As one of the last Red Rocks shows of the season, it was with mixed emotions that I showed up to what’s become my favorite venue last Saturday. Bittersweet, heavy-hearted yet ready to boogy my ass off – these are the trail mix of feels I was experiencing if you’d like to get in my head. This was the most homie stacked lineup thus far, and the magnitude of the night was beginning to set in as I met up with friends and entered the amphitheater. Last year The Floozies were special guests of GRiZ’s Red Rocks takeover last year, and it was beyond dope to see the brothers taking the stage for their very own ‘Butt Rocks’ headliner. Along for the ride were fellow funk compadres Russ Liquid, SunSquabi, Michal Menert and the Pretty Fantastics, not to mention a few top-notch unannounced special guests. We were definitely in for a treat, and the party vibe was thick in anticipation.
Our first round of surprise guests contained Eric Mendelson and Tyler Dondero of Exmag, who sat in with the Russ Liquid Test. After seeing Russell crush several performances over the summer, his energy has yet to slow down. He’s a wizard marching to the beat of his own strange drum, and that’s probably one of the reasons we can’t get enough of him. Although the official RLT roster has AJ Hall on percussion, Russ opted to recruit another New Orleans based drummer, Nick Mercadel, for live appearances. Mercadel was a welcome talent to the stage as well as Andrew Block, a guitar virtuoso who’s been making a name for himself over recent years. It was after this particular performance that I came to realize Russ’ true talent lies in who he chooses to collaborate with. He’s all about utilizing the most of his creativity, and he thrives on bringing others along for the ride. The set ended with some dark Drum N’ Bass that literally shattered the crowd as people spontaneously threw themselves into dancing fits. Complete with his characteristic horn blows and some serious drumming from Mercadel, it was one hell of a way to end the show. Actually, his set never officially ended – the producer/trumpeter sat in throughout the night with every act that followed – can you say MVP status?!
Next up were Boulder based Sunsquabi, a three piece electronic rock group that have been spreading their crunchy peanut butter vibes from state to state the past few years. If you were to ask me how to describe them, I’d say they were a more likeable and danceable version of STS9 – more funk, less ambience, and an energy that comes from a genuine love of playing music with your best friends. Living in Colorado has surrounded me with Tribe lovers, and while I wouldn’t call myself a member of the club, I can appreciate a good experimental funk band. To me, Sunsquabi are the perfect embodiment of this, and every performance tops the last. Serving up a few unreleased tracks and a personal favorite, ‘Squabcat’, the boys turned the set into even more of a heater with the addition of Russ Liquid, who guested on ‘Pygmy Up’ and ‘Deluxe’.
Michal Menert and the Pretty Fantastics made use of the massive stage space by filling in all 11 members of the band as the crowd packed into the rows. The amount of talent that each of these musicians bring to the band is staggering – combining their individual years of experience, artistry and style, MMPF are a true force to be reckoned with. Jubee is revitalizing the soul of the hip-hop community every time he takes the stage, and at the most beautiful venue in the world, it made for an even more awe-inspiring experience. On ‘Tomorrow Land’ he belted out such passionate grooves that he had Red Rocks as a whole weeping in appreciation. ‘Away from the Madness’ saw Menert and JuBee teaming up on vocals, proving that their chemistry is supremely genuine and heartfelt. Zah, a powerful female performer, gave it her all on ‘Raise Up’, an emotional highlight that saw the set nearing its end.
Brothers Matt and Mark Hill come together to create the experience known as The Floozies, and when they hit the stage it was apparent that the real party had officially begun. Known for their high energy, bawdy and downright fun shows, these guys did not disappoint when it came to their first Red Rocks headliner. Choosing the opening support was definitely key in keeping us all amped and ready for even more of a party, and we were definitely satisfied. Throwing out classic covers of Bon Jovi’s ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’, Chaka Khan’s ‘Tell Me Something Good’ and a retake of Lettuce’s ‘Do It Like You Do’, The Floozies have perfected the art of revamping classics from across the genre board with their unique use of heavy electronic overrides. To add on to the momentum, the Floozies had Kevin Donohue of Sunsquabi come out for a guest collaboration, and we also had the pleasure of Jason Hahn of EOTO/String Cheese Incident swing by before his own round of a two night run with his side band Rhythmatronix. When it comes to The Floozies archives, this was a special set for the ages. Oh, and our MVP came out as well – could we also call this Russ Rocks?
To all the artists, managers, and those involved behind the scenes, thank you for all that you do to continue providing quality and top-notch music for our ear holes. Here’s to the future!