It’s all done, ladies and gentlemen. Grandoozy came and went with a bang and a flash and some dance moves and reverberations from speakers spreading out across Overland Golf Course from September 14th – 16th. Superfly Marketing Company, the same badass troupe that bring music lovers the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, got through all of the bureaucratic red tape and put on one hell of an event. I have to admit that I was a little worried, given the location, given the amount of red tape that would be wrapped around every inch of festival ground, but they pulled it off. I’m happy to report that my fears were unfounded. I mean, not entirely, because they were a bit over eager regarding security protocols at the entrance (take off our belts, really?) as well as truly a bit hypocritical with their stance regarding environmentalism (we’re taking care of the grounds, but please everyone go buty see through plastic bags to carry and eventually trash). Maybe we’ll talk about the very few negatives later. Meh. First let’s talk about the overall.
Grandoozy was held at Overland Park Golf Course and it’s pretty cool that Grandoozy took the time to provide a little bit of a history lesson on Overland Park for those who were interested in reading about it on the event website. They point out that, “the park Denver knows as a close-in Golf Course began back in 1859 as Rufus ‘Potato’ Clark’s Homestead Farm”, and that it later became “Overland Country Club, hosting crowds at its racetrack” with “various exhibitions” and “one of the West’s earliest golf courses”. It was also “later a popular Oasis for car camping”; camping, which is what I full on suggested after my day one shabby shuttle experience from the I-25 and Broadway RTD Station, but I digress. Denver “bought the land as a park early in the twentieth century, brought back the golf course”, and expanded with the 18 holes. Overland, from being the site of Colorado’s first plane flight, early balloon ascents, motor and harness racing, and Buffalo Bill’s last Wild West show, is now the home of Grandoozy. Huzzah.
The important part, though, is not the history of the venue, because we are looking to the future. Grandoozy plans to return yearly and if they return with anything close to what they brought this year, we’re in for a fantastic future of incredible musical events. For this year, given that we only had one press pass, we couldn’t possibly cover everything that happened. There were three main stages, with several smaller stages, including the Break Room, the 80s Ski Lodge, the Bud Light Dive Bar, and the Vision Blue Room. Which is to say, nobody saw everything. It would have been impossible. And that’s probably why every group was there. I find that that’s the nature of these events with music and events that appeal to everyone. On-site I saw Boulder hippies and Denver hipsters. I saw communities of color, college kids, older folks with kids, and even older folks that were definitely retired. The able and disabled axlike we’re enjoying the event. I saw one savvy wheelchair rider with fog lights on the bottom of a chair that looked incredibly badass. I saw the rave crowd, the goth crowd, the cholos, and the gangsters. There were preppies and athletes, professionals and the less so. All in all, they did an incredible job, better than most, of bringing together and incredibly wide swath, a massive cross section of our Colorado communities. Now, I don’t know that you could have gotten me to buy a 3-day pass for that event, but it was very apparent that many had 3-day passes, including one lucky couple that were gifted theirs by some Denver Nuggets players that were walking through the crowd making friends.
So again, no, we didn’t see the entire show. But we saw we loved. And here’s what we have to say about that.
Ty Dolla $ign was more pop and more fun, with many in the crowd singing along to his radio friendly music. There were lots of kids in TGOD shirt as well. Big K.R.I.T., on the other hand, had a denser crowd, more weed smoke in the air, and definitely more people of color – specifically Black folk – enjoying and dancing.
Miguel opened his set and was immediately electric. Now I haven’t really followed his music and I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but he’s definitely a child in the lineage of Prince and Michael Jackson, combining the brilliant and passionate lyrics of his music, his incredible singing, and his mesmerizing dancing; jumping and flying and spinning across the stage with immeasurable energy. He also took it to a whole new level by doing songs in Spanish, which is incredible and adds to the diversity of the performances. Probably the most important point I can make about Miguel’s performance is his giving of two rules for one of the sexier songs he performed, which he told everybody they should dance to. Rule number one was, if you know the words you have to sing along. And rule number two, important for any era but especially the world of today, if you don’t have permission, don’t touch. Get permission.
That first night, expectations for Kendrick were huge. A massive crowd had formed an hour before his performance and I would argue that it might have been the largest crowd of the weekend. Kendrick does Kendrick. King Kendrick. On point and on cue and flow incredible. Compton was in the house and Colorado showed up for it. I hate to cloud his performance with crowd issues, but one interesting note: I did encounter a solitary white woman who was exercising some seriously aggressive white privilege.
This random white woman at a Kendrick Lamar show had laid out of very large blanket within a hundred fifty feet of the stage and began to police her blanket control zone like it was her own private colonized land. Things came to a head when she decided to literally put hands on a young white man and push him off of her area, turning around after to ask me – for some reason – “am I crazy to expect people to stay off of my blanket?” I responded bluntly, “yes, you are crazy. You’ve colonized land at an event where a black man is going to rap about white privilege and white supremacy and police brutality and being black in the middle of all that. It’s embarrassing. Please stop”.
She eventually did stop, not because I had any impact on her, but because the place filled to capacity and there was literally no room for her to maintain a 6 foot by 5 foot square of private space. And that, friends, is my white supremacy at a Kendrick Lamar show story. I’m sorry I had to share it. It’s not the experience that I expected. Shout out the two young white girls who came over after and thank me for saying something (they had also been her victims), and told me that my colonizer remark was the funniest thing they’d heard all day. They also gave me a shot of tequila that they had smuggled in, so I definitely appreciated that. There was also a man from StageCo who had helped put up the lights in the area who stood with me…but was awkward. I think he was trying to have my back and show support, but he ended up making sexist remarks about women and their emotions and further dug his own hole by saying that we should be nice black people because and I quote, “black people have been here for a while now and they’re starting to prove themselves. They’re brilliant people”. I kind of get what he was saying, but also… Please God no just stop.
Is a day one review enough? I could tell you about how Snow tha Product was the most political performance of the weekend, yelling about Donald Trump trying to deport Mexicans, being a badass Mexican Advocate, including rapping in Spanish, which is dope. Her and her hype man also were the only performers that I saw crowd surf. That’s always fun.
Following that, 6LACK continues to impress me with amazing raps and singing skills. We know he’s dope, because he’s blowing up big time, but his live performance is off the charts. He even said, I’m not supposed to be here. I’m supposed to be on vocal rest but I didn’t want to cancel on y’all.” And that goes to show how dope he is even while not 100%. He delivered a run through of all the hits that made him famous as well as cuts from his new album, East Atlanta Love Letter, which dropped the first day of Grandoozy. I didn’t even know he was dropping a new album, which makes me mad because I love his music. 6LACK, in my opinion, is top 5 rappers out right now.
The stage show for Florence and the Machine was immaculate. Gorgeous colors, incredible lighting, and Florence’s flawless, overpowering vocals drenching the crowd in melancholy power and majesty. A different formula, but paralleled Stevie Wonder’s stage presence, his gift for crowd control, and his penchant for stage production.
What else, De La Soul? The legacy continues. This is rarefied air, this is foundational hip hop, and they sound as good as ever. Crisp flows, Harmony, crowd management… “We’ve been doing this for 30 years…” And it shows.
And can i just say that I was angry that they put St Vincent on at the same time as logic. I love them both. But Logic is at the forefront of the current hip hop zeitgeist. Logic is making moves, so Logic wins. We checked him out and he was incredible. Logic is so on point because he has one point, which is actually three points: love respect and positivity. There was a young woman in the front row of the show named Heavenly Angel. She had brought her parents with her and she brought a framed portrait she made of Logic, which he noticed and had given to him up on stage. Later on he noticed that she was also flowing every single word of his raps along with him and he asked her, half joking, are you trying to take my job? They went rap for rap together as she kept up with his rapid fire flow, and it was projected for all of us to see on the video screens. He was so impressed that he gave her his hat. She was arguably the second most impressive thing happening at the logic show.
A last event point. Shout out Denver’s ever-embattled Mayor Michael Hancock showing up to main stage to greet the crowd: “I’m so happy to see your faces. I’m mayor Michael Hancock and I’m here to rock with you. Are you ready to rock with me?” Hell yeah, Mr. Mayor. He also dropped some commentary on taking care of each other and the golf course. And of course registering to vote. Don’t worry, we will.
I could really go on and on but this would get tedious and it’s really unnecessary. The point’s been made. If you were there, you already know. And if you weren’t, now you know:you want to be at Grandoozy next year. Superfly has brought an epic and unimaginably fun festival to Colorado, adding to our already fantastic festival lineup, from Denver’s regular events to Telluride to Keystone to Trinidad to Boulder. Colorado is a great place to live and love music. And we will definitely be on the site for next year’s Grandoozy.
Grandoozy provided us with hundreds of photos of the event. Why would we curate those? You want them all. Click here for our Google album. And enjoy some we snapped ourselves. We love happy faces in the crowd.