It’s third weekend in September and for the second year in a row I’m waiting at Downsview station. Downsview is Toronto’s Northern most subway stop. While technically still in the city, it’s a forty-minute schlep from the downtown core, which is basically an impossible journey to any self-respecting urbanite. I’m surrounded by a sea of black t-shirts, plaid button ups, and questionable tattoos. We’re all waiting to go to Riot Fest, and while the commute has made me cranky, a bit of excitement has broken through my cynical music-journalist exterior.
Each year I get excited about Riot Fest in the same way that I got excited about Warped Tour as a teen. This might have something to do with the fact that Riot Fest books their shows like Warped Tour at the turn of the century, but whatever. There is a feeling of the back to school nostalgia in the air. To celebrate I drink a quarter of vodka before continuing my commute. I figure that this will give me ample fuel to write mean tweets on my telephone and sing-a-long to the bands I like. What can I say? I am nothing if not professional.
The connecting bus for the festival grounds arrives. I get on with a spring in my step and a stagger in my walk. This is going to be great. It’s Riot Fest day. It’s going to be great. The exact moment I think this, the sky opens up and begins a torrential downpour. The downpour does not stop for two hours.
The next two days were a wet, muddy, mixed bag of carnival and concert. Below, in no particular order, are some thoughts and comments:
- I watched Motorhead in the same way I visit my grandparents. I was basically happy to see them, but constantly worried that at any given moment they were gonna die.
- If you’d like to see what it looks like for dozens of burly, grown-ass, men to cry literal tears down their stupid faces, get Rancid to play all of …And Out Comes The Wolves from front to back.
- White people like wearing the Wu-Tang symbol more than they actually like seeing the Wu-Tang Clan.
- The Dirty Nil took the place of PUP this year as a (relatively) homegrown act that is getting primed for much, much, bigger things. With a new album coming out this winter, the band played to an ample crowd and put on one of the fest’s best performances.
-Weezer headlined both Saturday and Sunday playing all of Pinkerton and all of Blue Album, respectively. Going into Riot Fest I thought Pinkerton had some sort of hidden artistic edge that made it Weezer’s best album. Looking back I must have read that opinion on Pitchfork as a kid and mistook it for my own. It’s bullshit. Pinkerton is boring. Blue Album forever.
- Friend of the site Frank Turner has arrived in a way that I didn’t totally realize until watching his Sunday set. He had the full attention of thousands of people who were hanging on his every word.
- Andrew WK conducted all of his banter in the voice of Randy Savage.
- If you convince yourself that you will not eat a blooming onion and instead go with the healthier option of a tomato basil sandwich, you will later return and eat the blooming onion anyways.
- The aren’t enough lyrics in a Prodigy song to justify the amount of times the front man of Prodigy will ask the audience Is Toronto in the house?