Riot Fest & Carnival

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Two homesick space aliens walk into a bar. They yearn to feel at home. So what do they order? What’s on tap? Hell no--Gary Numan, bro. Numan’s flowing tunic, octopus’ arms, and catatonic stare were made for the sound effects his amazing musicians manufacture. Now, the blistering electric solos would be grand enough alone, but when Numan sings his post-wave heart out and channels a higher spirit, you’ve got undefinable magic. The purveyor of 1979’s “Pleasure Principal’ still oozes Oxytocin into the air. Isn’t that illegal?

There was an angel sitting on Riot Fest’s shoulder this year. The annual, three-day extravaganza was anointed with spectacular weather and droves of receptive multi-generational devotees. The layout was easily navigable, with the two main stages, Riot and Roots, blessedly close in proximity, while Rebel, Radicals, and Rise were merely a cold brew away. 

The Sunday of Riot Fest featured numerous acts that have been playing for a long period of time.

The three day music festival and carnival wrapped up Sunday night headlining a 90's punk band reunion performance with The Jawbreaker. This being the first time they have played together in 21 years. Seemingly an unimaginable feat, festival organizers have been able to tap into their deep connections again. Last year they got The Misfits to reunite. This speaks to the raw dedication and deep ties that the partnering organizers have forged over the years.

Founded back in 2005 in Chicago, Riot Fest is a this three day music fest features the best of punk, rock, alternative, metal, and hip-hop. Craft beers, great food, wandering performing artists, circus sideshows, fire spinners and craft booths add this unique festival vibe. In it's six year consolidated on one large Chicago city park site, the festival lives up to expectations as with each year's line up announcement, it is met with raw excitement.

Riot Fest Chicago’s opening day was full of once in a lifetime moments. The most impressive was the early afternoon trifecta of sets by Death, Fishbone and Living Colour on adjacent stages. The sonic threads tying the three African-American rock bands together were loud and clear. Detroit’s protopunk pioneers Death played most of its 1974 debut record and tracks from the latest effort N.E.W., both released on Drag City Records. Fishbone entertained with its trademark upbeat mix of punk, funk, ska and soul.

Riot Fest is a festival of extremes. It is not for the faint of heart. It is a three day multi-genre music festival incorporating metal, hip-hop, punk, rock, and alternative music. A decade ago, it started in Chicago, and thankfully has moved to Denver and Toronto as well. It has an old school carnival feel to it with vendors and sideshow performances. This year, it took place at the National Western Complex grounds where they usually host one of the largest stock shows and rodeos in the world. I enjoyed this fit much more than the parking lot at Mile High Stadium.

Three days of Riot Fest is definitely a marathon and not a sprint, and although I did not make it as early as I anticipated either of these two days, I enjoyed what I saw especially the legendary The Cure set.

Riot Fest exploded with a bang, and the fast action, hard hitting, rock festival tore it up in the Mile High City. On the grounds of Sports Authority Stadium at Mile High, home of the Denver Broncos, the festival kicked off its first night with its best lineup of the weekend. Taking public transportation was the way to go because there were a lot of people to add to the regular Friday traffic in the city.

Riot Fest will be held at Mile High Stadium this year, and Denver is lucky enough to be one of the three cities picked to have these talented and eclectic bands play in our area.

In 2005, Riot Fest booked a multi-venue weekend of punk and rock in Chicago with bands such as Dead Kennedys, The Misfits, and The Bouncing Souls kicking things off. They even had ticket giveaways on their sweet Myspace page, and since then have been working hard every year to bring you the best fest they can.

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