If you go
What: RockMont 2016
When: Saturday, 2-10 p.m.
Where: Roosevelt Park, 700 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont
Cost: $10; $15 at the door; $5 for kids 5-12; free for under 5
More info: lefthandbrewing.com/events/rockmont2016
Note: No pets
So it goes, Colorado: another craft brewery, another beer fest. Most come complete with pretzel necklaces, 5-ounce tasters and the sound of progressively slurred chatter echoing off a warehouse ceiling.
Left Hand Brewing Company wants to change that game. The Longmont brewery, known for its quirky festivals — like the snowboard-driven Hops & Handrails or the tribute-band battle at Leftapalooza — is striving to create "not just another beer fest," said Josh Goldberg, Left Hand's community and events manager.
On Saturday the brewery hosts the inaugural RockMont festival at Roosevelt Park, where larger-than-life interactive art installations will meet indie rock and beer, of course.
Oh, and a two-story teeter-totter.
"The beer fest is successful," Goldberg said. "People want to go to them, so they pop up everywhere. But as the industry has grown, I think the customer is becoming a little more discriminatory. People want more than just 10 beer tents in a parking lot."
With a goal to stray from cookie-cutter beer bashes, RockMont is featuring a live art competition. Longmont's famed graffiti artist Gamma Acosta will host a contest that features 10 up-and-coming artists from Colorado who will be painting live masterpieces on giant shipping containers for a $1,500 prize.
"We're calling it an urban art competition," Acosta said, who these days resides in Denver. "It's a mix of graffiti art and street art, but we're not putting those labels on it."
Acosta, whose more than 500 murals can be found from Miami to Colorado, paints life-sized murals, human interest pieces and political statements all with only spray cans — he gained some notoriety with his Denver Peyton Manning mural after it appeared in Gatorade's #DearPeyton video.
"I've painted probably one new project every week for the last 10 years," he said. He paints everything free-form and doesn't use "tricks" like projectors or tape ("That's cheating," he said).
Although street art has caught criticism in the past as vandalism, Acosta said the stigma is fading.
"I think the public art is coming to its own and people are becoming more accepting," he said.
RockMont will also feature 3-D sidewalk chalk artists, plenty of local fare, eight local breweries on tap and "a whole ton of stuff for kids," Goldberg said.
And for the kid in the adults, the life-sized teeter-totter "requires a waiver to ride," Goldberg said. The 30-foot high beam was made by Left Hand folks, complete with motorcycle seats and handlebars.
The music lineup features Washington folk rock group Rabbit Wilde (on stage at 2 p.m.), Colorado afrofunk collective ATOMGA (3:20 p.m.), the side project of Flogging Molly's bassist, The Bunny Gang, (on stage at 4:45 p.m.), Los Angeles-based funk and soul group < href="http://www.orgonespace.com/">Orgone (6:30 p.m.), and rock 'n' pounding-piano rollers J. Roddy Walston and The Business (8:30 p.m.).
Headliners J. Roddy Walston and The Business bring a refreshing blast of rock to a saturated genre. Walson, lead vocalist, guitarist, pianist-extraordinaire, said he doesn't perform without his nearly 300-pound piano. It's either packed away in the tour van or rented if he's flying to a gig — as is the case for Saturday.
"It's a whole new song and dance when we have to track down keys," Walson said. He needs the exact make, model and type — Left Hand's Goldberg said only two existed in Colorado.
Why not use a keyboard?
"Everyone says we should, for convenience sake," Walston said. "But I'm playing a piano to play piano. If I wanted some synthesizer sounds, then I would use a keyboard."
He likened the process somewhat to a guitar player playing a keytar. "It's not the same."
But the hunt will be worth it to see Walston vibrantly pound those keys, flail that hair and snarl his lip, mid-croon. Fans get into the music because they connect with the audience, Walston said.
"We get pretty wild, we have a pretty fun time." he said. "We like playing high-energy shows. It's somewhat interactive, and a little give-and-take. We're gonna put it out there and hopefully the audience will get into it."
The band is gaining fast traction with critics and audiences. They're recording a new album in their warehouse studio in Richmond, Virginia, for ATO Records. Walston said he's enjoying limited tour dates for now so he can hang out with his new baby girl.
Walston said they're showing up a couple days early to catch buddies The Lumineers and opening act Sleepwalkers (also from Richmond) at Red Rocks. Plus to enjoy a little mountain sunshine.
"Of every city we've played, we love summers in Colorado," Walston said. "It's such a great place."
Goldberg said RockMont, which benefits Arts Longmont and the Left Hand Brewery Foundation, will be a perfect place to soak up some Colorado sun.
"We are finding a way to elevate the music, the beer, the experience," said Goldberg.
So don't come here looking for "just another beer fest."
Christy Fantz: twitter.com/fantzypants