Review — Mt. Joy Embraced the Psychedelic With Timid Conviction at Red Rocks

All photography shot by Brandon Johnson

Although Mt. Joy has no immediate connection to Colorado, their deep roots in ’70s jam rock might convince you otherwise. Sure, their recorded material doesn’t exactly scream “psychedelic jam rock,” but their performance at Red Rocks sure did. From expansive guitar solos during Grateful Dead covers to creative mashups of Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” and Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” their traditional folk rock aesthetic transformed into a new classic rock entity with a slight psychedelic edge at the iconic amphitheatre.

Mt. Joy’s opening act, Wilderado, makes music that sounds like the spirit of Colorado — their sound is like a summer morning drive on I-70 while the sunrise peaks over the mountains. Songs like “Surefire” and “Take Some Time” were warm invitations to embrace the natural beauty of the chilled summer night and humbling energy radiating from the massive crimson rocks all around. If their music sounded intimate, that’s because it is. During their final song, “Rubble To Rubber,” a timid folk tune about the exciting revelations that come with new fatherhood, lead singer ​​Max Rainer brought out his daughter, who smiled shyly at the cheering crowd. It was a cute closer to a great performance before Mt. Joy turned the energy up a few notches.

READ: Review – Mt. Joy Channeled Classic Rock’s Golden Era at Mission Ballroom

Mt. Joy’s opening song “Orange Blood” was a gentle introduction into the timid psychedelic atmosphere the band explored all night long. As the band moved through their discography of fan favorites like “Strangers” and “Let Loose” during the first few minutes on stage, it was clear they curated their set as a steady climb to a musical climax.

By the end of their third song, “Let Loose,” the rock ‘n’ roll was in full force, with guitarist Sam Cooper and keyboardist Jackie Miclau leading the way with improved, high-energy solos and plenty of style to carry each colorful musical passage into the swirling world of ’70s rock ornaments. The highlight of their performance, though, was Mt. Joy’s creative covers of timeless classics like The Grateful Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain.” This track in particular gave the band ample space to honor the Dead with great chemistry and improved sonic exploration.

Although explosive tracks like “Lemon Tree” and “Acrobats” were great fun that kept the crowd dancing, shouting and performing some of the best air guitar Red Rocks crowds have to offer, quiet moments like “Bathroom Light” and “Cardinal” were points of calm connection that provided a smooth escape from the noise of the modern world. Each song played a vital role in the concert experience and felt carefully curated to create a fluid adventure through rock ‘n’ roll and folk-rock, complete with psychedelic undertones. Whether the crowd was dancing, singing or silently getting high, every moment with Mt. Joy on stage was filled with great energy and even greater music.

All photography by Brandon Johnson

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