“Did you bring sunscreen with you?” were the first words out of the mouth of Bad Copy’s favorite person of Riot Fest weekend, Chel Boren. Chel has been behind bar at the Riot Fest press area for the last three years that I’ve been going. And, before I had the chance to answer, she was tossing me a bottle of SPF 30 with an eye roll and cracking open a beer for me. Thanks Chel.
Before I could run off and watch some bands, we had some business to conduct. We did a quick two BAD LIBS with Can’t Swim and No Parents (both of whom I missed performing because I was still working) before I ran to the rise stage to watch the last few songs from one of my favorites, Hot Water Music. I hadn’t seen them since The Flatliners’ Chris Cresswell took over vocal duties for Chris Wollard, and I was super curious to see how he sounded. The answer was: great! Hot Water Music closed the their set with “Trusty Chords” and Cresswell killed it, his Canadian rasp meshing well with the Punk boys (well, Chuck Ragan is a MAN) from Florida.
I made my way back to the press area weaving through the Riot Fest Mall checking out the merch for sale from the various vendors. The Fat Wreck Chords tent had a couple of albums I wanted and I saw a place selling those Drug Rug style Baja sweatshirts I have been looking for, but I decided to wait. I was on a budget. I drank a couple of beers and squeezed in some BAD LIBS sessions with Anti-Flag, Save Ferris, and Thin Lips then headed back out to watch the old British punks in Cock Sparrer.
The problem with big outdoor festivals like Riot Fest is there are too many bands to see. That’s why I have instituted the “cigarette rule” when bands were overlapping. This means I basically smoke one cigarette while watching the band and then leave to the next. Don’t worry, I stand as far away from the crowd and people in general as possible, because unlike most, I am aware of my surroundings and not a complete asshole. With that in mind, I stopped by the Roots Stage for a few minutes of The Violent Femmes before making my way to Lucero.
Oh, did I mention I was about five Goose Island Brewery tall cans in at this point? I’m not a beer drinker, but when I saw the Goose Island Natural Vanilla, I thought I’d give that a go. And it was good! Although, it didn’t taste very vanilla-y. That’s when I read the can again and saw it said “Natural Villain.” Fucking idiot. Anyway, the sun was also going down and for some reason it was getting a little bit chilly. So after a song or two from Pennywise, I hit up that Drug Rug tent and got a sweater (Editor’s Note: read: poncho). NOW I was a walking talking festival-goer hippy nightmare and ready for Glassjaw. I remembered the album they were playing in full, Worship and Tribute, from the old CD cover where the CD looked like a vinyl record, and the CD case looked like a record player. What I didn’t remember was them being a shitty screamo band and I immediately regretted being there.
Luckily, Rancid was starting at the nearby Radicals Stage. Tim Timebomb was sporting his massive beard and mumbled his way through all the fan favorites AKA most of …And Out Come the Wolves. I was pretty impressed with Rancid’s energy onstage. Compared to all the other old punks, these guys are surprisingly spry. Unfortunately, all I could think about was the rumbling in my stomach. I realized I literally hadn’t eaten anything all day, as I threw my lone granola bar in my car while I was leaving work and forgot about it. I was starving; there was a turkey leg stand and carnival food behind me, but the lines were six miles long. And honestly, I didn’t want to pay whatever outrageous price the food was for some shitty mediocre meal. Plus my White Castle app said I could get ten cheeseburgers for $7, so I resigned to waiting.
Thank god I only had two more bands to get through. Blink-182 was playing their album Enema of the State in full and all I wanted to see was Matt Skiba forced to sing “Dysentery Gary.” And then there was Jawbreaker who, a few years ago, was the mega-can’t-believe-they’re-back-together-playing-again headliner who this year was demoted to playing on the smaller Rise Stage during Blink. So I was standing there waiting for Blink to start, when these goofy hipster white people stood right next to me with a bucket of fries in hand. “Babe, do you want these bacon cheese fries?” the dude asked the lady. “No babe, I don’t know if I can ethically consume cheese fries.” Then they just put the fries on the ground and left. I grabbed the fries and acted outraged that they would just litter. But in truth, I walked a couple people over and ate them.
It was a Friday night and Blink-182 sounded like shit. I don’t know if the sound was fucked up or they were just bored, but it wasn’t good. Granted I was standing a mile away from the stage, but I could hear The Flaming Lips moments before perfectly fine. I gave up and wandered over to Jawbreaker, but the competing noise from Blink was making it hard to concentrate at all. That’s when I heard it in all its fucked up spookier-than-usual glory wafting over from the main stage. “Got a lot of heartache, he’s a fucking weasel.” It sounded exactly like you would think it sounds coming out of Matt Skiba’s mouth. Disappointing. And that’s about the time I walked away from them. Nobody likes you when your 43.
I made my way home early beating the crowd, and stopped at White Castle and devoured those ten cheeseburgers in record time. Riot Fest Day One was over. What would Day Two bring? Hopefully food before 11PM.
Check out the below photos from our Day 1 coverage and check back tomorrow for Day 2!