Mile High Music Festival set reviews: Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, Amos Lee, The Samples, The Constellations

Snake Rattle Rattle Snake mile high music festival 2010.JPG
Brian Landis Folkins
Snanke Rattle Rattle Snake
Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, 1:30 p.m., Bison Tent

Blame it on the early hour, chalk it up to the inconvenient location of the Bison Tent on the far eastern end of the complex. Maybe it boils down to the fundamental feel of the open-air stage, a forum that doesn't exactly lend for immediate intimacy with the performers.

Whatever the culprit, I realize that some factor must be at play as I arrive at the Bison tent after traversing the length of the Dick's Sporting Goods complex for Snake Rattle Rattle Snake's set at 1:30.

The crowd seems scant, the audience seems reserved and the energy of the entire performance just feels a bit dampened.

The sense comes from my experiences at other shows. The group's had a good summer in terms of publicity and public exposure. The band's performamces at the Westword Music Showcase and the Post's Underground Music Festival featured capacity crowds, widespread dance sessions and a constant sense of movement.

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Brian Landis Folkins
Snanke Rattle Rattle Snake
As the band delivered their blend of syncopated beats and insistent vocals on tunes like "Ornament," however, the effect felt different. The tent was only a third full, and much of the audience was lazing on the lawn or sitting in portable chairs for the performance. At past shows, the appeal has always been in the contagious effect of singer Hayley Helmericks' energy, Kit Peltzel and Andrew Warner's dual drum lines and guitarist Doug Spencer's resonant guitar work.

All of those elements were in full force here -- indeed, the airy stage allowed the beats to ring more resonantly and Hemericks' vocals to sound out more expansively. But the usual feel of a tribal dance session, of a collective and expansive experience shoved in the confines of a venue that's too small to fit its full force, was markedly absent.

It made the performance feel muted, and left me longing for SRRS shows I'd seen in cramped dive bars on South Broadway.

Brian Landis Folkins
Amos Lee in the Elk Tent.

Amos Lee, 2:15 p.m., Elk Tent

Hearing a sultry soul soundtrack ring from a soccer field in the middle of the afternoon is downright bizarre.

Neither the setting nor the hour stopped Lee from delivering his brand of seductive soul, a sound pulled from 1970s giants like Barry White and Isaac Hayes. Lee had the backing of an expert ensemble, a group that sounded as if it could have been comfortable playing behind Marvin Gaye.

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