Tag: Mile High Music Festival
Somewhere along the way I put aside my point-and-click camera and got serious about concert photography. The first event where I used a DSLR was the 2009 Mile High Music Festival because their photo policy prohibited any other kind of camera in the pits. From there on out I fell in love with the art of photography and tried to capture the experiences I had through photos. Looking back on the last couple of years, here are my favorite 10 shots.
The Fray – MHMF 2009: As someone who had very little experience with a more-professional camera, I was surprised at some of the great shots I got that hot weekend in July of 2009. The Fray closed out my experience at Mile High with a real spectacle: U2′s old stage rig, a big crowd, and a sense of completion.
Monotonix – Monolith 2009: While not a particularly great shot, I will always remember this set from the now-defunct Monolith Festival. It’s the kind of picture that would offend most anyone, therefore it has a certain charm and power that your average concert photo can’t achieve.
Paean – Hodi’s Half Note, December 27, 2009: Being from Fort Collins I found myself up there for the holidays without much to do. When I saw that Danielle Ate The Sandwich was playing a show with a few Act So Big Forest bands at Hodi’s (formerly The Starlight, as I knew it), I said, “Why not?” As it turns out Hodi’s has one of the best light rigs in Northern Colorado. This shot matches great lighting, ambient fog, and perspective in a way that I have seldom replicated.
The Knew – Pulperia release party at the Bluebird, March 6, 2010: At a time when people were just starting to figure out what Something Like Sound was, The Knew were preparing to get big. I ended up seeing the Knew 3 times at the Bluebird (and once at Hi-Dive), and they remain as one of my favorite Colorado acts. I recall seeing this particular shot floating around on their websites for quite some time.
Fellow Citizens – Skylark , October 8, 2010: I saw Fellow Citizens and Old Radio (now Amazing Twin) play two shows at the Skylark within one year. This photo of Fellow Citizens singer Eliza Boote was originally done in color and not cropped, however I edited it for print in the Oredigger newspaper. After looking at the two versions I decided that I liked the black-and-white more- it has a certain aesthetic that is reflective of that time and place.
Andrew W.K. – Warped Tour 2010 (Chicago): I had been to several years of Warped Tours before I decided to live in Chicago last summer, however none of that could prepare me for Andrew W.K. Perhaps one of the most energetic and bizzare performances I’ve ever seen, W.K. thrashed about the stage while putting himself into the most intriguing positions.
Safe Boating Is No Accident – Denver Does Denver 2010: The first show I saw after coming back from Chicago was Denver Does Denver (a fitting return, if I can say so myself). Safe Boating did a set of Pee Pee covers in the Flobots.org community space and something about the lighting in that room lent itself to some really dramatic shots.
Night of Joy – Denver Does Denver 2010: Sometime great photos are purely dumb luck. Another shot for DDD2010, I managed to catch the flash from a camera across the room at the often low-lit Meadowlark. The result: A photo that captures the face-melting nature of a Night of Joy set.
Sufjan Stevens – The Paramount, November 2, 2010: I bought my tickets for Sufjan nearly 4 months before he came to Denver. Fortunately I snagged some primo seats and was able to snap a few shots with my point-and-click. This photo was taken during a reworked rendition of “Seven Swans” which literally took my breath away.
FLASHLIGHTS – Split Cassette release at Larimer Lounge, February 23, 2011: FLASHLIGHTS usually like to party with the house lights down and their special Rande Kamolz-controlled rig in full operation. This, however, makes getting a decent shot of the group a challenge. I decided to experiment with long shutter speeds and zooming out while taking this photo.
Paper Bird: those joyful noisemakers. I sat down with a few members from the group after their set at the 2009 Mile High Music Festival, enjoy the video!
I sat down with Rob Drabkin, winner of the 2009 Westword Music Showcase “Singer-Songwriter” category after his set at the Mile High Music Festival. Enjoy the interview and be sure to check out Rob’s music at www.robdrabkin.com
All the way from Athens, GA, Dead Confederate came up to Denver to play the Mile High Music Festival and we had a chance to talk with these guys. I also received their album Wrecking Ball in the mail today, expect a proper review of it soon.
The Fray’s Isaac Slade // Photo by Tim Weilert
So here it is. After 2 incredible days (both incredibly musical and long), it’s time to look back on what stood out at this year’s Mile High Music Festival.
From the first set I saw, I knew it was going to be a good day. Gregory Alan Isakov was a nice way to start, a sort of maudlin Bob Dylan, with a classy approach to playing music. The good vibes kept going as I went to see Rob Drabkin play his funky brand of pop-music. I got to see most of Matt Nathanson‘s set, although I missed “Car Crash” (he played it as I walked away). I took a bit of a break to interview Big Head Todd and the Monsters, then it was time to catch the end of the Gomez set (the few songs I saw were quite enjoyable). After talking with Rob Drabkin, I caught some of Ani Difranco‘s politically-charged brand of folk music. After taking a break for some much needed shade and water, I set off to see Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and was thoroughly impressed with the solid rock music I heard there.
The rest of the day was a bit frantic. After interviewing Dead Confederate, I rushed to catch up with the photographers for the Incubus set. I enjoyed hearing “Megalomaniac,” and I thought their cover of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” was the best way any band could end a set. I snuck away from Incubus for a quick listen at G. Love and Special Sauce, and I thought his hip-hop inspired alternative rock sound played well with the mood that afternoon. The lighting for photography was excellent as the sun set and Ben Harper and Relentless7 took the stage (anyone who can play lap steel that well has my respect).
I caught some of The Black Keys, although not enough to really get a grasp for their sound. Tool was interesting. I’m glad to say I’ve seen them (as are most of the people who were there), I was simply not a fan of their photo policy. Sure, they haven’t played a show in a few years, and this was a big event, but a little more humility would have gone a long way. Other than that, it certainly was trippy (the audio/visual experience was really indescribable).
Widespread Panic was definitely a good way to end the night. The down to earth, organic sounds those “old guys” made were simply mind-blowing. I doubt I have ever seen such amazing musicianship. Their set, however, was at the end of what was a very long day. So I stayed as long as I could, but soon had to head home to rest up for day 2.
If I thought Saturday was packed, I didn’t even see Sunday coming. Straight out of the gates I saw alterna-rockers Strange Condition (first time I saw them play since opening for Love.45 4 or 5 years ago). It was a little too rowdy for a Sunday morning. Paper Bird was definitely what I was looking for. Self described as makers of “joyful” music, I was certainly feeling good listening to their beautiful harmonies and folk instruments. Honeyhoney was also a nice surprise, although I must say that they should consider picking up a few more band members, it would make for a better live set.
I listened to the first part of Jack’s Mannequin and they played the 3 songs of theirs I really like, so I was content with it. From contentment to utter amazement, my demeanour changed as I watched Dead Confederate unleash a wave of sound. Their grunge-tinged southern rock was what really woke me up that day. I proceeded to see Jet play through a number of catchy tunes, and I stuck around just long enough to hear “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” I took some time off to recharge my batteries (both electrically and phyically), and do an interview with Paper Bird. I wandered a bit, catching some of Gogol Bordello, then headed off to see Buddy Guy.
It’s not every day that you can say you saw a blues legend. Buddy Guy certainly held up his reputation as he interwove raspy vocals with blues guitar. He was incredibly animated as he sang songs that unfolded more like stories from a book. I left a little early so I could catch DeVotcKa play some of their gypsy-inspired folk music. I found their use of theremin to be absolutely charming. Up next was the sexy, smooth dance beats of Thievery Corporation (I stayed long enough to hear “Lebanese Blonde” then I was off again. I tried to get in to 3Oh!3, but it was simply too packed. I ended up at Robert Randolph & The Family Band, and once again was impressed by the steel guitar. At this point I took another break to hydrate and prepare for the barrage that was the rest of the day.
I briefly saw Matisyahu and Gov’t Mule before ending up at Pepper. The storm clouds by this point were looking rather ominous, everyone was praying for the storm to pass. Pepper began to play, the wind picked up and the crowd rocked out. Fortunately the storm quickly turned south and there was no serious rainfall. Finally it was time for The Fray. Going in to the festival weekend I had my doubts about this group. My presumptions quickly faded away as they took the stage. Not only were they right-on music-wise, but also visually. Their set (which I believe they bought from U2) was absolutely stunning, with lights matching the mood of the music incredibly well. As The Fray finished up I decided to head home (I opted to skip Widespread Panic’s Sunday set, since I was simply exhausted and had seen them the night before).
So what’s the takeaway? Denver is a music city, with some rather eclectic tastes. It makes sense that the Mile High Music Festival would have the lineup it had, because it reflects well on the city’s roots. Throughout the entire weekend, the experience was colorful and uniquely Coloradoan.
Our blog was incredibly fortunate to get a few minutes with the legendary Big Head Todd and The Monsters (specifically with the Monsters). Special thanks to AEG and Madison House Publicity for the video footage for the intro.
Tomorrow I’ll do a formal write-up and begin posting interviews (I talked with Paper Bird today)
All photos by Tim Weilert
In lieu of writing (since I really don’t feel much up to it right now), here are the best photos I took all day, enjoy.
Gregory Alan Isakov
Big Head Todd and the Monsters
G. Love & Special Sauce
Ben Harper & Relentless7
All photos by Tim Weilert
I don’t have time or space to talk about everyone coming to Mile High Music Festvial this year, so here are some of the highlights, and acts I will personally try to see:
Gregory Alan Isakov (11:15 am, Westword Tent): This guy has some incredible singing and songwriting talent. A recent addition to the festival, Denver-based Gregory Alan Isakov is sure to be a good show for fans of Rocky Votolato, so show up early to support this local.
Rob Drabkin (12 noon, FirstBank Stage): I’ve already talked about Rob, but if you didn’t want to spend your time reading my last posts just know he’s a great listen for fans of Dave Matthews, and he really fits well with the vibe of the festival.
Matt Nathanson (1:15 pm, Main Stage West): I picked up some Matt Nathanson records a few years back, and I must say his heartfelt approach to music and positive messages leave you feeling good.
Big Head Todd and the Monsters (4pm, Main Stage East): Also did a post about these guys already, see them for some of the best examples of a genuine Colorado band.
Incubus (5:30 pm, Main Stage West): I’ve heard quite a bit of Incubus on the radio, but never seen them live. Also, my roommate keeps telling me I must see them.
(I’m a little torn about who to see at 7pm, so I’ll cover both, who knows where I’ll end up)
Ben Harper & Relentless7 (7 pm, Main Stage East): Good ol’ fashioned rock music, enough said.
The Black Keys (7pm, Westword Tent): Heartland indie rock music, these guys mix banjos, guitars, and a healthy amount of reverb together to create something enjoyable.
Tool (8:45pm, Main Stage West): Their first show since 2006 (or maybe it was ’07, either way it’s been a long time). Westword, and my roommate, highly suggested this one, and since no one else is playing at this time, you MUST see them.
Widespread Panic (10:45pm, Main Stage East): On the flyers it says their set will go until 2 am, get ready for some intense folk rock.
Paper Bird (12 noon, Rhapsody Tent): The recent winners of the Westword Music Showcase Awards Americana category, I love this local group’s folk sound and flurry of bluegrass instruments.
Dead Confederate (1:30 pm, Westword Tent): Also did a post about these guys already, remember, indie rock from Athens, GA.
Jet (2pm, Main Stage East): Are you gonna be my girl?
Gogol Bordello (3pm, Main Stage West): Gyspy punks, these guys always put on a fun show
(another toss up at 4pm, but I’m going with Buddy Guy, he’s a legend, and Devotchka is local, we can see them any time)
Buddy Guy (4pm, Main Stage East): Mentioned above, he’s literally a LEGEND, don’t miss him. I’d put him up there with B.B. King and Eric Clapton.
(Gah! another one at 5:30, well, I’m going with Thievery Corporation, since I’ve seen 3Oh!3 twice already in the last year)
Thievery Corporation (5:30pm, Main Stage West): I’ve always loved the track these guys contributed to the Garden State Soundtrack. They create musical gold.
Matisyahu (6:45pm, Westword Tent): What is there not to love about a rappin’ rabbi?
The Fray (8:30pm, Main Stage East): These hometown legends have returned to their roots to headline Denver’s newest, and biggest music festival, don’t miss them.
Photo Courtesy bigheadtodd.com
When I saw the scheduled lineup for Mile High Music Festival, there was one band that stuck out to me: Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Around these parts, Big Head Todd is a legend. As a group, these guys have been playing Denver, and the national scene, since the 1980′s, and have built quite a following.
Recently they released their album All The Love You Need, which is available for free via the band’s website. In addition to that, we just got confirmation that we will be interviewing these hometown heroes during the festival, so get excited! Big Head Todd and the Monsters play 4pm Saturday on the East Main Stage.