Monolith on the Mesa: Celebrate Festival Season in Taos

 Taos Festival Season Kicks Off with First Annual Monolith on the Mesa

Monolith on the Mesa
Monolith on the Mesa Poster

As the temperatures warm, and winter’s grip begins to loosen on our sleepy high desert town, the Taos community once again prepares to take in the season with various outdoor activities such as markets, art, music, and movie events.

This year, our town welcomes back several notable festivals that have put Taos at the center of culture, not only in the Southwest, but also on the global stage. Some events to look forward to again this spring and summer are: The Taos Lilac Festival, Dennis Hopper Day’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, The PASEO, Michael Hearne’s Big Barn Dance, Taos Pueblo Pow Wow, Taos’ 4th of July Celebration (with WAR as headliner this year!), Taos Wool Festival, and Taos Fiestas — just to name a few.

By now, you’ve also probably heard the buzzing news around Meow Wolf’s announcement about the return of the Taos Vortex for its second year in a row coming up in August.

Sadly, you may also notice a few well-known festivals won’t be returning, such as the beloved Music on the Mesa, Fish Out of Water, and Polish Ambassador’s Jumpsuit Family Gathering. However, I do have good news that a brand new event is entering the Taos scene for 2019…

Monolith on the Mesa

Allow me to introduce Monolith on the Mesa: a 2-day family-friendly, art and music festival taking place at Taos Mesa Brewery Mothership on May 17 and 18, with a pre-party concert on May 16. Passes are $70 for a single day, $125 for both days, and $155 for full weekend tickets that include overnight camping at the neighboring Hotel Luna Mystica campground. Tickets for the Monolith Pre-party are $25.

The genre of musical acts at Monolith on the Mesa range from stoner rock, heavy psych, doom metal, sludge, drone, retro rock, and include famed bands such as Om, The Obsessed, Dead Meadow, The Well, Loom, Wovenhand, Pinkish Black, and True Widow. Local band Article 15 is also slated on the lineup alongside these hard-hitting acts, and local visual artists Christian Ristow, Christina Sporrong, and JP Rodman of Raton, NM will be featuring their metal, fuel, and fire-based artwork around the outdoor amphitheater throughout the weekend. You can expect to see signature visual projections on the stage by Mad Alchemist Liquid Light Show, as well as various food truck offerings to add to your palate during the festival.

Monolith on the Mesa
Image: (left) Dano Sanchez, Founder/Creator of Monolith on the Mesa. (right) Roman Barham, co-Founder/Organizer. Photo courtesy of Kristin Melton

All in all, it’s going to be a “pretty trippy experience,” says Dano Sanchez, founder/creator of Monolith on the Mesa. Dano, who is a well known artist in his own right, has intentionally curated a small group of local artists to display their work amidst the musical performances to create an unforgettable weekend on the Mesa. “It will be a very unique experience for people. For those who haven’t been to Taos, that first time seeing the night sky will be very special…and with the music that will be playing, it’s going to bring people together in a very beautiful way.”

Having been immersed in the heavy music scene for most of his life, Dano has been building up to this moment. Born and raised in Albuquerque, Dano grew up making art with his parents from a young age and developed an affinity for rock music. “I love music and I love art. To be able to combine my two passions through this festival and to have it take place in Taos is exciting.”

Over the years, through his work as a professional tattoo artist, Dano has been able to connect to the close knit circles surrounding many of the bands he loves in the scene and is the reason why many of them will be performing at Monolith. “I’m thankful for the generosity of the bands that are coming for this event. Many were reached through my network of friends. It’s all come together very organically. Everything is falling into place,” says Dano.

Loom, photo courtesy of band.
Taos' Monolith on the Mesa
OM, photo courtesy of band.

While Monolith on the Mesa is a newcomer in the music festival scene, the lineup and production has already been compared to long standing productions such as Psycho (Las Vegas, NV) and Levitation (Austin, TX). Dano anticipates the venue to be well attended with the main draw of participants coming from New Mexico and surrounding states. Additionally, ticket sales for Monolith has already attracted people from both the West Coast, East Coast, and even parts of Canada. Hopefully, you can be part of the experience too. Be sure to look out for giveaways throughout the community (ie. Heads Up Music, Gutters Bowling Alley) and listen to KNCE 93.5 for a chance to win tickets and merch for the festival in the week leading up to the event.

Monolith on the Mesa is also accepting applications for volunteers to work-trade for a ticket. This is the perfect opportunity for the right person to gain experience and connections in the music industry. Connect to Monolith on the Mesa on Facebook, visit or contact Dano at [email protected] for more information.

-Girl Wunder