Mile High Music Festival: Cypress Hill, Nas, Damian Marley, The Samples

the samples
Aaron Thackeray
The Samples.
Boulder alumnus the Samples packed the area in front of the Wolf stage with their bluesy, funky jams with heavy dance hall/world influence. They played "Did You Ever Look So Nice" and the segued into "Giants," with Blues Traveler's John Popper jumping in on harmonica, riffing up and down the scales in playful balance with the bass.

Next was a folksy, poignant rendition of "Little Silver Ring," followed by "When It's Raining." The Samples played well, but I wanted to hear what Nas and Damian Marley would be throwing down, so I made my way back to the main stage.

nas mile high music festival
Aaron Thackeray
Nas on the Kyocera main stage of Mile High Music Festival.
The act began with a mash-up, including an emcee demanding, "Make some noise if you smoke weed!" Which elicited a predictable reaction from the crowd. There were samples from the Fugees' "Ready Or Not" melded into deep reggae bass, and the substantial crowd enjoying it immensely. Then Nas and Marley got down to business, shifting from hip-hop-influenced reggae to reggae-influenced hip-hop, effortlessly taking turns and maintaining the vibe. A Eurythmics line was sampled, "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These" before bridging into the gospel-vocal-adorned "If I Ruled the World," followed by "Count Your Blessings." We were treated to "Despair" and "The Promised Land," and there was no denying Marley and Nas were keeping the energy up and the crowd engaged, but I wanted to catch the last few minutes of Rusted Root.

Over to the Elk tent, where the highlight of the appearance was a cover of Elvis hit "Suspicious Minds," faster and more energetic, but no less poignant, than the original. The tent was packed, and the crowd plus the bleeding-over noise from nearby made it difficult to hear exactly what the band was playing. They took the mood from gentle
and crooning to hard, fast and energetic.

I could hear Cypress Hill covering "Jump Around" from Dick's stadium, which was impressive considering the Wolf stage is on the opposite side of the venue from the stadium. The sound from the crowd indicated they were reliving the group's hey day right along with Cypress Hill, but they were responding to the newer songs with equal enthusiasm as well.


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