Girl Talk. Photo courtesy of monolithfestival.com
The party started in the parking lot, and for two days it never ended. Within seconds of parking we were bombarded with offers for every flavor of drug imaginable. Acid? Ketamine? Molly? Spicy Bloody Marys? The parking lot was a catch-all for every type of chemically-induced fun you could hope to experience. After pregaming in the parking lot and a few trips to the disgusting port-a-potties, it was time to make the trek and enter the venue. The rain started at 3 p.m., just as we made our way into the venue, and was steady throughout the rest of the first day. Despite the constant downpour and the 40 degree weather the music on the main stage didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said about the rest of the stages.
After 20-30 minutes of marveling at the massive red rocks that create the outdoor ampitheater I finally tuned into the band that was playing on the main-stage. Although OK Go sounded great, my priorities were in other places. Starfucker and Thunderheist were playing on the Radius Earphones stage located inside the visitors center. I was naïve to think that it would be a great way to escape the rain for a few hours. Everyone else at the venue was having the same thoughts. Once I got inside the visitor center it was a clusterfuck of people trying to manuver in thousands of different directions. It was hot, overcrowded and if a fire had broken out we would have all been fucked. I made it to the general vicinity of the stage as Starfucker was starting. I couldn’t see a damn thing, was crushed up against a wall and it didn’t take long for me to decide that it just wasn’t worth it. As I left an equally annoyed crowd member screamed “We got star fucked!” Amen sir.
The initial plan was thrown out the window. Next on the list was Doom who was playing the Southern Comfort stage at 7 p.m. Doom was the first proper performance I had seen all day, but it wasn’t the greatest. From the beginning his performance was riddled with sound problems and other technical difficulties. Most times it was easier to make out what M. Ward was doing on the main stage than it was to hear what was going on in front of me. Although Red Rocks is an amazing venue, I’m not sure if it really has the layout to support a five-stage festival like Monolith, especially not on a rainy day when members of the crowd are fighting to get inside.
Greg Gillis of Girl Talk took the main stage at 7:45 for a 90-minute dance party. Within seconds the stage was swarmed with fans. Giant inflatables were launched into the crowd and by the end of the set Gillis was standing on his tables raging to his mashups harder than the full-blown dance party behind him. It might have been the most impressive set of the day, but Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs quickly stole that title.
The only way to describe the Yeah Yeah Yeahs was that their performance was the closest thing to a spiritual experience that I have ever had. A giant eyeball hung behind the band and a combination of blue, purple and red lights illuminated the stage and bounced off of the giant rocks. Karen O’s massive voice and stage presence filled the ampitheater with an intense energy that had yet to be experienced. The band played an eclectic mix of songs featured on all of their albums until nearly 11 p.m. The performance blew everyone else out of the water and set the bar ridiculously high for the bands that would play on day two.
The weather cleared up quite a bit for the second day of Monolith. Instead of being bundled into three hoodies like I was the day before for a while I was fine wearing only a tank top. After my experiences from the first day I decided that I’d rather just stick to the main stage. It had been a hassle to maneuver between stages the day before and the acts on the other four stages just didn’t sound that great.
Method Man & Redman’s set was the highlight of the second day. The on stage chemistry between the two was great and the crowd once again turned into a giant dance party. The Glitch Mob, although somewhat cheesy, had a high-energy set and people were getting down.
MSTRKRFT was supposed to take the stage between Method Man & Redman and The Mars Volta, but had to cancel last minute due to a case of the flu. Pheonix was relocated from the Southern Comfort stage to the main stage to snag their spot––a rad opportunity for the French indie band. They played well and sounded great, but their performance wasn’t really anything to write home about it.
I missed Chromeo’s set at the Southern Comfort stage, but heard that the problems that had plagued Doom struck again. The vocals were impossible to hear even without bleed over from the main stage. In retrospect I was kind of bummed that I didn’t catch them. A vocal-less Chromeo seems like it might have been more interesting way to cap off the night than what headliners The Mars Volta had to offer.
As Mars Volta started playing people started leaving the venue in droves. Maybe it was the high school students trying to make it home in time for curfew? Possibly disappointed MSTRKRFT fans who had come to rage and the mix of indie and prog rock wasn’t living up to the standards of the drugs that they had gobbled in the parking lot earlier in the day. Whatever the reason for the mass exodus, I wasn’t far behind. After listening to about 45 minutes of The Mars Volta it was time to go. Even the Mars Volta fans who I’d come with agreed that the performance just wasn’t doing it for them.
Despite the poor weather, cancelations, clusterfuck of human beings and sound problems I couldn’t be happier with my experience at Monolith. Red Rocks is hands down the best venue to check out live music and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs tore shit up in a way that I’ve never seen a band do before. Successful festival? Absolutely.