Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mile High Hangover

By Pauly
Denver, CO

Woke up on Saturday with a stiff back after a night of heaving partying in the local clubs that the Joker frequented. Despite my sluggish nature, I went to the Mile High Music Festival. That was part of the reason Nicky and I flew out to Denver. Mainly we went to unwind from a seven week assignment in Las Vegas, but we also wanted to see the Joker's new house. The fact that there was a music festival playing in Denver at the same weekend was an added bonus.

Ever since the WSOP ended, I had been off the wagon. Pharmie free. I was trying to ween my addiction to pain killers. I mean, how can you turn down the warm fuzzies? I left Las Vegas in a good head space but I woke up in utter agony on Saturday morning. Only one thing would make my back feel better, so I popped a pain killer.

Yeah... bad idea. Downers at a music festival? That's the opposite high that I seek at concerts. I want to be up. Way up. Instead, I was faded most of the day and had to take naps in between moe. and Spoon sets.

I blame the hot weather. Since I just finished a two month tour in Nevada, I was used to triple digit weather. The locals were used to 80+ in the Colorado summer. That's why it bothered a few as temperatures raced past 90 and reached triple digits.

The pharmies make me dehydrated and the sizzling sun didn't help things. I felt sluggish. Kinda weak all over. With a lackluster bill on Saturday, combined with my faded self and the hot weather, I struggled to get super excited and enthusiastic about who we were seeing. I guess that's why I took naps in the middle of performances.

On Saturday, we had a late start because we had partied it up late on Friday. Nicky cooked everyone breakfast for us, including two of the Joker's friends from Boulder who crashed on his floor. Nicky whipped up lots of bacon and Tawny even added a slice to her piece of pie. We eventually arrived to the festival grounds around 1pm. We were in the far parking lot and quite a hike to the entrance. We missed Newton Faulkner... the dreadlocked crooner with an acoustic guitar from the UK. Instead we checked out Bob Schneider. That was my first time seeing him and the crowd was into his music. He's sort of the Bruce Springsteen of Austin most known for banging Sandra Bullock. Geez, what happened to her?

We got a good spot for Mike Gordon. Made me miss Phish. The crowd was into Mike, but it didn't 100% gel for me. He had some highlights, which appear in the video in a previous post, but I went in with low expectations and Mike's band barely met those.

It was boiling during Steve Winwood. The highlights were Light Up or Leave Me Alone and Can't Find My Way Home. We didn't stay for the entire set. I thought his newer material was lackluster and it was simply too hot. The Joker suggested we grab some shade in one of the two music tents. That's how we ended up at Andrew Bird.

Andrew Bird is a regular on the festival circuit and one of those early afternoon artists who can snag an early slot and often sits in with other musicians during the afternoon and night. The stuff Bird played was out-there and different and just kinda weird. I didn't care because he was playing in the shade.

I caught some moe. and took a nap for a few minutes as I recharged my batteries. We left early to get a good spot for Spoon. We hung out behind the soundboard. The quality of sound was top notch and Spoon sounded amazing. I just had low energy and even napped during one song. The Joker and Nicky dug their set. Out of everyone I saw on Saturday, Spoon had the best technical performance.... meaning... they sounded good. I didn't know enough of their material to tell you if they fucked up a song or rocked out a high energy version of a specific tune.

We headed over to Micahel Franti and Spearhead to flash peace signs to him for Strawberry Shortcake. We hung out near a shrine in the back area of the stage Franti played. We drank and took pics.

We made a rookie move and tried to get food before Tom Petty's set. So did 25,000 other people. The result? Stuck in line for 30 minutes waiting my Illegal Pete's burrito. It was worth the wait, but we were super wasted in line. Everything I was on had kicked in at that point. I was mush, rolling hard and had itchy arms courtesy of the pain killers. The Joker was on fire and almost started a riot as our line slowly inched to the front.

Tom Petty was packed and we were somewhere in the back. I kept telling the Joker that Petty was outstandingly mediocre at best. I've seen Petty enough times to know if he had a hot set or just phoned it in. We checked out the monkey exhibit and then sat in the waaaaaay back of Petty up on the side of a hill. If Nicky wasn't blocking me, I would have rolled down the entire hill. That's how wasted I was. We made fun of Petty's voice and the bad sing-alongers in the crowd. One girl was so wasted that she screamed out, "Play Free Fallin!" Petty had played it just twenty minutes earlier. Steve Winwood sat in for Gimme Some Lovin' which was sweet.

We crashed hard on Saturday night and woke up early on Sunday to rally. The lineup was definitely stronger on Saturday and we headed downtown to breakfast at one of the Joker's favorite diners called Sam's No. 3. I crushed an omelete and was ready to get to the festival... except traffic was kind of a bitch.

We found the secret food court inside the soccer stadium. We had no idea that area was open to the public on Saturday. They also had AC in the bathrooms. Nothing is worse than having to take a dump in 100 degree weather inside a sweltering port-o-pottie.

We missed Rose Hill Drive. We could have caught the end of their set, but they were playing at a stage out in the scorching sun. We caught the end of Alberta Cross and smoked tough. At the tent next door was Ingrid Michaelson. She reminded me of a more socially adjusted Ani DiFranco. Happy lesbian songs instead of angry dyke music. She did a cover of Ice Ice Baby > Parents Don't Understand. That whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

The News Mastersounds are my new favorite band. I have been on a serious kick the last six months on the British funk band that reminded me of Galactic circa 1998. They played twice at Langerado and I was eagerly awaiting their set on Sunday. They played a gig in Breckenridge the night before and also got caught up in the massive traffic jam that we were stuck in. They got a police escort and arrived in time so everyone could shake their booty. I skipped Tea Leaf Green in order to see The New Mastersounds.

The acoustic guitar dueling duo of Rodrigo y Gabriela was on the main stage for their 4pm set. We celebrated 4:20 with them before we headed back to one of the tents to see Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. I was more than please with their set. In fact the two acts I wanted to see the most came through in the clutch. New Mastersounds and Grace Potter were the highlights of the festival for me. Grace Potter is pretty hot and she frantically shook her ass during a couple of her high energy tunes.

We skipped John Mayer and hung out to drink and eat dinner in the secret food court. Afterwards we checked out a couple of song from The Roots before we migrated over to The Black Crowes. I wasn't familiar with their new material, but their set was solid as they mixed in a few of their classics with new stuff.

And then it was time for Dave Matthews Band. I really wanted to leave, but the Joker and Nicky wanted to see him. Before I flew to Denver I tried to persuade the Joker to throw a huge party at his house on Sunday night so we could skip Dave Matthews and rage instead. Alas, I got stuck at Dave in the back with a bevy of drunken frat boys and chatty high school girls on their cell phones. Luckily everyone had the munchies and I convinced the crew to seek out donuts and other snacks instead.

We discovered that there was a fire sale for food. Meatball subs for $2? Unreal. I was stuffed but ate one anyway. What a sick deal. They also had massive ice cream cones for $1.

We went back to the same spot we hung out for Tom Petty from the night before and caught the rest of the set. Joker is a closet Dave Matthews fan because he knew the names to all of the songs. I kept giving him guff over that. I was super happy to finally leave and we skipped the last two tunes.

Overall, the music festival was average. Nothing special. The highlights were Grace Potter, New Mastersounds, and Spoon.

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