My Journey to Red Rocks and Back
Sold out shows for two nights at Red Rocks has to be one of the highlights of the Nine Inch Nails-Soundgarden 2014 Tour. It’s every band’s dream. Crazy fans, people watching (including Jack Sparrow lookalikes) $8 beers and more. Truly an epic tour since both bands are major headliners having platinum success on their own and longtime loyal fans (NIN has almost 4 mill likes on FB, Trent has almost 2 million on Twitter alone as does Chris). After recently shooting Soundgarden at SXSW Music Festival in 2014 in Ausitn-there was a live taping of Guitar Center Sessions with The Wild Feathers- I was determined to see them at Red Rocks, one of my all time fave venues- maybe second to my hometown Gorge amphitheater in Washington that overlooks the Columbia River or the Hollywood Bowl- rich with history and memories, is in there somewhere too. As a concert photographer, these are my big three. The show itself was unbelievable although the odd start time of 7:30 for SG might have affected their set if they didn’t feel enough crowd love. “Black Hole Sun” still impresses every time. By 9pm more people crammed in the rows (I laughed when someone asked me to find my seat- since there really is no way possible-they all blend together on the benches and no one really sits in their seat-mine had vanished long before). Lyrically, the bands connect with both Chris and Trent talking to audiences with similar lyrics about going to hell and back. The diehard fans and NIN showed me nothing like I’ve ever seen before (and I’ve seen and shot tons of shows). indescribable headbangin’ rock, high energy, synth jam sets, and predictably lots of sex after the show- and an awesome older woman shouting things to Trent about how badly she wanted him was the highlight of the night. I had no idea that Trent was such an EDM, Synth God, using at least half the show with revolving sets, band members, and synth stations (6 I think at one point). There is actually a documentary with interviews about the sound influences and how the DX7 changed his life called, “I Dream of Wires” (which I must see after finishing this post). Find it on http://pitchfork.com. Interesting how he was a pioneer in the rock-synth progression since now you’d be hard-pressed to find a band that doesn’t include EDM or synth somewhere, and there is a fast growing popularity (actually re-birth) of electro-synth-pop-duos and artists (Chromeo, The Crystal Method, Iconapop, Wye Oak, Phantogram, MSMR- not to mention DJ greats like Kaskade, Skrillex, Deadmaus…..). More importantly, he is not bad to look at and must workout six hours a day by the size of his Biceps and Lats.
Staying with friends nearby in historic Evergreen, CO which was originally a lumber town settled in the 1800’s, was the perfect plan. Filled with wellness businesses, touchy-feely holistic healers (and probably an apothecary nearby), leftover hippies with a weirdness and charm much like Austin (and Boulder). Trey Parker, co-creator of South Park, based on his life growing up in the area-and Willie Nelson had a ranch there-and the notorious John Hinkley Jr. once lived there too. The town has plenty of hiking options (elevation around 8,000 ft) while Evergreen Lake is a gorgeous place for walking or kayaking. Must do activities include venturing into the historic downtown area and into the iconic Little Bear Saloon (once a drugstore and church), famous for all the epic bands that have played there for over half a century. Bands still rock there nightly which is amazing to me. Of course you’ll want to pick up a nice pint glass or t-shirt on your way out. Oh and please take a photo of the bras hanging near the stage. Read about the saloon here: http://www.littlebearsaloon.com/ .
Another hoppin’ town (ha ha) in the area is Golden where you can get some free beer at the Coors Brewery, have a great locally grown, grass-fed burger, and hang out in the river where we saw a group amazingly doing SUP against the current! Finally, I ended up in Boulder for an amazing last couple of days hiking the Flatirons (did way more than I was conditioned for) and meandered through residential streets stumbling on a much needed Oxygen Bar, and of course hit the legendary brick pedestrian steps of Pearl Street where I found the most interesting Quinoa Whiskey! Since Boulder is a college town you can walk or bus almost anywhere.
The final chapter of my adventure from Colorado included finding the back roads to Austin from DFW airport in Irving to bypass crazy traffic and drivers and stumbled upon Glen Rose and Dinosaur Valley State Park- a place that had been on my Bucket List for some time! Seeing large preserved tracks from 65 million+ years ago when Dinosaurs roamed the Earth, was incredible. Some of the tracks were very hard to see due to recent rains and flooding in Texas. The pointy tracks are those of Acrocanthosaurus and the larger tracks are those of Sauropods. It’s mind-blowing that paleontologists are still making discoveries including finding a new species in 2007.
Playing in Austin again next month at Austin360 amphitheater, will be my third time seeing SG (twice with NIN) in just 5 months and will round out my trek from here, to Colorado, to Austin again. I can’t wait.