Nonstop Music at Riot Fest

Concert photography is fun and I haven’t done much lately (only here and there since Bumbershoot in 2011), so Riot Fest seemed like a great opportunity to practice and to try out Todd’s Nikon Coolpix P7000, a point-and-shoot I would be allowed to carry into the concert (since I hadn’t gotten a press badge). Even though I couldn’t figure out how to set it to raw files (Todd swears it can be done with this camera), I still got some cool shots, and the faraway pictures of the Cure and other bands came out much sharper than I expected.

That is good, since I picked Saturday over Sunday (when more bands I know were playing) so that I could see the Cure. Their set was exactly what a friend told me it would be: great musicianship but not much interaction. I think Robert Smith spoke about 10 words during the entire two-and-a-half-hour performance, and several of those were the titles of songs.

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But the day was long and I heard several interesting bands from 1 to 9:30 pm on Saturday: Dum Dum Girls (think Siouxsie and the Banshees), Strung Out (metal-rock-punk), Clutch (liked the blues-rock riffs but not the aggression), Taking Back Sunday (melodic and atmospheric), and the Used. Glassjaw and Frnkiero and the Cellabration (not a typo) did little but scream, the Descendents did nothing for me, and Social Distortion, according to my concert companion, were much more mellow than usual.

After looking at all my photos of the Dum Dum Girls, I noticed they have matching guitars. My concert companion thought their songs all sounded the same, but I liked their set, and a discography dating back to 2008 has to offer lots of variety.

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She was much more interested in the Clutch. I enjoyed them as well but wasn’t sure what to think of the songs/videos I found on YouTube.

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I liked Taking Back Sunday and the Used but was so far away that I didn’t take many photographs. Sometimes I get so caught up in photography that I just keep snapping away and then later realize that I experienced the event through a lens. Not good.

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About the only suggestion I have for Riot Fest Denver is to separate the stages more. As my concert companion noted, it would be nice to be able to get away from the music for 10 or 15 minutes. We were both impressed by the almost impeccable timing of bands—there were two pairs of stages separated by food vendors and so on, and the instant one band stopped playing, another band started up on the other stage in each pair. Only two bands overlapped that I heard: the Clutch drowned out the last song by Dum Dum Girls, and A Day to Remember sometimes intruded on the Cure’s set.

Two things are certain: 1. The air-conditioned trailer bathrooms in VIP were definitely worth the extra $40 or so. Just one experience in the nearly full VIP port-o-potties convinced me of that. (But don’t try to sneak OUT of the VIP area. Security will materialize and speak sternly to you.)

2. I have a lot of listening to do.