Elephant Revival, The Oh Hellos, and Mandolin Orange at Red Rocks in Morrison, CO on 5/21/17

Elephant Revival

Elephant Revival didn’t put on your typical concert. The five member transcendental folk band from Nederland, Colorado pulled out all the stops for their Red Rocks Amphitheatre show. A Senator spoke, a drum circle chanted, an orchestra played, aerialists flew, and an intricate light show illuminated.

Before the music started, Senator Michael Bennet addressed the crowd complimenting Elephant Revival’s environmental activism. One of their projects was their participation in Colorado Public Lands Day on May 12th.  The band worked with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers at the Eldorado Canyon State Park. Elephant Revival rewarded fans/volunteers with an intimate acoustic show. I had the privilege to take part of that event.

Bonnie Paine

The Red Rocks appearance began with an Indian drum circle complete with dancers in traditional dress (yes feathers were worn). It set the mood for the evening that was not only influenced by multiple genres of music (Celtic, bluegrass, and alternative rock), but by nature.

The band took the stage while rain poured down on the audience. Singer Bonnie Paine was dressed like a Greek Goddess in a white flowing dress. It was her birthday the day before and the crowd shouted out birthday wishes throughout the evening. The roadies dressed in matching suits and hats handed Paine a saw. She played it while singing the haunting Close As Can Be.

Strings and horns joined the band forming the Mayflower Orchestra. They accompanied the band for a large portion of the night making the sound dynamic and powerful. An amazing light show wowed the crowd during their version of Pink Floyd’s Have a Cigar.

Aerialists – All Photos by the Rock and Roll Princess

Towards the end of the night a troupe of aerialists were hoisted above the stage.  They performed a Cirque du Soleil like air ballet. Bonnie Paine described their movements like butterflies creating storms.

After all the flowing dresses and floating women, vocalist Daniel Rodriguez sang the fitting Grace of a Woman. The show ended with Rodriguez leading the crowd in a howl-a-long to Sing to the Moon. “Go and sing to the mountain/Go and sing to the moon” (the crowd howls here) “Go and sing to just about everything/Cause everything is you.

The Oh Hellos

The Oh Hellos were second on the bill. I was expecting a mellow brother and sister folk duo.  But a large energetic band with two drummers appeared shattering my preconceived notions.  The high-energy fueled set was slowed down by technical problems.  But lead singer Tyler Heath made it humorous by asking the crowd if anybody had a tiny screwdriver to fix his guitar.  His sister Maggie Heath’s beautiful voice blended with his effortlessly for their hit Hello My Old Heart. Regan Smith channeled his inner Pete Townshend while he smashed his banjo at the end of the performance.

Orange Mandolin

Starting the night of music was Mandolin Orange. There was a mandolin, but it wasn’t orange.  Despite the false advertising, the North Carolina duo won over the crowd with their self described lyrical country grassy folk music. Their song Wildfire was a powerful Civil War themed song that addressed how hate never fades away. Andrew Marlin introduced Heart of Gold as a love song performed sadly because they like juxtaposition. Emily Frantz thanked the strong winds for making her hair look good (who needs a wind machine when you have the actual wind).  Marlin thanked the sun for being the world’s biggest spotlight. There are definite advantages of being the opening act.

See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one leading the howl-a-long.

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