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: