After a week of TX hurricane mayhem at the secret government job, I'm finally sitting down to relay the rocktastic goodness that I witnessed last week at the Monolith Festival, which took place a mile above sea level in Denver, CO. Though the festival itself didn't officially start until Saturday, I flew in Friday, picked up this guy and this guy, and after a bout with bad directions, we finally found our way into Denver an hour or so later, heading right for the Bluebird Theater for the Monolith Festival VIP Party with Cloud Cult.
What an incredibly interesting and innovative group, a true phantasmagoria of sounds for the ear and sights for the eye. Onstage, with one shoe on and one shoe off, you'd think the lead singer/songwriter Craig Minowa was acting out a fairytale not just singing about them ("Fairy-Tale"). But it just added to the eclectic and colorful stage show that Cloud Cult has as the backdrop to their string-filled lush pop songs.
Minowa plays acoustic guitar and a megaphone at times, ala Tom Waits. There is a cellist (Sarah Young), a violinst (Shannon Frid), a drummer (Arlen Peiffer), and a bassist that doubles as a trombonist (Shawn Neary) who make up the music portion of this very tight six-piece collective. The other two, Connie Minowa and Scott West are, I kid you not, painters who create full individual canvases during the course of each Cloud Cult show. At the end of the show, they then auction off the paintings as "they can't take them on the plane," said Minowa. The work is stunning, as is the speed at which the painter Minowa (wife of the lead singer/songwriter) and West work, because in addition to painting during the show, they also step in as back up singers on a few songs.
Having walked in knowing nothing of Cloud Cult or their music, I will tell you I'll be seeing them again...and you should too. (See upcoming tour dates, including CMJ in NYC, here.) When a good band performs live, it is an opportunity for them to fully express themselves to the audience in ways that a two-dimensional recording cannot always convey. Cloud Cult is a band that knows this and works it to the max.
See the rest of the BL&L photos from this show here.
Pretty Voice_Cloud Cult
Take Your Medicine_Cloud Cult