Recap: Riot Fest 2016Phil Collins - September 20, 2016
Another Riot Fest has come and gone, marking five years in its large outdoor form. There are plenty of places to read about what happened with The Misfits, et cetera. Here I will detail my five favorite sets of the weekend and share some other choice pictures. I saw about 32 bands during the three days in Douglas Park. My top five sets, in no particular order: War On Women, Leftover Crack, Fucked Up, The Specials and The Julie Ruin.
War On Women smashed up a Donald Trump piñata on stage Sunday, while playing their song "Roe V. World." They skipped most of the lyrics while bashing the Trump piñata, which was filled with condoms. Lead singer Shawna Potter got back to the mic in time to scream the final lines "I had an abortion" and the chant "Give us the pill!" The Baltimore hardcore band's performance had already been one of the festival's most punk, most fun sets. They leaned heavily on their self-titled album released last year on Bridge Nine Records. "Swagger" tackles privilege that pervades the lives of many people who do not seem to be aware of it. They closed with "YouTube Comments," a short blast that is lyrically made up of insufferable statements made on a computer.
Leftöver Crack's third album, their first in 11 years, won Change the Rotation's best album of the year bracket last year. So, naturally, their set was one of my favorites of the weekend. They played a lot from Constructs of the State, opening with "Archaic Subjugation" and "Don't Shoot," then later in the set playing "Bedbugs and Beyond," "Corrupt Vision" and "The Lie of Luck." Kate Coysh of the hardcore band Reivers, who recorded on Constructs of the State, joined Leftöver Crack on stage. She screamed her parts on the new songs and took lead vocals on the biggest surprise in the setlist - "Operation M.O.V.E.," the last track on Fuck World Trade about the clashes between the Philadelphia activist group MOVE and the police. Leftöver Crack also played the Choking Victim classics "500 Channels" and "Crack Rock Steady."
Toronto hardcore band Fucked Up hit the stage early on Saturday afternoon. Vocalist Damian Abraham spent most of the set in the crowd, moving from the left side to the right side, playing dead on the barrier between the crowd and the stage, letting fans scream some of the lyrics. They played "Queen of Hearts" and "The Other Shoe" of their 2011 rock opera David Comes to Life. Fucked Up's hardcore vocals combine with indie instrumental backing to make something unique. The band's energy on (and off) stage is contagious. This is definitely a group to catch in person.
When a seminal two tone ska band comes to town, it is, for lack of a better word, special. I doubt there are any ska bands out there today that did not take some influence from the Specials. They started off with some songs from their second album, then played a load of their older tunes back-to-back-to-back. "Gangsters," "Too Much Too Young," "Nite Klub," "Concrete Jungle," "Do the Dog," "A Message to You Rudy," "Little Bitch," "Monkey Man," "(Dawning of a) New Era" and "Doesn't Make it Alright" were all highlights. What can I say. I saw the Specials.
Another legend took the stage on Sunday - Kathleen Hanna with her band The Julie Ruin. This performance was so fun. The band played songs from their new album Hit Reset. Kathleen Hanna jumped around and shouted lyrics with the posture of a punk mainstay. They closed with the Bikini Kill classic "Rebel Girl." To say I am glad I saw this set is the understatement of the year.