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.

Punk Rock Festivals 2016: Lineups, Reunions, and Hang Overs

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Photo by Tyson Heder

This time of year, in my opinion, is the beginning of punk festival season. I think between Punk Rock Bowling and Fest is the prime picking for festivals in the United States. With these amazing lineups and the Misfits reunion, we can all see the money flying out of our bank accounts. Just remember there is no price on memories even if we might black out and forget….

Here is the break down for every major punk lineup in the U.S. and a few international mentions:

Punk Rock Bowling: Las Vegas, NV( May 26-30), Denver, CO (June 2-4), and Ashbury, NJ (June 10-12)

I am VERY bias when I say this is my favorite festival. I have been several times now and it is the quintessential punk rock festival. All the punk kids having fun against the glitzy Las Vegas lights is a sight to be seen. This festival also brings cool and unique club after shows. Did I mention there is a bowling tournament too? With the gambling, pool parties, and karaoke, the fun never stops in this 24 hour festival. This year they are attempting to branch out by having dates in Ashbury and Denver. Here is the lineups for each date:

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Riot Fest: Chicago, IL (Sept. 16-18) and Denver, CO (Sept. 2-4)

Riot Fest REALLY brought the surprise of the year by only announcing the Misfits reunion in their initial band. They didn’t mention any of their other stellar artists and let us just freak out for a moment because hell froze over for a second. Of course, in our heart of hearts, we could see this happening but no one was holding their breath. But it’s happening! I will be there this September to give all the details of this reunion for you guys. This might be my favorite lineup of all the festivals this year. It has such punk gems as Bad Religion, Lagwagon, NOFX, The Aquabats, Against Me!, and Leftover Crack to name just a few. Both lineups are very similar but it depends on how much you want to see certain headliners and old school favorites. They are still announcing more to each lineup so stay tuned:

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Fest 15: Gainesville, FL (Oct. 28-30)

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Fest is on my bucket list of punk festivals to go to before I die. I think it should be on yours as well. Anyone that I have discussed Fest with says that it is a place where new punk bands are made and found. This year is very special since it is an anniversary for the festival. They have a heavy lineup of alumni playing, which makes it harder to decide who you want to see. This is a great problem to have. So cancel all your Halloween plans now and make it out to Fest 15 this year, check out the official lineup below:Image-14-05-2016-at-01.02.jpg

Remember the Punks Fest: San Antonio, TX (October 1, 2016)

A super surprise for the state of Texas. As a punker growing up in Texas, we tend to miss out on bands from the other coasts that can’t afford to tour here often. So when this festival popped up, the internet lit up! I feel the lineup is equal parts street punk, pop punk, and ska. It will be amazing to see Bigwig, Slapshot, The Exploited again since it has been a hot minute. I think this festival will do well since the venues will cater to every kind of punk. I will also be covering this festival since it is in my backyard, which in Texas means a 2-hour drive.

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Fun Fun Fun Fest: Austin, TX (Nov 6-8)

This has been my favorite local festival for many years now. This 10 year festival is uniquely Austin. These festival people love bands such as the Descendents, GWAR, and Fat Wreck bands, and reunions. And don’t forget tacos. I hope this is not the end of road for this festival since the company has changed owners this past month. It is a great festival that is equal parts electronic, hip hop, comedy, punk, metal, hardcore, and indie rock. Every year they do a recap video and I think it gives a good depiction of what good times to expect. Fingers crossed for another great year and lineup to come!

Other Honorable Mentions:

Since some of these festivals are overseas or have already happened, here is a quick list of festivals to hit up outside the U.S. Get those passports ready!

Get FESTING in 2016 and feel free to share local festivals within the comments. See you out there!

Fat Wreck Chords Takes SXSW 2016

Even though most SXSW veterans will say this year’s festival wasn’t above and beyond might not be appreciating the roots of the festival. Growing up punk in Austin, I used to wait on the sidewalks of Emo’s hoping to get into the SXSW Fat Wreck Chords showcase. Those were the golden years of Rock Against Bush for Fat Wreck and we needed NOFX’s anthems then.

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Ray Rocket at Fat Wreck Chords Showcase SXSW2016

Let’s focus on today; we need their help against Trump and to celebrate their classic punk tracks. This year NOFX released their memoir and brought the best of their label roster to SXSW. The showcase at Buffalo Billard’s was intimate enough for the stylings of Ray Rocket’s acoustic set and to rock out in the pit. All the bands I bought albums from this past year were on the lineup: Ray Rocket, The Dirty Nil, Mean Jeans, toyGuitar, Night Birds, and NOFX.

The two bands I haven’t gotten to see within the past years were my most anticipated: Mean Jeans and Night Birds. I was fortunate enough to go to the Fat Wreck Anniversary Tour this past year but did not get to see these gems. Mean Jeans would be my vote for most anticipated band for the fest. NOFX is definitely everyone’s favorite but I am always curious to find out who is going to be the next wave of punk. Mean Jeans has the amazing grit and snarl that true punk rock has, but also contains the roots of the Ramones tangled within every song. Their energy and live show was everything I expected from their music and is a perfect fit for the label.

Night Birds has also been a favorite of mine for the past year. They are the hardcore punk that I need to revival the sweet melodic punk I love. Most of the audience noted that the Night Birds are one the best live band. That is definitely the truth. They come running out the gate and you are coming with them no matter what. Their guitars and angst reels you in and leaves you wanting more.

Of course, the end of the night is topped with the sweet cherry that is NOFX. They are the crowd favorite and everyone goes crazy. Maybe because it was St. Patrick’s Day or the fact they were finally back in Austin but it felt good to have NOFX just play a solid set and have fun with it. I hope this continues to be a traditon with Fat Wreck Chords and SXSW.  The most important part of this festival is to remember why we listen to music in the first place: the classics and new finds.

 

 

 

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