Every once in awhile you attend an event that really blows your mind, not just your socks off. The Riot Festival in Denver, CO was one of those events this year. With headliners such as the Cure, Weezer, and the Flaming Lips, you can see how the 3-day festival might line up as quite an entertaining event. Today I'd like to spend some time to recap my experience of it all.
To start with, most of bands playing I hadn't seen before, which was exciting in itself. A few of them I had been waiting way too long to see, Weezer and A Day To Remember, to name a couple. There were some bands that I had been anticipating seeing for awhile that were kind of let downs to see live, but I'm not gonna emphasize on those guys too much. I'd like to share my experience with some of my favorite groups of the weekend. So taking into account skill level, professionalism, entertainment, and the overall quality of production level for their live show I'm going to give you my top 8 bands of Riot Fest.
8. City and Colour
Starting this thing out at #8, City and Colour. These guys put on a good show. The Canadian group was a little bit off the mark on the whole "Riot Fest" theme but that still doesn't discredit the talent this band has. Instrumentally they had solid musicians that held down their parts, but their bread and butter lies within singer-songwriter and frontman Dallas Green's smooth vocals.
7. Die Antwoord
These guys are interesting. Reigning from Cape Town, South Africa, Die Antwoord doesn't really care too much for rules and regulations, that is musically or lyrically... and actually most every other category as well. Their alternative hip-hop/electronic sound paired with distinctive vocals from co-fronts Ninja and Yolandi Vi$$er create a road-not-often travelled type project. Their live performance was particularly good. They bring a high amount of energy and put on an entertaining show with lots of crowd participation.
6. The Flaming Lips
Being from my hometown of Oklahoma City and bumping into members from time to time, I have wanted to see these guys perform for years. The psychedelic rock group was definitely not a disappointment. Led by frontman Wayne Coyne, the Flaming Lips did more than just play music, they lived on stage. The production level for their live show was beyond any other band at the festival and better than many artists I've seen in the past. I could tell they definitely cared for their fans in the manner that they spent extra money on production to make sure everyone is blown away... and they were (at least I was). Won't be forgetting their performance anytime soon.
5. Rise Against
I got to catch their interview with Denver's 93.3FM a little bit before their set and man let me tell you, these gents seemed like grade A guys. They all have families, which can making touring tough, but they seemed to enjoy where they are in their music career. As for their live set... Wow. My expectations were semi low (don't judge me), but they definitely exceeded them and way more. They had tons of energy onstage and they gave it everything they had to make sure their fans had a good time. Oh ya, did I mention it was pouring down raining during their entire set? That didn't stop them in the least bit. Nor did it their fans, which were many. Overall, great experience.
4. Manchester Orchestra
These guys were good. When I say that, I mean every single note played, sang, or drum beat hit was on the money. Their music is pretty intricate at times and displays lots of dynamics. They replicated this very well live. They definitely didn't go above and beyond for any extra production, just a few lights (not even a backdrop), but they made up for it by being exceptionally good at their craft.
3. Bring Me the Horizon
BMTH is in the running for one of the greatest metal bands to date in my opinion. The frontman had been battling sickness and still put on a heck of a show. One of the main things that stuck out to me about this band was part of their production during the show. Each of the band members wore plain white tee shirts. And the majority of their instruments and amps were white as well. At the beginning of the set I was wondering how this would play out. They ended up projecting film on the stage during the entire show. Along with a white backdrop, the instruments and members' apparel acted as the projection screen. This was such a simple idea, but yet had such a monumental result. The film told stories that coincided with the songs, coupled with an amazing live performance, that alone would have made my night.
2. A Day To Remember
Always been a fan of these guys, but wasn't particularly excited for their set. Boy did they set me straight right off the bat. They came out with so much energy that even if you were TRYING to not have fun they would've still gotten a smile out of you. Besides them being extremely talented, they were extremely good entertainers. Their production value was great, and ingenious at that. The frontman Jeremy McKinnon was a ball of craziness. He was all over the stage and did a fantastic job at connecting with the crowd. When I think back to their performance, I can't help but see how much they truly cared for their fans. I know, I know, a lot of bands really do care for their fans. But these guys didn't have to say it all the time, you just kinda felt it. It was a very unifying feeling.
Lastly, taking up the #1 spot, from Los Angeles, CA is Weezer. I might possibly be a little biased about these guys because I've been a die hard fan since the Blue Album came out in 1994. BUT, these guys are machines. I don't know that I heard a single wrong note the entire night. Their live performance was perfect. Lead singer Rivers Cuomo sounds just as good live as he does on their albums. I would say the coolest thing about these guys' show was the time machine. Rivers took the crowd on a time traveling experience by playing the most recent Weezer hits first, them going all the way back to the blue album. And then they played the ENTIRE Blue Album. Honestly, such a moving experience for any Weezer fan. Overall, Weezer has "it." Whenever "it" is, they got it. They don't even try, they just do.... and they do it very well.
Let me know your thoughts on any of the performances if you were there. Thanks for reading!
In my current stage of life, music has taken an interesting role. I’ve played music for many different reasons. I’ve played in a number of bands, for churches, weddings, funerals and other special events here and there. It’s really amazing how much impact music has in the world. Whether people realize it or not, music can influence your mood and build associations with things that are happening in your life. For example, during a particularly difficult experience in high school, I was hooked on an album by a band called Chasing Victory. Throughout this experience, I subconsciously created an association between the album and the situation I was in. I recently listened through that album for the first time since, and I was overwhelmed with emotion from a situation that happened more than seven years ago. It’s just cool to observe and recognize the power that lies in the creation of music and great lyrical content.
I recently attended a music festival in Denver called Riot Fest. It was a three-day event that featured live music on four stages from roughly noon to midnight each day. While the theme of the festival was obviously centered around being “riotous,” there was a nice variety of genres represented. There was everything from metal to alternative rock to folk. With the variety of bands, came a variety of followers. For some attendees, you could tell music was just a small part of their day to day, but for many people, you could sense music was their LIFE. For them, it provides meaning and purpose to living each day. Obviously music fits into everyone’s life differently, but that’s what is interesting to see in my opinion.
As a musician, that has been an area I have been spending a good amount of time studying in the last year: the influence and meaning of music on people. Last spring I wrote a report on the influence of music on the development of the brain in young children. Many of the studies I researched claimed that there is a direct correlation between how a child’s brain develops and the degree of music he/she has been introduced to. The younger a child is when they begin to learn basic music concepts, the greater the chance of that child excelling in mathematics, logic and reasoning as they get older.
So, although for some people music doesn’t play much of a part in their lives, for others it affects them on a much larger scale. If you’re part of the latter, I encourage you to keep up with this blog. I’ll be writing about life and music for the everyday musician.