The LOHI Music Festival celebrated its 5th birthday by blocking off 32nd Avenue in front of the Highland Tap & Burger and throwing a big shindig. This festival has become a yearly tradition for many Denver residents. Last summer we were treated to a pair of headlining sets from moe., while this year The Infamous Stringdusters took the helm with two sets supported by an eclectic lineup from across the country. There was a safari theme this year, meaning many attendees donned their best leopard print and kakis. The day began with local psychedelic funk outfit Vine Street Vibes on the HTB stage. LOHI features lengthy sets on two stages with no overlapping music. The day fits like a musical jigsaw puzzle. The Vibes played for an hour before Joey Porter’s Vital Organ cranked up the main stage.
Despite their slightly flippant name, the Vital Organ is yet another musical outlet for Motet keyboardist Joey Porter. This group focuses on a soulful funky output that is always a crowd pleaser. Livetronica group The Malah came next. They had a very organic output with a basic power trio configuration. The addition of synths and samples made it more than just a rock and roll band. They have a thoughtful approach to their music while emphasizing deep grooves and funky beats.
This was Kung Fu’s first show since the recent shake up and departure of founding member Todd Stoops. Beau Sasser replaced him on keys for their set at LOHI. I have to say that they haven’t missed a step. They put on a severely funky dance party featuring an outrageous version of Living Colour’s “Cult Of Personality.” California’s Hot Buttered Rum was next on the bill. This band sounds incredible these days. The Drunken Hearts’ Zebulon Bowles filled in for Aaron Redner on fiddle. They treated us to a beautiful “Another City” and ridiculously tight “Busted In Utah.”
The Infamous Stringdusters played the first of their two sets on the main stage. The sun shined down brightly as bluegrass fans danced feverishly in the street. They went into a predictable, but utterly magnificent “Colorado.” The Stringdusters are one of the best string bands touring today. Their performances are a demonstration of stellar musicianship on all levels. Their first set also included an inspired “Fork In The Road.”
Roosevelt Collier’s Colorado Get Down is a super group of epic proportions. The band includes Dave Watts, Garrett Sayers, & Joey Porter all from The Motet alongside Andy Thorn from Leftover Salmon. This being just the latest of several tours here in Colorado, they are actually an incredibly tight band. They featured some heavy instrumental jams blending the dirty funk and the sacred steel. As Collier got into high gear the sky began to open up. A rainbow could be seen in the distance adding to the overall atmosphere of the festival. The Stringdusters would play their last set as it continued to lightly drizzle. The rains cooled everyone off after a hot day on 32nd Street. LOHI continues to offer interesting lineups that include not only nationally touring groups, but celebrated local bands as well. After five years LOHI Music Festival has firmly established itself as one of the best single day events in the metro area. Happy Birthday LOHI.