Riot Fest 2014 in Denver kicked on Friday evening and did not disappoint. As you may know, the town of Byers realized they were not cool enough to host such a great congregation of music and everything was moved to the city, to Sports Authority Field. Many of us were utterly thrilled not to have to drive out to the middle of nowhere.
But in some ways, I will admit, that grassy, windy, dusty field in the middle of nowhere *did* give Riot Fest a special ambiance. A few swaths of grass turf and some hay bales really didn’t make Mile High Stadium feel like a farm, but I am glad they tried. Next year: 10 times the grass and 50 times the hay bales (that doubled as places for people to sit in the middle of a parking lot).
Other than the ambiance, Riot Fest felt like it got its act together. Whereas last year a lot of staff seemed to be running around in dazed confusion, this year they felt like a well-oiled machine. I don’t know if they were new people, second-year people, or more experienced people – it was a noticeable difference.
Which made the most important part of a music festival (the music) much easier to enjoy.
Riot Fest 2014 / Denver / Day One (Friday) line-up:
Mineral • La Dispute • Tiny Moving Parts • The Orwells • All • Buzzcocks • My Body Sings Electric • Failure • New Found Glory • Die Antwoord • Skaters • Gogol Bordello • NOFX • The Flaming Lips • Nostalghia • Slayer • Primus • Big Freedia • Weezer
With a festival this huge, you can only get to so many bands, especially when there are scheduling conflicts (that break your heart.) I took as many photos as I could, but Friday night was also a celebration of local Denver friends, My Body Sings Electric, playing such a kick-ass event.
Here are my photos from the day and some pithy commentary to accompany them.
One of the special things about Riot Fest is how they pair legendary bands with up-and-coming kids. Guess which one Buzzcocks is. If you have ever heard “Ever Fallen In Love?” – you know. They sounded great live in 2014, just as I imagine they did in 1976. Not to mention, us GenX-ers who remember Pete Shelley’s solo work got a double treat.
My Body Sings Electric
It’s clear I love these guys and I am so proud of them. They are nice guys, they are hilarious, but most important – they are a really, really, good rock band.
New Found Glory
My biggest complaint about this band is they were hard to photograph because they were all over the stage. (Which is not really a complaint, just FYI).
I really wanted to see this band because I love their album, “Manhattan.” They sounded great, and in particular, their guitar player was a blast to photograph – as you can see from the photographs. You can also see from the photos their lead singer seemed absolutely bored to be there, but perhaps that is just punk rock disdain masked in hipster?
I have mentioned before how, at most concerts, you only shoot the first three songs. I made it to NOFX in the middle of the third song, so was only able to catch a few frames. This is nothing against the band, because they were awesome – it’s just a testament to how slowly I can run from stage to stage (while drinking beer).
Holy mothership of everything magical and wondrous. Everyone told me NOT to miss Flaming Lips. Everyone. And these photos are why. Wayne Coyne and his crew put on a SHOW. And yes, there were rainbows and balloons and confetti and hamster balls… but the music was just as fantastical as the crazy shit on stage.
I have one photo of Primus because they sounded terrible and Les Claypool knew it, so I left, the end.
There are two bands that my 12 year old son has loved his entire life. The Beatles and Weezer. Yes, he was at Riot Fest with us, and yes, he saw Weezer play. Sometimes this weird blogging gig is pretty damn cool. Related: Weezer is also pretty damn cool. I was pretty damn happy that came out and played several well-loved songs before they launched into the Blue Album. And they sounded awesome. I had seen them once before, just this summer at the Firefly Festival – but was from way far back in the crowd (another casualty of sprinting across festival fairgrounds). It was such a thrill to see this band my whole family adores… AND get to photograph them.
And there you have it. Riot Fest Denver Day One.
I’m already jonesing for next year.