Music Festivals

25 Things We Learned at Riot Fest 2014

Live music always offers some kind of release, but Riot Fest appeared to be a particularly welcome respite for many fans. Tom Murphy
It's been almost two decades since I first saw Mineral, and the time hasn't hurt its sound. It hasn't helped it, either. Mineral's brand of whiny emo and shameless Sunny Day emulation was boring then, and it's boring now. Oakland L. Childers For a band that's been playing punk music since well before many of the Riot Fest attendees were born, ALL puts on an amazingly energetic show. It also proves that Colorado has a lot to offer musically -- it's not all eighteen-year-olds with shiny new vans. OC
May Farms, Byers General Store, and Byers Country Feed all leant their names to the stages at Riot Fest this year. Banners on either side of the stage showed pictures of exactly what we were missing out on the Farm. Courtney Harrell
Skaters were one of the lesser-know bands among some of the older set, but the kids sure do love them. With a Clash-meets-Gang Of Four vibe, Skaters are more than the clothes they wear (though their outfits are clearly important to them), getting the early-evening crowd dancing and hopping around. Those white sneakers though... OC Where some pop-punk bands find it hard to make the transition from small venues to big stages, New Found Glory just seems to get better at playing to enormous crowds as the years go by. Despite being the epitome of the cookie-cutter mall-punk band, NFG puts on a good show for its fans. OC Does Fat Mike ever shut up? Where some bands pride themselves on playing blistering sets with nary a break, NOFX's songs sometimes feel like two-minute interruptions between Fat Mike and Co.'s on-stage banter. It's not a bad thing though. NOFX doesn;t take itself very seriously and don't expect anyone else to either, so the conversation just becomes part of the show. Fans get to learn all sorts of things about the songs, the band and what's going on in the world. Friday's big topic: Fat Mike wasn't taking any drugs due to a bout of diarrhea. See? Good stuff. OC Riot Fest brought in a whopping 300 hay bails for the weekend. On Friday, the hay bales magically transported us to the farm. But by Saturday night, there was more hay strewn across the parking lot than tied up, and more people were sitting next to the prickly bales than on them. CH
If you can walk past a stage where Flaming Lips is playing and not stop and gawk you're made of different stuff than I. Wayne Coyne is a genius no matter how you gauge such things, and his band's ethereal, psychedelic and often downright weird songs tend to entrance everyone within earshot. For pure performance value, they were the band to beat Friday. OC Here's another band that doesn't really seem like a good fit for a huge, outdoor festival where the heavily tattooed outnumber the unadorned and a lot of the bands would scare the over-50 set. Originally a bedroom recording project of singer/guitarist Kristin Welchez, Dum Dum Girls has evolved into an ethereal, post-shoegaze bliss fest. If being drenched in reverb and not mosh-pit sweat sounds like your thing Dum Dum Girls is where it's at. OC
At the Hellzapoppin (freak) show, they made more than 50 blow job jokes in an hour. Jesus, that's almost a dick joke every minute. CH
Glassjaw: Long Island, New York's Glassjaw made a name for itself among the throng of '90s post-hardcore bands that saturated the area those many years ago by being technically and creatively superior to just about everyone else. Even though it's been more than a decade since the release of its last album (the third is anticipated with something approaching mania by fans) Glassjaw hasn't lost a beat. They played of the most extraordinary sets of the festival to a throng of fans who all knew the words. Not bad. Now how about that third record, boys? OC
There were so many face tattoos.CH
Hot Snakes played so hard they burned through two drummers in 45 minutes. Midway through the band's set, Mario Rubalcaba, a San Diego local and drummer for more awesome bands than it's sensible to list, took the stage and lit a fire under what was already the most blistering performance of the entire weekend. It cannot be overstate just how amazing Hot Snakes are, no matter how many drummers they maim in the process. OC
There were occasional buckets of chalk to enhance that youthful carnival vibe. The result? A lot of penis drawings and profanities. CH Taking Back Sunday really earned its gold record. The band might not sound like the punkest band on the planet but they put in their time on the road in a van, touring endlessly and getting the kids pumped on their melodic, post-pop punk fusion. When TBS hits the stage it's hard not to turn their way and bob your head. OC
There were more people waiting for the Cure to play by a wide margin than there were watching Social Distortion actually playing. TM
The Cure had one of the most compelling and best-sounding outdoor sets of any festival around here ever. TM
People Bob Mould's age should be sitting at home on a Sunday reading the paper, napping and waiting for Prairie Home Companion to come on the radio, right? Somehow, it's hard to picture the former Husker Du and Sugar front man ever settling down, and by the way he bounced around the stage at Riot Fes,t he has no plans to do anything of the sort. That's a good thing, because the world could use more aging rockers who don't just rehash their glory days over and over. Mould continues to push new creative boundaries, so his age is really a mute point. I'm sorry I even brought it up, honestly. OC
This was Sole's first time playing a national level music festival in the U.S. This time it was with DJ Pain 1. TM
If you looked really hard, you could find the one tractor brought from May Farms. It was surrounded by fences to keep us from touching and/or riding it. CH Sometimes you just want to sing along to songs you've been listening to your whole life, and the Violent Femmes are the perfect band for such an endeavor. They haven't lost a bit of their onstage swagger or witty presence over the years so Sunday's performance at Riot Fest had none of those cringe-worthy moments that often accompany sets by bands with 30-plus years under their belts. And closing with American Music? That was the perfect sing along to take the event into the early evening. OC

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