Monday, September 29, 2014

Riot Fest 2014 - Denver Day 2

While day one whet our appetites, day two was the main course for my family and I. We arrived early to watch FrnkIero andthe Cellabration.

Frank Iero
Frank Iero used to be in My Chemical Romance and the songs I've heard from his album and at his Riot Fest set are pretty darn good. Something in his voice on record reminds me of Conor Oberst, but not the overall music.

FrnkIero andthe Cellabration - Rob Hughes, Matt Olsson, Frank Iero, Evan Nestor
I wouldn't have been there for Frank if not for my kid who is painfully into MyChem. It was requested that I take some video, which is up on my YouTube channel. I was really stoked that they played a Ramones cover, and I was surprised that it was "Rockaway Beach." Not sure why I was surprised, it's one of the more popular Ramones songs, but I guess I expected a different song from/for this crowd. It was great, though.

Dum Dum Girls - Andrew, Sandy, Jules, Dee Dee, Malia
After FrnkIero, I didn't have anything that stood out on my schedule, so I wandered over to see the Dum Dum Girls, whose music reminded me somewhat of Lush, Best Coast, The Primitives and The Jesus and Mary Chain all at once. Good group for the day that The Cure was playing.

We Came As Romans - Lou Cotton and Andy Glass
I left Dum Dum Girls after a bit to catch some of We Came As Romans. Their music is that kind of melodic metal with screamo elements - I dig it ok. I was pretty stoked to get the picture above, too - for me, the image is as indicative of this year's fest as the picture of Matt Emrick of Potato Pirates was for last year's fest. Good bands, good energy.

Clutch - Jean-Paul Gaster and Neil Fallon
After a few songs I made my way back to the May Farms stage so that I could camp out and get a good spot for Lucero, one of the main bands I wanted to see at Riot Fest this year. I could hear Clutch as I walked over and their music encouraged me to see more of them up close, and I'm glad I did.

Clutch - Neil Fallon
The songs I previewed on Spotify before attending sounded in the vein of QotSA-style "stoner rock," but I didn't get that from the live performance. It was just fun, high-energy rock on a fantastic late summer day.

Clutch - Dan Maines
The Lucero crowd was pretty mellow before the show started. Lucero, for me, has been one of the bands of the last ten years that has really captured my attention in a way that few other bands have. I think I first became aware of them around the time of their album "Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers." I was building the first playlist for the station on Slacker Radio and while searching for bands similar to Uncle Tupelo and Drive-By Truckers, I came across "What Else Would You Have Me Be?" and fell instantly in love, thanks to lines like "C'mon baby won't you dance/Make good use out of these drunken feet/And I won't mention that other man/Don't you whisper no girls names to me."

Lucero - Brian Venable, Ben Nichols, Jim Spake
The gravel, whiskey, and cigarettes in Ben Nichols' voice, combined with the rock/punk/country feel of the music is just one of those perfect combinations…like whiskey & cigarettes in a dive bar down a gravel road, I guess.

There were a few uncouth gentlemen who decided that moshing in the middle of a stationary crowd would be a good idea. The song being played at the time was fast, but even after that song was over, the bros decided to berate the people in the crowd for standing around, that it didn't look like we were having fun. Well, pal, for some of us, having fun doesn't mean bothering people by shouting at or slamming into them. For some of us, we get a little blissed out by the music and experience of live performance and don't have much else to offer except our undivided attention to the artists onstage.

To each their own, however. I understand the time and place for moshing. This just wasn't quite it for me, or most everyone around me, I think.

Lucero - Ben Nichols
Ben ended the set with a touching song called "Fistful of Tears" that featured him singing solo at the front of the stage, accompanied by Rick Steff on keyboards. It was a better version than I've heard either on Lucero's 2002 album Tennessee or their latest offering Live from Atlanta. I like Ben and his music.

I caught some of Face to Face before heading over to grab some food on my way to watch Taking Back Sunday.

Taking Back Sunday - Adam Lazzara & Mark O'Connell
I came to Taking Back Sunday through my friend Chad a few years back. I hadn't heard them much and knew he was a fan, so I decided to check them out. It wasn't music that I took to right away, but I've come to like it over the years.

I cut out from Taking Back Sunday a bit early because I didn't want to miss any of the Descendents' set.

Descendents were the band that spawned All, and I had come to Descendents through my friend Tony, one of the first friends I made in college. As I was getting into All, he educated me on their Descendents roots. We started with some of the jokey songs - "All," "Weinerschnitzel," "I Like Food" - but much like All, it was the Descendents' heartfelt songs that resonated with me long-term. Songs like "Clean Sheets," from the viewpoint of a a guy who discovers that his girlfriend is cheating on him by finding that their sheets are dirty. Or "Silly Girl," a story about young summer love that most anyone can relate to on some level.

Descendents - Steven Egerton, Bill Stevenson, Milo Aukerman, Karl Alvarez
I also wasn't aware that the Descendents were going to play all of their debut album Milo Goes To College! I had known about Weezer, Slayer, & NOFX but Milo's onstage announcement about Milo was a surprise.
Descendents - Milo Aukerman
The album itself is only about 22 minutes long, however, so they had plenty of time left afterward to fill out the rest of their hourlong set. I got to rock out to songs like "Van," "Silly Girl," "I'm The One," and "Weinerschnitzel." One of my favorite sets of the weekend.

City And Colour - Dallas Green
Again I merely turned around from watching Descendents at the Byers General Store stage and walked the short distance to the May Farms stage to watch City and Colour, which was the band my other kid wanted to see most. I know a few songs by him/them and didn't know any of the songs they played Saturday night, but it was still a gorgeous set of music, and a great sonic precursor to The Cure's sound that would come an hour after the City and Colour set ended.

City And Colour - Matt Kelly, Dallas Green, Doug MacGregor, Jack Lawrence, Dante Schwebel
I had an hour to kill before The Cure's set, so I made my way to see what Bring Me The Horizon was like.

Bring me The Horizon - Lee Malia, Oliver Sykes, Jordan Fish
My kids like BMTH as well, and the music was ok, but I was really primed to get a good spot for The Cure, so I didn't stay long.

The Cure - Reeves Gabrels, Robert Smith, Jason Cooper, Simon Gallup, Roger O'Donnell
I gathered my kids and their friends together and found a not-too-crowded place to stand just to the right of the sound tent. There was lots of anticipation in the air, and when the opening chimes of "Plainsong" started, I was pretty excited.

I've written a bit about The Cure here on Your Older Brother before, but I haven't gone back and talked about my personal history with their music. I'll save that for another time, as there's so much to write about. They're one of my favorite bands, and I've loved their music for most of my life.

The Cure - Robert Smith
This marks the fourth time I've seen them live. The first time was on The Prayer Tour in support of the Disintegration album on September 8, 1989 - a little over 25 years ago! I saw them at the Dodger Stadium show, and that was pretty amazing. We had tickets in the upper deck of the stadium, but some of the friends I went to the show with wanted to try to sneak to the lower level. I don't remember exactly how I got to the club level (probably walked in close behind some people with tickets, pretending I was with them) from which I eventually ended up watching the entire show, but it was the perfect place for me to watch from that night. Especially between acts when the crowd from the upper level started raining down all sorts of cups and trash onto the level below. Watching it fall from my safe vantage point, I felt pretty lucky that night. But I digress.

The Cure - Robert Smith
The second time I saw The Cure was a perfect night underneath the stars at Red Rocks Amphitheatre here in Colorado where Your Older Brother is based. I was there with my wife and we had great seats and they played almost three hours, complete with three encores.

The Cure - Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Jason Cooper
My third time allegedly seeing The Cure was last year at Lollapalooza. I say allegedly because I was pretty loaded on free VIP wine ("paralyzed by the blood of Christ", if you will) and don't recall the set that well. Really, really dumb. I vowed that would not happen again this year if I was able to go to Riot Fest, and I made sure it didn't.

The Cure - Robert Smith
I didn't know how I'd hold up through the scheduled 2.5 hour set after being at the festival all day long, but much like the Replacements' Riot Fest show last year, love for the band and music carried me through. It also helped to be surrounded by big fans, including a random meetup with my friend Suzanne and her family, and a guy with a shaved head and tattoos who I wouldn't have suspected would know all of the songs and albums as well as he did (damn stereotypes).

The Cure - Jason Cooper & Simon Gallup
The Cure played some of my favorite songs of theirs, including "Push," "The Hungry Ghost," "Doing The Unstuck," and "Cut Here," which Craig at Chain of Flowers pointed out was the first time it's been played live since 2002, and only the sixth time live ever. Very glad to have been there for that.

The Cure - Robert Smith
My family and I moved like cagey tigers toward the exit during "The Love Cats" and we listened to the rest of the set as we made our way to the car. The kids were pretty tired and even though I still had energy to burn, I also had to drive home - and back again for the third and final day on Sunday. (For extended coverage of The Cure's Riot Fest Denver set, see the Chain Of Flowers Cure Riot Fest post.)

Day 2 ended on a very high note with plenty left to see on Day 3.

The Cure - Reeves Gabrels, Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Jason Cooper, Roger O'Donnell
Biggest misses of Day 3: Local bands Allout Helter and Wiredogs are both putting out good music lately. Also, Face To Face & Dads. I could have seen some of both but ended up not seeing or hearing much of either. And finally, A Day To Remember. Nothing was going to pull me away from The Cure, but I really do like their song "All Signs Point To Lauderdale" and would have liked to see them live.

Still More Cure Pictures & crap video!

FrnkIero andthe Cellabration

The Cure

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Most all photos & video taken with Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. iPhone video & photos noted where applicable.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Riot Fest 2014 - Denver Day 1

Riot Fest!
Through a wonderful stroke of luck, I was able to score some last-minute 3-day passes for Riot Fest in Denver this year. I had agonized over not being able to attend the show in Byers this year for a few different reasons. When they had to change venues to Mile High Stadium, it became a little more doable, logistics-wise, but there was still the matter of buying tickets for me and my kids. In the week leading up to the show I had taken to entering every last-minute contest I could find. I was crazy grateful when a friend of mine said he knew someone with a few extra passes and could set me up with some tickets for us - and even gave Your Older Brother a pair to give away!

What on Monday looked like would be a quiet weekend at home soon turned to a midweek flurry of 11th hour plans.

Arm yourself for the riot
Before we headed to the festival, I looked at the schedule and saw that, of all the bands that I knew and wanted to see all weekend, my only major conflict was day one, Friday September 19th. All was playing virtually the same time as Buzzcocks. I really love All. They were one of the first bands I remember discovering in fall of 1988 when I started at SDSU. Their first couple of albums soundtracked my first relationship in college (from "Just Perfect" to "She's My Ex").

In this case, however, I invoked my festival tiebreaker: If I've already seen one of the bands, the other band gets priority.

All - Karl Alvarez
I had seen All at the Aztlan theater in Denver in the summer of 1989, so we caught the first 15-30 minutes of All and then headed over to see Buzzcocks.

Buzzcocks - Steve & Danny
Much like Iggy Pop last year, my kids needed to see this legendary band. It wasn't an option. My kids don't really know the songs, and I only knew a few songs that we saw, but it was still cool to see the band cranking away almost 40 years after they started making music!

Buzzcocks - Pete Shelley
The overall stage setup at Riot Fest was really well done (given what they had to work with in three months of planning), with 3 main stages and one smaller stage. The stages were set up directly across from each other, about 500 feet apart - two stages faced north, two faced south. (Map) After the Buzzcocks finished on the May Farms stage, I merely had to turn around and walk a few hundred feet to watch Failure.

Failure - Ken Andrews
Failure is a band that my friend Walt turned me on to around 2003, meaning that they had ceased to exist as a band for 6 years. I mostly listened to Fantastic Planet and figured I'd not hear from them again. Walt and I were both very surprised & pleased that they showed up on the Riot Fest bill, and they did not disappoint. That was a LOUD show. Check out their new songs on their website.

My kids had gone off to the Byers Country Feed Stage to watch New Found Glory during Failure, so it was just me and a bunch of other freaks there for the beginning of Die Antwoord's set.

Die Antwoord - DJ Hi Tek & Yo-Landi Vi$$er
I stuck around for  a couple of songs and wanted to go watch New Found Glory so I made my way towards the Byers Country Feed stage. (For the backstory as to why the names of the stages reference last year's Riot Fest - held at May Farms in Byers, CO - see Riot Mike's letter about the situation.)

Unbeknownst to me, my kids had walked over to the May Farms stage to watch Die Antwoord because I had shown them the bizarre video for "I Fink U Freeky." Naturally, they wanted to watch some of that strangeness go down in person.

The huge NOFX banner
I made sure they joined me for NOFX, however - another chance to see a classic punk band in action. Without torturing the metaphor too much, if bands like Descendents and Bad Religion are the ones that grew up and went to college (and kept making music), NOFX are Peter Pan's punk rock Lost Boys.

NOFX - Fat Mike
NOFX delivered the punk rock goods, with Fat Mike telling the crowd about his diarrhea and how he was going to try to play the full hour without shitting his pants. I believe it was El Hefe who chimed in, saying if Mike shit his pants, we all would have to shit our pants, too. Swell.

NOFX - El Hefe
They played the whole Punk In Drublic album, but not in order, because that would be "boring." I came to NOFX through one of my previous bosses, Melanie. She was pretty big into the East Bay punk scene - I mean, she was there for lots of it. Gilman, the whole thing. And she was a big NOFX fan. I bought my first NOFX record because of her - So Long And Thanks For All The Shoes. Still one of my favorite records by them, front to back.

The Flaming Lips - Wayne Coyne
When NOFX finished we made our way over to catch the end of The Flaming Lips' performance. The light show was incredible from far away, and once we got closer we saw just how elaborate it was - along with the show in general. Large inflatable people danced onstage around Wayne Coyne who was decked out in a silver sequined jumpsuit. It was - a Flaming Lips show.

The Flaming Lips
Next up was Slayer, who played Reign In Blood in its entirety after a small set of other songs from their career. They sounded great, and I got to hear & see the iconic "Angel Of Death" guitar lick, sampled in Public Enemy's "She Watch Channel Zero?!" and KMFDM's "Godlike."

Slayer - Tom Araya, Paul Bostaph, & Kerry King
After Slayer, it was time to catch the end of Primus while getting a good spot for Weezer. We first sat on the pavement in front of the stage but the volume of people arriving soon had us standing, and my kids ended up a couple of rows in front of me. I didn't feel the need to be part of the crush of humanity, so I stayed back a bit, listening to "My Name Is Mud" and "Jerry Was A Race Car Driver" wind down the Primus set.

It was kind of funny to look up at the techs setting up the Weezer stage and seeing a flash from a guy's face at the front of the stage. It looked like he had some sort of mirror at first, and then I saw that it was a welding mask. I sussed out straightaway that it was Rivers checking his mic & guitar sounds & levels and took a close-up pic to be sure.

Weezer - Rivers Cuomo (MAYBE?!?)
I liked how Weezer began the show, starting with their new single "Back to the Shack" (out in October) and "getting in a time machine," making stops along the way in 2008 ("Pork and Beans"), 2005 ("Perfect Situation," "Beverly Hills"), 2001 ("Island In The Sun," "Hash Pipe") and 1996 ("El Scorcho") before landing in 1994 to perform their entire debut record, now known as "the blue album."

Weezer - Patrick Wilson, Brian Bell, Rivers Cuomo, & Scott Shriner
The blue album was released in 1994 which was the year I had decided to really make a go at being in a band and making music. That's a story for another time, but this album was so prevalent that year. The video for "Buddy Holly" was one of the last of the great MTV videos, before MTV became…what it is today. That video is still one of my favorites.

It was quite a rush and spectacle to see & hear so many people, so many different kinds and colors and ages of people singing along with every word of the blue album. Truly fantastic. I hope Rivers can hear the crowd singing along through his in-ear monitors, because to me, I think that's why you'd become a popular musician on some level - to hear the crowd singing the songs you wrote.

Weezer - the blue album
Day 1 of the last stop of Riot Fest 2014 ended with smiles all around and great vibes. Day two - probably the most anticipated day for everyone in my family, anyway - was 12 hours away. We drove home listening quietly to The Cure to set the mood properly for the long day ahead.

Biggest misses of Day 1: My Body Sings Electric - Local boys doin' good. But I never thought I'd see Failure, ever. And Gogol Bordello. I know it's supposed to be an amazing show, and I had some time before NOFX, I just…shined it on. I forget why. But oh well.

More pictures!

@RiotFest Twitter guy t-shirt. So. Cool. Best Twitter account ever.
All - Chad Price
All - Stephen Egerton & Bill Stevenson
Die Antwoord - Ninja (Highly treated photo) 
Die Antwoord (highly out of focus photo)
Slayer Stage
Weezer - Rivers Cuomo
Weezer - Rivers Cuomo
And crappy short videos!

The Flaming Lips - "Race For The Prize":

Slayer - "Angel of Death":

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