailing from our own great state. I loved the blending of the hot indie buzz bands along with a very solid sampling of our own finest. There were some cool diversions -- local artists . . .
An interactive music exhibit in the Visitor's Center (congas and keyboards; we saw all of Earl Greyhound playing around on it before their set) . . .
Frankly, I kinda think adding more festivally "fun things" (whatever those may be) would just distract me even further from my goal of seeing as much great music as possible. I am looking forward to seeing how the festival will grow in future years as word gets out about this little gem. I think this guy (Matt Fecher) did a top notch job in bringing a classy festival experience to one of the most stunning venues in the U.S.
I'd like to thank the folks who decided to give me a photo pass for the Monolith Festival. I have a secret desire to be a rock photographer (now I just need a better camera for low light) and so I had a ton of fun taking some halfway decent shots this past weekend, having time to compose what I wanted, and passing the joy on to you.
Y'all come next year!