Mile High Music Festival Day 1 Recap

Commerce City! A bustling metropolis of industry! And the home of the two year old Mile High Music Festival. Two fully stocked days of bands both big and small mashing in to the Dick’s Sporting Goods Complex to entertain the sun-kissed crowds.

Ani DiFranco

Day one began with us walking in to a cover of The Cure’s In Between Days actually being given justice by Matt Nathanson. After making a plan of attack, we headed towards Main Stage East. Long time running band Gomez took the stage and pulled Revolutionary Kind from their earlier days to kick off the set. After catching a few more songs, we headed to the Rhapsody tent to wait for Colorado loved Ani DiFranco. The demographic in the tent was amazing. On top of the crowd that usually follows DiFranco, there were a lot of dudes in Tool shirts with mohawks dancing when she kicked off Little Plastic Castle. Ani DiFranco is small but is a powerhouse. She filled the tent all the way to the back.

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After DiFranco was local staple Big Head Todd and the Monsters on Main Stage East. Singing into the slowly sinking sun, the ensemble that has been solidly performing since the late eighties abided by the Colorado band rule #2: play home often.

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The front Main Stage West filled quickly before Incubus came up. Without saying a word...Privilege, Pardon Me, Nice to Know You, Anna Molly, Stellar, Megalomanic... It was a hit filled set that seemed to have two purposes. One: to entertain the gathered masses and two: to remind people (myself) how many singles these guys have had.

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On the way to the Westword Tent, we decided to head to the main thoroughfare and let the corporate sponsors take a crack at stealing our souls. Unsuccessful would be the “MLB Experience” which consisted of a trailer with some baseball caps inside and a ho-hum, poorly placed batting cage. SUCCESSFUL would be the Playstation Experience. This thing was an air conditioned semi-trailer with giant Sony TVs and tons of free games. Walking in and around were a bunch of scantily clad women with PSPs hanging from their waist on retractible cables so that as you play, this weird girl awkwardly breathes down into the side of your head. Now THAT’S how you infiltrate every level of a consumer’s consciousness! (I just pimped your product Sony. I want my free PS3.)
Leaving Soul Removal Alley, we went to the Westword Tent to take in The Black Keys. This tent was so full that I couldn’t get anywhere close to seeing or hearing anything. AWD frontman and photo pit monkey Castro said that they killed it though!

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As Castro enjoyed the set from the front row, I headed to the 1stBank Stage in the back of the complex. Denver raised India.Arie took the stage after a long sound check. “There’s something I have to get off my chest before I start the show,”. She then told a story about how she sent her brother to the car to get the credentials passes for her family to get backstage(see Westword's article). As he was at the car, the wonderful Commerce City Police Department arrested him under the suspicion of him scalping the passes. She had to start the show without her family because they were picking him up from the station. In tears she started her show as she normally does with a musical prayer. Turning to her musical director and keyboardist, she had a long conversation ending with “...Because it will make me feel better, that’s why I want to do it.” She said that the song she was about to the band didn’t even know yet. Under her powerful direction, they threw this brand new song called Life is Good together right there on stage and it was perfect. “Now I feel better!” she stated and then promptly launched into Video. The emotional set concluded with I Am Ready for Love. Now that her family was all there (including her wrongfully arrested brother) she brought her mother on stage to finish the song with her. Arie’s set was one to be remembered.

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Not having proper clearance to photograph Tool, Castro and I gathered up the equipment and headed home to rest up for day two.

illustration by Joe Tone

Additional Note: NONE of us had clearance to shoot Tool. Because of that, we have provided you with the Westord’s depiction of what it looked like and a bunch of iPhone pictures of people in Tool shirts.

Words: Randy M. Washington
Pics: Robert Castro