With the double billing of two of today’s greatest funk acts at Red Rocks, Lettuce and The Motet, we knew we were in for one funky ride. What we didn’t expect was a tremendous hail and lightning storm, topped off with tornado warnings in effect. In true Colorado fashion, sunny skies turned to ominous storm clouds and rapidfire lightning in a matter of minutes, followed by massive chunks of hail violently pouring down from the sky. It was mayhem as 8,000 patrons pushed to get out to their cars amidst icy landslides all around the historic venue.
After briefly postponing the concert, attendees filed back in, drenched through and through, yet still determined to rage on. It was a true testament to what these bands mean to their fans, many of whom traveled from all over the country and were not about to let a little ice storm get them down.
The Motet first took the stage in their hometown, and the connection between the band and their fans was palpable. There was a sense of pride emanating from the local fanbase, many of whom have watched the talented funk collective come up over the years, playing smaller venues around Colorado while making a name for themselves. To see them have the opportunity to not only play, but sell out this landmark venue where The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and thousands of other legends have taken the stage was a very special experience.
The band brought their groovy, old school, disco-style funk to the Red Rocks for a full-blown dance party that had the crowd forgetting about the earlier trials and tribulations with the weather and getting down hard. A cover of “Get Down Tonight” was particularly raging and had everyone in great spirits getting into the groove. Garrett Sayers slayed on the bass, while Joey Porter held it down on keys and got pleasantly weird with the talkbox. Frontman Jans Ingber dominated with his powerful stage presence on both vocals and percussion on tracks like “Keep On Don’t Stoppin'” and “123.” Psychedelic background visuals set amongst the beauty and grandeur of the Red Rocks made the experience complete.
A special moment came when the band performed Beck’s “Sexx Laws” in honor of Chris Gwin, a Colorado music lover who recently passed away. His buddies had previously e-mailed the band asking to play the song as a moment when they could all think of their dear friend.
Motet Set List: Funny Bone > Knock It Down, Cloak ‘N’ Dagger, Fight The Power, Rynodub, 123 > Just Around The Corner, Sexx Laws > Keep On Don’t Stoppin’, Get Down Tonight > Jungle Jazz
With the crowd amped and ready to go, funk powerhouse Lettuce took the stage for their headlining set. Many had traveled far and wide to see them headline the Red Rocks for the first time, and the amount of love and support pouring out from the crowd was truly something special. The band is on the verge of releasing a new album which promises to be their most accomplished and dynamic work yet, and it’s apparent that they’re feeling particularly energetic over the forthcoming release.
An opener of one of their newer tracks, “Big Anthem,” welcomed you with a bang into their world of funk, followed by an older classic “By Any Shmeeans Necessary.” Eric Krasno got on the talkbox for a bit with a tease of “California Love,” replacing “California” with “Colorado,” which was a nice little treat. The band got spacey on the psychedelic new track “Chief,” and continued to tease the new album with “Phyllis.” They really brought it home with their most popular track “Madison Square” and followed it up with some other old classics like “Lettsanity” and “Do It Like You Do,” made even more powerful with the aid of Nigel Hall’s vocals.
Lettuce Set List: Big Anthem, By Any Shmeeans Necessary > Colorado Love > By Any Shmeeans Necessary, Get Greasy, Chief, Phyllis, Breakout > Relax > Jesus Dre > Trap > Madison Square, Squadlive > Lettsanity, Lett Zeppelin, Do It Like You Do > Makin’ My Way Back Home
The show was simply electrifying, with so much passion and energy coming from both top-tier funk bands as well as their dedicated fan bases. There is truly no venue in the country quite like the Red Rocks, and it was clear that all of the musicians were genuinely honored to be playing in a place of so much history.
Photos by Jake Plimack – full gallery at the bottom