Tag Archives: Riot Fest

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Reflecting on Riot Fest Denver 2016

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Riot Fest Denver 2016 is in the books – after a weekend mostly full of spectacular acts, weather that alternated between sweltering heat and sweeping wind, nails pounded into nostrils, and the oh-so-familiar smell of pet foods being cooked right next door. Alongside the historic reunion of legendary rockers The Misfits, the music was non-stop, much of it was excellent, and some of it fell a little flat – all in the midst of a festival that still seems to be trying to find its personality, and maybe its purpose.

The Performers

Day 1 – Friday, September 2 (Evening)

Death Cab for Cutie started the evening portion of the first night with some psychedelic, noisy romance from the Roots Stage, while The Descendents exploded with their signature quick-witted, in-your-face hardcore from the Nicole Hoffman Stage inside the rodeo building. While the two overlapped just a bit, most fans didn’t seem to mind (I mean, does a fan of Descendents’ lovely thrash really have time for Ben Gibbard‘s prevalent whining?).

A highly anticipated Jane’s Addiction set closed the night with a relatively staid performance of the classic “Ritual de lo Habitual” that featured about as much burlesque as the record’s seminal ’90s sound. Their otherwise fantastic version of “Classic Girl” featured a near full-on striptease with frontman Perry Farrel’s wife, Etty Lau – an accomplished dancer – that pushed the song a little out of its familiar summery haze and into a less-comfortable faux-erotic space. The brilliant “Of Course” also featured dancing – some perfect marionette ballet – that came across perfectly, but, for the most part, the women seemed more a set of props than an addition to the show, which was unfortunate.

Farrel, looking more pimp than rockstar, belted out his familiar high-pitched vocals from within a markedly suave and mellow personage throughout the set, constantly fiddling with a vocal synthesizer as he sang. Meanwhile, a shirtless Dave Navarro – who from a short distance looked as if he hadn’t aged a day since his stint with the Red Hot Chili Peppers (which must say something about his heroin habits, past or present) –  entertained a crowd that was obviously starving for his particular guitar wizardry, as did with Chris Chaney with his inimitable bass. They finished the set with a few selections from “Nothing’s Shocking,” including a brilliant “Mountain Song” that had me fully re-experiencing the excitement of having discovered them in 1988.

Day 2 – Saturday, September 3

Our day began with Courtney Taylor-Taylor and The Dandy Warhols, offering deep psychedelic pop under the blazing, hot midday sun, scheduled in one of the loathed early slots, where most bands seem relegated to proving their worth. Taylor and Peter Holmstrom concocted sweeping sounds with guitars and moans that built on themselves, quietly at first, up to their ecstatic crescendo, while Zia McCabe (keys) and Brent DeBoer (drums) filled in their typical wall of sound. The effect was better than I’d expected, despite the mid-day scheduling and lack of fog-machine antics.

Against Me! took up on the Riot Stage next, with their angst-filled, anthemic rock growing into anarchic fun as the set progressed. Laura Jane Grace easily filled the shoes of one of rock’s most interesting and engaging stories of the past few years as a prominent transgender artist. The set rocked a growing crowd of young people, though competing with the less-than-optimal “prove it” schedule slot, early in the afternoon (and under that unforgiving sun’s brutal heat, no less).

A quick visit inside the rodeo complex to the Nicole Hoffman Stage revealed hood/hipster rapper Danny Brown rocking a huge crowd – especially for a late afternoon. Brown’s innovative, often hilarious lyricism might just be the future of rap, and these millennials knew it. We jumped out from there to catch the waning moments of Yo La Tengo‘s set on the Roots Stage, where Ira Kaplan slayed the crowd with his searing guitar noise, while Georgia Hubley beautifully slammed her trap set around, a great pairing with James McNew to build their own strong groove.

The Hold Steady took over the Roots Stage to play their debut album “Boys & Girls in America,” fulfilling so many Springsteen-meets-fraternity-party band comparisons, while Canadians Billy Talent exploded off the Rock Stage at the opposite end of the festival. Originally known as Pezz in the late ’90s, Billy Talent spewed out a fast, fun, and hard punk rock with a definite Iggy & the Stooges vibe – particularly in singer Ben Kowalewicz’s personality. Kowalewicz regularly contorted behind his mic and stringy hair, screaming dirt-punk lyrics, while guitarist Ian D’sa, drummer Aaron Solowoniuk, and bassist Jon Gallant provided the freight train rhythm and guitar to back him up.

When local heroes DeVotchKa hit the stage, covered in fog-machine mist, the sun was just beginning to dip below the Rockies to the west, bathing the festival with an appropriately soft, orange glow. Sadly, the challenging aromas of tons of cat, dog, and other pet foods also began to infiltrate the area at the same time. Behind frontman Nick Urata’s swooning vocals. Jeanie Schroder’s standup bass and sousaphone, Shawn King’s complex and brilliant drumming, and Tom Hagerman’s accomplished, beautiful violin and accordion, DeVotchKa just didn’t quite fit with the rest of the Riot Fest, really. High-minded, lyrically complex symphonies with a decidedly Eastern European flavor don’t really inspire the supposed punk rock nihilism that the festival seems to claim to portend (nothing against either DeVotchKa or any of the other bands – just a sign of the struggle the festival seems to be having in making up its mind about just what kind of festival it is. More on that soon….).

On the other hand, Olympia rockstars Sleater-Kinney came close to personify both the festival’s harder edge and to hint at the nostalgic base behind the lineups of all four years (more on that later, too – just keep reading). Corin Tucker, Janet Weiss, and Carrie Brownstein showed the wild crowd filled with plenty of old-schooler fans and Portlandia newbies how a rock trio really works – and it was refreshing to see a woman-led band in a prime slot on the schedule, too.

Ween wrapped up our night with an awesomely mediocre set on the Riot Stage after Sleater-Kinney finished up. It may just be that the legal weed culture in Colorado just jaded us natives prematurely. or that the 8th-grade humor and psychedelic jokes aren’t quite showing the longevity they once promised, but Ween have seemingly reached the point where listening to them on record is just plain more fun than struggling through 90 minutes of live action. Dean and Gene can still perform with the stamina of rockers the age their post-adolescent lyrics suggest, to be sure, but the ingenuity and snarky sarcasm just don’t translate anymore. Maybe it’s the fact that Dean looks like your older brother from high school, a decade or so after graduation when he’s broken up with his high school sweetheart, subsequently rejoining the family to live in the garage and look for a “real job.” Or it cold be that Gene looks more like a slightly hungover Billy Joel than a comedic, resilient rock star. Either way, 90 minutes turned out to be at least 45 minutes too long for the evening.

Day 3 – Sunday, September 4

Our day started in the windy heat again, this time watching Juliette Lewis and the Licks dominate the stage, albeit in the hated, scorching 1:00 pm slot – yet another band led by a powerful woman relegated to the early “prove yourself” slot – regardless of the fact that Lewis is an accomplished actor and musician, and the Licks have been a band since 2003, albeit one that went on hiatus in 2009 (because of Lewis’s acting career). To be put in this slot on Sunday – the slot also most likely to be missed by those hungover from the previous night’s activity – must have been especially insulting. No matter – Lewis and her four-piece tore up the early afternoon with some raucous, straight-on rock n’ roll, mixing in the best parts of classic rock with a punky underscore. Meanwhile, Lewis herself proselytized about the dim future of a Trump-infected America, dressed in a red, white and blue, star-spangled spandex jumpsuit that recalled Evil Knievel’s heyday – and the small, sweating and sunburning crowd loved every second of it.

As the heat wore on – with a brief interlude of rain – Converge and Hatebreed took over the Riot Stage, flooding the festival with their high-minded thrashcore, and in Hatebreed’s case, added a little sunshine and happiness to the usually brutal and confrontational genre. Murder By Death split the two with an oddly bright set on the Roots Stage – mostly because their haunting style plays much better in haunted hotels than in sun-baked lots. During some of this, we took a chance with the Hellzapoppin’ Circus Sideshow Revue to see the latest in nasal cavity nail and nostril drill technology, mixed with some burlesque, vaudeville, and sword swallowing. In the words of more than a few in the audience on their way out after the show: “Meh – seen most of it, but not bad!”

Chevy Metal – led “from behind” by Foo Fighters drummer Tyler Hawkins – played a shit-hot set of dirt rock covers on the Roots Stage next, with selections from Van Halen, Black Sabbath, and just about any other band you’d expect to hear while your neighbor washes his truck in the driveway next door. The trio put a ton of fun into the covers, and the effect was infectious as the day began to slowly cool. Next door Me First and the Gimme Gimmes followed on with their own set of covers – soaked in ironic punk rock – including more banal and hilarious selections from the likes of John Denver, Billy Joel, and more.

Up-and-coming all-girl outfit Bleached graced the indoor Nicole Hoffman Stage later, showing off a style reminiscent of early G0 Go’s with a punkier shot in the arm – high energy, sassy, great puck rock music that a quickly growing audience loved. A little later in the afternoon, but this was yet another strong female act that was once again relegated to an earlier slot – starting to see a pattern? These musicians in particular deserved a more enticing lineup slot, honestly.

After waiting for 2Chainz for 30 minutes (of a planned 45-minute set), we bailed from the Rock Stage to catch an aging – but still pretty brilliant – Bad Religion at the Riot Stage. Visibly sporting a pile of decades in their hair, faces and under their belts, the lineup pulled off a furious set that spanned all 30 years of their creative, innovative output, and left no-one disappointed. Meanwhile, Tyler, the Creator browbeat an audience that didn’t show enough life when he and fellow MC Jasper Dolphin took to the stage “…jumpin’ around like an idiot!” according to Tyler. That audience woke up quickly and ushered in a sunset that saw the main stage filling up with an obscene amount of Misfits merch on thousands of bodies.

Gogol Bordello primed that audience with their own scintillating brand of Eastern European gypsy punk for just about an hour behind Eugene Hütz‘s eclectic charisma and endless energy, along with the explosive troupe of musicians. Their violinist stood guard at stage right, barking out lyrics and swashbuckling with bow in hand, while the intensely German-looking accordionist danced and ran frantically all over the stage, swapping sides with two screaming women and an aged Rastafarian bassist – all furiously playing music based as much in the Bowery in NYC as in the Ukraine.

Finally, the damn broke and The Misfits flood poured on, like a gooey, blood-red, and syrupy mess of heavy distortion, horror film mayhem, and downright silliness. A sea of Crimson Ghost-bedecked fans began thrusting out towards the stage – wearing the skull on t-shirts, tattoos, in face paint, on socks, jackets, backpacks, piercing – you name it, someone wore it there. The original lineup of Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only, and Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein – joined by Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo – quite literally serenaded a hypnotized audience for a little over an hour with the sticky and exciting horror punk they’d begun playing in the early ’80s. Danzig occasionally struggled with vocals – perhaps a little under-prepared for the altitude – but otherwise the band was tight, on point, horrifying – a thousand fans’ dream after an actual lifetime of waiting.

The Problem(s)

Straight up sexism?

We’re not the first outlet to call this out, but Riot Fest may have a sexism problem. Consider: out of 80 bands performing, only 15 featured women artists. Of those 15, only two actually occupied a prime (but not headlining) spot on their scheduled day. With the exception of  the Jane’s Addiction set – which actually featured female exotic dancers, not musicians – no band with a female in it played later than 7:30 pm. Considering that a large portion of the fans that bought tickets likely have a day job that prevents them from going to this venerated festival before 5:00 pm – at best (likely no earlier than 6:30, with traffic, clothes changing, child coverage, etc.), scheduling prevents them from seeing more than two female-prominent bands at all, on any day, throughout the festival. How is this fair?

I could bring up the argument from the nostalgia perspective to try and explain this, but it doesn’t work – not really. In case you’re unfamiliar, the argument is that Riot Fest – and many other nostalgic, backwards-looking festivals, shops, clubs, and community groups – are more concerned with re-creating the atmosphere from the many genres’ time period. After all, it is educational…. That’s all fine, but it doesn’t represent the Riot Fest government in the best light – even with a healthy punk rock attitude attributed.

Out of 80 overall acts covering all sorts of genres, only 15 had at least one woman as part of the band (16, if you include the exotic dancers that appeared onstage with Jane’s Addiction). Of those 15, only three acts were scheduled after 6:00 pm – leaving 12 sequestered to thw pre- and pre-pre-prime time slots when the festival likely had half the audience (or less) that would show up later in the evening.

Using the nostalgia argument above, you could say that Riot Fest 2016 represents an era in rock – in this case the ’90s, more than any other – filled with way more male than female musicians, run by male managers, publicists, roadies, etc., etc., funded by male investors, and that made music sold to way more males than females. And maybe there’s some truth to that. But that doesn’t make it ok to simply ignore the increase in influence, quality, quantity and fierceness that woman artists have added to rock in the last 20 years by relegating acts to the early slots in the schedule, and by employing more than three times as many male artists and bands. It’s time for Riot Fest to grow into the present, it would seem, or continue to lose respectability in the festival scene.

Humans in lines, with no water to be found

It’s true that pulling off a festival like Riot Fest is daunting, to say the least – as one friend put it, it’s “…like building and running a small city” for three days at a time – and to make it a nomadic city increases the complexity exponentially. Just running one stage for a day, showing 8 – 10 acts with as many as 50 artists, hundreds of pieces of equipment (and who knows how many non-standard “contract requirements” that have to be fulfilled) is a superhuman effort. To make that work across four stages, simultaneously, for three days, seems positively Sisyphean – and Riot Fest organizers deserve the credit for pulling it off pretty well for the past four years (at least since the festival began to tour regularly).

Still, there seemed to be some boneheaded decisions made this year – or maybe just oversights – that led to some potentially dangerous situations for humans in the festival audience. Most importantly, there was no water available outside at either end of the festival other than bottles that could be purchased at one of the food vendors in the middle of the park. This led to huge lines at the limited fountains inside the rodeo building, filled with people suffering from various degrees of dehydration from standing in direct, 90+ degree sun rocking out. A quick question about it to festival medics showed that the lack of water outside really added to their concern – and workload – with more and more fans facing the potential of serious dehydration as each day wore on.

Add to that the fact that the number of food and drink vendors – including the portion of them that sold water (which was less than half, by our count) – was noticeably smaller than years past. This led to huge, sweaty, lines with long waits throughout the day, with even more dehydrated, sweating fans awaiting sustenance. At least from the outside, it made the festival look challenged, and seemed to put an emphasis on profit, rather than people – or rock n’ roll.

Identity

Riot Fest – at least in its multi-city, touring format – is just approaching its adolescence, so some identity issues aren’t too surprising. But those issues seem to be getting more pronounced with each year, and that’s a little concerning (of course, nothing fatal, to be sure).

The midway was gone this year. Not a huge problem, to be sure, but maybe an unsettling sign of  decline? Riot Fest used to make a big eal of the carnival aspect of the festival, and the last vestige of that this year was the Helzapoppin’ Circus Sideshow Revue. The Revue itself was more unsurprising than years past – or at least contained nothing new, actually repeating the script of years past almost precisely (we know – that’s how vaudeville works – there’s never anything new under the sun). This year there seemed to be less energy around the Helzapoppin’ tent overall – less excitement, less showmanship.

When you combine this with the almost haphazard collection of artists this year and the unfortunate scheduling tendencies, there seems to be room for alarm for the future. Of course, we don’t want to denigrate the Herculean stamina and superhuman organizational skills necessary to acquire, schedule and run 80 unique gigs in a single festival – which says nothing of the otherworldly patience one would need to keep these artists satisfied. So our criticism is in no way intended to imply that the organizers, promoters or foot soldiers of Riot Fest are lackluster.

It just brings to light the possibility that Riot Fest’s time may be waning. Running this giant accomplishment year after year, and attempting to fill it with quality and quantity, diversity and familiarity, beauty and fierceness – and trying to satisfy legions of fickle humans while trying desperately to break even – all of this may just bee too much to ask for many more years.

Which is all the more reason that all of you should support your local Riot Fest – before, during, and after the festival. Otherwise, what are all going to do next September to counteract the pet foods smell in September, as we wrap up our summer?


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Riot Fest 2014, Denver, Day 3 – Review, Slideshow

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Manchester Orchestra brought it hard and loud to the final day of this year’s Riot Fest. (Photo: Isobel Thieme/DenverThread)

The rain was the winner of the day for day three in Denver – and not just because The National gave up and stormed off (pun intended). The day was eventful, with a brilliant set from The Violent Femmes (wherein Gordon Gano revealed his new Colorado residency – and showed off his new drivers license), covering their whole first album, joined by the Horns of Dilemma – totaling somewhere around 10 additional horns of all types. Manchester Orchestra may have had the strongest set of the day, bringing their unique, loud and gratifying brand of post-hardcore back to Denver. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes reuinited for a satisfying hardcore bout, while Cerebral Ballzy put on a fantastic – and fantastically fast – version of their own Bad Religion meets meth hardcore set. Wounds debuted from Dublin – bringing some great feeling screamo to the Revolt Stage, and then the rain really set in. Sound on the May Farms Stage began to degenerate with the TV on the Radio set, and was totally gone by the time The National tried to close down the festival. Crowds were sparse – even for Wu Tang Clan.

Here’s our abbreviated slideshow of Day 3:


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Riot Fest 2014, Denver, Day 2 – Review, Slideshow

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Robert Smith and the Cure at Riot Fest 2014, Denver

Robert Smith fronted The Cure for more than 3 hours of classics, and class, on Riot Fest Denver’s second night. (Photo: Oliver Thieme/DenverThread)

The second day of Riot Fest was probably the festival’s longest – both in terms of bands in the lineup (there were many) and the time everyone seemed to be waiting for their heroes to take the stage. Early in the day, The Bots and Larry and His Flask started the punk rock and folky punk rolling, Dum Dum Girls added their brand of powerpop-driven, clean and exciting music and Clutch pushed the afternoon into overdrive. Atlanta’s Baby Baby took the Revolt Stage by storm with a happy, explosive straight up rock set, complete with a pianist atop his instrument, lobbing Red Bulls onto the crowd (note to self -a n to you – next time this band is in town, make it a date – they’re pure fun, exciting party music). Dads followed Baby Baby – although they almost didnt’t because of a faulty chord – all post-hardcore and barely emo.

Hot Snakes, Descendents, City and Colour and Social Distortion filled up the afternoon on one side of the festival, while The Used, Plague Vendor, Bring Me the Horizon and A Day To Remember fulfilled all the post-emo and hardcore needs of about a thousand kids on the other. As the sun set, the excitement of seeing Robert Smith and The Cure settled in, and you could feel the huge crowd in anticipation. Smith and his band delivered – and then some.

The Cure played for nearly four hours, interrupted only at the end of their songs by Smith’s signature “‘K’you!” The amazing thing was that the band had little stage set (only an infinity-mirrored backdrop, some fog and mostly purple lighting, really) and minimal real crowd interaction. And yet the engagement with everyone in the huge audience was stronger, more palpable than for any other band in the lineup to that point. They played every song you’d expect to hear, and every song you’d want to hear, and didn’t pull many punches (with the possible exception of “100 Years” from Pornography). But what we realized as we listened is that their history is cornerstone to the whole reason festivals like Riot Fest exist. These are songs that are in your blood, and they’re still punk rock (not fast & furious, but defiant and individual). Few bands last as long (nearly 40 years) in the spotlight, and maintain their unique sound as well as The Cure has. All we got form the stage was the music, as it is, no flair, pyrotechnics, confetti or giant balloons. And it was all we needed.

Check out our slideshow of Night two:

 


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Riot Fest Denver, Day 1 – Review/Slideshow

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Wayne Coyne leads the explosion of love and light at Riot Fest Denver, Day One. September 19, 2014 (Photo: Isobel Thieme, DenverThread.com)

Day one is in the books. Riot Fest started off hot, and ended cool on the asphalt outside of Sports Authority Field last night, with The Flaming Lips winning the night. Die Antwoord had a popular set that welcomed the sunset – but it lacked much more than shock value, really. Gogol Bordello threw a frenetic party full of Eastern Bloc gypsy tunes, which had a huge crowd dancing and jumping for about an hour, but Wayne Coyne and the Flaming Lips stole the night with their usual psychedelic freakout, starting with a brilliant version of The Chemical Brothers’ “The Golden Path” – I mean, has anyone ever heard the Lips do that one live? Confetti explosions, a giant chromed ballon in the shape of the words “Fuck Yeah Riot Fest,” lights and a walk across the audience in a giant balloon. What more could you ask for?

Aside from some frustrating crowd control details (three – THREE – lines one had to stand in to get a beer? Really?), the show went off smoothly, and the place was packed. Check out our slideshow, and get out there tonight for more!

Don’t forget to follow our Live Blog page for up-to-the-minute news!

 


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Riot Fest Denver Map

UPDATE: The Show Will Go On – Riot Fest Relocated!

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“…we all know if we were named “Good Ole Country Riot Fest,” we would have never been in this situation.”  – Michael “Riot Mike” Petryshyn

Riot Fest Denver Map

Riot Fest will take place, despite Arapahoe County’s best, short-sighted and ignorant efforts, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.

Some of the dust has settled – and that pun is definitely intended – in the Riot Fest vs. Arapahoe County and Byers drama, with Riot Fest organizers settling on holding this year’s 3-day event at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. That’s today’s big announcement, straight from Riot Fest and Denver promoter of the festival, Soda Jerk Presents:

“Riot Fest is happy to announce that after visiting many great venues over the course of the past week that Sports Authority Field at Mile High will be the official home for Riot Fest & Sideshow, Sept, 19-21, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.

Although dozens of venues were interested in hosting the event, organizers chose the stadium for several factors, one of which being that stadium management have allowed Riot Fest to recreate Byers, Colorado and May Farms on the new fest grounds.  Riot Fest made many friends in the Byers community, and it truly saddens organizers to be forced to move the fest away from its inaugural home – but if the farm is unavailable, they’ll bring the farm to Denver. Moreover, as previously promised, free parking will be made available to the festival’s patrons, and Mile High’s location will allow for public transportation options through the RTD.  All tickets will be honored at the new location and refunds for those who purchased camping spots will be processed starting today.”

The good news is that all of our tickets will be honored, of course, and all the bands scheduled to play at May Farms are still scheduled to play, and (so far) in the same lineup. The bad news is that the camaraderie and festival culture that can only be found in the associated campgrounds will be absent – or at least reduced to a day-by-day thing.

Of course, the organizers are putting their best face on it, but it’s painfully obvious that the new location brings what was growing into a potentially fantastic – and lucrative – yearly festival that might one day have reached the level of famous festivals like Coachella, Sasquatch, Bumbershoot and more down to the level of just another Warped Tour (no offense, young punks, but I think we can agree on this). This isn’t the fault of the promoters, the Riot Fest organizers, the bands or anyone else that loves the show – this is the fault of a few narrow-minded people out in the Colorado plains that feel that a little more traffic in their struggling town is more of a threat than the economic and community benefits that having the festival at May Farms would have brought – along with that traffic.

“… the way this is unfolding … Colorado ends up looking like a backwater, close-minded state, scared of diversity.”

Michael Petryshyn released an official statement saying as much (you can read the entire statement below), and stirring the pot (as it should be) with the Arapahoe County officials that made the decision to deny the festival’s permits, and plans to still file a formal appeal to the board.

“…it has to be stated with deafening clarity that we wanted to make Byers, Colorado our home for Riot Fest for years to come,” said Petryshyn, in his statement released today. “Elementary ideological forces and manipulation veiled in contradictory legal jargon prevented us from coming back to May Farms this year. Simply, we were duped.  Certain groups, residents and so forth did not want YOU or US in their town, and there is something morally dishonest and unforgivable with their actions,” he added. “I cannot fathom that in 2014 certain social mores grounded in revulsion and irrationality, of course, by a limited howling few, can inflict such harm in a town or in a county.  It’s disgusting and these people should feel ashamed.”

The drama, it seems, will continue, and that’s a good thing – we need the discussion, and the clarification. One of the most upsetting parts of the way this is unfolding is the fact that, once again, Colorado ends up looking like a backwater, close-minded state, scared of diversity – just like we did in 1992 when voters approved Amendment 2 (now overturned, thankfully). Sadly, the ideology of a few inconvenienced residents trumps any benefit the festival may have brought to the town – such as increased business, taxes, etc. And those residents should be ashamed.

The Riot Fest organization is also offering Byers residents a pretty sweet deal. From the press release:

  • Any Byers resident who wants to come to Riot Fest this year will receive complimentary tickets as well as free daily shuttle service to and from May Farms and Sports Authority Field.  Details will be announced next week on how residents can sign-up for this.
  • Riot Fest will also allow several Byers businesses and other I-70 Corridor businesses who supported them free vending space at no cost.
  • Riot Fest has also announced a $5,000 scholarship to be awarded to one graduating senior who plans on majoring in music, arts, business or marketing.  Riot Fest has now asked other partners, industry friends and other Colorado businesses to contribute in hopes of getting that scholarship up to $20,000.
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Click on the image above to download a PDF for your own sweaty little hands! OR – better yet, go to RiotFest.org and create your own lineup!

At the end of the day, Colorado gets its festival, and so do the 17,000 or so fans – at least for now. The future is uncertain for returning festivals – and could also be for other events that might raise the ire of the local yokels. It seems damned short-sighted, and a sad state of affairs, honestly.

 

Michael Petryshyn’s  full statement (with some additional advice from Crass):

Statement Regarding Riot Fest & Sideshow in Denver, Colorado

Before I begin what will probably be a long-winded concerto of a statement, it has to be stated with deafening clarity that we wanted to make Byers, Colorado our home for Riot Fest for years to come.   It’s a community we care about tremendously, just like Humboldt Park, in Chicago and just to pack up and watch the town disappear in our rear window is not an option.

In just over a year, we became part of the May Family and Gary, Stacie and their children became part of ours… the relationship is beyond normal kinship. And, I wish I wasn’t hunting for words in describing the bond between our two families — a perfectly succinct account for the fans. But, it’s hard enough writing about the Mays and the deeper I dig to find words, the harder it becomes to explain.   There’s no defense mechanism for this one to hide or bury inside a wrinkle… I’m just tremendously sad.

At the same time, I am utterly incensed.   Elementary ideological forces and manipulation veiled in contradictory legal jargon prevented us from coming back to May Farms this year.   Simply, we were duped.  Certain groups, residents and so forth did not want YOU or US in their town, and there is something morally dishonest and unforgiveable with their actions.  Sean and I, along with our partners at Soda Jerk Presents, have been mum throughout this entire ordeal, but that will stop today.  We have officially filed an appeal with Arapahoe County as of this morning and, needless to say, we are doing this because we are in the right.  I cannot fathom that in 2014 certain social mores grounded in revulsion and irrationality, of course, by a limited howling few, can inflict such harm in a town or in a county.  It’s disgusting and these people should feel ashamed.  I will refrain from commenting any more on these matters, but, with complete conviction and certitude, more will come to light and all fans will know what precisely transpired.

To continue, we were essentially tossed out of Byers and after visiting several sites during our week here, we decided on Mile High. After much thought about the pros and cons about moving to the stadium versus other venues, the fact that the stadium is willing to allow us to transform their grounds and recreate Byers and May Farms swayed our decision.There are hundreds of agricultural towns across the U.S. who are struggling for survival, dismissed by their neighbors and political representatives at a state and federal level. There is no glossing this over… Byers is not an economically robust town.  In parts, it’s certainly poor.  And would Riot Fest be the end-all-be-all to save this town economically?  Of course not.  This takes multiple businesses and forward thinkers to take this kind of risk.  We were up for that risk, because it’s evident we’d sell more tickets in Denver proper.  But that’s not what Riot Fest is…. And it never will be.  People thought we were crazy for choosing Humboldt Park in Chicago, but we knew we were right.  Fast-forward three-years later, Humboldt is fast becoming its own economic engine … and we are proud to be a part of that rehabilitation.   The thing is that we never wanted to change ideological mindsets in Byers – that’s not our job and no side will ever win.  However, we whole-heartedly believed that we could have been a preamble for growth, and, in turn, help the town be heard for real and legitimate concerns: infrastructure.

Now, to the Riot fan base.  I’m sorry for all of this and I thank you for standing alongside us.  Sean and I, along with our partners at Soda Jerk Presents,will be forever grateful to all of you.  And even after the curtain closes this year, I know I will look back on these last few weeks and smile because our Riot fans stood alongside us.  The biggest apology to the fans goes to the people who were planning on or purchased camping.  Obviously, camping refunds will be processed today, but, I know that isn’t enough and neither is an apology.  You guys, above everyone, bought into Riot Fest and the experience we were providing in Colorado.  I will find a way to make this up to you in the next few weeks. I promise.

With all of that said, I’d like to thank the residents and businesses of Byers, Strasburg and the surrounding areas.  Your letters of support have not been overlooked.  More importantly, I’d like to apologize to the youth of Byers.  I know many of you are disappointed and outright angry, but please do not shun or mistreat anyone for the decision that was made.   Community is based on divergent opinions and backgrounds and knowing that will guide you through any irrationality that may come your way in the future.   When I was a teenager, music and lyrics guided me and helped me discover the world outside of Blasdell, New York.  So, I will leave you with the following lyrics that helped me become the person I am today:

Be exactly who you want to be, do what you want to do
I am he and she is she but you’re the only you
No one else has got your eyes, can see the things you see
It’s up to you to change your life and my life’s up to me
The problems that you suffer from are problems that you make
The sh** we have to climb through is the sh** we choose to take
If you don’t like the life you live, change it now it’s yours
Nothing has effects if you don’t recognize the cause
If the program is not the one you want, get up, turn off the set
It’s only you that can decide what life you’re gonna get

The fact of the matter is that even in this day and age, ignorance resides and the words “Riot Fest” unfoundedly scares people.   Punk rock still scares people.  Intelligence and wit scares people.  And we all know if we were named Good Ole Country Riot Fest, we would have never been in this situation.

Your grateful chum,

Riot Mike

 


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Igy & the Stooges, Riot Fest 2013

Riot Fest Daily Lineup Revealed – and Tickets are Going Fast!

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The day by day lineup for Riot Fest Denver, 2014

News from May Farms – well, from Riot Fest organizers who WILL be at May Farms September 19 – 21 of this year – is that they’ve set up the final day-by-day lineup of the more than 60 acts that will rock the dustbowl again this year. This also means that now single day and two-day passes are available for sale. If you want to get into the action – but don’t want to lay down the three-day price for bands you don’t need to see (although we can’t imagine that being the case, honestly) – now’s  your chance to pay for the lineup you do want to see. Tickets are available online HERE.

If you do want to see the whole shebang, but still need it to be a little less of a bruising to your wallet, don’t forget that there are still 3-day passes – regular and VIP – available for purchase through RiotFest.org’s unique Layaway! Yeah – just like Sears –  you can pay off your September fun in four easy payments – and still get to see that great full lineup!

Wait! That’s not all! Just like years past, the nice folks a Riot Fest have also launched the “Custom Lineup” option – meaning you can arrange your own lineup (based on who’s playing when & where), so you can see everything you want. Build your own lineup now – it’s easy! And yes, the infomercial hype jargon is our way of showing our excitement.

And, while we have your attention, remember to come back to DenverThread.com for various updates, band profiles, news and other items of interest as we lead up to the Fest. Well, all that and regular, new and exciting content about what’s happening with music from our perspective, and how it threads through and around your life.

Here’s that day-by-day lineup:

Friday, September 19 – Gates open at 2:30 PM

WEEZER

THE FLAMING LIPS

PRIMUS

SLAYER

NOFX

GOGOL BORDELLO

DIE ANTWOORD

NEW FOUND GLORY

FAILURE

BUZZCOCKS

ALL

LA DISPUTE

MINERAL

BIG FREEDIA

THE ORWELLS

SKATERS

NOSTALGHIA

MY BODY SINGS ELECTRIC

TINY MOVING PARTS

 

Saturday, September 20 – Gates Open at Noon:

THE CURE

SOCIAL DISTORTION

A DAY TO REMEMBER

DESCENDENTS

BRING ME THE HORIZON

CITY AND COLOUR

LUCERO

THE USED

TAKING BACK SUNDAY

CLUTCH

FACE TO FACE

HOT SNAKES

GLASSJAW

DUM DUM GIRLS

WE CAME AS ROMANS

LARRY AND HIS FLASK

I AM THE AVALANCHE

THE BOTS

PLAGUE VENDOR

PIANOS BECOME THE TEETH

RED CITY RADIO

DADS

 

Sunday, September 21 – Gates Open at Noon:

THE NATIONAL

RISE AGAINST

SUBLIME WITH ROME

WU-TANG CLAN

TV ON THE RADIO

DROPKICK MURPHYS

VIOLENT FEMMES

ME FIRST AND THE GIMME GIMMES

MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA

BOUNCING SOULS

BOB MOULD

THE EXPENDABLES

3OH!3

PASSAFIRE

THE MENZINGERS

THE UNLIKELY CANDIDATES

RADKEY

CEREBRAL BALLZY

IN THE VALLEY BELOW

WOUNDS

SOLE & DJ PAIN 1


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Want a RIOT of your own? Riot Fest Wants to help!

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Igy & the Stooges, Riot Fest 2013

Iggy & The Stooges took over the Riot Fest last year, and invited just about everyone onstage with them! (photo: Christopher Andrew & Cobra Productions)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or maybe in North Korea) for the past month or so, you’re well aware that the Riot Fest & Sideshow is coming to Denver in September – and with the traveling festival’s most impressive and exciting lineup yet (see below). Featuring more heavy hitters than ever before – like The Cure, The Flaming Lips, The NationalWeezer, Primus, Slayer, Die Antwoord, Gogol Bordello, and so many more it’s insane – this year’s festival in May Farms promises to be the best yet. And, it’s no wonder that a huge portion of tickets – the first three price tiers – have already sold out, leaving those of us with day jobs scrambling to find every dime in every couch we’ve crashed on to save up enough to get to go.

BUT – never fear! The Riot Fest team have come up with a way to help make the dream of attending this Summer’s most incredible festival and closing out the Summer of 2014 with an unforgettable bang as affordable as possible: A ticket layaway program! You can find the official rules for the new deal here, but simply put, you can buy as many tickets as you want, and pay them off in monthly installments as the Riot Fest gets closer. Buy your tix in June, and you get four installments to pay for ’em, and in july, you get three installments. How easy is that? Now you can have your riot and eat too!

Not only have the Riot Fest organizers, in cooperation with local promoters Soda Jerk Presents, offered up a great weekend in September (and a nifty way to pay for it), but they’ve also arranged some unforgettable acts with the “10 Years. 10 Essential Albums.” lineup, which will feature ten of the bands in the Chicago and Denver lineups playing their most essential albums, each in its entirety, to celebrate the festival’s tenth year in existance. So far Riot Fest has announced nine of them, three of which will happen in Denver:

Jane’s Addiction: Nothing’s Shocking (Chicago)

The Offspring: Smash (Chicago)

Weezer: “The Blue Album” (Chicago & Denver)

Slayer: Reign in Blood (Chicago & Denver)

Samhain: Initium (Chicago)

NOFX: Punk In Drublic (Chicago & Denver)

Descendents: Milo Goes To College (Chicago)

Naked Raygun: Throb Throb (Chicago)

The Get Up Kids: Something To Write Home About (Chicago)

Not too shabby! A chance to witness some of rock’s most influential bands play their masterpieces, line for line, live!

And keep your eyes on DenverThread – here on our site and on Facebook and Twitter, too, as we get closer to the event. We’ll be running stories weekly featuring individual band profiles, history and trivia (so you can talk up your hipster friend’s parents while you’re waiting for the next act), as well as playlists and record recommendations. Hell, we’ll probably throw in a few contests as well!

See you at the Riots this year! Here’s the official lineup (so far):

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Riot Fest Denver, 2013 – Live Blogging from the Ashtray Floors

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Keep checking back – we’re going to be live blogging this bitch all day – and maybe all night – from the ashtray floors, covering all the filthy jokes -and the music too!

If you’re here in May Farms, hook up! Hashtag #DenverThreadRiot to get your pics, vines, notes, loves, hates and everything onto the DenverThread site!

See you in the mess!

 

Sunday, 10 AM

Writing this from the dusty haze of morning in the mini-disaster that is the Riot Fest camp – and everything still looks better after a bit of sleep.

Yesterday’s lineup mostly bred headaches (unless the cotton candy variety of punk is your bag), and the dust of May Farms felt – and looked – like all of us would leave with some sort of hacking cough. But the kids sure did seem to enjoy it.

Highlights included Bob Pollard’s Guided By Voices – uncharacteristically sober – playing a solid, tight set, San Diego’s Rocket From the Crypt playing and equally tight – but strangely insignificant – set and AFI swaddling achy-hearted emos with a typical barrage.

The real crowns, as you might expect, go to Iggy & the Stooges, and the mighty Replacements.

Iggy & the Stooges showed off for a good hour – and still looked 20 (well, not on the face or in the body, maybe, but definitely in action). At one point he invited the audience up onto the stage – some 25 people took the invitation – and danced in front of the rest. No stage dives, though – maybe they don’t do that in the desert?

A bonus that we can only hope all the youngsters recognized was the addition of the legendary Mike Watt on bass – a prize in itself worth the price of admission. Watt wielded his thunder stick mercilessly, matching the Stooges’ thrust and adding even more prowess to an already impressive noise.

And the there were The Replacements.

To be sure, had there not been the level of love and excitement (at least for me) invested in this act, the following may have been a bit different. But – maybe there’s something to sucking live for so long your band is a legendary mess, if you can reclaim that reputation with a solid, tight hour of rock ‘n roll.

Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson led this new Replacements through a set of just about whatever you’d want to hear from their history. And, while a bit staid, perhaps, they delivered that set with more skill (and less sloppy drunkenness) than any of the shows I’ve always heard of.

Sure, it may have come across as a “cleaned up” session, maybe even over-rehearsed and boring for a little bit.

But seeing them on the stage, happy -elated, even – having so much unadulterated fun, complete with pink skirts, was ultimately satisfying – even pleasing.

Like I told a friend: watching the ‘Mats – and watching so many bright-eyed kids watching them for the first time – was like introducing your child or niece to your favorite movie of all time. And finding out that she likes it, too.

Sunday 15:30

Wovenhand is hard. Hard, and satisfying, and – lest you troll to the gutter – satisfying in the Pentecostal sense. David Eugene Edwards infuses the sound with an urgency that feels like vespers. With explosive chords…

 


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The Riot Fest comes to Byers, CO this weekend. (Map: RiotFest.org)

Look out Byers – there’s a RIOT going down – this weekend

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The Riot Fest comes to Byers, CO this weekend. (Map: RiotFest.org)

The Riot Fest comes to Byers, CO this weekend. (Map: RiotFest.org)

If you haven’t heard of the impending onslaught of music about to hit Byers, Colorado this weekend, you’ve definitely been living under a rock. Or, maybe more likely, you’ve just been listening to the wrong music for the past few decades – in which case this, the last of the blockbuster summer festivals for 2013, isn’t going to matter to you anyway (although, oddly enough, this summer festival actually wraps up on the autumnal equinox – where’s Alanis Morrisette for this one?). It’s the Riot Fest, now in its 9th incarnation, rolling into May Farms in Byers, straight from the headline-busting Chicago version last weekend.

Bundled up in multiple buses, trailers and trucks barrelling in from the midwest, this two-day collection of bands spanning ‘70s Proto and ‘80s Post-Punk with the Stooges, FLAG (half of the split touring bands made up of the ever-changing cast of Black Flag), Superchunk, Guided By Voices, Rocket From the Crypt, Naked Raygun, Yo La Tengo, and the supreme draw, the newly reunited-after-twenty-years Replacements promises to be more than memorable – it might just be legendary.

Not only do those of us who grew up listening endlessly to Paul Westerberg’s drunken howl, or Iggy Pop’s guttural whine finally get to see them, the thousands of you who weren’t even born when these bands grew weary of the road get a chance to actually witness some of the legends that make what you know as “Punk” or “Rock” what it is today. The fact is that we, spanning – what, three, four overlapping generations (each one seemingly more nihilistic, confused, disillusioned, disenfranchised and lazy than the last) will be sharing a chance to watch a mix of an entire history of music unfold over a weekend.

So now it’s time for the old, pedantic parent in me to come out and make sure all you young’uns aren’t missing out. You all need to know what to listen for out there that graced the airwaves while so many of you were still swimming in protoplasm. So – checkout the playlist old Grandpa DenverThread has compiled for you, so you have a little taste of the heavy hitters (the ones who were teaching all the members of Blink-182’s dads how to scoop up their friends from the maelstrom of a slam dancing pit before skulls were cracked – laughing all the while). Listen to all of these, and make sure you catch them in the first day’s lineup. We’ll try and get a day two playlist up soon as well.

Now get the hell off my lawn, and take that smirk somewhere else, DJ Trevor.

Riot Fest 2013 – Preview Playlist:

Stooges – T.V. Eye

Stooges – Search and Destroy

Black Flag – Six Pack

Black Flag – Wasted

Black Flag – Nervous Breakdown

The Replacements – Hold My Life

The Replacements – Favorite Thing

The Replacements – Androgynous

The Replacements – Gary’s Got A Boner

The Replacements – Answering Machine

Public Enemy – Fight the Power

Public Enemy – 911 is a Joke

Public Enemy – Public Enemy #1

Public Enemy – Can’t Truss It

Guided By Voices – Kicker of Elves

Guided By Voices – The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory

Superchunk – Certain Stars

Superchunk – Tie A Rope to the Back of the Bus

Rocket from the Crypt – Hairball Alley

Rancid – Rats in the Hallway

DeVotchka – Venus In Furs

DeVotchka – I Cried Like A Silly Boy