It’s the dawn of a new era in Denver. “We’re one of you guys (Austin, LA, San Fran, Chicago, etc.) now!” we proudly exclaim as we welcome the world to our beautiful city to enjoy only the finest musical acts in all the land. Denver’s gonna show ya we have just as much fun as the rest of you guys, dag nabbit.
Friday, September 14, 2018
Tennis – Kicking off the fest is local fan favorite, power couple, and personal heroes, Tennis. Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore were amazing as per usual. They sound as good live as they do on the record. The cherry on top for a live Tennis performance is the hip and glamorous fashion displays in tandem with the attitude and banter from Alaina. After such an initial high, I’m wondering if the fest will be all down hill from here.
We try to go get dinner only to discover the No Re-Entry Policy – WHAT?????? We bought 3-day passes… Now maybe I’m a little mega-fest naive, but dang! We got here at 3pm and want to see bands through 10pm, we’re fenced in here for 7 or more hours?? What’s a cool, local happy hour enjoying couple to do?? Well, we skirted the re-entry policy by begging, essentially. Shout out to Nicole and her crew for understanding. We ate Adelitas, yum. We also learned that biking can be stressful.
We got back and waited in line for beer for 5 minutes, we went nowhere. We decided to leave line to go see Phoenix.
Phoenix – Fantastic as usual. Visuals and effects are soothing and on point, band is hyped, drummer stands up sometimes to drum harder. Patented red chord on microphone and lead singer, Thomas Mars, walks into the crowd to get a little personal. Not deep enough to reach us though, bummer. The performance was essentially the same performance as last year’s at Red Rocks, just a few less songs, like no Love Like A Sunset, bummer. The classics for them are so classic and eternal, but then they throw in that Ti Amo stuff and it’s not bad, per se, but it’s just not good like Wolfgang Amadeus is good or even Too Young or It’s Never Been Like That.
War on Droogs – Got another $8 Budweiser in a can, yum. It’s dark now and we’ve missed half the set because the line was pretty long and these sets bump up right against each other. It’s getting very crowded now. Show was tight, people just leave in bunches song after song, because Kendrick Lamar comes on soon at other stage and who wouldn’t wanna be in The Pit for that? So we get pretty close and they rock pretty hard. Liked it lots.
Kendrick Lamar – There’s an oriental theme to his opening video screen part. Very interesting. He likes karate, I guess kinda like how Lupe Fiasco likes karate. We’re sitting way way in the back on some stools at Bud Light Dive Bar (so cool and hip and down to earth. Is Bud Light a local beer??) but you can still feel the bass in your chest even from 400 yards away. There’s lots of red and black and Kendrick mostly lets the crowd recite his lyrics while he goes “woo” at the appropriate spaces between bars. There’s pyrotechnics, which is fun. We decide to see how close we can get so we can gauge the true size of the crowd. It’s massive. And dense. We don’t get very close at all. EVERYONE is hyped. EVERYONE knows all the words. Honestly it’s spooky. There were some very nervous looking 13-14 year olds (3 of them) that were lucky to gain permission to go from dad after mom originally told them no. They were hyped but worried about inhaling second hand marijuana smoke. Actual fireworks went off at the end of the set and it was better than the Fourth of July in Denver. (Sorry no pics 😥 )
Day one mercifully ends at 9:45pm ish. It feels like midnight.
We go get our bikes and fight the crowd and chaos on our way out. Works out very decently (we learned a lot from the earlier ride).
Day 2 – Saturday, September 15, 2018
Preparing for day two, now fully aware of the no reentry policy. We want to see a band at 2:30pm and also Florence and the Machine at 9:00pm. That’s roughly 8 hours of being trapped in a Bud Light sponsored wannabe Coachella crowd on a golf course with only the South Park gimmick area to entertain us between sets. The temperature is expected to reach 94 F today. I am rethinking this take.
We set out for a second day of Doozle. Knowing we weren’t going to be able to leave until after Florence + The Machine around 10pm, we prepared no differently. Except I brought a water bottle and that was helpful. Also, my mophie mobile charger so I can have enough battery to stream the Buckeye game at 6pm.
Wilderado – Truly the surprise band of the weekend. Wilderado rocked out not once but twice. First was their own set at the Rock Stage (stages are themed Rock, Paper, and Scissors. Fun, yeah??) and they were really a nice twangy rock four piece group of hunks. Everyone crowded near the front of the stage because the stage itself provided relief from the relentless sun. The lead singer apparently has a baby and wife who he sung about and also kept telling the crowd how quiet they are. They also played at the Bud Light Dive Bar Stage (TM) which was located close enough to the Rock Stage that it caused a bit of noise confusion between Wilderado and the one and only Snow Tha Product. After a lengthy soundcheck, they rocked the house. A cold and unopened Bud Light ($8) was left at the table we sat at. After waiting the standard four song time period, I took it and drank it.
Poolside – At this point my buzz was buzzing pretty good as a result of a the bud light and the heat. But how come nobody told me that Poolside had a full five piece band including bongos? The set was funky and fun and they covered Strange Overtones by David Byrne and Brian Eno which was a delight. Their hit cover of Harvest Moon by Neil Young was their closer and it rocked too.
After Poolside it was dinner time. What do we got? Mac n Cheese for $15? How about burnt ends sandwich for $14? Every food truck here has clearly colluded together to charge $13-$15 for whatever new age Asian fusion concoction they’re offering. But what, what’s this? It’s Illegal Pete’s, the local Denver favorite, selling burrito bowls, and for only $8??? Sold. Sold. Sold. We eat and get ready for Sturgill.
Sturgill Simpson – I don’t think I understood a single word he sang, but I really didn’t care. Sturgill rocked out harder than everyone else combined this weekend and he doesn’t give a shit if you liked it or not. The Rock stage was pretty jammed packed with a little extra dash of Tall Guy in the crowd, so visibility was low. I think he played 4 or 5 songs in the 45 minute set. Lots of jamming, and lots of rock and lots of roll.
Young the Giant – No time to waste, YTG starts up immediately following Sturgil over on the Paper Stage. Queue the mass migration. They play the two new singles, which are fine. They played Apartment which was a nice surprise and closed of course with My Body.
Florence + The Machine – The headliner headlines, and she headlines hard. With no other acts to compete with, the Rock stage is jam packed. We’re able to see basically from where we saw Kendrick on Friday night. I wonder how much of he crow overlaps between the two headliners… Florence implores the audience to embrace each other, hold hands, tell them you love them, then put your phones away, and then take your phones out to turn on the flashlights, then run fast for your mother and fast for your father.
It’s only 9:45pm but we’ve just experienced 4 consecutive hours of live music and we’re beat. We locate our bikes and head to Sexy Pizza for a late night slice. Two pepperoni slices and two beers cost the same as one beer inside the festival. It’s time for bed.
Sunday, September 16, 2018
It’s harder to get up for day 3. This is now a test of our stamina as we prepare for the third and final day of the ‘Doozy as all of us festival goers are calling it.
Mavis Staples – She’s scheduled to play at 4:15pm. We didn’t make it. We’re eating tacos at Uno Mas instead. Getting very full and harnessing the energy required to bike to Overland Golf Course one more time. Again it is hot, again it is sunny.
De La Soul – We get in and head straight for the water station. We set an intention to drink less alcohol today. But we agree one drink will do us some good early in the day. De La hypes the crowd with a classic left side vs right side “Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah” competition. The funky beats reverberate our chest bones all the way in the grass sitting down in the back. They have playful banter between songs and praise the crowd for being from multiple generations and having a good time. We head over to the Ski Lodge area where we have yet to explore. There’s a Never Summer and TOPOs Designs hut and we check out the merch. V cool.
St. Vincent – We’re still checking merch out and sippin’ dranks while St. V plays. She’s fine, and we admire from a safe distance. Resting our tired bodies by sitting on the ground. The weather is actually lovely as the sun goes down.
Chainsmokers – What the hell. There’s so many fireworks involved and it sounds like every other dubstep DJ in LODO. It’s so loud it’s impossible not to hear as we stand in line for ice cream. The ice cream is a welcomed substitution for beer. We sit and eat and prepare for the great Stevie Wonder.
Stevie Wonder – He’s definitely blind. And aging. But man can that guy play the hell out of a piano. I counted three percussionists and five background singers. There’s approximately 27 band members on stage. Stevie has a tendency to whine-sing which I was unaware of going into this thing. But when he wants to he sings like a god damn angel, and it’s truly a treat. He mentions his faith in God twice and also that he was all of our vocal teachers before he gets to the hit (My Cherie Amour, Sir Duke, I Just Called To Say I Love You, Superstition…. goodness the list goes on and on). Finally we grow too weary to bop and move our feet. We surrender to the weekend and head for the exists. A surprising number of people have to same idea to beat the crowd by leaving before Stevie wraps up.
The inaugural Grandoozy is over. I hope the fine folks over at Superfly learned some lessons. I hope I learned some lessons. I hope the golf course grass recovers. And I hope you enjoyed this post. If I had to do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat. I think the lineup was diverse enough and the schedule set appropriately that I only had to interact with the Chainsmokers fans in passing, and mostly stayed close to my fellow Tennis heads. The beer and food prices were highway robbery. But also I think they could charge $26 for Frosé and people would still buy it. So, like Phoenix told the eager Friday night crowd, “Get rid of those fucking beach balls. This is the first year of this festival. It can be whatever you want it to be. If you have beach balls now, next year you’ll have unicorn floats and all that bullshit.”