Heavy metal mania lands in Taos this weekend

Monolith on the Mesa just might become a legendary festival

By Jesse Moya
Posted 5/15/19

Music festivals in Taos have been common for several years, but with Monolith on the Mesa, organizer Daniel "Dano" Sanchez is looking to give Taoseños a whole new experience.Monolith could …

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Heavy metal mania lands in Taos this weekend

Monolith on the Mesa just might become a legendary festival


Music festivals in Taos have been common for several years, but with Monolith on the Mesa, organizer Daniel "Dano" Sanchez is looking to give Taoseños a whole new experience.

Monolith could possibly be the first of its kind in New Mexico, a two-day music fest full of metal, hard rock and psychedelic bands, add in some local artists and have the entire festival on the Taos high desert mesa. On Friday and Saturday (May 17-18), bands from all across the U.S. will be converging on Taos Mesa Brewing's Mothership for three days of "all things heavy" according to Sanchez. The festival will bring new audiences to a long-standing genre of music that has a small but loyal scene of followers in Taos.

"The energy here [in Taos] is very high," Sanchez said. "Coming out here, being under the Milky Way, right at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, at the edge of the gorge, in the middle of the high desert - location-wise, there's just nothing like it."

Sanchez began the works of Monolith over four years ago after seeing the Melvins play at the Mothership. From that moment, ideas began swimming in his head about bringing heavier bands to Taos and even bringing several of them together for a larger concert. After attending numerous festivals and shows, as well as learning the basics of running one, Monolith had only to gather the bands, and the Mothership was already set.

Albuquerque-based metal band OM was the first to sign on to the venture and soon droves of bands began to fill the bill. Sanchez said he had a number of bands in mind, and if they didn't agree to the show, he had a back-up for nearly every single band. Soon after, bands like Dead Meadow, The Obsessed, The Well and several others were set to bring their music to the Taos desert.

"I had a direction I wanted to go in and sculpted a line up with just all things heavy," Sanchez said. "Things started kind of falling into place."

Thirty-four bands in total will grace the indoor and outdoor stages at the Mothership during the festival. From heavy metal to psychedelic drone, Monolith is sure to have something for everyone looking for a new type of experience.

Challenges of a multiday music fest were quickly apparent and an early partnership with next door Hotel Luna Mystica ensured campers a one-of-a-kind experience at the trailer camp. While all of the trailers at the location have been sold out for the festival, ticket holders may still camp on the ground of the fest with a camping permit. Sanchez said he recommends this if patrons are staying for more than one day of the festival.

In addition, ticket holders will be able to peruse various food carts and merchant stands during the festival and artists from around the area will have booths set up with their work. Sanchez also said a merch tent will be set up where fans can purchase all their musical needs from the bands.

Bands new and known to Taos will be playing the festival and local acts from New Mexico have also been invited to take part in what is sure to be a do-not-miss event.

"Looking forward to Monolith on the Mesa," said OM/Sleep bass player Al Cisneros in a release. "Very high desert. Above to 'Dio Grande' goes the stoner caravan."

Tickets have been a steady sell for the fest and Sanchez said they are still up for grabs. Various radio stations and events have held ticket drawings for two-day tickets and the buzz about Monolith has been state-wide. Fans from surrounding states will be making the venture for the weekend to catch their favorite band and soak in the beauty of Taos. (Tempo editor Rick Romancito says offers from regional freelance writers to cover the event have been unprecedented.)

Monolith is set to be one of the most extensive and music-filled festivals of the summer. Various businesses in Taos have even been offering discounts for ticket holders so they can experience the Taos community in their own way. The festival was intentionally held Thursday-Saturday to give visitors a chance to take their Sunday and enjoy the surrounding areas.

Sanchez said Monolith is a team effort that many members of the community collaborated on to make the dream a reality. The festival is not set to be the end of the road for Monolith. Instead, Sanchez plans to take the music one step further and begin working on a program to put music in the hands of the youth. While still in the planning process, Sanchez said he hopes to be able to expand the festival and get some of the younger fans to be playing the music some day, rather than just watching.

From the first time Black Sabbath hit the airwaves, to the new waves of rock and roll and metal, Monolith celebrates the community that has been built around this music for nearly 50 years. A process four years in the making, Monolith powers a whole summer-long cascade of Taos musical events.

Those interested in volunteering for the festival or looking for more information can contact Sanchez via the website at

The festival kicks off 6 p.m. today (May 16) at the Mothership with a local preparty involving several bands from around New Mexico. While the Thursday show is not included on the two-day ticket price, preparty tickets are available through the Monolith website or at various local shops including HeadsUp Music.

Tickets are still available for the main days of the festival. Two-day prices start at $125 and $155 with camping with one-day passes starting at $70. The event will take place no matter the weather. No dogs are allowed. The Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership is located at 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west out by the Taos Municipal Airport. Call the venue at (575) 758-1900.


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