The last day of Riot Fest was arguably the best. Some of the most energetic, chaotic, and exciting bands made the end of the weekend totally worth waiting for. Say Anything played some of their biggest hits along with newer tracks from their 2016 album, I Don’t Think It Is. Lead singer Max Bemis has been vocal about his battle with bipolar disorder before, and the band’s lyrics often reflect this dark conflict. It’s always refreshing to hear personal, relatable lyrics from a band, but Say Anything take it to another level.
One of the highlights of the weekend came from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, who played Let’s Face It in its entirety. It’s hard to believe the album is 20 years old, as each track sounds just as fresh as it did when they released it in ‘97. “The Impression That I Get” is an essential 90s track and sounds even better live. The group have been making music for over 30 years, but Let’s Face It is by far their best album; those who were there for their set on Sunday were lucky enough to hear the whole thing, which may never happen again.
It is impossible to think of Riot Fest without thinking of two acts: GWAR and Andrew W.K. The two have become synonymous with the festival and draw huge crowds for their performances. This year, each act was given an evening time slot, meaning that even more people got to see them (they’ve had notoriously early slots in the past). The photo pit was almost empty for GWAR’s set, save for a few brave photographers covered in ponchos, garbage bags, and extra long t-shirts. Those who didn’t venture into GWAR territory seriously missed out. These metal showstoppers have been igniting crowds for decades with their extravagant costumes, tongue-in-cheek puppet decapitations, and of course, fountains of blood. True GWAR fans stand right at the barricade, dressed all in white, and leave the show covered in red and blue blood and entrails. They are easily the most fun band to shoot at Riot Fest.
Andrew W.K. is one of the most likeable humans on the planet, and his shows are full of rock n’ roll, ragtime piano, and a completely radical pizza guitar. The rocker has been playing his set of party anthems to crowds for a long time, but the message has reached more than just his concert-goers. His social media presence touches on mental health, self-compassion, and inclusion, which is a huge breath of fresh air in today’s Twitter-fueled political shitstorm. Andrew W.K has also toured the country giving motivational speeches and talking with his fans on these issues. While he’s all smiles onstage, it’s encouraging to know that he too suffers from anxiety and self-doubt and wants to help others who are in the same predicament. He’s currently on tour across the country, and tickets are going fast.
It’s a shame that Riot Fest only happens once a year, but it makes those three days that much more special.
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