Riot Fest Day 3 ReviewDate: October 2, 2019
My name is Valentino Petrarca. I am the host of Under The Stars (the Pop-Punk/Emo/Post Hardcore show, wihch airs every Tuesday from 10pm to midnight) and the Assistant Music Director. I had the privilege to attend Riot Festival during its 15th anniversary. If you haven't yet, check out Day 1 and 2 of my review log, on the WSOU website. Now let's dive into Day 3.
Something that was a prominent part of the festival that I didn't notice until day 3 was the carnival-like atmosphere. Not only were there incredible performances and merchandise tents all 3 days, there were rides, cotton candy, fair style foods, Ferris wheels, and so much more. The back of the festival itself was set up identically to a carnival. It was a great addition for all patrons and had a unique aesthetic that fit perfectly with the festival. It made the festival feel like a true celebration, and set it apart from other music events.
Another aspect of Riot Fest that needs to be discussed is how amazing the food was. All the food trucks were high quality and well organized. As a vegetarian, there were so many options for me and I never felt that a meal wasted my money. The food was by no means gourmet, but in terms of festival food, it was the best I’ve encountered to date.
The first set that deserves special recognition is Frank Iero and the Future Violents. Frank was incredibly energetic and sounded amazing. His guitar playing is significantly better live than studio. It's a given he sounds amazing in studio, but there is something about his passion and love for the guitar that translates super well live. Vocally he was outstanding as well. Usually most instrumental band members have trouble becoming a powerful front-man, but this is not the case with Frank. He makes a fantastic front-man in every aspect. His backing band was also extremely energetic and had a crisp sound quality. It was a perfect performance.
Another set that completely blew me away was The Village People. I know, I didn’t see it coming either. Despite not being metal, Pop-Punk, or even any form of rock at all, this show was such a blast. Everyone was dancing and having the time of their life. The music translated incredibly live, and the ironic mosh pits were hilarious. During the chorus of YMCA, the crowd split and made a wall of death. It was actually one of the most fun shows of my whole life and I'll never forget this set.
American Football is the next band that I must discuss. I did not expect to love this performance as much as I did. American Football is an Emo band that is extremely low energy and atmospheric. They are calming and relaxing - the type of music I listen to on late night drives when I’m feeling extremely blue. Putting them on a festival next to high energy acts like Save Ferris, Frank Iero, and Taking Back Sunday felt very out of place. However, I’m happy to report seeing their show was one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had. I laid back against the grass, clutching my legs to my chest thinking about life. Their music really felt transformative live. I felt like I was going through an existential crisis and they were conducting it. It was so incredible and not at all what I expected. In a weird way, their set energized me infinitely more than I ever would have expected. They are a band I will definitely be seeing live again when they come around.
The next band that deserves special recognition is Against Me! They played Reinventing Axl Rose and Transgender Dysphoria Blues in full. The band had a great deal of enthusiasm and sounded extremely put together. The band loves pleasing their fans, and seemed genuinely happy that their audience gets to witness two albums in full that they will likely never hear again. It was an extremely pleasant set that was a stand out on Day 3.
The final band on the third day was Taking Back Sunday. They played Tell All Your Friends and Louder Now in full. Those are widely regarded as their two best albums and they did not disappoint - their energy was through the roof. Adam, the lead vocalist, kept swinging the microphone around in truly spectacular ways. They have a stage presence that is so distinctly them - it's very hard to describe to someone who has never seen Taking Back Sunday. Every single time I’ve seen them, they put on shows with similar energy but unique twists that keep it fresh. The band has a special talent to make every single show they put on a special memory that the audience never forgets. After they played their two albums in full the crowd was avidly chanting for an encore, but the festival crew had to break down the stage. If there is one legendary Pop-Punk band to see live, do yourself a favor and make it Taking Back Sunday.
Overall, Riot Festival was one of the best weekends of my whole life. They truly went all out to celebrate 15 years with the famed festival, and it’s not hard to see why it lasted so long. The lineup was stacked as ever with some of the hardest choices I’ve ever had to make on who to see live. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was magical, the area was clean, and the nature was inspiring. Music festivals everywhere should take notes about how it’s done from Riot Festival. I have no complaints and would easily recommend this experience to any rock music fan I meet. My weekend at Riot Festival helped me define what it means to truly be alive. I can only hope the 16th year in 2020 is just as phenomenal as this year was.
Valentino Petrarca is the Music Assistant for WSOU, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org