BY TIM HINELY / PHOTOS BY GREG JACOBS
Riot Fest began in its home city of Chicago in 2005 and has grown ever since. Last year the festival expanded to Dallas, Brooklyn and Toronto; this year, in addition to Chicago, there was another one in Toronto with Denver having its virgin fest (actually Byers, Colorado, about 40 miles east of Denver).
The two day festival lineup was solid with heavy hitters like The Replacements headlining and other rock knockers like Iggy and the Stooges, Blink 182 and Rancid coming along as well (plenty more).
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 21, 2013
Wanted to get there in time for BEST COAST but alas, the traffic getting out to this no-mans’ land was atrocious and it didn’t get any better once you entered the festival as it took another 30-45 minutes just to park. As we were walking in we heard the sounds of Best Coast’s “Girlfriend”, knowing darn well we missed the set (damn!). We then meandered over and caught a few songs by rockers MINUS THE BEAR which didn’t really turn my crank, but SUPERCHUNK (below) did turn it. In this Laura-less lineup (Jason Narducy from the Bob Mould band, ably filled in, we heard crowd-favorites like “Skip Steps 1 and 3,” “Watery Hands” and “Detroit Has a Skyline.” A solid set by these longtime indie rock kings.
On the other side of the field was Washington, DC’s THE DISMEMBERMENT PLAN who were more melodic than I remember them being. I liked it. At 5:05 PM it was over to the Roots Stage for Guided by Voices. This is the classic line (that I caught on their first tour in 1994) with Tobin, Mitch, Kevin and Greg joining Robert Pollard. Got to hear some classics (“Smothered in Hugs,” “I am a Scientist,” “Wished I was a Giant,” “Shocker in Gloomtown”) but the sound wasn’t great and Uncle Bob was a bit pickled (you don’t say). Not their best 60 minutes.
Over on the Rock Stage AGAINST ME! had a crowd captivated with their blasting, anthemic punk while ALKALINE TRIO was doing the same on the far left on the Riot Stage. Who stole the show at Riot Fest 2103? Why, it was San Diego’s own ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT. You know the deal, matching outfits, 2-piece horn section and vocalist/guitarist John “Speedo” Reis cranking out funnier one-liners than Neil Hamburger (Man, the scene here in Byers is crazy!”, “How’s the pit…who’s winnings?”). They were tight, but obviously having a blast and seemed to be everyone’s favorite band of the fest.
It was a good time to get some dinner after Rocket’s set (most of the punks were watching AFI) and then in the dark, IGGY & THE STOOGES took the stage at 9:25 PM sharp.
It was a bit chilly out (I had my jacket on) but do you think this stopped Iggy from having his shirt off for the whole set? Hell no! The Stooges out in a stellar set and kicked out classics like “1970,” “I Got a Right,” “Search and Destroy” and too many others. They delivered!
Finally, at 10:30 PM out came THE REPLACEMENTS in matching skirts, shirts and cowboy hats (pink and orange). Paul and Tommy joined by drummer Josh Freese and The Neighborhood’s David Minehan on guitar. Calling it The Replacements might be a stretch with only two original members, but regardless, the band smoked. They opened with “Takin’ a Ride” and also played gems like “Androgynous,” “Swingin’ Party’ and “Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out.” Encores? There were a few, like “Hootenanny” as well as a breakdown of “Detroit Rock City” into The Who’s “Substitute” before effin’ off the stage in supreme fashion. They did it.
SUNDAY- SEPTEMBER 22, 2013
Yes, we came back for more fun and frivolity. The parking situation had improved a little. Got there in time to catch Japanese theatre punks PEELANDER Z (below) who had the crowd eating out of their hand with patented chants and pseudo-metal riffs.
Then over to the rock stage to see hypno-rockers WOVENHAND who I didn’t even like a little bit. Canada’s STARS did a terrific set of catchy jangle pop, a rarity this year, and the band thanked the crowd profusely for paying attention (crowd should have been thanking them…and they did, they were appreciative).
It was back to the Riot Stage to catch Chicago legends NAKED RAYGUN (above) who still play occasionally. Like GBV, the sound was real rough during their set, but the band didn’t quite seem to be firing on all cylinders on this night, Still we got to hear some Raygun classics like “Home of the Brave,” “Vanilla Blue” and “Treason.” Another special treat was longtime bassist Pierre Kezdy coming out and playing a few songs at the end (he suffered a stroke last year). It was then over to the other side to catch some of YO LA TENGO who played a lovely, subdued (mostly) set with lots of instrument switching. These guys could do this in their sleep.
In the middle PUBLIC ENEMY (above) drew a huge crowd and had them all entranced (goin’ nuts, actually) but we had one thing in mind, back to the Riot Stage to catch the mighty FLAG! (below). They came on at 6 PM sharp and did not disappoint. Holy moly were these guys flat-out fierce! They opened with “Revenge” and from there went into “Fix It,” “Police Story,” “Depression,” “No Values” but right at about the midway point in their set the rain began coming down (big drops) and the wind whipped up (blew down some very large banners) and then….ta-dah…..lightning. The sets going on all got called (postponed). A voice came over the loudspeaker telling folks to go to their cars for shelter and that the concert will resume.
I walked back to my car (only took me 25 minutes to find it and twice that long to get out of the parking lot). The weather did not look like it was going to improve and I assumed the festival would not continue so I headed home, missing Bad Religion (below, after text) and Rancid who were both playing later. (as were Blink 182, Matt & Kim and Devotchka).
Byers, Colorado loved Riot Fest and Riot Fest seemed to love Byers. Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear?