Festivals: Riot Fest Denver 2016 Day 1

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It is said that “Riot Fest Sucks” (at least that’s what they want you think). I think setting the bar really low on expectations takes the edge off when it comes to impressing your audience. When it comes to Riot Fest, this festival has done such great lineups the past few years I am officially a repeat customer. I went to Chicago two years ago and this time I went to Denver. The Denver Riot Fest is almost a literal rodeo. Being from Texas, I understand this setting. It is almost too familiar. The festival set up was part rodeo, part Warped Tour parking lot.

Since I got there a bit late, I went straight to see my favorite fest band: Fucked Up. I think I love this band even more as they progress into their albums. I also enjoy Damian’s podcast.They played a short set but did not disappoint. They played classics like “Crooked Head” and  “Black Albino Bones”. I learned that “Black Albino Bones” is about record collecting and I am going to revisit that song. I think Fucked Up is really well thought out music but doesn’t take itself that serious either. The highlight of their live show was when Damian carried out armfuls of water for the audience and was still screaming into the mic.

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Damian Abraham of Fucked Up

I spent the rest of the fest in the literal rodeo ring. I got to see the Aquabats! I love that they are live action super heroes of sorts. I  have enjoyed their shows and have been a fan for years. Their fan base is literally little kids and way too old adults. But we are all on the same page here. We love to party and fight villains. Their stage show was the best in the sense that 1.) their songs are catchy 2.) they had dancing sharks like Katy Perry super bowl style 3.) they had inflatable pizza slices to crowd surf on: Surf’s UP!

My favorite highlight of the Aquabats set was when MC Bat Commander taught children to circle pit, literally. Yes they literally just ran in a circle but this will be an important concept they will learn later down the line. The children are our future after all. They also had some funny musical jokes where they would play parts of other people’s song you wouldn’t think the Aquabats would know. They are a lot more hip than you think for guys dressed in costumes.

The rest of the festival was a perfect trifecta of Fat Wreck Chords bands: Lagwagon, NOFX, and Descendents.Lagwagon is still one of favorites. They play each song with such precision and heart. I love their last album Hang a lot and was stoked to hear “Cog in the Machine” again live. They played their classics such as “Violins” and “Making Friends”. The only thing about big festivals is that you only get mostly classics from a band like Lagwagon but each one of theirs is a gem.

I was anticipating the NOFX set. The band has had a crazy year. They wrote a book. They did a tour. Fat Mike did a detox. I feel like this show would be a bit of a regroup for this band. Once NOFX took stage that rodeo arena was packed to brim with punk fans. I had to watch from the seats since the arena was getting too full. That’s great for NOFX though. I feel they did a great set and played newish songs such as “72 Hookers” and “I Believe in Goddess”. They debuted “Six Years on Dope” from their new album First Ditch Effort coming out in October. I am digging their new release so it was cool to get a preview. Their set was mediocre but I kind of want that from a NOFX. I only come to this conclusion from other NOFX fans at Riot Fest. I eavesdropped on a lot of conversations that either loved the set or thought it wasn’t their best. NOFX is not about perfection but they still know how to entertain.

The Descendents are one of my top ten favorite bands. I don’t think I could give them a bad review since I am super bias on the subject. I will say that I loved seeing them at Riot Fest Chicago two-year ago because they did Milo Goes to College front to back and that was a real musical moment. I was also excited to hear their new release Hypercaffium Spazzinate live for the first time. I believe their new album holds up live. They played a very good mix of all their albums and I can’t wait to see them in my hometown for Sound on Sound festival in November.

I also got to check out the half of the Deftones set. I still sweat that band a lot and I am not ashamed. By the end of the night I was all rodeo-ed out.

Show Review: Millencolin/Success

Millencolin has finally done a legit U.S. tour after all these years. As a fan that has been waiting for a tour on this side of the Atlantic, this one was not to be missed. I saw them on a random date last year in Dallas but that left me wanting more from Millencolin. It was awesome that they came back to Texas and gave Austin a shot this time.

 

 

For myself, seeing a band like Millencolin was a right of passage. There are certain bands we listened to in our punk journey that we dream about seeing live. Basically any band that was on a Fat Wreck compilation or Punk-O-Rama is on that list. Throughout May and June they are joined by Success and MXPX, which are great additions to this tour. They are also doing tour stops during the Punk Rock Bowling Festival (Las Vegas and Denver dates).

 

Let’s begin with their opening band Success on this particular tour date. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what I was about to hear. I just knew they are a band from Seattle. I have read a bunch about them over the past two years since they have been on several festival lineups and have been touring frequently. I was really surprised by their sound because I was built up to believe they were more pop punk than they actually were. When I think of pop punk as a genre, it sometimes can lean on the sugary sweet side. You can tell who their influences are in the punk genre but what was truly fascinating was their overall musical influences they have. They are music nerds and not afraid to show it. They fused their set by playing their songs then would somehow end up playing “Carry on Wayward Son” by Kansas. These poor guys played their hearts out in the hot Texas humidity and didn’t fail to impress.

Millencolin’s set was everything I expect from them. They played a few songs from their latest release True Brew, thus why the tour is named as such. What I really enjoyed about their set is that I didn’t feel like I saw the same set twice. It consisted of their hits such as “Penguins and Polar Bears”, “Twenty Two”, and “Mr.Clean”. Also my personal favorite “Black Eye”. I know I have seen these songs at the show last year but it honestly felt refreshing rather than repetitive. Especially since this band only does so many releases over the years, it is crucial to stay fresh and innovative for your fans. I definitely feel they keep this idea in mind on their tours and their music. I hope their absence from Texas won’t be the many years it has been and we will get more great music from this band in the future.

South by Southwest: Occasionally Punk

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Every so often there is a gem of punk in the sea of South by Southwest. The 23 years of the festival have been filled with music from around the world to local artists. Depending on which wave of punk we are currently on, depends on how much of the punk genre is brought in by SXSW. The past  few years we have been missing the Fat Wreck Chords showcase but it looks like that hiatus might be over. NOFX has been added as an offical SXSW artist. They have two dates booked for March 17th and 19th. The venues and times are TBA but the shows are really happening. It might be due to the release of the band’s memoir called “NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories”. NOFX will also be touring with other Fat Wreck band’s Night Birds and Toy Guitar. If case you miss them here in Austin, this mini tour will also be in Houston, TX and New Orleans, LA. See articles below for more details:

 

https://www.punknews.org/article/59997/tours-nofx-night-birds-toyguitar-texas-louisiana

http://www.fatwreck.com/news/detail/933


Sources:
Frankel, Ricky. (2016, Feb. 8). Tours: NOFX/Night Birds/toyGuitar(Texas/Louisana). Retrieved from: https://www.punknews.org/article/59997/tours-nofx-night-birds-toyguitar-texas-louisiana