As I already mentioned, this past weekend was pretty much dedicated completely to the second annual Mile High Music Festival. Kim and I arrived before the music started on Saturday morning and lasted for nearly twelve hours in the heat. Sunday was a later start for us, but we managed to stay through at least part of the final act of the festival, Widespread Panic. Rather than breaking down each of the bands we saw, I’m going to highlight the good and the bad of the festival just like I did last year.
First the positives. My biggest complaint from last year was the lack of an affordable ride to the festival from downtown Denver. I’m so happy that this was corrected this year. We purchased roundtrip green shuttle passes for the weekend for $50 each. Even though the website said that the shuttles would run every hour on the hour, I found out that they actually seemed to run them more frequently than that. Whenever enough people were there to fill a van, that van was assigned a driver and ready to go.
The sound issues that really hurt one of the stages last year was corrected. The entire stage was moved from the grass fields and onto the street directly in front of the stadium. I wasn’t a huge fan of the paved viewing area, but the sound was much better than last year. In fact it provided a couple of my favorite sets of the second day, both John Butler and Robert Randolph. I’ll accept the negative stage placement for the improved sound quality.
One change that had both positive and negative impacts was that the entire festival grounds were shrunk significantly. It was nice that the walk between stages wasn’t as far as last year. But this came with a huge drawback in that the sound was really carrying over from one area to the next. This really affected the two tent stages, which were both setup very close to each of the two main stages. The sound from the very large main stages easily carried into the smaller tents, which were often featuring quieter bands. This problem was most noticeable for me during Railroad Earth (with Galactic playing nearby) and Guster (with Gogol Bordello nearby).
And the biggest disappointment for me was definitely the lineup. Obviously it was going to be tough to top the headliners from last year (Dave Matthews Band and Tom Petty). I really enjoyed many of the mid-level afternoon acts, but felt that the headliners were fairly disappointing. Tool was good on Saturday, but The Fray left a lot to be desired on Sunday evening. I definitely noticed the crowds were much smaller this year, though I’d still like to see some attendance figures.
Overall, I give this years festival a B- or C+. I was really glad that some of my biggest complaints were addressed this year, but I feel like some of the things I loved about last year were lost this year. With that said, I still hope the festival is around for years to come and I will likely continue to show up.