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.
|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.
|@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)|
|Weezer – Rivers Cuomo|
|Weezer – Rivers Cuomo|
And crappy short videos!
The Flaming Lips – “Race For The Prize”:
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