FESTIVAL REVIEW: RIOT FEST 2016 – Day 1 (Friday)
For my first time being at Riot Fest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But this year has been a “first” for me as far as festivals are concerned, so I was confident I could conquer Riot Fest. It was also my first time in Denver, and this Tampa native spent the whole week there before the festival. I have to say, Denver is one of my favorite cities! It’s beautiful and mountainous, with a thriving youth-based culture and AMAZING craft beers!
The day started out at the press counter, where I was getting my credentials checked and receiving my passes. I attended the festival with my brother Jordan and our friend Taylor. I told Taylor I wanted to arrive early, because with my past experiences with festivals they get slammed on the first day. But to my surprise it was a quick and thorough check-in, and I was able to go into the festival within minutes. I wasn’t planning on covering any bands for a few hours, so I took the time to watch some bands.
Here’s a general description of the Riot Fest set-up: next to the main entrance you have the Rock stage, and across from the stage is Hellzapoppin’s tent. The festival is taken place at Denver’s National Western Complex which commonly hosts rodeos, so it’s generally an indoor venue. When you go through the main entrance it takes you inside of the building, which is filled with stadium-seating where the Nicole Hoffman stage (Hoffman is the winner of Riot Fest’s “Name Your Stage” contest) is on the ground floor. There’s an exit leading to the back, and back there has a variety of food trucks, all of the shopping vendors, and the Riot and Roots stages.
The first band we got into was Diarrhea Planet. They’re an indie punk/rock band, and we all became interested in them when we saw their name on the running order. After seeing their set, I personally think they should have had a better time slot. It’s rare to see such a young band with so much energy, but these guys shredded that stage.
After hanging out for a little bit longer, the first band I shot was Fucked Up. This was another band I became interested in just by their name, and from some research on them I figured they would be a good band to shoot. They exceeded my expectations! Out of all of the bands I shot at the festival, their vocalist was one of the most expressive I’ve seen. His stage presence was incredible; jumping off the stage into the crowd, climbing up over the amps, and it seemed like he was truly talking to the crowd and not into a microphone. This is definitely a band I won’t forget! But as much as I wanted to watch their whole set, I had to see Motion City Soundtrack.
Motion was a band I listened to when I was younger, and hearing this was their last tour I knew I had to see them live. I saw them several years ago at Warped Tour and loved their set, but this show was their best. There was so much emotion conveyed during their set, it was impossible to not be sad as they closed with their best known single “Everything is Alright.” After Motion we had enough time to watch the end of The Aquabat’s set, which was just as much fun as I expected.
I had a little bit to hang out before I had to prepare and shoot Suicidal Tendencies. I’ve been covering metal-specific genres for years, and I’m not going to lie it was nice to not be at a metal festival for once. But there was some comfort knowing that a metal/punk crossover band would be at the festival, and I never saw Suicidal Tendencies before. They were by far one of the best bands I saw at the festival! Immediately, they all stormed on the stage. No one in the band was boring or dull; they all performed with vigor and aggression. And it was really cool seeing Dave Lombardo drumming with them! And it’s always interesting seeing the heaviest band being the most positive, which was evident with vocalist Mike “Cyco Mike” Muir saying messages promoting following your dreams and being true to yourself. Overall, Suicidal Tendencies was way better than I could ever expect!
I was able to catch a little of NOFX, Thursday, and Death Cab for Cutie, and all were really good. But I was most excited for Deftones. I never saw them live, and they were another band who exceeded my expectations. Each member of the band stormed on the stage and took over the whole festival; especially vocalist Chino Moreno, whose presence was unmistakable. I also thought it was cool how bassist Sergio Vega was wearing a Venom shirt on stage. We weren’t able to stay for their whole set, but it was awesome seeing some songs like “Digital Bath” performed live. I’m upset I missed “Change (In the House of Flies)” but what I saw was really good!
That’s it for Day 1 of Riot Fest. The rest of the weekend got even crazier!