Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Roger Waters Flying Pig found!


On Sunday, April 27 at the Coachella music festival, Roger Waters gave a stunning performance, as well his flying pig. The forty foot helium balloon floated over the crowd with the word 'Obama' painted on the under belly and art on each side. At the close of his set, the pig was set free, but not on purpose.

The pig journeyed only a few miles, to find a new residence with two Indio residents. Unfortunately, the pig popped and all that is left is tattered remains of the nylon balloon. Being as tall as a two story house, and as wide as two school buses, the pig was quite the sight for the Stoltz and Rimmer families.

Both families will split the $10,000 reward that Coachella organizers offered, and they will split the 4 tickets for life to Coachella as well. To see the pigs ending to its journey, watch the video below.



Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Prince blows away Coachella

Of course the highlight of the weekend was the artist once again known as Prince. Yes, Roger Waters' two-and-a-half hour set of Pink Floyd songs was epic, but Prince came to party. As he hit the stage, he said what was on everyone's minds: “Coachella, I am here!” 60,000 people erupted as he told the crowd he was here to party. And he stepped the weekend up a notch by doing so.

It was not only Prince in this performance of a lifetime, as he brought with him R&B legend Morris Brown and his former drummer, Sheila E. But the main attraction was the headliner's unbelievable music talent. Making his guitar scream and wail, the audience was in awe. We were all in the presence of Prince, not caring if he played ‘Purple Rain’ or ‘Little Red Corvette’ (which he did), because he and his band were exactly the refreshment we needed.

[Photo: Brooklyn Vegan]

If there was one soul highlight that anyone at the show will remember years down the line, it’s when Prince stunned us all by playing Radiohead's “Creep.” Though slightly changing the lyrics to suit the southern California festival, it is possibly the best Creep cover any of us had ever heard. He also covered the Beatles ‘Come Together,’ having the audience help him out and join in song.

He closed his Saturday night a few times. After coming back out for an encore, he continued to play until someone finally said ‘enough.’ We didn’t want him to stop, and he didn’t want to either. “From now on, this is Princes house,” he closed. And we all knew the night was done as he tossed his Fender about 20 feet behind him and paraded off the stage. — Dustin Mitchell

Coachella band highlights

Despite all the extracurricular activities available at my fingertips, I still managed to see more than 30 bands. From the electronic tent, Sahara, to the Coachella main stage, I was up to my ears in great music. Not a single band was a disappointment, and surprisingly, I found many bands I want to see live again.

Instead of trying to summarize the individual shows, I’ll mention some bands that got my attention. Vampire Weekend is the buzz of the ‘indie’ world, and after seeing them live this weekend, the buzz is valid. They sound terrific, they enjoy the music they are playing, and the boys from New York were highly appreciative of the response that Coachella gave them.

Cut Copy was most excellent, as I was expecting DJs and not a full band from the few listens I gave to In Ghost Colours. Even though they played in the middle of the day, the tent was explosive in dancing and crazed fans. The same could also be said about MGMT, which gave a stunning performance with songs off of Oracular Spectacular, closing their set without a band, and just backing tracks.

Not being much of a Portishead fan, I was resigned to see them, but so happy I did. With their new record Third coming out April 29, they tested most of the material from the album out on Coachella, and we loved it. This band is a must-see this summer, or the next time they come to your neighborhood.

Aphex Twin was supposed to be a highlight for the festival, but after 10 minutes of watching him sulk during his set, it was the biggest let down of the festival. I happened to have a few conversations with other Twin fans who had seen him before, and all agreed that this was unusual. Cheer up, Aphex!

Ask anyone who went to Coachella what the best day was, and you will definitely get an argument. For me, the bands and DJs on Friday were superior. Don’t get me wrong, all three days were most excellent, but if you’re going to pin me down to one day, it most certainly was Friday.

(Photos, top to bottom: Vampire Weekend, Death Cab for Cutie, Glen Hansard of The Swell Season)

—Dustin Mitchell

Overstimulated? Go with the flow

When you first walk into Coachella, it sinks in that this is not just a music festival. With interactive art installations throughout the polo grounds, small tents full of new products, games, and the "Do Lab" in the center, this is an experience for all your senses. I would venture to say that nobody went bored for 72 hours. With so much to do besides music, sometimes it was very easy to miss acts you had scheduled in your day.

My advice, if that also happens to you: Go with the flow. Just make sure that you pick out some acts that you’d like to see, and be open to your friends, and the bands that they’d like to catch. With the jaw-dropping display of talent on display on all five stages, you can't help but be pleasantly surprised by much of what you see and hear. — Dustin Mitchell

A most excellent festival weekend

What a morning. Just getting to Coachella has been an adventure in itself. I won't tell the long story of how I almost missed my flight or how the landlord of our Palm Springs rental screwed us at the last minute and then how one of my friends saved the day and found an even better place for the nine of us.

But now, here I am, sliding north on Interstate 15 out of San Diego, listening to my friend Greg's Coachella mix, with "America's Finest City" in the rear view and three days of music mayhem about to unfold.

As we pull up to condo, Greg and I are the first to arrive. We unload our bags, sit down poolside and bust out the lineups and the brews. Others begin to arrive, and the only topic of conversation is this band or that, details about band personnel and repertoire, what we hoped to hear. I am up to my eyes in music homework and loving it.

It was the beginning of a perfect weekend with friends and unbelievable music. True, the two aspects didn't always mix. Contrary to the house hopes, we were never the ones standing in line as Coachella opened its gates at noon.

With nine individuals to coordinate, a pool, and a fridge full of food and alcohol, I'll confess that we didn't make it till 2 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and after a late night card game, not till 4 p.m. on Sunday. — Dustin Mitchell

Monday, April 28, 2008

Major Outside Lands developments

                                    Photo Credit: Guitars Plus
Two announcements given by organizer Another Planet Entertainment today promise to make the first Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco a bit sweeter:

First of all, the festival just got several more performers to add to its inaugural lineup: Lupe Fiasco, The Black Keys, Jackie Greene, Kaki King, Liars, Nicole Atkins & the Sea and the fantastically-named Culver City Dub Collective.

Second, for those who have been dying to see just the series of either Manu Chao, Beck, and Radiohead, Jack Johnson, Wilco, and Widespread Panic or Primus, Ben Harper, and Tom Petty, single-day tickets are set to be sold on Thursday, May 1st.

To claim the single-day or multi-day tickets go to SFoutsidelands.com.

Snoop Dogg tops 2nd Monterey Music Summit

After its successful debut last year, the Monterey Music Summit is back May 30-June 1 at the beautiful Laguna Seca Recreation Area in Monterey CA. Snoop Dogg heads a lineup designed to bring together an international range of popular music styles, including pop, rock, surf punk, hip hop, folk and world beat. 


Other big names on the bill include Slightly Stoopid, Coheed and Cambria, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Ozomatli, The Crystal Method, Tea Leaf Green and more. 

In addition to its music lineup, the festival offers art and interactive exhibits, green practices and outstanding on-site camping and mountain biking.  

The appearance by Snoop Dogg will be his first appearance of a summer amphitheater tour. The rapper's recently released album "Ego Trippin" has been cited by critics as among his best work. 

The festival is produced by Joe Fletcher Presents, a major promoter in the New England market that has begun promoting events around the U.S. and the world. 


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Let's talk Lolla

By Mike Ruby
After months of agonizing anticipation, the 2008 Lollapalooza lineup was finally announced. And just when you thought festival organizer Perry Farrell couldn't outdo himself, he went above and beyond with what many fans consider to be the most breathtaking lineup to date. I, for one, would support that statement, although having only been to one other year of the festival, it's hard to put one above or below the other.

Now that the list of artists is out in the open, the schedule still remains ambiguous. For those unfamiliar with Lolla's organization of its acts, there's an average of 5 or 6 out of the festival's 9 stages going simultaneously at any given time. This goes on up until the evening, when the first two nights are closed by two bands playing on opposite ends of the park (last year, Friday was closed by Daft Punk and Ben Harper and Saturday closed by Muse and Interpol). This leaves Sunday night as the only time during the festival in which one single band is playing (last year this was Pearl Jam). So that raises the critical question: Who will close this year's festival? Who will get the longest slot of the weekend, with no other bands to take their audience away?

Let's review. We have Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Kanye West, and Nine Inch Nails as the four "main attractions" of the event. It's almost positive that the closing slot will not be given to Radiohead (a disappointment to me and many others) simply because they have a show scheduled in Indiana during the last night of the festival.

So now we have Rage, NIN, and Kanye left to duke it out for the dream slot. I predict that Nine Inch Nails, another band I hold near and dear to me, won't be closing because they got bumped down to fourth on the lineup list, behind the fantastic Mr. Kanye West. I in no way denounce Kanye's talent and popularity within the music scene. In fact, I congratulate him for it. However, it would simply not be appropriate for him to headline Lollapalooza. It's a rock festival, and he is just not deserving of the longest set of the weekend.

I have my fingers crossed that the integrity of Lollapalooza is preserved and that a more worthy act closes the festival. I'm sure that many of you would agree with me when I say that what the world needs right now is Rage Against the Machine. If Radiohead isn't going to close, then Rage is the next best candidate. They're my generation's Bob Dylan, and I couldn't be more pleased that they're playing.

Anyway, there will be more to come on that topic. For now, lets take a quick look at the rest of the lineup. There are more bands playing than I can wrap my head around. For starters, Lollapalooza will feature festival regulars like G. Love & Special Sauce and Love & Rockets. With the recent release of their second album, there's no doubt in my mind that The Raconteurs will be fantastic. There are plenty of "catch up" bands, established acts like Wilco and The Black Keys I haven't yet seen live.

All the bases are covered. There are all the up-and-coming indie bands such as MGMT, Minus the Bear, and Rogue Wave. For soft, folky rock, there is John Bulter Trio and Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks. R&B fans will get, besides Kanye, Lupe Fiasco and Gnarls Barkely. With the soaring popularity of band member Leslie Fiest's solo career, I'm sure that Broken Social Scene will have quite an audience, as will Explosions in the Sky and Bloc Party. Other notable acts include Gogol Bordello, Girl Talk, The National, and the great Perry Farrell himself.

Then there are the large number of bands that I have to admit I'm not familiar with. Like lots of rock fans, I have a tendency to be cocky about my wealth of musical knowledge, so I give credit to Farrell and the rest of the Lolla organizers for putting us in our place. Kudos, Lollapalooza, and may this be the best one yet.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Video: Steampunk Treehouse goes to Coachella

It was one of the big attractions at Burning Man 2007, the Steampunk Treehouse, a massive art installation of welded iron and fanciful filigree, created by a team of techno-artists and erected on the otherworldly Playa at the free-form happening. Now the crew behind the project is getting ready for an encore in front of a much larger, more mainstream audience at Coachella 2008. Festival Preview presents....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Coast-to-coast party on first big weekend of 2008

After all the buildup and early-season preliminaries, the unofficial opening weekend of the 2008 outdoor festival season is finally here. Among New Orleans Jazzfest and Festival International in Louisiana, Coachella in southern California, MerleFest in North Carolina and McDowell Mountain in Scottsdale AZ, all running this weekend in a coast-to-coast arc across the southern United States, happy festival-goers are going to be shaking off their winter blues at their first musical blowout of 2008.

The biggest of the big is New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which runs seven days over the next two weekends with a panoply of big name attractions and overwhelming number of side-stage acts. Meanwhile the rock mecca for the week is Empire Polo Club in Indio CA, when legions of fans from across the western U.S. will converge for a first look at the big rock acts playing on this summer's expanded circuit. MerleFest is probably the single-most important event of the year in the Americana category, with roots music aficionados from around the world now arriving in picturesque Wilkesboro NC for the Thursday opening.

Our other two picks for the weekend are Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette LA, for one of the best world-music events going, this one focused on music from international French-speaking cultures. McDowell Mountain gets a mention for its nifty blues-rock lineup and sublime Arizona springtime climate.

So how is the weather shaping up at the key festival locations? Louisiana and North Carolina are both looking at scattered thundershowers. In Indio and Scottsdale, there is nothing but sun—highs at Coachella will be 100° F, McDowell a touch cooler.

Whatever the weather brings, faces will be smiling and toes will be tapping as hundreds of thousands of festival attendees enjoy their first fix of 2008. Let the party begin.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Coachella, day 3 preview

Whew. These posts have occupied most of my weekend, but listening to all this music has got me entirely juiced for Californias favorite festival. (Well, this might be debatable with SF Outside Lands first year lineup.) So, without further ado, I bring you our closing day.


If I left out your favorite band, I apologize. There are so many acts to see at Coachella, regardless of who you see, it's going to be spectacular. These lists are just compiled from all the data I have, and I put them up here so your experience can be diverse, and you can get to know great music. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. Click pictures for music previews.

Brett Dennen - As I write this post, I am actually missing Mr. Dennen at a free show in Golden Gate park. Since his release of 'So Much More,' Dennen has been on tour non-stop. He lives out of a suitcase and calls every hotel room that he visits home. His noise is reggae, rock, acoustic, and full of passion. If you've yet to be introduced to Dennen, this is your chance. He leads Sunday off with a bang.

Grand Ole Party - Being a once San Diegan, it's nice that we have someone representin SoCal in this festival. I actually saw Grand Ole Party bring in my 2007, and from what I remember, they were quite impressive. Lead singer/drummer Kristin Gundred brings Janis back to life, while beating the crap out of her drums. It's unusual to see a drummer that's a girl, much less one that does all the singing. And it is GOOD.

Duffy - Yes, she does sound like Amy Winehouse. Yes, she is also English, and yes, she is WAY hotter than Rehab Winehouse. Any existing Duffy fan will tell you that Duffy has been conjuring the 60's Motown sounds long before Amy was even dreaming of telling rehabilitation centers no, no, and no. I'm sure there are some better musical acts around, but I want some eye candy.

Annuals - Ambient, Rock, Alternative, Pop, Emo. The studio albums that Annuals have put out are layered with ambient noises and sounds, and I really have to understand how they do this live. I once saw Grandaddy try to pull this off, very poorly I might add. Rumor has it they're a gnarly live show, and bring the rawk back to energy levels that of U2. Finally, someone to slap Bono off his high horse? We could only hope.

Sia - If you went into any Starbucks in the world, you saw this album placed in front of your friendly barista for weeks. I, like the sucker I can be, finally broke down and see what all the fuss was about. With her previous single Breathe all over the radio, I believed that her new disc and witty title would be a breath of fresh air. It was, and not I believe that Aussies know how to be heartfelt and honest.

Stars - Canadian indie pop band that highly resembles LA's Shiny Toy Guns. Like the Guns, you get male and female vocals fused with some screaming guitars and synthesizers. I like them because of their ambient vibe, and I believe that all bands will be competing for our attention. With a revival in good Canadian music, this is a great place to start. Catchy enough to keep you intrigued, but not so much that you'll hear them on your local radio station. (unless that station kicks ass)

Simian Mobile Disco - Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend SXSW this year, but I had a friend from Itunes that was. She raved about Cut Copy (performing friday) and continued her rants about SMD. Once again, there will be dancing. It looks like they're slotted for a later spot, so, we might see glow sticks as well. If you've yet to disco, start by yourself, in your room, with 'Hustler.' Then share it with your friends, where you can all disco together.

Gogol Bordello - A self explanatory name for this band, as they bring the gypsy cabaret to your ears. They're previous record is called Gypsy punk, and that's exactly what it is. If Flogging Molly were to include bull fighting violins, mandolins, and bar-mitzvah accordions, they would be Gogol Bordello. Sure to include ridiculous costumes and exceptional crowd interaction, this is one act that shouldn't be missed at Coachella.

Perry Farrell- I laughed out loud, I really did. This former front man for Janes Addiction, I can only assume, will come out in silver leather pants, with some short of half shirt on. His voice is undeniable, and he's known for his eccentric live performances. Though we could all wish that he was with Navarro and friends for an Addiction reunion, the case is not so. I'm just surprised Farrell, the brains behind the Lollapalooza festivals is performing with a competitor.

Roger Waters - I can hear it now. "Play 'Another Brick in the Wall'!" "Comfortably Numb!" As Waters is recluse, not playing many shows over the past few years, we can only hold our breaths when it comes to seeing him. Pink Floyd was known for their unique production on their albums, along with an incredible light/multimedia show to match their shows. I hope Waters brings the same.

Okay, I made it. It took a lot of research, but I really enjoyed writing all of this for you. If you liked the posts, be sure to subscribe to Festival Preview, as we review upcoming music festivals, and associated news.

Coachella, day 2 preview


Well, we made it through day 1, hopefully without a bump in the road. I have to apologize though. As I read and re-read the lineup, I left out some great artists, one of those being ‘The Swell Season.’ Glen Hansard and Mark√©ta Irglov√°, riding off the success of their movie Once is an Irish/Czech singer/songwriter duo you’ll have to also check out. I’m hoping they don’t place them so late in the evening, but I guess we’ll have to see when they release all the full details. Like last time, click on the pictures to be directed to the music.

The Bird and the Bee - Electric Pianos. Soothing synths. Friday was probably unbearably hot, so we’ll all be a bit sunburned, dehydrated and tired. Thankfully, we’ve made it back for a 2nd day to check out the sultry vocals of Inara George, and genius musician/producer Greg Kurstin. If you’ve yet to hear tracks of this duo, make sure you load up with “F*cking Boyfriend” before you pass go, or collect $200.

dredgDredg - Post progressive rockers out of Los Altos, California, they’ll tap your foot for you. Actually, you won’t even need them to cause you won’t be able to help yourself. Seriously, you probably remember their radio single ‘Bug Eyes,’ from back in 2006. I’m a big fan of theirs, even if they never made it past their big break. I’m excited to see what they come up with here, as they aren’t slated for a new album (to the best of my research)

Minus the Bear - Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse. It’s just one of their song titles (as all of them are equally amusing), but I’d say that it’s a good summary of what you get from MtB. Seattles indie experimental boys are good for some swaying, and even some hard-on dancing at points. Leave your lighter fluid full for other upcoming
Saturday acts.

MGMT - Coachella did a great job this year of finding some indie electronic acts that the common fan will rock. With the additions of Cut Copy, Simian Mobile Disco and MGMT, you won’t be completely furious that Daft Punk wasn’t on the lineup. Their latest release Oracular Spectacular has lived in my car for a few weeks, and I don’t think it’ll be leaving anytime soon. (then again - the Kooks new ‘Konk’ is pretty darn good)

akron/familyAkron/Family - Wanna see something you’ve never seen before? Akron is sure to be your best bet this weekend. Every show is full of improvisation, and all members are accomplished musicians. They’re sure to trade instruments, vocal leading parts, and who knows what else. I don’t suggest you spend the whole set with them, as if they offer anything to similar to their albums, it’s gonna be monotonous, slow, and depressing. (Who wants THAT at a festival?)

Dwight Yoakam - I just couldn’t help myself. I really couldn’t. As I am not a country fan, I make it a personal goal to see everyone just once in my life. Like, if Garth Brooks were in this spot, I would probably go, just to see who else went, and that sort of thing. Who knows what Dwight has in store for a festival where he has almost no fans. I just have to go and see.

Kate Nash - Well, isn’t England throwing out some nifty artists lately? Adele and Kate Nash I could easily group together, and this choice is a personal preference. She’s totally cute, and writes cute songs about me. I only take “cute” in small doses, so this is enough cute for 3 days. Wait, Duffy is on Sunday, but she’s more HOT that cute. Her songs are catchy pop numbers, but has been known to rock on occasion. I’ll guess we’ll she what she’s offering soon.

Kraftwerk - I was really planning on sporting the flip-flops for Coachella. I really was. But now that Kraftwerk has been added with their funky beats, I don’t know if I can. It seems that a substantial amount of dancing is in store for all of us. These guys have been around for years, and were making beats long before the Beasties were gleams in Jewish fathers eyes. No one really “sings” Kraftwerk songs, so you can save your voice. :)

Portishead - Trip-hop group that FINALLY came back. 10 years since they’ve really done anything on the scene, and it’s about time they did. With their 2008 release Third, the late night act is sure to mellow you out and give you a breather right before the ‘next guy.’ It’s been two days in the hot sun, and you need some spacey time. If you plan on abusing substances, this is your opportunity. Oh, and it’s time to break out that lighter you’ve been dying to throw up in the air and sway.

Prince - Yes. Prince. The artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince. Party like it’s 1999. Or 2008, and you’ve completed the 2nd day of Coachella.

Coachella, day 1 preview


You've bought your tickets. You've booked your hotel or cleaned up your tent. You've worked out the necessary rations of food/liquids and other necessary questionable items. And everyday that Coachella gets closer, you look at that lineup and get confused.

Who is that band? What do they sound like? Where are the from? What stage will they be on? Can I make it there if after 'such and such' band and take a potty break? Friend, you must calm down. You must breathe easy. In less than a week you'll be on the grounds of one of the best festivals this summer has to offer. And I'm going to make it easy on you. I want to make sure that your experience is one you'll never forget.. so here we go.

The problem lies here. Coachella hasn't posted their exact time schedule yet. So, I'm going to give you the recommendations, and link you to some songs from bands that you will love. Hopefully, if the lineup release is indicative of the show times, this should be safe. Click on the pictures to be directed towards music previews.

Rogue Wave - If you were one of the fortunates to ever enjoy the movie Just Friends, that song that they kept playing over and over was Rogue Wave - Eyes. It's a short little catchy ditty. This kind of band will start off the festival with not too much rock and pizazz. It's going to be early Friday, and we need to ease into this rocking lineup. The boys of Rogue Wave are going to do just that. We have so much room to cover.

Cut Copy - Electronica Dance Party!! While it looks like this will be slated somewhere in the 1-2 range, it is a bit early for my taste. I'm not ready to break out the glow sticks just yet, but I am full of java and red bull at this point, so I will be ready to dance. These boys rocked socks at SXSW, and are sure to do the same here.


Architecture in Helsinki - Australian indie pop. Not one other festival lineup in the states gets them. They're not even playing a headlining show. Or opening up for anyone. This might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. That, and they're music is really good. It's filled up with synths, boy and girl vocals, and by this time during the day you'll just be hitting your festival stride.


Vampire Weekend - Fun. Fun. And more fun. These New Yorkers are all the craze amongst the under indie worlds. The self titled debut is a hit amongst the critics, and the haters can't find any justifiable reason to hate. Simple hooks, easy melodies might have you dancing, and surely your upcoming beer buzz will enhance this act to unexplainable levels.


Jens Lekman - This Swedish crooner/songwriter grooves. I just recently got into his tunes, and love every bit of them. Fans of Josh Rouse will like this guy, as he brings some orchestra folks along with him, and one hell of a back beat for your run of the mill brown eyed, brown haired guy. Also, if Andrew Bird or Beirut is all up in your Ipod, this is your guy.


Santogold - Oh, you don't know about Santo? Hear this. Last week she opened up for Gnarls Barkley in New York City. She is jazz, she is soul, and she is the rhythm & blues. All the latest reviews say this Brooklyn babe gives up serious energy in her shows. Maybe the new Amy Winehouse? Wait. She actually has meat on her bones.


Aesop Rock - He bears no resemblance to the Beastie Boys, yet hails from the same place. He actually can rap, and he actually can perform. He writes songs that revolve around video games. What could be cooler than THAT? Nike also commissioned him to do a 45 minute instrumental CD for runners. Though not a runner myself, I find these tracks awesome to listen to.


Tegan and Sara - Ah yes. The Canadian sisters. I had the pleasure of seeing them in late 07, and was blown away. The hype is real, and understandable. Girls can rock, they're proof. They are performing everywhere this summer though, so if you have another chance to see them, you might wanna check out Serj.


Aphex Twin - I'm not really sure what you're looking for me to say. Aren't those two words (Aphex Twin) enough? It's time to dance again kiddies.





The Breeders - So you were too young see The Pixies in the 80's and 90's. But you still spin Surfer Rosa, and are probably on your 3rd copy. With the recent release of The Breeders Mountain Battles, Kim Deal is lo-fi fantasmastic. Even if you disliked the Pixies, you'll want to check out a few songs from Kim Deal and friends.


and of course, Jack Johnson. (I'm not a fan, and you probably are) So we'll our count our losses and still part ways as friends. Part 2 (Saturday) up soon. Marinate in Part 1 for a bit.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Political support helps Mile High Music Festival to fast recovery

By Don Frazier

The lineup for the upcoming Mile High Music Festival, July 19 and 20, extends far beyond national acts like The Black Crowes, Tom Petty and Heartbreakers, and The Dave Matthews Band to a number of Colorado politicians. Much of the state's political establishment, including the governor, Denver’s mayor, and two congressmen, has helped the festival gain credibility in its home market.

The reason: money. Economic development has emerged this season as a key driver behind many high-profile events. That’s why the typical setting of a big festival this season is less likely to be a bucolic retreat with campground and more likely to be an urban open space such as Chicago’s Grant Park (Lollapalooza), metro New York’s Liberty State Park (All Points West) and, now, a vast tract of prairie in a historically distressed industrial area near Denver.

The festival takes place a few weeks before Denver takes its place in the political spotlight when the Democratic National Convention comes to town in August.

Newly developed space for the Mile High Festival, the extensive grounds surrounding Denver’s pro soccer stadium, will accommodate more than 40 acts on five stages. There will be misting stations and tents—one the size of a football field—necessary amenities for this treeless desert prairie at high summer.

Mile High vaulted into prominence this season in a quick recovery from the collapse of its original plan to take place in a large but urban Denver public park. The resulting event is much more ambitious. The timing was perfect: a cadre of new Democratic officeholders saw this as a perfect way to spur investment. Festivals can be big business: Bonnaroo brings $14 million to rural Coffee County, Tennessee; The Austin City Limits Music Festival generates $27 million. With a capacity of 60,000, Mile High could be larger.

Putting on a festival of this size so near a major metropolitan area requires official cooperation—sometimes with leery partners. This time it was different, with all levels of government rushing to grant approvals, infrastructural support, and even enthusiasm.

As a result, a number of national acts have now chalked this event with no track record on their calendar; including moe, John Mayer, O.A.R., Steve Winwood, Michael Franti and Spearhead.

Growing pains there have been: the web site only recently came up. By now advance ticket sales are characterized as “strong and steady.” Ensuring receipts for Denver restaurants setting up in the food vendor area, this event is adopting a highly restrictive food and drink policy—a far cry from the days when festival time meant packing up the cooler.

Needless to say, there’s no camping out at this event. We'll have an upcoming "If You Go" report in Festival Preview with information on travel and lodging in this major city at the height of tourist season. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Eight more artists named for Mile High

The powerhouse lineup for Mile High Music Festival got some added firepower with singer-songwriter Jason Mraz, hip-hopper Lupe Fiasco, and former Phish bassist Mike Gordon, plus Hill Country Revue, Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers, Ferras, The Whigs and Eric Hutchinson.

The additions help to fill out the two-day, five-stage program at Mile High, which is headed by Dave Matthews Band, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and John Mayer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rothbury adds acts

The lineup for the Rothbury Music Festival, already stocked with top acts like Dave Matthews Band, Widespread Panic, John Mayer and lots more, filled out as a second flight of artist announcements was made. The added artists are Sam Beam of Iron and Wine, Atmosphere, Steel Pulse, The Wailers featuring Elan, Ingrid Michaelson, Perpetual Groove, Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Boombox, Brother Ali, Greensky Bluegrass, Trampled By Turtles, and Four Finger Five.

Expect another round of lineup additions in the next month, along with full details about the co-hosted Think Tank conference on sustainability and climate change. Rothbury runs July 3-6 in Rothbury MI. Visit the festival website for details.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

John Butler Trio, Gov't Mule headline fifth annual McDowell Mountain Music Festival

On the 25th and 26th of this month, the McDowell Mountain Music Festival (MMMF) will be taking place in Scottsdale AZ at the WestWorld Polo Grounds. According to event manager Heather Rogers, this year's festival will host a variety of genres, including American rock'n'roll, reggae, South African music, and Aussie rock. Headlining acts include both national and international artists: Blues Traveler, Gov't Mule, The John Butler Trio, The Wailers, JJ Grey & MOFRO, Grace Potter and The Nocturnals. The lineup also includes local acts from the Flagstaff and Phoenix areas.

In addition to the main music events, MMMF features a silent auction, drum circle, an area designated for kids and an acoustic stage set up by Creamy Radio. Tickets range in price from $40 to $150 and camping passes for RV parking and tents is an additional $40 per site. All proceeds benefit Phoenix Day and Golden Gate Community Center, local children's charities.

Visit the McDowell Mountain Music Festival's Web site at: http://www.mmmf.net/