Monolith Festival: Red Rocks’ Biggest-Ever Festival Set To Blast Off

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Cake

Friday :: Esurance Main Stage :: 10:15 p.m.

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CAKE is one of those bands with a distinctive sound that is easy to identify, yet remains hard to label. In an amusing classification, Vince Difiore – trumpet, keys, vocals — told The Marquee in a recent interview, CAKE’s music is “just a bit downstream from mainstream.” Downstream or not, the band’s combination of funk, ska, pop, jazz, rap and country, among other genres, serves as the musical backing for songs ripe with lyrical wordplay, creating a style that has won the band several platinum albums and a dedicated fanbase that spans all sorts of demographics.
Part of the Columbia Records label for five years, CAKE recently decide to part ways with the major and create their own label, Upbeat Records. It’s on this label that the band plans to release their latest effort B-Sides and Rarities in October of this year. The album, a collection of songs originally sung by legends such as Frank Sinatra and George Jones, signifies a fresh start for CAKE. “This gives the band a new life,” Difiore said of the transition. “It’s a bit like moving from junior high to high school, moving from Columbia to our own label.”

For a band that has cared so much for the arrangement and sound of their songs, it seems fitting that they would move into a role where they are able to control more of what happens in the recording process, from deciding when to release an album to how to package it. “On [Columbia Records] we were contractually obligated to put out albums at certain times. Now, we aren’t going to put something out because it’s time. Rather, we will put something out because it’s good and we believe in it,” Difiore said.
With their parting from Columbia Records, CAKE has taken matters into their own hands and life couldn’t look sweeter. The band has built a tour to support the release of the newest album they believe in, B-Sides and Rarities, and part of that tour includes headlining at the highly anticipated Monolith festival. Difiore said of the opportunity, “We are looking forward to playing Monolith because [Red Rocks] is a really amazing place to be and to play. I’d go there to see someone play the polka on an accordion just because of how beautiful it is.”
But CAKE is a band that also appreciates the hard work involved in something as massive as Monolith. “This is an event, so bands know they have to come and put on their best show, but to organize something like this – that takes a lot of work,” Difiore.
Besides, the festival itself is something CAKE really believes in. “It’s the end of the summer and things are winding down. People need this sort of thing before winter settles in. Just to be outside having a good time and listening to music in that sort of setting is cool in itself,” Difiore said.
Monolith seems to be part of a great beginning to a new chapter in the story of CAKE. Luckily for festival goers, they’ll be playing something a little better than the polka.

— Tiffany Childs

Cloud Cult

Saturday :: New Belgium Stage :: 9:30 p.m.

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Picture a group of passionate musicians with lofty ideals and some of the highest morals you’ve ever run into. Now picture them on stage playing songs that range from ballads to fast-driving rock guitar, all tinged with electronica. Meanwhile, on another part of the stage, two visual artists each begin and finish a painting during the set. You’ve just become passingly familiar with what Cloud Cult does in the music world.
Cloud Cult is being hailed as one of the up-and-coming bands that will be playing the Monolith Festival at Red Rocks this month. Although, with a start in the early ’90s, seven releases under their belt and a very enthusiastic fanbase, it seems a bit odd calling Cloud Cult the next big thing.
Recently The Marquee caught up with Craig Minowa, founder/singer/songwriter of Cloud Cult, and chatted about some of his thoughts on what Cloud Cult tries to bring to the table and why their fans are so, well, fanatic.
Minowa told The Marquee, “I am still continuously mystified by the fans’ enthusiasm. In the places where we have an audience I just wonder about how these people hear of us.” This lack of ego, which seems to be a Cloud Cult staple, may be a contributing factor of the group’s likeability, especially in an industry where big egos are the norm.
Another reason for the loyalty might have something to do with the band’s ethos. Minowa’s background is in Environmental Science and his environmental, political and social awareness is often reflected in the music Cloud Cult makes. Not only do the lyrics reflect these convictions, the band took it one step further and created a not-for-profit record label that uses the most eco-friendly methods they can find to minimize their damage to the environment, whether they are planting acres of trees or using solar powered items to offset the use of power necessary to put on a concert.
Although these sort of ideals coupled with Cloud Cult’s heavy, moving music create a fierce dedication in fans, the ever-increasing following hasn’t been an easy accomplishment. “It’s been sort of a gradual thing, kind of like walking up a big staircase,” Minowa said about the gaining popularity of Cloud Cult.
With the recent release of The Meaning of 8 Cloud Cult has been satiating their fans’ thirsts for live shows by touring almost constantly since March. Monolith represents the last stop of their tour and Minowa told The Marquee that the band was incredibly excited and honored to be playing the festival. “Connie [Craig’s wife and one of the visual artists on stage] and I and the rest of the band get burned out in city clubs and we are looking forward to the show at Red Rocks because we really thrive in an outdoor environment. And because it’s our last show I have a feeling it’s going to be really alive and energetic,” he said.
We have a feeling Minowa may be right. With the ever-present theme of the celebration of life in their songs, Cloud Cult’s elegantly crafted and beautifully performed music should seem right at home among the natural beauty of Red Rocks.

— Tiffany Childs
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