Coloradans got the chance to take in two days of music, carnival rides, delicious food and overpriced beer last weekend as the city of Byers, Colorado played host to Chicago-based Riot Fest. Although the music festival scene in Colorado has yet to reach the level of other states (no offense Vail, Telluride or Aspen), the fans were plentiful and came out in droves to celebrate the festivals inaugural Mile High year.
The festival itself certainly had some hiccups: the dirt, the undisclosed-until-arrival $15 parking fees, continual miscommunication between staff, the somewhat confusing layout, and the complete lack of WiFi and cell service. Despite all the issues, a lineup as heavily stacked as it was almost made these issues forgivable. A majority of the bands on the lineup seemed to cater to one of two very specific generations: while I was enjoying music by Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and Pearl Jam, there was another generation growing up on bands like Brand New, AFI, and Blink 182. Opening to a blistering hot Saturday full of dust and dirt, Mother Nature took a turn for the worst on Sunday evening, with lightning and intense winds forcing a complete grounds evacuation that many fans were told was permanent by misled staff. Those who chose to brave the weather and stick around were rewarded by delayed sets from AWOLNATION, Rancid, Bad Religion, and Blink-182. Stand-out performances of the weekend came from Brand New and AFI on Saturday night, who had both not played Colorado in over 3 years (4 for AFI). The festival also gave us a dose of some legendary bands like Public Enemy, Iggy and The Stooges, as well as the triumphant return of infamous 80's legends The Replacements.
The city of Byers certainly may never be the same - or see that many Mowhawks - ever again, but Riot Fest Denver gave them a good reason to love the change. It certainly felt like the festival's inaugural year due to it's lack of solid infrastructure, but the lineup was impeccable, and at the end of the day was still fun for all. Colorado may be considered only a cow town by some, but the love for punk rock this city has is certainly underestimated. It remains to be seen if Riot Fest will return next year, but based on the turnout, not to mention fans resiliency this past weekend, I would hope they can see the potential Denver brings to the table. I'm curious and excited to see what comes in 2014...let's hope Denver gets another chance to showcase our punk pride.
Check out our photos below.