Although the recent monsoons managed to shut down Llamapalooza and turn MeadowGrass into a mudfest, the outdoor festival season forges onward. In that spirit, Denver's Riot Fest and Rodeo has announced its first wave of bands, with more headliners on the way. The initial lineup release should entice devotees of post-punk (Pixies, Iggy Pop, Modest Mouse, Drive Like Jehu), metal (Motorhead, Testament, GWAR, Anthrax), and old-school hip hop (Snoop Dogg, Run DMC, De La Soul, Ice Cube).
The 2015 lineup also features more eclectic talents, including cosmic funk supergroup Bootsy Collins' Rubber Band, acoustic metalheads Tenacious D, merry punk pranksters The Dead Milkmen, and the baroque pop ensemble Cloud Cult, who are known for engaging in live painting during their shows. Even if you don't dance to anything, the proceedings should keep all tastes satisfied. Riot Fest will be held at Denver's National Western Complex from Aug. 28 to 30.
In the meantime, local fans of hip-hop can rejoice, as two artists from the much-lauded Rhymesayers label make their way to Colorado Springs. On June 11, the Speak Easy Vape Lounge will host the self-described "dark, weird, bugged-out" Seattle collective Grayskul. The group, whose credits include collaborations with Aesop Rock, will be joined by classically inspired, Denver-via-Tulsa artist Simple Steven, with further opening acts to be announced.
Shortly thereafter on June 19, Flux Capacitor will be presenting another long-time Rhymesayers artist, the critically acclaimed rapper/producer/author Blueprint. The electronic-minded emcee is touring behind his new LP, King No Crown, which was released on his own label, Weightless. Along with Blueprint and his tourmate, Supastition, the show will also feature between-set music by DJ Rare Groove and performances by local acts Big Ro, Clydesdale Ent. and A Black Day.
Finally, here's an update on Dillon Novak, who was first profiled in the Indy back when he was still just a teenager. Now, at the age of 23, the self-taught filmmaker has directed a new music video that was featured on Vevo's homepage last week and will soon be in MTV rotation.
The video that Novak conceived and directed for Denver singer-songwriter Rob Drabkin's track "Stay (The Morning Light Fades)" is a gauzy, elegantly shot affair set in Colorado College's Shove Chapel, starring two Colorado-based dancers, Amanda Copple and Luke Kamppila, and filmed with a Colorado-based crew made up of Novak's old friends and collaborators, students from UCCS, and students from Cheyenne Mountain High School.
The erstwhile punk rocker, who is now based out of Los Angeles, has come a long way from the "parody music videos" he made in his basement as a Colorado Springs teenager. Yet it was that pastime which led him to consider a serious filmmaking career.
"I think the pretense of parody took any weight of failure out of the question," says Novak, who found his confidence building as he went along. "I realized that maybe I was pretty all right, [and] I should try making serious ones."
Novak's subsequent efforts add up to an impressive portfolio of short films and music videos that have attracted notice from festivals and, as Novak happily points out, the attention of his fiancée Ashley Adamson, who now collaborates on his videos.
Beyond the exposure and success the video has already received, Novak describes the homecoming as "very healing, like falling into a family again."
"I've seen people who have given up on their passion and lose their eagerness, and I strongly believe what prevents that is an environment where everyone [believes in] making something greater than an individual," he explains. "I have never felt so fulfilled by the process, and I am thankful for that perspective I gained."
In a sense, the positive reception and experience brings Novak's path full circle, as his coming of age in Colorado Springs prepared him to take a more individualized path as an artist.
"I fell into the self-declared punk crowd," says Novak. "Not the 'cool' punk crowd, which was primarily popular, swoopy-haired skaters, but the uncool one. I liked it that way ... this was the environment where I learned to put myself out there without worrying."