Mile High Music Festival Recap

Today is my first day back after a long, but very fun weekend at the Mile High Music Festival, and I’m definitely dragging. This weekend was a blast though, and I wanted to offer a few thoughts on Mile High Music, and the Festival experience.

In all the years that I’ve been going to concerts, this is the first time that I’ve been to a festival.  The closest experience that I’ve had was an all-day event that featured 5-6 bands, enough of a contrast of 48 bands over two days.  With the number and the sheer size of the place, it was definitely a taxing experience.  The weather nearly broke 100 degrees on both days, but I never appreciated clouds rolling in as much as I did each afternoon.  We rolled in on Saturday in the late afternoon, but not late enough to escape the heat. I also updated my Flickr with pictures from the festival as well.

Music. I managed to see:

  • Citizen Cope – They were playing when we walked in and were pretty impressed
  • O.A.R. – The show I was anticipating most, as I never heard them live before.  They had such an amazing sound!
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead – Awesome as always, I didn’t get to see as much as I hoped, but got my Spearhead fix nonetheless
  • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – I was surprised he played some of his biggest hits pretty early on in the set.  Tom Petty was about what I expected, I was glad to have seen him, but it wasn’t a highlight of the day for me.
  • OneRepublic – In all honesty, from what I heard I had low expectations going in, but was pleasantly surprised.
  • Flogging Molly – One of the best shows of the festival.  This was the first time I’ve seen them, but I definitely will be checking for the next time they come back to Denver.
  • John Mayer – This surprised me the most, as Mayer’s sound has changed drastically since the beginning of his mainstream career.  He was extremely talented live and put on an awesome show, but I don’t think he did justice to his bread and butter.  I joked that he played a medley of songs that he didn’t really want to play, but felt compelled to because songs like "No Such Thing" and "Why Georgia" made him big.  He never played "Your Body Is A Wonderland" or "Daughters" though, which I found hard to believe.
  • Dave Matthews Band – This was my 15th show, and was as good as ever. What I found however, is that after sitting in the sun for two days straight, I had no energy left for this show. I spent half of it sitting in the chair, just taking it in. Jeff Coffin did a great job playing for LeRoi (get well soon!), and it was pretty amazing seeing Tim Reynolds play

Venue & Festival Logistics:

The grounds of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park served as an excellent venue for the Festival.  Everything was spaced out pretty well, and it was surprising how little noise pollution there was.  In addition, the organizers were pretty smart in being liberal what they allowed people to bring.  The fact that we were able to bring in folding lawn chairs is really what enabled us to sit through the sweltering heat for two days.  We also brought in more water bottles then were allotted, and they didn’t give us a hard time.  Also, they have the smartest camera I’ve ever seen for a concert: "Non-pro cameras (film, disposable and digital); pro-camera is anything with detachable lens".  I also love the fact that they opened the stadium, allowing people to have shady places to sit as well as running water & toilets.

I know this may come across as overly critical, and the comments made must be taken with a grain of salt for two reasons: 1) This is the first year that they’ve done anything like this, and it’s a monumental task to plan; 2) This was the first festival I have ever been too, and it could be that every festival suffers from these issues.

Honestly, the festival felt like it was over-sold. Not that there’s any problem with having a good crowd at an event: if you have the capacity to accommodate the number of people.  I’ve probably been to at least 100 sporting events and concerts, and the lines at the Festival by far were the worst, especially when it came to food and water.  It easily took an hour to be able to get any kind of food, and the watering lines were too long for as hot as the days were.  I hope that next year they are able to increase the food vendors, as well as double the water stations.

If you read my post leading up to the Festival, you’ll notice I didn’t see all the bands that I originally listed.  With all of the crowds it simply made it too difficult to navigate out of the main stage area into any of the other stages.  This may be simply the way things are at a festival, but Sunday was definitely far worse in terms of volume of people camped out on the stage lawn.  I know the same amount of crows prevented our group from seeing any of the “village” exhibits, as well as the merchandise tent.

Also, I realize the role of General Admission in festivals, but I wish there was some way to offer incentives to people who bought their tickets early.  Our group was talking and we thought what would be cool would be to rope around some of the stages. The people who bought tickets when they first came out have access to the roped section closest to the stage.  You could even tier different sections of the grass dependant on when people bought their tickets.  This way, more people would buy their tickets earlier, and festival organizers can get a better sense of the final number. I know that people could buy tickets on even the week of the event, which makes me wonder how many people waited until the last minute and contributed to the surge.

Lastly, $8 for a beer?  That’s highway robbery.  I realize that people still paid for beer at that price (me included) but the going rate for these things should be between $5-$6.  Also when you charge $8 for a beer, don’t complain about running out of $1 bills for change.

Did you go to the festival?  What were some of your thoughts on the highlights and ways that the festival can be improved?