Riot Fest Blazes Path Opening Day 8-28-15 Denver, CO

Riot Fest Blazes Path Opening Day 8-28-15 Denver, CO

For over a decade, Riot Festival has been providing its patrons with three days of music, rides, games, food, culture and fun in the dog days of Summer. In Colorado, this also means blazing temperatures, blisters on your feet, sunburns, and for some, heat-stroke. Although, it is all worth it when concert goers saw the mind–blowing lineups that they provided. The most eclectic festival these days, Riot Festival offers artists from all different genres: Punk, Rock, Metal, Hip Hop/Rap, Funk, and the list goes on and on. In 2015, they advertised it as a “Rodeo,” which must have been due to the mechanical bull they added to the entertainment, since it was the only thing that was rodeo-esque. They kept the carnival rides, tons of vendors, and side-show by Hellzapoppin, and Denver seriously brought a new meaning to carnival food this year. There was the usual goodies: nachos, cotton candy, corn dogs, and fries, but thanks to Denver’s plethora of roach coaches, there was also Indian cuisine, BBQ, numerous hamburger stands, Phillies, and options for the vegetarians and vegans at the festival, as well as much more.

As usual, Riot Festival brought all walks of life together of all ages, including parents and their young children. The National Western Complex (reason #2 for calling it a Rodeo?) was definitely efficient space-wise for the event ensuring that all party-goers got more than their fair share of exercise over the weekend. So, three days, five stages (one more than last year), and eighty-eight bands later, there is one hell of a festival bound to Rock the socks off of any and every attendee. This all kicked off on Friday, August 28th, with a lineup that included System of a Down, Iggy Pop, Ice Cube, Coheed and Cambria, Cypress Hill, The Airborne Toxic Event, Anthrax, Death Grips, De La Soul, Testament, The Black Lips, American Nightmare, The Get Up Kids, Doomtree, 88 Finger Louie, Benjamin Booker, Crobot, Chef’s Special, Speedy Ortiz, Cayetana, Jazz Cartier, Prayers, The Hotelier, Dreamers, Main Attrakionz, Input & Broken, and Indian School.

De La Soul

Formed in 1987 in Long Island, New York, De La Soul is a group that should not really need an introduction. Since 1989’s release of 3 Feet High and Rising –easily considered a Hip Hop masterpiece- its members have been bringing a new definition to Hip Hop. Known for their lyrics, incredible (and sometimes controversial) use of samples, and their loud stance against violence in Hip Hop, De La Soul has been bringing audience’s music almost non-stop. In fact, their biggest break came between the albums Stakes Is High (1996) and Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump (2000). Fans can get excited over their new album (awesomely kickstarter funded) with a hopeful release in September of this year, entitled And The Anonymous Nobody. De La Soul is not letting their fans down in regards to their popular collaborations on albums. One can look forward to hearing from Snoop Dogg, Usher, Estelle, Pete Rock, and more on this one, and get excited about it being mixed by Bob Power, it is going to be off the hook! They are hitting the air and road this month with tour dates booked in Marseilles, France, joining the Made in America Tour with Beyonce, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, and more in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and wrapped it up with Riot Fest Chicago.

Their performance was definitely a memorable one! They even took the photographers into account during their second song, forcing them to drop their cameras, put their hands in the air and enjoy their front row seats, even if only for a minute, refusing to start again until all had joined in. Playing hits such as “Me, Myself, and I,” the group jokingly interacted with the audience along the way. De La Soul brought it; full of energy, full of lyrical messages, and full of “da inner sound, y’all.” In enough words, De La Soul are icons of Hip Hop and they continue to show it.

The Black Lips

The Black Lips, a seriously driven band from Georgia, kick started their road to fame in ’99. Although they kept to the grind, it was not really until 2006 that they hit it big after being featured in SPIN and Rolling Stone magazines. This band keeps themselves busy! Seven studio albums, twenty-three singles, eight splits, and three live albums later, their mesh of Blues, Rock, Doo Wop, Country, and Punk are highly sought after by their fans, which keeps them touring all over the world. In September, they will be playing Tennessee, Georgia and Texas, followed by a West Coast tour (kicked off in Sacramento) including Vancouver, which will lead them to South Africa in November and then they will ring in the New Year down under in Australia. Known for their unpredictable stage antics (vomit, nudity, urination, fireworks, and flaming guitars), which have reportedly “mellowed with maturity,” these guys do not leave you standing still. Playing hits such as “Bad Kids,” “O Katrina!,” “Modern Art,” and “Family Tree,” they are energy and it radiated off the stage as they played, seamlessly flowing from one song to the next. One thing stands true, The Black Lips show concert goers one hell of a good time.


Talk about a band that does not need an introduction. If they do, chances are one may have been living under a rock for the past thirty-two years and it is time to crawl out from under the “Dark Roots of Earth” and join “The New Order”. It is time for some Thrash! Born in Berkeley, CA in ’83 (originally Legacy but had to change their name due to trademark), Testament is a testament of their own right. Overcoming a somewhat revolving, and often returning, door of members over the years, and some major death-defying health issues, Testament has left its own legacy. Twenty six releases later, they are still thrashing strong! Touring endlessly at the moment, joining the likes of Slayer, Megadeth, Napalm Death, Anthrax, At The Gates (and many more) in Japan for the 10th “Loud Park 15” tour, dropping by Hawaii and then kicking off their Latin America Tour. Fans will be seeing them again stateside in May 2016 for The Maryland Death Fest.

In April of this year, a new album was spoken about to hopefully be released by Thanksgiving, so keep your fingers crossed friends! Their performance at the festival was an incredible one, including incredibly dusty. Upon the strum of the first cord, a mosh pit kicked off and so did the dust, almost making it impossible to see Chuck Billy playing his mic stem air guitar. Powering through “Over the Wall,” “Rise UP,” “More Than Meets the Eye,” “Into the Pit,” “The New Order,” and “D.N.R (Do Not Resuscitate),” the band remained brutal through to the last note of “Disciples of the watch.” Testament put on an extremely high-power show. Smiling, screaming, and obviously having fun, these guys never let you down. Whether one is an old fan or one that just had their Testament cherry thrashed through, every show is a good one, memorable to the core and bound to leave you with whiplash from all the head banging.

Cypress Hill

It would be hard to imagine that there is anyone under the age of twenty that does not know who Cypress Hill is. Just in case one does not, Cypress Hill is the first Latino-American Hip Hop group to go platinum. They were pioneers for West Coast Hip Hop and Rap and have won Grammy awards, as well as an MTV music video award. They are often recognizable by B-Real’s trademark nasally vocals and they have been major advocates of medical and recreational cannabis. Cypress Hill is touring through September and October Celebrating twenty years of Temples of Boom with the Haunted Hill tour; they will also be playing Riot Fest Chicago. These guys have kept beats flowing; taking breaks at times for solo projects, for many many years.

Coming out to a roar of cheers, Cypress Hill did not disappoint their fans. Their performance was literally mind altering as they put Riot Festival under their spell. They were sure to play the necessary favorites like “Insane in the Brain,” “I Ain’t Goin Out Like That,” and “I Wanna Get High,” during which B-Real sparked up a gigantic joint and smoked it on stage. The crowd did not miss a word as it sang along in unison also emitting its own hovering cloud of smoke. Cypress Hill is, simply put, electrifying and definitely a must see! They have a few shows lined up for October, and of course their annual Haunted Hill show at Best Buy Theater in New York City October 30th.

Ice Cube

While on the topic of musical pioneers of Hip Hop, it was time to give praise to an amazing pioneer for Rap. Ice Cube is considered one of the founding artists of Gangsta Rap and found his way with N.W.A. in 1986. Although N.W.A did not last long for Ice Cube (only a few years), he continued on his career solo, and in the mid ’90s, he was also a member of Westside Connection, which spanned about a decade. Ice Cube did not stop at music. He is a rapper, actor, producer, filmmaker, and even has his own clothing line. He has been dubbed one of Hip Hop’s most controversial artists, an incredible lyricist, and the greatest MC of all time (by Snoop himself). With the recent release of the Summer hit Straight Outta Compton, Ice Cube and N.W.A. are a hot topic with dedicated fans, as well a a new generation discovering their brilliance.

Ice Cube spoke about how a goal he has is to let his fans that think he has gotten too soft and videoed out (35 movies so far, 3 more planned for 2016 already) know that he can still bring it. For fans of N.W.A., if you missed Riot Fest Denver, you seriously missed out because he f-ing brought it during Eazy-E’s “Natural Born Killaz,” “Why We Thugs,” “Smoke Some Weed,” and “Check Yo’ Self.” It was announced that he had special guests and special it was indeed. DJs Ren and Yell jumped in for “Chin Check,” “Straight Outta Compton,” “Gangsta Gangsta,” “Dopeman,” and “Fuck tha Police.” These days, this is probably the closest you will get to an N.W.A reunion. Ice Cube, Ren, and Yell laid down some old school N.W.A like if it really were “Straight Outta Compton.” Moving one with Westside Connection’s  “Gangsta Nation,” they flowed through “You Can Do It,” hit “It Was A Good Day,” and ended with “Go To Church.” One word can describe this, BASS! The boom was so great that it shook the audience from the inside out and left their head ringing. While Ice Cube has no other live shows lined up at this time, fans patiently wait the pending release of the full-length album, Everythang’s Corrupt.

Filled with a great mix of some of the best Hip Hop artists of all-time, along with Metal, Rock, and everything in between, Riot Festival Day One was a blazing hit. With so much more on tap for Day Two and Three, fans went home, rested up, and anxiously awaited the party to reconvene the next day.

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Selina Shlosman
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