It was the third weekend in June, and where was I going to be? The same place I’ve been for the third weekend in June, nearly continuously since 1997 – Red Rocks Amphitheater to see Widespread Panic.
Let’s break that down. First, I hadn’t been back to the US since I moved to Saudi Arabia on 45’s Inauguration Day, and this is what I chose to do. Second, 9500 of my best friends and I were at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater, the most spectacular natural outdoor music venue anywhere in the world. And third, we were all there to see Widespread Panic for three nights of kick-ass jamming rock and roll.
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater is owned by the city and county of Denver, Colorado, although it is actually located in the town of Morrison, Colorado, just to the west of Denver. The amphitheater was built by the CCC and WPA from 1936 to 1941, in a space between to massive, titled outcrops of the Pennsylvanian-aged (about 300 Ma) Fountain Formation. In the Park (and elsewhere along the Front Range), and indeed commemorated by a plaque in the upper amphitheater parking lot, the Fountain Fm. sits unconformably on gneisses and intrusive granites of the Idaho Springs Formation. So, in actuality, the contact is a non-conformity, with sedimentary rocks sitting upon crystalline basement of the continental crust.
The Idaho Springs Fm. is dated between 1.7 and 1.4 billion years old, so the non-conformity represents over a billion years of missing time. Let that swirl around in your brain for a bit. The Fountain Fm. formed during the Pennsylvanian Ancestral Rocky Mountain orogeny (mountain building event), and represents the erosional remnants of uplift of the much older continental crust (Idaho Springs Fm.). The Fountain Fm. is a mixed lithology unit, comprised of conglomerates, sandstones, siltstones, and shales, all deposited proximal to the uplift in a series of alluvial fans. Besides Red Rocks, the Fountain also makes up the iconic rock outcroppings of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs and the Flatirons in Boulder.
Here, the steeply dipping Fountain Formation makes up the Boulder Flatirons.
The Fountain is overlain by a series of Permian through Cretaceous sedimentary rocks, including the Jurassic Morrison Formation, known for its wealth of both terrestrial dinosaur and marine reptile fossils. Famously, adjacent to Red Rocks to the east is Dinosaur Ridge, where there are exposed dinosaur fossils and spectacular dinosaur trackways in the Morrison. All these were later uplifted and tilted during the Laramide orogeny in the late Cretaceous and earliest Paleogene. Much later erosion exposed the towering outcrops of the Fountain, later to be made into the Amphitheater.
My first Panic show at Red Rocks was in 1997. While I had seen them as early as 1989 and I had been to Red Rocks for other musical acts, this convergence in 1997 was a major inspirational event for me. After years (and many dollars) of following the Grateful Dead, and reeling from Jerry Garcia’s passing in 1995, I was somewhat rudderless when it came to how I was going to part with my disposable income in an equally irresponsible fashion. Then Panic grabbed my leg and pulled me in; the Disco>Diner opener sealed the deal. Twenty years later, and now with a total of 141 shows under my belt, we can safely say that I found the outlet that I was looking for.
And get this…44 of my 141 shows have been at Red Rocks. It has always been my home court. That is, until I changed my home. Well, not wanting to give up an amazing streak, as soon as Red Rocks was announced this year, Team Humphrey sprang into action and procured these exceedingly hard tickets to get (anymore). I then began looking into travel arrangements and realized that this was going to be 1) my first trip back to the States, and 2) necessarily a quick hitter due to my other travel constraints (some of which you’ve seen already, and some that will be the subject of the next entry). In all, I was in Colorado for only six days.
Panic, by far, holds the DiMaggio-esque record of now 54 consecutive sold-out shows at Red Rocks. I’ve obviously been to a good chunk of those. Ones that I’ve missed were either due to work constraints or unfortunately scheduled family vacations (hehe). We all made a big deal last year out of the 50th consecutive sell-out. The band is well aware of their record.
Stage lights on Sunday night commemorating the 54th consecutive sell out.
Here are some highlights of the weekend. Panic on the Rocks weekends are so much more than going to a concert (or three), which is why we call these events “shows”. People come in from all over the country – heck, some even come in from far-away lands! Oregon Team Humphrey were there once again and, while she didn’t go to the shows, my daughter flew up from Dallas for the weekend. Friends from far and near met at various spots around town, but the focal point of course was sharing the music and love with our favorite band.
Wednesday evening hang out at Pasta Jay’s in Boulder.
Thursday night gathering at Lodo’s with a beautiful Colorado sunset over Coors Field.
Something, uh, interesting near Union Station seen while going to pick up Neil and Kelly.
It was “cold” on Friday – well at least for someone coming from the Saudi desert.
But, as usual, the music was hot.
Rotating note eaters projected onto the rocks.
Quite possibly the best pic of the weekend. A little fun was being had!
We came to get down.
Percussion time. Was that skull moving, or was that me?
Humphrey family Sunday morning brunch at Sassafras.
My ridiculously attractive spawn, Jack and Rebeca.
Pre-show Sunday with Neil and Gilbane.
The lights were fantastic this year.
Never Miss a Sunday Show!