arts and entertainment
Mixed review for Mile High Music Festival
The Mile High festival drew local and global artists but fewer attendees.
By John Hendrickson
The Denver Post
Posted: 07/20/2009 01:00:00 AM MDT
Updated: 07/20/2009 10:29:18 AM MDT
David Kern and Karen Sims, both of Denver, lie on the turf Sunday as they listen to music from the Rhapsody Tent at the Mile High Music Festival. Crowds that gathered at Dick's Sporting Goods Park for the weekend festival were smaller than last year's. (John Leyba, The Denver Post )
The Mile High Music Festival, a two-day rock and pop marathon in the fields surrounding Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, came and went quietly in its second year.
Despite highly anticipated headlining performances from the likes of Tool, Widespread Panic and Denver locals the Fray, attendance was noticeably smaller than last year. Chuck Morris, president of AEG Live Rocky Mountains, which runs the festival, said Saturday evening that the attendance numbers were on track with the goals.
Although the number of festivalgoers steadily increased throughout both Saturday and Sunday, overcrowding was never a problem. The field in front of Main Stage West remained largely empty throughout most of Sunday.
Weather also was
not a problem despite a late-evening rain shower.
The 2009 lineup drew equal criticism and praise. Many thought there was too much emphasis on artists most easily classified as "jam bands."
"It definitely wasn't as diverse as last year," said Alex Baker, 23, of Lakewood. Baker noted that last year's headliners, the Dave Matthews Band and Tom Petty, seemed to draw attendees from all over the country.
"It was cool how they tried to give so many local bands a shot," he said, "but I think that the festival really suffered for that reason in the end."
Others were pleased with the local representation on both micro and macro levels.
While bands such as the Fray, DeVotchKa and Boulder's 3OH!3 were given choice time slots Sunday, lesser-known locals such as Gregory Alan Isakov and Paper Bird were given opportunities to perform earlier in the day.
"We really don't have much experience with these big festivals," said 3OH!3 vocalist Nathaniel Motte. 3OH!3 took a break from its summer on the Vans Warped Tour, a traveling festival for smaller pop, punk and ska bands, to perform at Mile High.
Along with the unusually strong local showing, artists came from around the world to perform in the mile-high altitude.
British band The Duke Spirit played to an enthusiastic crowd Saturday afternoon in the Westword tent and Australia's John Butler impressed many Sunday at the FirstBank stage with his complex acoustic guitar playing.
Festival general manager Rob Thomas said that the weekend was "awesome" and "exceeded expectations." "Of course we'll try to make it better next year," Thomas said. "It's a constant process, an evolution."