Riot Fest 2016

Riot Fest 2016

Riot Fest
Riot Fest

I flew to Denver over Labor Day Weekend for my third consecutive Riot Fest. This year’s line-up was pretty special, and I felt privileged to be able to attend. Two of my favorite bands, NOFX and Ween were playing, but most people were excited about the Misfits reunion. This was the first time in over thirty years that Danzig would be playing with the band.

For those of you who don’t know why this is a big deal, don’t feel bad. It’s okay. Had I not done some homework, I really wouldn’t get it either. This brings me to the reason I am writing this in the first place. After experiencing 3 days and nights of music, I have this urge to write about the various fans that I see at these shows. I say “guy” as a genderless reference to any person because I think it sounds better than “person.”

  1. I Know Every Word to Every Song Guy: This guy will be toward the front and he will sing every song word for word. Sometimes he will check to see if you are singing as well because you can’t be as big a fan as he is unless you also know every word to every song. We are impressed.
  2. I Must Get in Front Guy: I swear that this guy was at every single show in different guises. I was in the third or fourth row at several of these concerts. With a little bit of time in a mosh pit, a clever exit strategy, and some brute force, it’s pretty easy to do. However, some people aren’t satisfied with the third or fourth row. They will stand behind you poking their sharp elbows into your sides, and even putting their head on your shoulder trying to force you to give them room to move forward. I watched one of these guys during the Ween concert. He didn’t enjoy a single song. I’m not sure he even knew which show he was at. He was so intent on moving ahead of me that he wasn’t smiling, or singing or dancing. He had no sense of joy at all. He just wanted to move forward at all costs. Nothing would ever please him. What a sad way to live, and probably a good metaphor for how most of us spend our days and nights.
  3. Painful Boot Guy: This person wears thick boots with heavy heels so that every time he steps on your foot, you know. This person may also wear painful piercings that poke you as you stand there, and/or pain inducing studs or other jewelry on their clothing that may also dig into your flesh at any given moment. You do not want to get stuck in close contact with this guy.
  4. The Moocher: This guy continually asks for stuff.
  5. The Offerer: This guy continually offers you stuff. Never take stuff from this guy. Ever.
  6. Jaded Man: This guy has seen this band so many times that he doesn’t even know why he’s here. I don’t know either. Maybe you should go somewhere else?
  7. Wearing the T-Shirt Guy: I’m sorry. I’m just not wearing the t-shirt of the band to the band’s show. I can’t do it. I just can’t. You can.
  8. The “I bought this at Hot Topic” Punk Guy: I saw some twelve-year old kid wearing a denim jacket with fake t-shirt patches on it. Either that, or he was wearing his dad’s jacket. Either way, come original. If you have to buy it, it isn’t punk. Seriously.
  9. Too Heavy to Crowd Surf Guy: I crossed this threshold a long time ago, and I’m not ashamed to say that I wouldn’t burden any crowd by trying to jump up and have people propel me with their hands. You should join my club. If you’re over 150, I’d say, just stay where you are. You’re either going to get hurt by falling, or even worse, hurt us by falling on us.
  10. Mr. I Know What’s Going On: There was this one guy who was making eye contact with security and using hand signals. Then there are the guys who know when to yell, “Medic” in this really serious tone. They know the rules and the lingo of concert lang. I think they are essential people to have at any concert, but sometimes I also think they just want to pretend to be a part of the cool-kid scene without actually being a part of it. It’s okay.

Ten seems like a good enough list. I wish I had pictures of all these different people, but instead, I have just a random sampling of some of the things I saw at Riot Fest 2016. I hope I labeled the bands correctly so as not to get yelled at by any of the real fans!

On a side note, I did start to empathize with humanity thinking about what torture it would be for a “normal” person to sit an listen to Ween for an hour. What was a completely pleasant and wonderful experience could just have easily made another person beg for mercy and run for the exits. Isn’t that crazy? So many people at Riot Fest were just totally having a great time, but so many more people in this world wouldn’t even be able to sit through one Misfits song much less an entire set. Taste is such a crazy thing. We’re all human, right? You’d think there would be more of a connection.

Overall, my favorite performance was NOFX, but I’m biased because I had to overcome adversity to be able to get to the front, and I also love their music. The Misfits was one of the coolest shows I have seen, but I felt a bit guilty standing up front, when it was clear that so many people there were much bigger fans than I was.

Ween was also terrific, but non-Ween people didn’t enjoy that set. I loved their jamming funky sounds. Thanks Ween!

Riot Fest still sucks, but it doesn’t suck as bad as it could. I am wondering if this will be my last year attending. It felt climactic.

One final guy (which makes it guy #11) the “Am I too Old to be Here?” guy–aka me. Much of the time, I felt like I was a bit out of place, although there were plenty of people my age and older. But I wonder if we are all posers at this point trying to hold on to some meaning for music that was written to be relevant 30+ years ago? I keep coming back to NOFX’s “60% Reprise” (which they unironically opened with this year).

“I suppose that’s how we’ll go out,
played out and way after our time”

Is it okay to go out like that? Or is it somehow more noble to move on to something else? Questions that will never be answered, or at least not in this blog right now.

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