Riot Fest – Day 1
Mineral (Austin, TX), La Dispute (Grand Rapids, MI), Tiny Moving Parts (Benson, MN), Buzzcocks (London, England), My Body Sings Electric (Denver, CO), New Found Glory (Coral Springs, FL), Die Antwoord (South Africa), Gogol Bordello (New York, NY), NOFX (San Francisco, CA), Flaming Lips (Oklahoma City, OK), Nostalghia (Los Angeles), Slayer (CA), Big Freedia (New Orleans, LA), and Weezer (Los Angeles, CA)
September 19th, 2014
Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver, CO
It’s Riot Fest season folks, arguably the best time of the year! The punk and rock festival is turning 10 and in celebration three solid weekends were booked -the first in Toronto, the second in Chicago, and the third in Denver. Not only packed to the rim with a diverse and fantastic lineup, there’s carnival rides, mini-golf, and tons of food trucks too. No matter what your music taste is, you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll absolutely love at Riot Fest. Which is why I couldn’t think of a better place to spend the last weekend of the summer than at Riot Fest in Denver. This year’s Colorado stop took place at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium. From the minute I got to Mile High Stadium and went through the smoothest media check-in I’ve ever experienced, I knew it was going to be a good day.
My first band of the day was Mineral. I had all but lost hope that I would ever catch the band live let alone photograph them since they were disbanded for so long. I was so excited that I froze for a good part of the first song because I couldn’t believe the awesomeness that I was witnessing. The band played a solid set and the crowd was all smiles and nostalgia by the end of it. MINERAL FOREVER.
I headed over to catch La Dispute after Mineral’s set. I never miss a chance to catch this band live especially at a festival. Their energy is infectious and since the band usually plays small clubs it’s a whole other ballgame when they have more than double their usual audience shouting lyrics at the top of their lungs.
I had been wanting to see Tiny Moving Parts for a while but always missed them when they played in Los Angeles or San Diego. I made it a point to catch them even though I had to walk across the entire festival to do so. Worth the walk guys. These guys play with tons of emotion and their lyrics are crazy good. I left their set early to run across the festival again but I could hear their entire audience sing along from way out.
Buzzcocks had a larger and older crowd but the energy was still as high as ever. Getting to hear hits like “Orgasm Addict” and “Ever Fallen in Love” was priceless. These lads have still got it and the crowd was more than happy to sing along. Plus what a show Steve Diggle puts on with his guitar! He shreds literally all over the place as he swings his guitar about.
After chatting with the guys of My Body Sings Electric earlier in the day, I was super stoked to catch their set. These guys are super fun to catch live. No matter where you focus your attention something rad and/or hilarious is going on. Whether it’s Jeff Fedel or Nick Crawford shredding on guitar, Brandon Whalen serenading the audience, Ben Scarboro playing the hell out of his drums, or Jason Bower ripping on bass it’s awesome. The crowd was all smiles as the guys threw t-shirts and all sorts of goodies throughout their set. They even had time for dick jokes, all in good fun of course.
New Found Glory was a definite throwback. The guys had one of the biggest crowd’s I saw the whole day and I totally get why, they put on a super fun show. The band has their crowd enticing game down pat. From the minute the first notes of “All Downhill from Here” began the crowd was off their feet. Heartfelt sing-alongs were in abundance as the band ran through a well rounded set of fan-favorites. Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of the band, everyone knows the words to at least one of their songs. So it didn’t surprise me the crowd was loud and super active.
I ventured over to catch Die Antwoord after New Found Glory and it got weird guys. I have never been so physically aware of music before. That bass! Die Antwoord was crazy, they were fun, and boy were they loud. Ninja and Yo-Landi are forces to be reckoned with on stage. I can’t hang but they make me wish I could.
I only caught a few minutes of Gogol Bordello but they were pretty exciting. They had a certain zaniness and folkiness to their punk that was refreshing and in all honesty fun. I wish I could have caught more of their set but I’ll be sure to catch the band the next time they’re in Los Angeles.
In Riot Fest’s honor some of the bands were playing one of their best records in full. NOFX was one of these bands. They guys decided to play Punk in Drublic in it’s entirety, though not in order and the 18 minute long EP, The Decline that they pulled off in only 14 minutes and it was all awesome. If you’ve ever caught the band live then you know Fat Mike has got jokes. Topics ranged from Fat Mike trying not to shit his pants, Kanye West, their tiny banner and why bands who have huge banners like New Found Glory must be compensating for something, and stealing snacks from Slayer among many others. All hilarious. The crowd was on point all night as they sang along to NOFX classics like “Linoleum,” “Don’t Call Me White,” and “Leave It Alone.” They were perfect. I can’t wait to catch these guys again.
The Flaming Lips were one of the bands I was looking forward to the most. Their set was absolute magic. I felt like I was watching a unicorn or something. The guys were fucking majestic as they opened their set with “The Abandoned Hospital Ship.” Tons of lights, streamers, confetti bombs, rainbows, and dancing mushrooms adorned the stage while frontman Wayne Coyne serenated us all. Hearing “Do You Realize??” was a definite highlight of the set as well as their cover of The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” After their set I was convinced that Coyne has to be the patron saint of happiness and pure bliss. SO GOOD.
Nostalghia is one of those musicians that demands attention. It’s hard to pin point her to any specific genre because she does a little bit of everything. Her music is mysterious like she is and her accompanying musicians Roy Gnan on percussion and Adele Stein are impressive all on their own. But together they are a well oiled machine. Their set had me in almost a trance as I watched Ciscandra swerve about the stage almost acting out her lyrics. If you’re a fan of a cinematic live show, make sure you see Nostalghia when they hit a city near you.
There were a few painful dilemma’s in the scheduling at this year’s Riot Fest and the first painful one I encountered was choosing between catching Slayer and Primus. I was pumped for Slayer all day so I headed off their way. These guys would be playing Reign in Blood in full and it was going to be awesome. They started their set off with some warm up jams and then the famous crosses lowered, the Slayer banner fell and the RIB artwork was displayed and it was time to party. A giant pit broke out and the energy was so high that the crowd was literally steaming. Even though only half of band’s original lineup is currently active they still put on a hell of a show.
Big Freedia’s set was a highlight for me. She hit the stage with an all-you-can-twerk dance team that had the crowd’s energy go from 0-100 super quick. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, she blew her dance team out of the water! Absolutely no beats were missed while she slayed on stage. Her set was all about having an amazing time and the eclectic crowd was all about it. The music is good, the vibes are good, it’s all good with Big Freedia.
The closing band of the night was none other than Weezer. They were scheduled to play The Blue Album in its entirety and that alone was worth my trip. They started their set with new material and worked backwards before getting into TBA. The crowd was ecstatic and the guys were all smiles. The entire set felt like you were driving around with the windows down belting out Weezer songs with friends. Nostalgic for sure but great overall.