August 28, 2015
RiotFest in Denver is a breath of fresh air in a state (Colorado) that is otherwise filled with boring bluegrass festivals, EDM, and crappy jam bands. I have gone every year I’ve lived out here and it continues to live up to the expectation. For one weekend a year, I don’t have to hear about some stupid crunchy-ass show. But negativity aside, this festival is a really great time with an eclectic mix of punk, alternative, indie, metal, and hip-hop music. There is a lot to cover over 3 days of music so I will stick to my favorite acts, most surprising acts, and most disappointing acts.
Drive Like Jehu- I absolutely love this band and everything associate with Rich Froberg. Their music has interesting time signatures, passion, and is not just another Post-Hardcore band. They had an enormous impact on bands like At The Drive-In and I will always feel are very underrated. Unfortunately, I did not feel the crowd, outside of a few people were too into them. Their music is a lot to take in and if that is your first time hearing them it may be confusing. Rich Froberg’s mic was not as loud as it should have been either and it was hard to hear him at times. Regardless, they were awesome live and it was great seeing a band I never expected to see.
The Pixies- The Pixies are unequivocally one of the greatest bands ever, and it was fun to see them again as it had been about 6 years. They went on after Drive Like Jehu so that was a great back to back experience. They opened with U-Mass which was unexpected and played a good mix of their catalog. Their new bassist, Paz Lenchantin, did not miss a beat filling in for the impressive Kim Deal. I had fun moshing with mostly high school kids and yelling out the lyrics to most of their songs.
Iggy Pop- When I first saw Iggy and the Stooges about 5 years, I joked with my friend about how old they are and how this will be probably a disappointing show. Still to this day, that is one of the best shows I’ve ever been to and Iggy did not disappoint here either. They come out with energy, the crowd gets into it, and you can see why Iggy is an iconic front man. The first half of their set was heavier than the second and more enjoyable but still I will see Iggy every time he comes into town. People who have never listened to that much Iggy or Iggy and the Stooges I hope are getting all their stuff when they get home.
System of a Down- Their self-titled album is the first cd I ever got. I was 11, it was awesome, even if the lyrical concepts were a bit over my head at the time. They were one of my favorite bands growing up and the first show I ever went to in 2000 was them, KoRn, and Metallica. The more I thought about it, this band was a very important part of my formative music years, and I had not listened to them in a few years to be sure. They were absolutely amazing to see live. It was so nostalgic hearing songs like “DDevil”, “Aerials”, and “I-E-A-I-A-O-I”. I will always love System of a Down and seeing them was one of the best parts of my weekend.
Most Surprising Acts
Anthrax- I have never listened to much Anthrax but understand their importance as being one of the big 4 in Thrash Metal. They were surprisingly awesome to see and listen too. I thought they did a great job getting the crowd involved and are absolutely sick musicians. I’m going to have to check them out more but they were really unexpected and were just filling a music gap in my day.
Eagles of Death Metal- This band is the side project of Josh Homme (QOTSA) headed by Jesse Hughes. I got into them back in college from my roommate because I thought their name was great, funny album cover, and the album name is “Peace, Love, Death Metal”. While I am familiar with them, and have always like them, they were great live. Jesse Hughes is hilarious and basically flirts with the crowd the entire show. “Speaking in Tongues” was awesome live as they jammed on the guitar riff forever at the end. They were so much fun even absent Josh Homme.
Most Dissapointing Acts
Ice Cube- I’ll be straight forward with my bias that I think live rap and hip-hop kinda sucks (outside of certain bands like The Roots). Ice Cube was no exception, and I like Ice Cube. “Today was a Good Day” is a great song, but terrible live. Hip-hop is not made to be played live and I left part-way through the set.
Modest Mouse- They had a tough act to follow (The Pixies) but still I really like Modest Mouse. I saw them live maybe 8 years ago and was actually a bit disappointed but hoped this would be different. Honestly, I don’t know what it is with them, they are just kind of boring live. They are a great band but it’s almost as if they choose to not be that interesting live and play their slower stuff.
Overall, great show and weekend. Some good, some meh, a lot of fun. I really hope the show keeps coming to Denver as long as I’m here.
Article By: Christopher Beliveau