Riot Fest Sweltering Experience Day 2 Denver, CO 8-29-15

Riot Fest Sweltering Experience Day 2 Denver, CO 8-29-15

With the sun rising and temperatures climbing near 100 degrees, Day Two of Riot Fest & Rodeo continued on Saturday August 29th in Denver, CO. After closing out Day One with the likes of Ice Cube, it is hard to imagine how day two would come close or even top the lineup for that matter. One look at the schedule though would leave any hardcore music lover in a position to deposit a load of musical sexual gratification in their undergarments. With the water trailer miraculously up for business, the crowds filled their bottles and were salivating for more. Thankfully, on a blistering Saturday afternoon, the local dog food factory was closed and various mystery stenches were at an all time low, cueing time for the shows to begin.

Less Than Jake

At 2:15 PM, the audience had already filed to the Rebel Stage to catch one of Ska’s most coveted Pop bands, Less Than Jake. Fresh out of Gainesville, Florida, who is revered for Gator’s football and… well, not much else, Less Than Jake has been making a name for themselves since the mid ’90s. For those unfamiliar with the Ska scene, imagine one’s favorite punker bred with the high school band geek, and poof, the direct offspring is Ska. It did not take very long for Less Than Jake to make a name for themselves following their debut 1995 release Pezcore when they were snatched by Capitol Records and instantly releasing their follow up album Losing Streak. Their career has been filled with tours alongside the likes of bands such as The Descendants and, yes, even Blink-182.

Kicking off their set in a burst of sheer fun, bouncing, and in-your-face energy with the track “Sugar in Your Gas Tank,” the crowd was a full go. The dust clouds began coating all within a mile radius of the stage as the crowd began pogoing and screaming every word in sync with the band. As the band reached midpoint of their set with their hometown anthem, “Gainesville Rock City,”  the temperatures were soaring, yet the crowd showed no sign of slowing down in their frenzied drive. The band closed out with the track “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts,” the fans gave it one more effort before running for their nearest water, beer, or food station to catch their breath before the next band. Less Than Jake are currently overseas touring through the begining of October before returning stateside for a show on October 10th for It’s Not Dead 2015 in San Bernardino, CA.

The Dead Milkmen

When 3:00 PM rolled around, old school punkers (and yes, even some well-raised newschoolers) rushed the Roots Stage for the one and only The Dead Milkmen. Out of the city which gave the world Eagles football, Rocky, and Cheese Steaks in 1983, they gave the musical world one of the greatest bands who taught the fans you do not need to take yourself seriously to be great. Since their 1985 debut album Big Lizard in My Backyard, The Dead Milkmen won the hearts of Punk fans with greats such as “Bitchin’ Camaro” and “Punk Rock Girl.” Having just released a new album, Pretty Music for Pretty People, in 2014, the masters of satirical Punk are far from done.

The band got into full swing with their set as they and their fans were offered literally no shade from the blistering sun, with their newer track “Pretty Music for Pretty People.” The crowd erupted in glee as they began to swing, twitch, and gyrate to the music. The band took all for a comedic journey through their historic past with tracks such as “Punk Rock Girl,” “Tiny Town,” “Methodist Coloring Book,” “V.F.W.,” and of course “Bitchin’ Camaro.” It almost brought tears to any old school fan’s eyes to see the younger generation reciting every word to every song as if they had known the band through all the years as well. With sides hurting from laughter, sadly, it was time to move on to the next band for the crowd. The band will finish 2015 with a special show Halloween show on October 30th in their hometown of Philadelphia, PA at The Trocadero so get out and see them.

The Vandals

Crossing through what seemed an endless desert, 3:45 PM brought out another Punk/Comedy favorite, The Vandals. Since the ’80s, to think of West Coast Punk, it would be sheer blasphemy to not mention the great Vandals. While many can recall the West Coast offering bands such as Suicidal Tendencies, Black Flag, and Social Distortion, The Vandals brash, yet light-hearted and unforgiving approach is undeniable. After all, where else can one find a band who wrote about using LSD while taking a ride on the Pirates of Caribbean attraction in Disneyland?

The band wasted no time as they got started with the track “Café 405,” getting the crowd to forget they had already been going ape shit in the heat for well over an hour. The Vandals never really had a so-called “anthem,” however, if they did, it would be their swashbuckling song “Oi to the World.” Essentially everyone had to stop and sing along in unison to this great track. Those who missed The Vandals will get a chance to see them as well at It’s Not Dead 2015 on October 10th.

The Damned

Granted the crowds from Day One were treated to one of the godfathers of Punk, Iggy Pop, however, at 4:30 PM on the Rock Stage, they were treated to another true Punk legend, The Damned. Since 1976, The Damned brought the music world a much darker and, well, “nastier” embodiment to the Punk scene. While a great deal of the Punk scene was still trying to pick themselves up and find a way to reach audiences, The Damned were well ahead of the game. After all, how many Punk bands managed to get nine singles to chart in the top 40 in the UK, search one may, but with little to no success. From 1977’s Damned Damned Damned to 2008’s So, Who’s Paranoid, if one calls themself “Punk” and do not own one of their records, they should be stripped of their badge and booted to the Emo scene.

With the nostalgia surrounding the chance to see The Damned, it was all that more appropriate for them to kick off their set with their first single “New Rose.” The success in this track was what ultimately helped the band get on a tour with another English punk legend, The Sex Pistols. After almost forty years and a trail of revolving members, The Damned still got it, giving a flawless performance of tracks such as “Love Song” and their great single “Video Nasty.” Still demonstrating a great sense of humor, Captain Sensible and Dave Vanian still support their crazy get up as a sailboat captain and stretch between evil villain and Dracula. Pillars of the Punk scene, this is a band that should be on any true rebel’s bucket list of bands to see.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

The time of 5:30 PM signaled the thankful dropping of the sun and one hell of an energetic set from Ska masters The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Raging from the East Coast, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones have made more than a household name for those who are and are not fans of the band. While the band, when formed in the ’80s, had members whose roots were firmly entrenched in the Hardcore scene, the band they produced was a much more upbeat and, well… poppy sounding. Their initial 1989 release Devil’s Night Out has been heralded and held in high regard as establishing a new genre (along with Operation Ivy’s release Energy) called Ska-Core. Their mesh of various Punk melodies with an almost full brass section topped with energetic live energy, they have always been regarded as a must see.

In fashion to The Damned, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones kicked off with a track from their starting point called “Devil’s Night Out.” The crowd were so dedicated that their singing every word was borderline deafening. One would think the audience’s second wind from a day in the sun and dust kicked into full gear by the time they played “Graffiti Worth Reading,” as they kicked up a sandstorm that many around had to cover their faces from the debris.  As the band started closing out with their main staple track “The Impression That I Get,” fans began checking their schedules for the next band. Anyone who has not seen this exciting band yet, they will have a chance for the Hometown Throwdown 18! December 26th through 28th up in Boston, MA.

Eagles of Death Metal

Just thirty minutes after The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, 6:00 PM ushered in the guitar driven set by  Eagles of Death Metal at the Root Stage. Hailing from Palm Desert, California, in 1998, Eagles of Death Metal selected one of the oddest names in music and put it together with an unmistakable sound; the rest is history. Since the release of 2004’s Peace, Love, Death Metal, it was clear that this band was neither Death Metal nor The Eagles, what they were was a fusion of Hard Rock, Bluegrass, and, well, sheer gritty humor. Either way one can rest assure to always expect the unexpected with Eagles of Death Metal.

Fitting that their first track was “Don’t Speak (I Came to Make a Bang),” they got off to one hell of a start. Frontman Jesse Hughes demonstrated just why he is known as “The Devil,” bringing a very charismatic and entertaining demeanor to the show. As the band got into the song “Bad Dream Mama,” Hughes made sure to take a moment and notice the attractive females in the crowd while making mention to the aroma of skunky weed in the air (at least it is not the odor of dog food). While the band closed out with force on “I Got a Feelin’ (Just Nineteen),” there was no time to rest as the sun went down and the next band was about to come on. Eagles of Death Metal are currently on extensive touring in support of their  forthcoming album, Zipper Down, due out October 2nd.

Cold War Kids

Meanwhile, at 6:45 PM, Cold War Kids were about to grace their fans on the Riot Stage. Though the band only formed in 2004, Cold War Kids have been carving their own niche within the Indie Rock scene with what would seem the greatest of ease. Within two years of releasing several EPs and demos, the band was picked up by major label Downtown/V2 and dropped their debut album Robbers & Cowards. Their blend of melodies and Indie Rock roots was something to be admired, even catching the eye of famed producer Jacquire King (Modest Mouse, Norah Jones, and Tom Waits) who ended up working with the band on their album Mine Is Yours. With a fury, Cold War Kids is making themselves into a household name, take notice.

As the band began their set with the first track from 2014’s Hold My Home, the camaraderie between the band was on fresh display to its fans.  Their melodic sounds were borderline hypnotizing as they had their fans in full sway to the music. By the time the band got to the track “We Used to Vacation,” the crowd was in full control of the band, dancing up a storm and singing every word along with the band. Full of melodic intrigue if one is looking to be completely spellbound by a band, Cold War Kids is not to be missed. Those who did miss them, there are plenty of chances to see them live between now and November 14th when the run of touring winds down.

Alkaline Trio

After a somewhat slowed down moment with Cold War Kids, the crowd rushed to the 8:30 PM Rock Stage set by Alkaline Trio. Emerging from McHenry, Illinois, the trio of Matt Skiba, Dan Andriano, and Derek Grant have been forging their own path since 1996. Generally garnering Underground roots for themselves with releases such as 1998’s debut Goddamnit, 2000’s Maybe I’ll Catch Fire,  and 2001’s From Here to Infirmary; in 2003 they got a taste of success when their album Good Mourning hit the Billboard charts.

Alkaline Trio got the crowd moving in a hurry with their track “My Friend Peter,” as it did not take long for the dust pits to get rolling. The fans were in full frenzy as crowd-surfers began to run amuck and making security work over time through the commotion with songs like “Fatally Yours,” “Every Thug Needs a Lady,” and “Mr. Chainsaw.” As the band began ending their set with “Radio,” a whole different world was getting ready to be unleashed on the neighboring Rebel Stage. While there are no tour dates currently on tap for Alkaline Trio fans check kick back and enjoy  their strong collection of songs from 2013’s My Shame Is True.


Few bands deserve the title of legend, however, even that very term falls short to the group which played at 9:30 PM on the Rebel Stage, Run DMC. Innovators, rebels, and godfathers to a whole genre by itself, is just a few ways you can recognize the likes of Run DMC. Since 1981, Run DMC has been establishing the very foundation to which all major Hip-Hop and Rap artists would play on for years to come. Though birthed out of Queens, New York, their debut self -titled album made sure that Hip-Hop would never be the same. Joseph “Run” Simmons, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels, and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell (RIP) not only ushered in a whole different sound and approach, they brought fusion between different genres light years ahead of the rest of the music industry.

As Run DMC coursed through its wide history of releases, the group itself was making history in Colorado. Shortly after Run DMC delivered to a frenzy audience one of their most notable tracksm “It’s Tricky,” they introduced a rather fitting member in Jam Master Jay’s son Jam Master J’son. Run DMC did nothing short of bring the house down with tracks such as “Down With The King,” “You Be Illin’,” and yes, of course, “Walk This Way.” While it was truly remarkable how energetic Run DMC was, it was even more insane for one to witness the utter insanity from the audience.


The night closed out for with the 10:30 PM set from Punk titans, Rancid. Formed in the ’80s from the West Coast, Rancid has been a band that, while opinion may vary within and outside of the Punk scene, has blazed their own path and made an impact on all who have listened to them. Their first two albums, 1993’s self-titled album and 1994’s Let’s Go, would help establish the groundwork for their biggest release to date, 1995’s …And Out Come the Wolves. This album essentially guaranteed the bands stay on the top of the Punk movement food chain to this very day. Hell, how many bands can say that two major labels fought to sign a band? Hence the title of the record.

In true celebratory fashion the band kicked off their twenty year tribute to their breakthrough record with the first song on the album, “Maxwell Murder.” The highlight of the album, “Roots Radicals,” however, is what drove the audience into sheer insanity, setting them up for one of the fan’s favorite “drinking tracks” entitled “Time Bomb.” A great deal of high school memories were in full swing with one of the band’s most commercially successful songs, “Ruby Soho.” Overall, as Rancid closed out their set and crowds began to literally hobble to their vehicles to rest for Day Three, Day Two, by far, belonged to the Punks as it is hard to deny the almost Punk mentality of all the bands not even within the genre.

Showcasing some of Punk Rock and Hip Hop’s most legendary acts all in one day made Riot Fest Day 2 a winning day of music for all who attended. If that was not enough, Day 3 was less than 24 hours away and would close out with another amazing lineup no one wanted to miss.

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Rafi Shlosman
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