Riot Fest Denver 2014 came to a strong close, with fans sticking it out through the inclement weather to see the rest of the stellar bands. Most of the weekend in Denver was bright and beautiful, but the final day was overcast until it started to rain at sundown. Regardless, Sunday's lineup was one of the best, so people crowded together, fashioned makeshift ponchos, and stood out in the cold to watch the headliners.
Bouncing Souls at Riot Fest Denver 2014:
The Bouncing Souls are completely typical of '90s punk rock: melodic tunes, relatable lyrics, and singalong choruses. The afternoon crowd at Riot Fest turned into teenagers again as the Souls played through all their classics. "Hopeless Romantic" got the audience singing along and the pit erupted for "East Coast Fuck You."
Touché Amoré at Riot Fest Denver 2014:
Touché Amoré played next, and 2 songs in, singer Jeremy Bolm had already leapt into the crowd. Unfortunately, I couldn't stick around for their whole set, but the unbridled energy of the first couple was well worth the watch.
Violent Femmes at Riot Fest Denver 2014:
The Violent Femmes' set at Riot Fest started off rocky, with Brian Ritchie playing an out-of-tune acoustic bass and Gordon Gano experiencing some kind of wardrobe malfunction, but once they worked out the kinks, things seemed to turn around. "American Music," "Add It Up," and "Gone Daddy Gone" were all crowd favorites and they finished strong.
Radkey at Riot Fest Denver 2014:
Radkey played the smallest stage at the festival, but their manic, Danzig-esque radditude captivated the crowd. If you haven't heard these dudes yet, don't worry. You will.
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes at Riot Fest Denver 2014:
"This one is a cover," says Spike Slawson as Me First and the Gimme Gimmes launch into a furious version of "I Will Survive." "This one is a cover," he says as they tear into "Rocket Man." "This is a cover song," Spike tells the audience before belting out Madonna's "Crazy For You." The band didn't play a single original tune. Disappointing.
We caught up with the band before their set, so stay tuned for our upcoming interview with Spike Slawson and Joey Cape.
Cerebral Ballzy at Riot Fest Denver 2014:
NYC's Cerebral Ballzy kicked off after the Gimmes and tore it the fuck up. Honor Titus is a kickass frontman and their unhinged, breakneck punk rock left the crowd with road rash.
Dropkick Murphys at Riot Fest Denver 2014:
Dropkick fans in kilts and scally caps lined up in front of the stage at sundown. This sounds more menacing than it really was. The Boston band stormed the stage and the audience became a pogoing, jostling behemoth as Al Barr belted out the band's Celtic punk hits. Each song got rowdier than the next, before everything culminated in the crowd favorite "I'm Shipping Up To Boston." They ended with a medley of BTO's "Takin' Care of Business," GFR's "We're An American Band," and the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop."
TV On The Radio at Riot Fest Denver 2014:
TV On The Radio started playing as the rain began to pour. Their set was a mixture of old and new material, including the live debut of "Happy Idiot," the single from their upcoming album.
The National at Riot Fest Denver 2014:
The National and Wu-Tang played on opposite stages in the rain. The crowd divided to two camps. The folks at Camp National were treated to a 15-song setlist heavy in material from last year's Trouble Will Find Me. Matt Berninger's pleasant baritone was well suited for the rainy evening, but I made my way over to Camp Wu-Tang to end the night.
Wu-Tang Clan at Riot Fest Denver 2014:
RZA came out with a bottle of champagne in hand and popped the top. The rain was coming down pretty hard, but he still managed to cover the photo pit and the front row in bubbly. Their set was a bass-heavy party, with plenty of onstage banter about Colorado's legal weed. It may be because they were standing in front of Mile High Stadium, but they even gave a shoutout to the Denver Broncos. They closed the weekend to thousands of screaming, soaking wet fans rapping along to every word.
Riot Fest Denver was an ideal festival in many ways. The lineup was diverse enough to avoid scheduling conflicts, yet homogeneous enough that fans wouldn't be alienated. The beer and the food were plenty, the crowds were well behaved, and the staff was beyond professional. Even the weather was perfect up until the last day, but what would Riot Fest be without a little rain? 11 out of 10 stars.