Wilco and The New Pornographers brought the jams, Denver Flea brought the merch and Colorado Classic brought the pro-cycling action Friday as the Velorama Festival sprinted into Denver's RiNo neighborhood.
The highly anticipated festival marks the latest of several attempts to bring an annual pro-cycling party to Denver, and early indications are that it could be the most successful. Slowly but surely, city dwellers began drifting into the open air venue after 6 p.m., exploring some 200 craft booths at the Denver Flea while La Santa Cecilia warmed up the main stage crowd. The evening brought just the right amount of cooling cloud cover, and the sprawling layout kept the area from feeling too congested, even as thousands of fans began packing in.
Most of the Colorado Classic Bike Race, including the start and finish line, sat on the opposite side of Blake Street from the music festival, but large view screens relayed the racing action to fans as they browsed artisanal fanny packs and locally sourced goat cheese at the Flea. Bar tents supplied beer, wine and pre-mixed cocktails at semi-reasonable (for a music festival) prices.
The New Pornographers hit the stage a bit before their scheduled 7:15 time, looking like the seasoned and celebrated Dad-rock heroes they've become but sounding every bit as good as they did in the early 2000s. Their new single "High Ticket Attractions" seemed to signal to the crowd that it was officially concert time, and the party began migrating toward the stage.
Wilco arrived at 8:30 p.m., frontman Jeff Tweedy leading the way in full denim-suited folk mode. A confusing bit in which the band pretended that their more traditional songs were being disrupted by a glitchy electronic music invader didn't quite resonate with some of the crowd, but Wilco's easy, masterful execution certainly did.