Weather-wise, the second day of Riot Fest 2017 was much like the first; a sweltering hot day with hardly a cloud in the sky. Unseasonably hot temperatures kept everyone sweaty and flirting with dehydration, numerous people being lifted over the rials and escorted out of the side of the concerts pits throughout the day. Today boasted five bands performing full albums: Wu-Tang Clan (performing Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)), Danzig (performing Danzig III), The Lawrence Arms (performing Oh! Calcutta!), Bayside (performing The Walking Wounded), and Fishbone (performing Truth and Soul).
The photography gods were not with me today, and I was not allowed to photograph Queens of the Stone Age and At the Drive-In. Wu-Tang Clan performed at the same time as At the Drive-In, and I subsequently passed on seeing them as well.
Saturday’s line-up featured Queens of the Stone Age, Wu-Tang Clan (performing Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)), Mike D (DJ Set), At the Drive-In, Danzig (performing Danzig III), Gogol Bordello, Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, FIDLAR, Bad Brains, Peaches, The Lawrence Arms (performing Oh! Calcutta!), Bayside (performing The Walking Wounded), Dead Cross, Streetlight Manifesto, GBH, Shabazz Palaces, Fishbone (performing Truth and Soul), Knuckle Puck, Black Pistol Fire, Slaves, Versus, RVIVR, The Smith Street Band, Potty Mouth, The Regrettes, Cold Beat, and Gin Rummy. The Riot Stage and The Roots Stage were side-by-side, and the bands scheduled on these stages never overlapped each other – music often starting minutes after a set ended on the adjacent stage from 12 noon until 10 pm.
Highlights from Riot Fest Day Two: Most of what I wanted to really see today happened between noon and 5 pm. Mike D (DJ Set), Bad Brains, Peaches, Bayside (performing The Walking Wounded), Dead Cross, GBH, Fishbone (performing Truth and Soul), Black Pistol Fire, Slaves, RVIVR and The Smith Street Band were all on my list of bands to check out. None of them disappointed.
UK duo Slaves Took the Radicals Stage at 12:30 pm, and blew the minds of everyone there early enough to watch them go. Laurie Vincent (guitar, bass, vocals) and Isaac Holman (drums, vocals) bombarded eardrums with their blistering bluesy riffs, sneering and smiling for the crowd throughout their fantastic performance. One of the best things I saw on Saturday, and it was long before most people even showed up.
GBH played the (headlining) Riot stage at 12:55. I should say GODDAMN CHARGED GBH!!!!! It was so amazing to see GBH perform again, a band I haven’t laid eyes on since the No Need To Panic tour in the mid-1980s. Colin Abrahall is still a demon of a vocalist, sporting the best hair (albeit, a bit less of it) of the weekend. “Knife Edge”, “Lycanthropy” and “City Baby Attacked By Rats” still kick ass, and Abrahall, Ross Lomas, Colin “Jock” Blyth and Scott Preece performed their material like the veteran punk musicians they all are. Scott Preece, the new guy to me, was fun to watch. I’d never seen him live before, as he joined the band in the mid-1990s.
Melbourne, Australia four-piece act The Smith Street Band took the Rise Stage in the early afternoon and drew a sizeable crowd. I’d never heard this band prior to today but was recommended seeing them. They delivered an epic 45 minutes of solid rock and roll – easily winning over the crowd with their music and pleasant candor.
I took a pass on my Black Pistol Fire photo opportunity for Fishbone – a band I have outright loved since the mid-1980s. The band played Truth and Soul from soup to nuts, and they did it as Fishbone always does: with an eye-raising precision and panache. There were eight musicians on stage representing this material, Angelo Moore, John Norwood Fisher, Philip “Fish” Fisher, and “Dirty” Walter A. Kibby II all looking and sounding as good as they did in 1988 when Truth and Soul first came out. As “Hey Ma” and “Freddy’s Dead” were being played, I just couldn’t stop smiling – So damn good.
Peaches had everyone in attendance talking about her performance for the entire day. Love her or hate her, it was undeniable that she intended to leave an impression today. And she did exactly that, strutting out on stage in a furry pink animal outfit with a ginormous foam vagina atop her head. She won. It was a stunning performance of wild costume changes and bravura musicianship all around. Peaches was hands-down one of the most visually entertaining things to watch all weekend long.
And then there is Dead Cross – the most relentless and unforgiving performance of the weekend. Michael Crain (Retox) and Justin Pearson (the Locust, Head Wound City and Retox) along with the mighty Dave Lombardo and Mike Patton blasted their way through 45 minutes of sheer musical fury on the Roots stage at around 3:30 pm. Lombardo’s drumming was (as always) utterly humbling to behold. Any opportunity to witness the mighty Patton on a live stage is a reason for celebration, and today was no exception. Even their cover of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” was performed live today to dizzying effect, a track I wasn’t sure they would bust out live. For me, Dead Cross was THE best band on Saturday. Everyone else fell in behind them.
Right after Dead Cross, it was over to the Rise Stage for an hour-long set of Bayside music. Bayside is still celebrating The Walking Wounded album and delivered it in entirety along with a few of their other deep cuts. Anthony Raneri, Jack O’Shea, Nick Ghanbarian and Chris Guglielmo were all in fine form at Riot Fest – delivering another memorable performance on a day filled with memorable performances.
Shout outs to Mike D and Bad Brains. Both played on the Radicals Stage (it was the stage to beat on Saturday). The Bad Brains were moving around a little slower than the last time I saw them, but no less intense. Their set was so incredible to see, with emphasis on some of their deepest cuts to a very appreciative crowd. And Mike D, doing some live MC work overtop a DJ set gave me the shivers. Hearing some of those Beastie Boys songs delivered live again totally enriched my life.