As many of you have probably heard by now, last Thursday a shooting took place at Red Rocks (fortunately with no fatalities) during the annual Feed The Rocks concert. I was one of many in attendance that night, and though it may be hard to believe, the shooting was only one of the reasons why the evening was one of the strangest I've had in a while.
Straight off the top, getting to venue was a challenge the entire way. My girlfriend and I had barely gotten out of the driveway before realizing that I'd somehow popped a tire earlier that day. Once we safely got my car back and switched rides, we made it about halfway to the venue when we got pulled over for apparently leaving our headlights off. Ten stressful minutes later we were back on the road with a warning and more determination than ever to get to this goddamn show.
After a fiasco at the Red Rocks entrance whereby no one in the entire parking lot had a will call list, we finally got inside the venue, where Nas was about halfway done. From what we saw, Nas delivered a generous and graceful set, but truth be told, we weren't there for Nas — we came for the legend in the making, the beatmaking powerhouse that is Flying Lotus.
Sandwiched in between two massive screens projecting appropriately cosmic imagery, Stephen Ellison tore through the most cohesive set I've ever seen him play. Touching on classic tracks throughout his discography as well as showcasing music from his upcoming album (and even taking time to rap out some gems from his Captain Murphy side project,) it truly felt like Ellison had built up a worthy catalogue up with which to fill a headlining slot. He even threw in tracks from the late DJ Rashad — probably the closest I'll ever get to seeing him now — and partner in crime Thundercat.
As a matter of fact, we were beginning to wonder how Ellison possibly had time to fit this much material into a festival timeslot, and throughout his set he kept referencing that the show runners kept telling him to keep playing. It wasn't until we started to exit the venue that we noticed the helicopters circling Red Rocks. After finding our car and proceeding to sit in traffic for about 15 minutes without movement, I got the first text from my roommate asking if we were all right. We immediately starting googling to see what was going on and sure enough, someone had opened fire on Schoolboy Q's SUV. So there we were being quarantined in a parking lot with a potential gunman on the loose, surrounded by honking cars and kids who still had no idea what was going on. Eventually my phone died, too, and I just had to pray to god my parents hadn't heard about it or they'd be worried sick trying to reach me.
Finally at 3 a.m. we were let out of the venue, making for one of the drowsiest car rides I've ever taken in my life. The entire night was so much more jam-packed than it had any right to be, and it certainly ended up being one of the crazier concert experiences I've run into in a while. I'm just thankful no one died, and hopeful that this kind of thing never happens at Red Rocks again.
Sam Goldner is the music director at CU-Boulder's Radio 1190. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.