There are times when a concert pops up online, on Facebook, Bands In Town, email, wherever, and you know you need to go. This was one of those times. Back in November, we got wind that Devin Townsend, Gojira, and Opeth were playing the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver. Absolute no brainer. Tickets for myself, girlfriend and best buddy were purchased right there and we decided we would figure out how to get over there when the time came. It came, we grabbed flights the day before the show and off we went.
I could go on and on about Denver itself. Amazing place and we met some incredible people. I’ll stick mainly to Red Rocks and the show though to save myself from rambling on too much. So, Red Rocks. What can I say, it more than lived up to the hype. It is a venue that has always been on my list of places I must go. Seeing photos online is one thing of course but, in person, its magical. We went in early to enjoy the sights as much as we could prior to entering the amphitheatre for the concert. Many people go in and tailgate, hangout, have a few beverages and enjoy the surroundings and meet new people. The sun was shining, it was a perfect day.
You could hear the bands running through their soundcheck and just that alone seemed incredible. We couldn’t even really believe where we were either. It seemed crazy. During the soundcheck you could see the smoke rising up out of the rocks, accompanied but heavy riffs and vocals echoing out of the rocks. Every time we would hear Devin or Gojira running though a song we would just look at each other with a stupid grin and shake our heads in disbelief.
Entering the venue is the point where I split off solo to go meet up with the other photographers and wait for our cue. I was actually surprised at how tight we were to the stage. It isn’t raised off the ground so we actually had to kneel down to keep from obstructing the views of people behind us. Pretty cool though to almost feel as though you were on the stage with the bands.
I have been a big fan of Devin Townsend for a long time. Along with my one buddy who came, we used to go to his shows in Toronto back when he rocked a “skullet”, rocking out in a much smaller venue but always, always a hell of an experience. Live, there is no comparison. Every time I see this guy it becomes “man that was the best show I have ever been too”. Well, DTP at Red Rocks will be nearly impossible to beat. Coming out, greeting the crowd and jumping into his set with “… we’re going to do a bunch of stupid shit, is that okay? Help me out here, is that okay?! We’re from Canada guys, f**kin’ suck it! Ready?!..” Amazing. Devin’s vocals are second to none. His transition from singing then going into a monstrous scream is seamless and beautiful. His songs are somehow heavy as f— but also uplifting and transcendent. It’s crazy. And Devin himself is hilarious, unique, nerdy, hairless, and just the best. Closing his set with March Of The Poozers, a wicked heavy march off of Ziltoid The Omniscient about little alien creatures that look oddly similar to upside down scrotums. Obviously.
Devin Townsend at Red Rocks pic.twitter.com/xKw8XdDtNi
— Mike Highfield (@MC_Highfield) May 20, 2017
Gojira was the only band on this bill that I had not seen live. I was pretty pumped. We were warned as photographers ahead of time about some pyro beginning in the fourth song of the set, Stranded. The heads up was appreciated as the pyro was pretty intense! I’ve never seen flames like that at a show. I was twenty rows up for that song and could feel the heat. Both Gojira and Opeth were filming their sets so the whole production was on point. Gojira was insane. So heavy, so damn good. I would go see their shows any time! Actually I can’t wait until they play again anywhere remotely close. This was another one of those times where we would all look at each other with stupid faces, just trying to believe what we were witnessing. Absolutely unreal. It was getting darker now so sometimes you would zone into the stage and almost forget where you were. Then turning your head slightly in any direction, the giant rocks surrounding you would come into view and ya, it was surreal.
Gojira at Red Rocks pic.twitter.com/4H2tsj2L7w
— Mike Highfield (@MC_Highfield) May 19, 2017
Opeth was the headliner for the night. I have seen Opeth four or five times going into this show. Mikael Akerfeldt, the lead vocalist has many talents. his vocals have a crazy range from singing beautiful melodies to dropping into this guttural intense growl. And between songs, his ultra dry humour is a huge contrast and has us almost looking forward to what he has to say as much as each tune the band lays down. This night I didn’t have the same photo access for Opeth as I did for Gojira and Devin but thats ok. I was able to take it all in, enjoy the music, my surroundings and the people I was with.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a truly magical place. This is maybe the single most remarkable musical experience I have had to date. I could almost do one of those cliché Master Card outlines of “flights: $$$, accommodations: $$$……. Red Rocks: Priceless..” but no, the trip was quite expensive! But, totally worth it. Denver as a whole, I highly recommend.
Photos/Reveiw: Mike Highfield