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The Best and Worst of Riot Fest 2015

A killer layout, a tardy Snoop, and an unbecoming flasher.

Better late than never: Snoop Dogg at Riot Fest 2015.   Photo: Cousin Daniel

That’s a wrap, folks. Riot Fest swung through its new home in Douglas Park this weekend, and after three days of raucous punk, metal, and (refreshingly) hip-hop, festival season is officially over. Behold the 11th annual Riot Fest’s best, worst, and muddiest moments, below.

The Best

The layout

Compared to last year’s sprawling traffic jam, Riot Fest’s layout in Douglas Park was impeccable. Six of its seven stages stood side by side with bands alternating sets and sound-checks, and the entire festival was traversable in about 10 minutes. Additionally, food tents were cordoned off on the park’s far-east side, removed from traffic between stages (a major source of congestion last year). Props.

Against Me!

Singer Laura Jane Grace sounded utterly pristine during Against Me!’s 4:45 Friday set, and gave Riot Fest a much-needed shot in the arm after its drizzly, belated start.

Rising talent reigns

Despite Riot Fest’s gift for booking decades-old legacy acts (Motörhead, No Doubt, Faith No More, Ice Cube, Anthrax), the festival again showcased a wealth of worthy rising talent. Among the stellar acts primed to move from Riot Fest’s small stages to its main stages in coming years were Speedy Ortiz, Beach Slang, Psalm One, Foxing, and, most notably, Joyce Manor, whose crowd backed up to the porta-johns at the teeny Revolt Stage Saturday evening.

Hip-hop arrives

At a festival renowned for its various alt-rock derivates, Psalm One, De La Soul, and Snoop Dogg all destroyed their respective time slots this year, and paired with appearances by Ice Cube, Alex Wiley, and Cypress Hill, represented Riot Fest’s most hip-hop–heavy year yet.

The ever-tame crowd

It’s not news, but Riot Fest’s crowd was as respectful, tame, and relatively sober as in past years, and it’s infinitely praise-worthy given the free-for-all that Lolla has become.

Less Than Jake

The Gainesville beer-ska band wasn’t billed as one of Riot Fest’s seminal throwbacks, but it may as well have been. Less Than Jake was every bit as fun, rowdy, and sophomoric as in its late-‘90s heyday, and channeled the Warped-Tour era of pop-punk when fans could see 100 bands for $20 rather than $90 right down to the circle pit.

Porta-johns outside the main gate

Genius.

The Worst

Snoop Dogg late & abridged

The Long Beach legend was a standout once he came onstage, but that wasn’t until a half-hour after his scheduled 7:45 set time, and his set was consequently abridged. The reason for the delay wasn’t immediately clear, but when festival staff threatened to cut off the rapper three minutes before his scheduled 8:45 end-time, he threw a fit and blamed festival officials for the delay (“it ain’t my fault y’all fucked up”). Snoop ended up playing from about 8:15 to 8:50, and instead of performing his 1993 album Doggystyle as billed, ran through a set of crowd-pleasers including “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” “The Next Episode,” “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang,” “Young Wild & Free,” and a cover of “Jump Around.” More, please.

Rain

By this year, fans knew to come prepared in military footwear, but Riot Fest could’ve used a break. For the third straight year, rain and cool temperatures turned the festival into a chilly mess that by Sunday looked primed for a pricey cleanup. The mud also left the festival’s carnival rides and games nearly unreachable (multiple staffers said ride usage was down from previous years). And speaking of rain…

No umbrellas allowed

Come on.

Food tickets

It was probably due to some unavoidable bureaucratic hoop, but the only legal tender at Riot Fest’s food tents this year were tickets bought from a separate tent. That didn’t just mean standing in an extra line, but deciding which foodstuff you wanted to eat, determining how much it cost, and budgeting that number of food tickets—a lot of work for a corn dog.

HeWhoCannotBeNamed flashing

The Dwarves guitarist infamous for performing in only a wrestling mask and jockstrap repeatedly rid himself of the jockstrap during the band’s Sunday afternoon set—wholly unsurprising and wholly gross. Take it back to ’85, dude.

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