For those of you who didn't read my intro to The Mountain Tempo's new contributor, please read the post from yesterday. If you're too lazy, let me say that since this blog was imagined, I've wanted this dear sir to be involved...because in a way, he already has. Apart my job in the industry of receiving new tunes on a daily basis, Sam is by far the most influential component of my musical spectrum. To explain would take me multiple posts. And, he is the only person to make what I deem the 'best mix ever.' Ladies and gentlemen, the Mountain Tempo is proud to introduce the first of many installments by samuel hayes miller...no CAPS, mind you.
dispatch: commerce city
mile high music fest day 1:
arriving in my office this morning, i half expected my banker to call me. the conversation i imagined went something like this:
banker: sam, uh, hey. its jeff. listen um, an identity theft alert popped up on my computer here, it appears you, ah, or someone pretending to be you, pulled out quite a lot of money from ATM's at the mile high festival over the weekend....
sam: ummm, no, yea, no, right. that was me.
sam: (clears throat).......the beers were eight dol...
banker: (interrupting) sam, you pulled out several hundred dollars!
banker: look, sam, i like tom petty as much as the next middle class laborer, but 200 hundred dollars in bud light bills is just bad form.
sam: how'd you know i was drinking bud light..?
banker: (rolling eyes) lucky guess, look, were gonna need to move some money around, these ATM fees are killing you, couldn't’t you have swung by a gas station on your way in, jesus man!
sam: (silence) i...
(long pregnant pause)
banker: ....well, was it a good show at least?
I choose a question mark at the end of my imagined conversation with severe purpose. The Mile High Music Fest (MHMF) is like a boys weekend in Vegas, you feel invincible at the time, but as the weekend winds down, in this case as Dave Mathews marched out his typical line-up of late-nineties familiars, you begin to feel a deep and aching sense of loss. Specifically, economic loss. You probably shouldn't have purchased those 7 dollar won-tons and why, oh why were you drinking 8 dollar Bud Lights hand over fist. It’s not like we are in a robust market right now. The ability to enjoy the raspy tones of Spoon frontman Britt Daniel or the sweaty, hands-in-air-get-down under The Roots tent, is relatively hindered.
However, despite all this, there were certainly good times to be had in the wilds of Commerce City, CO.
Expertly outfitted in thin fitting suits, overhand mustaches and derby hats, Ritter’s band looked like a collision between the set of There will be Blood and Darjeeling Limited. Ritter often bothered me with his calculated recordings and over-thought lyrics but his live show feels far more lived in. The songs take on a great identity that his studio work feels stripped of. It appears that looking out over a crowd affirms for him that he is loved and that, yes, we all know his lyrics and that he can be a bit spontaneous. This is a good bet for a third date as its easy, approachable but edgy enough to prove that your reading up on your music blogs. B+
I couldn't hide my pleasure in seeing Mr. Bird on the lineup at MHMF. Perhaps better suited for Monolith, Bird drew a good crowd of visor wearing, as-yet-to-be-converted and left them all thinking, "I don't know what to call it but....its great!". Andrew Bird is like a rare collectible you find in an antique store - curious and odd but ultimately one of your secret loves. Go. Listen. Smile. Incidentally, you'll never find a more impressive whistler. Yes, whistler. A-
J.J. Grey, the Jacksonville, Florida native with the delicious southern drawl, spent the entire show wielding the unmistakable red cup, or "traveller" , as he covered Otis Redding standards and hammered away on the Hammond. While a touch reminiscent of the jam-band/horns heavy late nineties, Mofro knows how to make you wish you were down south at a craw fish boil knee deep in Mint Juleps. While Mofro isn't new, its a rugged soul sound reminiscent of a late sixties Whiskey-A-Go-Go show that will not disappoint. Best if seen outside with alcohol. B+
Mofro - Lazy Fo Acre
Let me preface this by saying i love Spoon in a special thank-you-for-saving-rock kind of way. Their songwriting is a proud re-invention of the rock genre that is at once unmistakable and surprising. But, they did not command any more power live than on their albums. Perhaps it was the 90+ degrees weather (although they're from Austin) or perhaps the charm of Denver's thin air was not so winning, whatever the case, they themselves seemed thin. Frontman, Britt Daniel hit every note in his falsetto handbag, but appeared almost bored with himself. Nevertheless, Don't Make Me A Target rang out proudly with his perfectly pitched, realist lyrics. Buy the records, but be prepared for a louder, less insistent live performance.
*strong marks given since a mediocre Spoon still murders its competition.
Spoon - Don't Make Me A Target
Get some beer. Throw down a blanket and ask nothing more from a man who has carved out a spot in all of our hearts, somewhere. Perhaps small, it’s in there if you look hard enough. I could have done without the Steve Winwood guest appearance, but that’s probably because he brings flashbacks of tight-rolled pants or something equally upsetting. Petty sounds good, but unless your into the stadium mass rock audience, he is simply a pleasant finish to a long festival day. Good show to get the parents out of the house.