Last night Starbucks hosted the first ever Carved In Stone concert festival at Red Rocks. The line up featured Ryan Adams, Lucinda Williams, Old 97's, DeVotchka, Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, and the December Question. With special guest appearances by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and some Starbuck's guy who grow up in Denver and went to East High School.
In my mind, I clearly expected this to be the concert event of the summer. Red Rocks, a dreamy summer night, and great music... it had all the makings of an unforgettable evening. But once again I am the victim of expectations... well, sorta.
We arrived at Red Rocks shortly after 6pm, upon entering the amphitheatre we were offered free samples of blueberry frappuccinos - OH MY GOD! I'd never had a frappuccinos, and they were to die for! Yum!
We then proceeded to find a good place to sit and caught the tale end of one of the opening bands... I'm not sure what band it was but they weren't bad. Moments after they were done, the Old 97's took the stage. Lead Singer Rhett Miller's flight got delayed so he didn't show up until half way through his band's set. The Old 97's played a short, but solid set minus any of Rhett Miller's solo stuff :-(
DeVotchka was decent. I think I like them better in the small venues where their eccentric sound can fill a room and engulf you in their trance. Next was Lucinda Williams. Oh Lucinda... Most people around us seemed disappointed and bored with Lucinda. Having never seen her live, I'm not sure what her concerts are normally like, but initially she seemed sort of introspective and middling. It was like having a first date with a beautiful woman and when she arrives she's already drunk. But eventually she sobers up and your glad you came.
There was such an energy of anticipation for Williams and Adams, yet neither seemed interested in putting on any sort of grandiose spectacle. Both were a little more mellow and melancholy than I expected, yet they still delivered the goods.
Adams showed off more of his vocal abilities, and his band (the Cardinals) was superb! The extended jams sounded great, and everything he played sounded smooth. Adams sounded mature and rational, and I have to admit, I was hoping for a little more sporadic, rock-your-balls-off type stuff... i.e Halloween Head or something from the RocknRoll album. But when you're Ryan Adams or Lucinda Williams, you can pretty much play whatever you feel like playing. Even if that means, No Come Pick Me Up, No New York New York, No Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, No Can't Let Go. Which is actually kind of cool because you get to hear the deeper cuts, and personal favorites.
All in all it wasn't the concert event of the summer, but it was a damn good time! An exquisite summer night at red rocks, cold beers, coffee, my loved one, good friends, great people watching, and plenty of laughs.
The only other thing missing was... More cowbell!