Aimee Note: I have been trying to get Bryan to write more for this site, but it took Riot Fest to make it happen. Thank you, Riot Fest.
RIOT FEST. Even the name strikes fear into the hearts of parents everywhere. Well, not all parents. Cool parents bring their kids to Riot Fest and enjoy stellar punk, rock, ska, funk, and rap music together as it was in the beginning, as it always shall be, so say we all. Our youngling doesn’t want us pretending we are cool, so he opted out this year. He also had to get ready for a Minecraft tourney, and needed some extra time to practice being cool.
But that’s not the point. The point here is I had a blast at Riot Fest this year (and the last two years) in Denver, but I’m ticked that I’m not going to Chicago or Toronto. That would be KILLER!!! Next time, I want to get a big tour bus together to hit them all. If you haven’t seen Monika’s post about it, after you are done reading this, check her perspective out here. Or her other post of thoughts and reflections from it here.
From my perspective, things were punking amazing this year. From the new location at the National Western Complex, to the lineup, to all after-party events, this festival is stepping up their game.
That’s why I want to see the other cities. What do they have? Sure, Chicago has a few different bands that I would love to see, and Toronto has … um… well that looks cool too, but I have never been there, so I can’t be sure.
What did I like about DENVER this year? Well…
The Venue – National Western Complex
Basically, I’m there for the music, but the venue can have a big impact on the experience. We got to meet a bunch of great people in Byers the first year, although they never asked us back for the holidays. Then year two at Mile High (I get to say Mile High since we were in the parking lot on the grave of the old stadium, not inside the branded stands) was a OK set up with the corn photos and hay everywhere.
This year though, we had FIVE (one, two, three, four, FIVE) stages spread out around the rodeo. It was easy to bounce side to side through the main arena as bands were setting up, and having the center stage being INSIDE (away from the sun) certainly had to save some lives. Plus, if the weather went ballistic, there was someplace to hide (looking at you, Byers). The good news? Since they moved the Denver date up several weeks, all we got was sun and heat for three days instead of National Weather Service warnings.
Truthfully, it was hike to get around the whole place, but it was good to get a little exercise, plus you got to walk through the carnival, food, and Hellzapoppin scene. Very fun. Also, being close to civilization meant that it was possible to use a credit card at a lot of the food places, i.e. not everything was blue tickets.
Being on the stock lots wasn’t too bad either. Sure it was rocky, and a little dusty at times, but with good shoes and a decent bandanna (you just wait to see the ones we devise for next year), it was fun. Different. You know – like a RODEO. We spent the cash to get VIP tickets, and I think was worth it – even if the VIP section was perhaps a bit far from the stage. We certainly recouped the money in free water alone. The Riot Fest crew were alert and super responsive to any issues, so I give them two middle fingers up (that’s a good thing) for quickly moving structures that were blocking the view from VIP. In fact, between that, the killer app, and “Riot Fest Mom” taking over the social feeds, it felt like the organizers really wanted people to be there. I’m glad I was.
Music – The Line Up From Beyond
Everyone’s going to have an opinion on this. There were some great classic bands, promising new bands, and everything in between. I got to see some that I would never be able to pay for at a small club, never want to pay for anywhere else, and a bunch that I’ve never heard of. National acts, local bands, regional highlights. That’s what I love about events like this – seeing things you couldn’t normally see, and if you don’t dig it, there’s another stage nearby. Now. Who did I see?
Friday: Indian School, American Nightmare, Crobot, De La Soul, Main Attrakionz, The Get Up Kids, Death Grips, The Hotelier, The Airborne Toxic Event, 88 Fingers Louie, Cypress Hill, Anthrax, Coheed and Cambria, and Ice Cube. Then an after-party for PPL MVR and Thrice at Summit Music Hall.
Saturday. I was parenting for the afternoon on this day, so: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Eagles of Death Metal, Northern Faces, Iration, Drive Like Jehu, The Bunny Gang, Alkaline Trio, Kongos, Pixies, and Modest Mouse.
Sunday: 7 Seconds, Daye Jack, OFF!, Skating Polly, Andrew W.K., Nada Surf, Pup, GZA, The Lawrence Arms, Faulkner, Babes in Toyland, Yelawolf, L7, Bootsy Collins’ Rubber Band, Flogging Molly, Tenacious D, The Prodigy, and Snoop Dogg. THEN, the after-party back at Summit for 7 Seconds and Rancid.
There were a bunch I missed that I wanted to see, but I can only run so fast for so long. While drinking. With friends.
Suggestions For Next Year
With next year’s Riot Fest looming (since I’m not going to Chicago or Toronto it seems), I can only look forward to next year. Here are some suggestions to make your experience awesome:
- Wear comfortable shoes. Heels, sandals, flip flops, jelly’s, stylish thin soled shoes – all BAD. Combat boots GOOD.
- Wear a tail. Strangers will grab, grope, and hump you. All day.
- Get a bandanna or some sort of face protection from the dust.
- Bring ear protection; it’s easy.
- It’s sunny. Sunscreen and a hat, you lobster people.
- Drink lots of water. Riot Fest Mom will remind you: but bring a camelback, water bottle, something you can fill all the time.
- Consider the parking situation and the planet. Uber, Car2Go, carpool… any enterprising individual want to run a cheap shuttle to a light rail stop? There is a lot of parking up by the Coliseum, but it is a hike out there.
- Don’t forget the sideshow attractions!
- Take a moment to watch the killer sunsets.
- Bring all the friends you have and then make new ones. It’s a great time, and depending on how you spend your money, well worth it for all you get to see.