Riot Fest recap: Day TwoPhil Collins - September 20, 2013
About 13 hours later, I was right back at it. A decent crowd turned out early to take in Surfer Blood at the Roots stage. Their album, "Pythons," is sure to make at least a few year-end lists in a couple months. Their tight half-hour set hit its climax when they played "Gravity," a hit from that new album. I was not terribly familiar with any of the bands playing in the next slot, but I found myself drawn to T.S.O.L., who were letting loose on the Riot stage. T.S.O.L. is one of those bands that I know I have heard their name thrown around but just never got around to checking out. After catching this set, I know exactly what I have been missing and will not be missing it anymore. They tore it up.
The Selecter, a British second wave ska band, played an engaging set. I arrived at the Riot stage early to get into good position for skanking, as this was one of the only ska bands playing all day. Not only that, but the chance to see a legitimate second wave ska band does not come around every week. The Selecter proudly waved the ska flag, representing the genre in style. They had to be blazing hot in those suits, as the sun was uninhibited and their set fell around the hottest time of the day. That did not stop the crowd from skanking and moving around. They played a ska cover of the James Bond theme along with their own hits, including "Too Much Pressure."
Staying for all of The Selecter's show meant I was pretty far back for Dinosaur Jr. Looking at the lineup for Riot Fest, Dinosaur Jr. fits into the outside the box gang of bands, along with Best Coast and Guided By Voices. Plenty of people piled in to watch Dinosaur Jr. and they did not dissapoint. Frontman J. Mascis' long grey hair and beard are as iconic as his ubiquitous guitar solos. "Feel the Pain" is a truly great song and the crowd really got into it when they played it.
Pennywise, a quintissential California skate punk band, played next on the Riot stage. Believe it or not, they have been making music for 25 years now. Skate punk has to be one of the more fun offshoot genres of punk. It can be as goofy as it is fast, but since when is punk music supposed to take itself seriously? Pennywise were a blast and I would absolutely see them again.
That is the last picture I have from Saturday, not because that was the last band I saw, but because I was in the pit for most of the remainder of the day. FLAG was next, and they were an incredible band to see. They thrashed through Black Flag classics "Jealous Again," "I've Had It," "Rise Above," "Wasted," "Damaged," and more with Keith Morris doing vocals on about half the songs and Dez Cadena singing the others. Morris reminded the crowd twice during the set that FLAG is not Black Flag, alluding to the lawsuit Greg Ginn filed against the members of FLAG and Henry Rollins. Ginn is fronting a separate Black Flag reunion. FLAG, who put on one of the best sets of Riot Fest, is comprised of former Black Flag members Morris, Cadena, Chuck Dukowski and Bill Stevenson, as well as Stephen Egerton. "Gimme Gimme Gimme" is meant to be experienced live. The stops and starts in the song are exponentially more epic in the middle of a bunch of pushing, sweaty punks.
After FLAG all I wanted to do was catch my breath, but I knew The Lawrence Arms were starting up immediately at the Rise stage, all the way across the festival grounds. I hobbled over there as fast as I could. I watched them for about 20 or 30 minutes before I had to leave to head back to the Riot stage so I could get into position for Rancid. During the short time I was at The Lawrence Arms show, they played my two favorite songs, "Recovering the Opposable Thumb" and "The Slowest Drink at the Saddest Bar on the Snowiest Day in the Greatest City," which made the fact that I had to leave early more bearable. I had never seen Rancid before, so I wanted to be right in there for their set. I got close enough that I could push forward once they started playing. They opened with "Radio," followed by a series of songs from their best album, "And Out Come the Wolves." Needless to say, it was wild in the crowd. Someone got thrown into me and, trying to balance herself, grabbed my glasses. I thought they were gone. I could not find them anywhere on the ground. The guy next to me did find them, bent up but all in one piece. The right lens was in danger of popping out and I had to bend the frame back pretty hard just make it fit on my face. I have had these glasses for a long time and was planning on replacing them soon anyway, so I was not too worried about them breaking. Which is why I bent them back as much as I could and carried on. Plus, Rancid was still playing. They played "Roots Radicals," "Nihilism," "Maxwell Murder," "Journey to the End of the East Bay," "Ruby Soho" and "Time Bomb." It was incredible.
Violent Femmes put on a great show. I had to sit down after Rancid, both to catch my breath and try to bend my glasses some more. They were noticeably crooked and fitting pretty loosely. There was not a whole lot I could do about that. Violent Femmes opened with "Blister in the Sun" and proceeded through an entertaining set. I cannot say I was very well focused on it after the whirlwind I had just gone through with the back-to-back-to-back FLAG/Lawrence Arms/Rancid sets. Blink-182 closed out the night. Travis Barker is a very impressive drummer, which I already knew, but watching him live reminded me. They opened with "Feeling This" from their self-titled album, which made me happy because I always liked that song. They also played "I Miss You" from that album, along with older crowdpleasers "Dammit," "What's My Age Again," "All the Small Things" and "First Date." I ended the second day a little more beat up, with a pair of glasses on the brink of destruction, but just as ready for another day of revelry.