Live Review: Colorado Rising Flood Relief Benefit at 1STBANK Center, 10/27/13

Categories: Concert Reviews

Eric Gruneisen
Todd Park Mohr at the Colorado Rising flood relief benefit last night at 1STBANK Center.

By the time Dave Matthews took the stage last night during the Colorado Rising flood relief benefit show at 1STBANK Center, it was tough to spot any empty seats. Matthews had the capacity crowd on its feet during his entire set, but even his obvious star power didn't overshadow the overwhelmingly intimate and local feel of the evening. This show was clearly a community affair made up of Colorado musicians, all coming together for a highly worthy cause benefiting the people of their home state.

See also: Flood benefit concert at 1STBANK with Dave Matthews, the Fray, Big Head Todd and more

Eric Gruneisen

The mission of the evening was clear. A roster of guest emcees that included Governor John Hickenlooper and AEG Live Rocky Mountain President Chuck Morris, who both spoke of the continuing cleanup and recovery efforts in the wake of last month's floods. It was also clear in the event's lineup, which included Nathaniel Rateliff, DeVotchKa, the Fray, members of the Lumineers and Big Head Todd and the Monsters, all of whom spoke to the importance of the fundraising efforts during their sets. And they all spoke of their connections to Colorado.

Eric Gruneisen

Isaac Slade of the Fray casually announced, "We're from like four minutes away," before launching into "You Found Me." (Fun fact: In the early days, the Fray used to rehearse in a barn at 104th and Wadsworth, roughly four minutes or so away from 1STBANK.) Wesley Schultz of the Lumineers, meanwhile, made mention of the band's early days playing at the Meadowlark, and Todd Park Mohr of Big Head Todd and the Monsters declared, "We're from Colorado. We're very proud to come from Colorado." Even Matthews, who was born and raised in South Africa, spoke of his ties to the local community. "I'm excited to see old friends," he said.

Eric Gruneisen

Nathaniel Rateliff's set was the shortest of the night with only three tunes. That short suite was still plenty powerful, though, with songs like "Still Trying" setting a heartfelt tone for the evening. Before introducing the next act, KBCO's Bret Saunders found a way to pay tribute to a fallen musical legend and Colorado at the same time, noting how Lou Reed loved Boulder, adding that Reed had married Laurie Anderson here in Colorado.

Eric Gruneisen

DeVotchKa followed that segue from Saunders with a slightly longer set of five songs. Frontman Nick Urata led the band through stripped-down and dynamic versions of songs like "Queen of the Surface Streets," "All the Sand in All the Sea" and "The Enemy Guns." Lyrical stretches offered a direct and eerie connection to the cause of the evening. As Urata sang of "walking to the mouth of hell," it was easy to summon images of devastation that followed the flooding. The overall mood was jubilant, however, as the crowd began to pour in and the venue started filling up in earnest.

Eric Gruneisen

The Fray took the stage as a trio, with frontman Isaac Slade addressing the crowd like an old friend. After delivering a bare-bones version of "You Found Me" featuring an acoustic guitar, a kick drum and a tambourine, Slade announced the band would try out a new song. He called out for John Hickenlooper's son Teddy to come on stage to hold a note on the piano for the band's a capella performance. Versions of "How to Save a Life" and "Love Don't Die" followed in the band's four-song set.

Governor Hickenlooper came onstage on crutches, and spoke directly to the cause before introducing Dave Matthews. He talked about the community, resiliency and the need that still exists since the floods hit 46 days ago. "We're all connected tonight," Hickenlooper declared. "You guys are the greatest music fans in the greatest music state in the world."

Eric Gruneisen

Dave Matthews followed with one of the longest and simplest sets of the evening. Armed only with a series of six-string acoustics, Matthews played an eight-song set that included stirring versions of "Don't Drink the Water," "So Damn Lucky" and "Crush." Before launching into an energetic version of John Denver's "Take Me to Tomorrow," he joked about the tune's upbeat pace.

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