20 Bands, 20 Nights | Tired and Five Bands Short

SW Camping Trip

About a month ago I realized that I had the opportunity to see over 20 bands in about the same number of nights; I figured it could be a cool little “feat of strength” while on vacation. But I ran into something much bigger and more powerful than myself: mother nature. The adventure came up five bands short but that’s the only thing that didn’t measure up. I spent a work-week in some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and just couldn’t pull myself away from the majesty of America’s Southwest in time to fulfill my endeavor.

I did see fifteen bands in eighteen days including an incredible festival day at Red Rocks and an amazing My Morning Jacket show at the Greek Theater in LA that wrapped up the whole trip. My companions and I missed a festival day at San Diego’s Street Scene but other than that the entire trip was a success. Read on for a little synopsis of the last half of 20 Bands, 20 Nights.

The last time you all heard from me was the Friday before the Monolith Festival. The next day I hopped on a plane to Denver then grabbed lunch before heading over to Red Rocks for the first time. The first day of Monolith was simply incredible; I caught six full sets and some tastes here and there.

Two definite highlights from the day were Holy F*ck in the late afternoon at the top of the venue and a killer White Denim show that was probably the highlight of the trip musically — photos and reviews forthcoming. Getting to see Red Rocks for the first time was special and I’m glad the music measured up to the greatness of that venue.

Sunday wasn’t as full of music as Saturday was but the final three shows at Monolith were pretty incredible. I parked myself at the mainstage from 7pm until midnight getting to see Band of Horses, TV on the Radio and Justice one after the other. Band of Horses was a perfect fit for watching the moon rise over Denver, they’re beginning to take advantage of their SC roots and play a real nice brand of alt-country.

As always, TV on the Radio killed and it seemed like most of the late Sunday crowd was there to see them. The new songs from the album played well intermixed with stuff from Cookie Mountain and Blood Thirsty Babies. Justice dropped the heat on a smallish crowd for a little over an hour and finished with an awesome “We Are Your Friends”; the crowd chanted the chorus for the entire walk to the car after the duo left the stage.

Early the next morning we cut loose from civilization and drove into the Rocky Mountains. About five or six hours later we arrived at Arches National park and stayed for two days in the middle of the wilderness. I still can’t get over the size and beauty of some of these places; if you’ve never been, get there.

The next two nights were spent on the banks of Lake Powell. Just as beautiful as the previous spot, it may have surpassed Arches only because we would wake up and jump in the lake in the morning to avoid the desert sun. The extended camping left us with a choice: we could spend the rest of the vacation in LA or split time between San Diego. We decided that LA would be an easier end to the trip and a more enjoyable Friday night so we cruised into the city of angels Friday afternoon and stayed the weekend.

It was tough to give up on this little undertaking but spending the day on the beach in Santa Monica was well worth it and being rested for an evening with My Morning Jacket was important. The Greek Theater is another really cool venue. Set up in the hills of LA, it is small and intimate. The sound is great and MMJ took full advantage. They played an amazing two and a half hour show and sealed themselves in my mind as the band of the moment. I’ve got some great photos and a review to follow but I’ve got to catch up on my life first so that’ll have to wait until next week. Until then…