Live review and photo essay, Monolith, Day 1: Rockin' at Wet Rocks

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Karen O, lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, performs during the Monolith Festival on Saturday at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The annual music festival continues today. Photo by John Leyba, The Denver Post

Cold weather and rain have almost become a tradition at the annual Monolith Festival, which opened at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Saturday.

While headliners Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Girl Talk and Of Montreal should have been the stars of the festival’s first day, the rain and lingering cold weather upstaged much of the music, making for slightly thinner crowds at the outdoor stages and mammoth attendance at the indoor stages.

Images from Day 1 of Monolith at Red Rocks, plus the pre-party show the night before at the Gothic Theatre. Photos by John Moore.

To see Denver Post staff photographer John Leyba’s stellar Day 1 photo gallery, click here . Here’s a sample:

leyba sample

Monolith continues today with headliners Mars Volta and Chromeo but not MSTRKRFT, which canceled.

Despite Saturday’s weather, Red Rocks seemed fuller than it has at past Monoliths. But when the rain was at its peak, long lines stretched out of the amphitheater’s underground visitor center, home to two of the festival stages with the most limited capacity. Like past years, the music Saturday was mostly stellar and artfully consistent.

After taking a brief break, the rain came back strong for Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O to storm the stage and howl, “Red rockin’!” The band played a formidable set that included a moody, almost bipolar “Runaway,” a thrilling take on “Gold Lion” and a fittingly dancey “Zero.” The band’s sound was dialed in immediately, and their headlining set was strong but not epic.

The day’s surprise standout was Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, an arty 10-piece collective that wooed a sizable audience early in the afternoon. Their sprawling, hippie-dippy set of psychedelic pop was equal parts Arcade Fire grandiose and Akron/Family freakishness. Their buzzy set had fans talking all day long.