The Things We Learned At The Denver Riot Fest!
The Riot Fest, heard of it yet? If you’re living in Colorado and on the Internet, you’ve probably seen a thing or two about the event. It was an indie-rock / funk / punk and hip hop festival the likes of nothing the small town of Byers, CO has ever seen before. The Rooster was there, and here’s what we learned while we were.
- Iggy Pop probably has arthritis. The man is a 66-year-old rock legend, so we’re cutting him the appropriate amount of slack when we say that the icon is looking his years. But we’ve seen stage luminaries in the past rock well into their ages. People like Debbie Harry, Mick Jagger and Sammy Hagar still command every bit of attention that they deserve, but their stage moves always seem robotic, tight and a degree of sadness washes over us when we see that the rock presence just isn’t what it used to be. Seeing Iggy and The Stooges was still incredible, but it was with more realization of our own mortality than what we would have liked.
- Rain sucks, and needs to go away. Didn’t we have enough plundering from the skies of our daily lives last week? Was it necessary to pour on us, again? We knew that we needed to watch out for a bit of rain, but the typhoonic-ragers that ruined the evening were just too much. During the evening of Sunday’s showings, the weather center contacted authorities at the Riot Fest and disclosed the bad news of the approaching suck. Attendees were forced to evacuate fearing safety concerns, but were allowed back a few hours later after the storm had passed. Seriously, this was a literal raining of our parade, and it made things miserable.
- Brand New owns Colorado. There really aren’t many bands that command attention and amicability around Colorado as much as Brand New. Sure, we’re a state that eats up everything Social Distortion touches, are willing to pay for weeklong binges of String Cheese Incident, and will absolutely die if we don’t see Dave Mathews for the 1-millionth time. But there’s something that Brand New does that everyone in Colorado just gets. The hit-filled set was undeniably the best of the two days, and was made even more legendary by the gorgeous sunset backdrop revelers were gifted on Saturday evening. If they really wanted to, we think the guys in Brand New could have all the babies in Colorado from here on out – they’re that potent.
- Punk is getting old. We were all but stoked to see that the crowd wasn’t the anticipated Warped Tour-esque crop of kids. The lineup was stacked enough with notable acts who themselves have seen the better part of decades, so the ages of fans were sprawled out enough that no one demographic was bullying the other. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that punk has been around for so long, and has now had the opportunity to meld its way into so many generations. There were even plenty of punk parents toting around their punk kids or with their punk fetuses in utero.
- Festivals are just barely organized shit shows. This goes for all music festivals. We don’t care if it’s the flopped, one-bar-only embarrassment, or fucking Coachella brah. All festivals are a shit-show to some degree - some of them just happen to cover it more appropriately and get away with it more than others. So Riot Fest wasn’t without its drawbacks. From charging twice for parking, not allowing GA ticket holders to leave and come back, the $7 - 6oz. beers (Really Riot Fest? Come on.), to the VIP security watching their phone more than the people walking in and out of the sections without wrist-bands, the festival logistically wasn’t all that solid. But for these kinds of things, it’s baby-steps – and since everyone walked away safe – we’d say that the ‘shit’ wasn’t superior to the ‘show.’
- The town of Byers was more than welcoming. We thought that the festival would scare the twang out of the small, rural town, but from the looks of things – Byers was happier we were there than we were of being there. The second you jumped off the highway there were plenty of families trying to hock wares, shove homemade burritos down your throat or get you to kick it at the one bar on the block. Granted, all it would take is for that one asshole to do one asshole thing and ruin the venue for the rest of time, but reports we’ve gathered are that everyone behaved themselves accordingly and the thing went off without any apples turning bad. Riot Fest…until next year!