Mother Nature wasn’t on our side for Riot Fest Day 3 as the day began covered amidst a gloomy, overcast Sunday morning with an on and off mist of rain through the early afternoon. While the rain eventually proved to be triumphant in keeping me at bay, it wasn’t enough to dissuade me from seeing a few choice bands on the festival’s final day. Read along as I share my thoughts on Against Me!, Rocket from the Crypt, and Brand New, while Brynn opens up about her experience with Saves the Day and The Pixies.
The festivities started later than the rest of the weekend with Against Me!’s 2:30pm set. As I have previously expressed, Against Me! used to be one of my favorite bands, but their musical output over recent years took a negative toll on me. However, with their recently released True Trans EP and Laura Jane Grace’s transition, I felt hopeful for the band’s future. A steady rain shower greeted the audience once Laura Jane Grace took the stage. Opening with an eletric version of True Trans‘ “FuckMyLife666,” Against Me!’s set seemed hopeful, especially as the fan classic “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” followed. Unfortunately, the set was tailored with a preference towards newer songs from the dysmal New Wave and White Crosses albums with a meager smattering of older songs (with “Walking is Still Honest” being the best of the bunch). Even the Against Me! staple, “We Laugh at Danger (and Break All the Rules),” was eschewed for an admittedly New Wave standout, “Thrash Unreal,” as the band’s closing song. Any hope I had for the band’s future was essentially shattered with their disappointing Riot Fest set. However, it was great to see Laura Jane Grace’s comfort on the stage in her new skin, so to speak, as her standard confidence seemed to have grown hundredfold since her transition. – Geoff Henao
Riot Fest attendees braved the relentless rain to catch Saves The Day‘s unstoppable set on the Rock Stage. Filled with endless pop-punk goodness, the set started with “Firefly,” a track off of the fan favorite album Stay What You Are. As soon as that song started I forgot how cold and wet I was (there’s nothing punk-rock about ponchos); it instantly put a smile on my face. Lead singer Chris Conley beamed as well, seemingly overcome by the audience’s upbeat attitude despite the crappy weather. Saves The Day pumped out song after song, and only stopped to thank Chicago for being so awesome. When the band started “Sell Your Old Clothes, I’m Off To Heaven,” I almost died. It’s probably my favorite Saves The Day tune of all-time. I have many memories of singing that song while driving around in my red Volkswagen Beetle at 16, thinking nobody could write a song that resonated more strongly with my teenage broken heart than Saves The Day. After bassist Rodrigo Palma invited the entire crowd to come hang at his apartment after the set, Saves The Day closed with “At Your Funeral,” which received the loudest sing-a-long of all. The band released their new self-titled album this week, which you can and should check out here. – Brynn Bixby
Rocket from the Crypt was my second band of the day and a last-minute decision made by our good friend Auggie the 9th and I to catch while we waited for the next band on our list. Honestly, I don’t know much about the band and only chose to watch them just to have extra photo coverage since Sunday was a light day on my schedule. Based off of the few songs I heard, they had a solid Rockabilly sound. Not really my thing, but very uptempo stuff. – Geoff Henao
Boston rock geniuses, The Pixies shut down the Roots stage at Riot Fest with an excellent set of covers and originals that were just what the ecstatic, giddy and soaking wet crowd ordered. Though we all missed Kim Deal dearly (thank god for her performance at Pitchfork with The Breeders), there was no shortage of hit tunes to get the crowd dancing and cheering wildly. I was lucky enough to get backstage to witness the band rocking out up close, and the sheer joy of front-row fans was awesome enough to bring a tear to my eye. The band played many of the greats, including “Wave of Mutilation,” “Here Comes Your Man,” “Debaser,” and an awesome cover of Neil Young’s “Winterlong,” to name a few. Closing with the ever-popular “Where Is My Mind,” The Pixies performance at Riot Fest was one for the books. – Brynn Bixby
Brand New was the final band I saw on Day 3 due to the weather (and Breaking Bad). I think the band amassed the biggest crowd of the weekend for a non-headlining band. As the aforementioned Auggie the 9th’s favorite band, I was intrigued to see what Brand New could bring beyond the one song (“Sic Transit Gloria”) I knew from them. The post-hardcore band brought some bite to their set as the crowd of both young girls, frat bros, and everybody in between shared lyrics with vocalist Jesse Lacey. By the end of their set, the baseball field on which the stage was situated had become a muddy cesspool due to the mixture of mosh pits and rain. – Geoff Henao
Below are some of my photos of Against Me!, Rocket from the Crypt, and Brand New. As I mentioned, the weather deterred me from staying longer, so the selection is pretty meager. You can find the rest of my Day 3 photos on my Flickr.