Those were my thoughts as we exited the gates of Riot Fest on Day 2 and were greeted with the sounds of Taking Back Sunday clutching to relevancy with white knuckles. Luckily for me, it wouldn’t be the last noise to grace my ear holes before the night was over; it was time for Soothsayer Hot Sauce’s Third Annual Pop Punk Pizza Party!
This was going to be my first PPPP, but I had heard tales of the years before. There were four announced bands and a “secret” headliner on the bill. With the previous secret headliners being Direct Hit! and Bad Cop/Bad Cop, I was excited to see who Hot Sauce Kyle was able to reel in this year. Who ever could it be?
We pulled up to Quenchers and ran inside in time to see the first band. But between being exhausted from two days of Riot Festing and pounding eleven Strongbow ciders, my body was still basically on autopilot while my brain struggled to get its shit together. What I remembered from the first two bands, Bad Mechanics and Jacob Horn Trio, was basically “These guys are not bad!” and “Is that fucking Devon Kay?”
The cloud began to lift when I was finally able to snag a piece of pizza, AKA the first thing I had eaten all day. When I heard the name “Pop Punk Pizza Party”, I initially thought they were going to have a massive stack of Hot N’ Ready’s in the venue. But, to my surprise, they were bringing out a steady flow of the tiny personal pizzas that Quenchers actually makes and sells. They were delicious and didn’t taste like cheesy cardboard, but they were also gone within 2.2 seconds of being dropped off at the table.
Finally with some food in my stomach, I sat in the back and watched Fitness. I had never heard of them, but they are really fucking good. The tiny Quenchers venue area was really filling up at this point, which was making moving around almost impossible. When Pkew Pkew Pkew took the stage, I was overwhelmed and went back to the bar area, slammed a Sweet Tea Bourbon, and went outside and smoked cigarettes and listened to the band from there, shouting at the nearest person, “This is the song that was in that dumb Eugene Levy show” when they played “Let’s Order a Pizza.”
Surprisingly, when I made my way back inside for the secret headliner, the stage area had cleared out. Kendra, David, and I were able to secure a spot in the front. The room immediately filled back up as the secret headliner was revealed to be none other than The Flatliners! They played songs mostly off this year’s release, Inviting Light. The furthest they went back was The Great Awake for the 10-year anniversary. They ended the night with “Caskets Full” before the crowd goaded them into sticking around for “one more song.” Of course, The Flatliners obliged. As the crowd spilled out of the bar, I was finally free to end my day and take a Lyft home and pass out just long enough to hopefully miss the first band of Riot Fest Day 3.
I’m taking bets now on the Pop Punk Pizza Party 4 secret headliner.