Of course it was my Saturday to work. I’m supposed to work Monday through Friday. However, I worked out a deal to switch off every other Saturday with another coworker for that extra money. But it seems every Friday when I want to stay out late and party or have some day show to go to on a Saturday, I can’t because I have to work. It was all good though because as soon as noon hit, I was in my car and at Douglas Park watching Beach Bunny on the Roots Stage at the second day of Riot Fest.
There were not a ton of bands I wanted to see on Saturday, which actually worked out in my favor since we had scheduled most of our Bad Libs band meetings for that day. We were in the press area as The Frights were playing on the Riot Stage when we had “interview” number one: GWAR. A ton of press people were all back there waiting for them to show up when we saw the spikes from their space gear poking over the chain link fence. A distinct smell of rubber latex wafted into the open aired press area as GWAR entered in fashion. We stood there in almost complete silence as the photographers took the opportunity to shoot the band off the stage in our personal space while they yelled “make sure you get a good one” and “prepare to take the best photo of your lives from the best band in the universe.” It was all very fucking odd and surreal… especially when we busted out the Fisher Price tape recorder and Crayola markers and made our approach.
There was one band I wasn’t going to miss today though and that was Cobra Skulls. They are one of those bands that I could never get my shit together enough to go see play live. Every time they came through San Diego, I was somewhere else. Then they went on a “hiatus.” Five years later and there they were on the Rebel Stage right in front of me playing “Cobra Skullifornia.” They sounded great despite the fact this was only the second time they have played this year (the first being Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas back in May). I’m just happy Riot Fest gave them 45 minutes.
After Cobra Skulls, I had every intention of going to the Hellzapoppin’ Circus Sideshow Revue, but the line was so fucking long and I wasn’t aware there was supposedly a secret press entrance. So instead, Kendra and I wondered the park, looking for people in bands who were not playing Riot Fest to fill out our Bad Libs, as well as back in the press area rounding out our schedule with people that were. We did try and go over to watch GWAR after our encounter earlier in the day, but they were back on the Rebel Stage and that shit was packed as fuck.
We did, however, make it over in time for Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry Lee is 82 years old, and we had heard word that a Reddit or Facebook group started a “Jerry Lee Lewis Circle Pit” group on the ol’ internet. Being an 82 year old man, we couldn’t expect him to play his entire hour long set. Mat had been checking up on his recent setlists for the year. And according to the last strawberry festival that he played, we were in store for some covers. Actually almost all covers. For the first twenty minutes of the set, his backing band played classic 60s and 70s songs without him. But then, Jerry emerged. The crowd erupted as JLL was escorted to his piano mid-stage, wearing the world’s greatest sparkling jacket. He sounded great for his age, ripping through eight additional classic songs. Then it happened. He started in on “Great Balls of Fire” and the crowd went nuts; the circle pit was in full motion. Kendra and I took off for the middle of the crowd, but she is littler than me and disappeared through a crevasse of people I couldn’t squeeze past. By the time I was just outside of the pit, the song was over. Bummer. Jerry Lee thanked the audience of “Riot Festival” and took his leave as the band continued to play him offstage. (Editor’s Note: I did it. I pitted to “Great Balls of Fire.” I threw my arm around a stranger and we shouted together. Goodness. Gracious. It was a great time!).
We took our leave as well, heading back to the press area for more Strongbow cider and to listen to Beck. The crowd was massive and it was dark as fuck. Seriously, trying to navigate the park once it gets dark is almost impossible. I’m surprised I didn’t kick some innocent person sprawled out on a blanket minding their own business. Like Weezer the night before, Beck kind of blew through the few songs I knew of his. “Devil’s Haircut,” “Loser,” and “New Polution” came and went. Again I found myself trying to shuffle out of Douglas Park to once again beat the crowd and head over to the Pop Punk Pizza Party vol. 4 at Chop Shop. But we were all having too much fun hanging out with the other press people we had made friends with over the last day and a half. Doing press for a festival is hard work. Sure we get to talk to musical legends and get free drinks and free sunscreen. But we are constantly working, even when we’re enjoying ourselves. Eventually, we were herded out of the safety of our press area and into the pitch black park while I’m pretty sure Beck was covering Gary Numan’s “Cars,” possibly with Gary Numan himself.
ICYMI: Check out our Day 1 coverage here!