Riot Fest 2016 will be remembered for the fact that, after more than thirty years, the Misfits finally put differences aside and got on stage together. But this is a three-day festival, and a lot happens between each evening's headliners. Still, though, the Misfits!
Juliette Lewis & The Licks
It’s still weird to see the woman who played Audrey Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation fronting a rock band, but Juliette Lewis is as much a singer as she is an actress these days. And even though most of her band’s songs sound vaguely like covers of songs you sort of remember, they might have the perfect sound to kick off an all-day festival in the hot Colorado sun. Lewis certainly seemed like she was having a good time, strutting the stage in her skin-tight Elvis-meets-Evel Knievel getup.
Check out photo slideshows of the bands and fans of Riot Fest 2016.
Sometimes all that sun can make things a little weird. Converge, one of the premier hardcore/metal acts in the world, is a band that seems like they’d be far better suited to a dark club in the middle of the night than a giant festival stage in the early afternoon. To be fair, as they’ve grown in popularity, Converge has graced bigger and bigger stages around the world. Nobody in the crowd for Sunday’s performance seemed the least bit bothered by the heat, though, as Converge tore through its catalogue, from "Jane Doe" to "All We Love We Leave Behind." And even though the band was done early in the day, the members hung around to see the Misfits play Sunday night.
Jamie Jasta seems like a far happier man these days. It’s not that Hatebreed’s music has mellowed, just that Jasta himself seems more bubbly than he has at any point over the band’s twenty-year career. Even playing songs from the band’s 1997 debut, Satisfaction is the Death of Desire, Jasta smiled the entire time. Hatebreed, for a long time throughout the 2000s, stood as the standard for what a big-time hardcore band should be: loud, pissed and confrontational. On Sunday, despite the brief rain shower, Jasta and crew took the stage like they’d just won a cruise, bopping around, imploring the crowd to bounce to the beat. Jasta’s not the first hardcore singer to take a more friendly, upbeat approach to the job, but it’s certainly one of the more dramatic energy shifts you’re likely to see.
Taylor Hawkins loves to play music. This is a man who plays drums for one of the biggest rock bands in the world (Foo Fighters) and still fills his downtime playing music with the Birds of Satan, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders and, of course, Chevy Metal. Chevy Metal plays covers. Well-known covers, to boot. They seamlessly move from aping the Knack and Black Sabbath to Van Halen – and absolutely kill. Yes, the idea of hearing “My Sharona” at Riot Fest might seem bizarre, but when you see how much fun these guys are having, it’s hard not to get into the groove.
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If there’s one thing that characterizes a Colorado music fan, it’s that the vast majority of them don’t seem to put themselves into any category. Sure, there are punk kids and metal heads, hippies and everything else, but most of the crowd at Riot Fest floats from stage to stage, taking in whatever they see. What’s crazy is that the audience knows all the bands. They sing along.
Scores of people showed up early to see 2 Chainz, who strolled out onto the Riot Fest Rock Stage nearly thirty minutes late. In characteristic Colorado form, the crowd just seemed happy that he was there, never mind that they’d had to stand in the heat, packed in like sardines, to wait.