Amid the countless horrible bands, the over-priced concessions, the overly drunken spectators, and this writer’s intense nausea, a great experience happened Saturday in Dallas, Texas. That experience, of course, was Riot Fest, which took place at the Gexa Energy Pavilion, formerly the Superpages.com Center, formerly the Starplex.
I have mainly 2 big complaints about this show. One being the strictly enforced no re-entry rule which kept up from being able to (1) get out of the line of sound when the horrible bands were playing (of which there were a lot), and (2) to keep from having to spend $5 for a small bottle of water. The second being what I will call the great scheduling fiasco. Whoever was scheduling the bands and when and where they would be playing had the great forethought of scheduling Teenage Bottlerocket at the same time (on a different stage obviously) as The Gaslight Anthem. The only bright shining moment of this was that Teenage Bottlerocket will be playing again here in Oklahoma City in October so watching The Gaslight Anthem was not such a hard decision. I did, however, get to catch the last song that Teenage Bottlerocket played.
The metal bands seemed to be in abundance on this lineup and while I am happy for the slew of metal fans that came to hear bands such as Municipal Waste and The Sword, I have to say that, in my opinion, these bands sucked and I was very unhappy that my ears were unable to escape the onslaught of heavy metal music blaring out of multiple speakers from each side of the venue.
Andrew W.K. was mildly entertaining and not nearly as irritating as I was expecting him to be.
The first highlight of the night, however, was seeing The Gaslight Anthem. What a great band! They did a really good set. Played a really good mix of songs and even had the hawkers dancing in the aisles. This is definitely a band that could appeal to multiple musical taste buds. While the set was short, it made sense that it was. Play some of your best material, get off the state and leave the audience hungry for more. The highlights of the show for me were the songs “American Slang,” “Handwritten,” and “45.”
After The Gaslight Anthem, the native Texan metal band, The Sword. There was quite a group of Sword fans in the audience and a lot of people really seemed to be into their set. For me, however, I didn’t get it. It just sounded like crappy Viking metal music. I’m not sure how else to describe it. No offense to the throngs of Sword fans that might be reading this but to me, it just sucked.
Next up was the seemingly very popular punk band, NOFX. I had seen NOFX before back in the late 90s in Anchorage, Alaska. I was not impressed then and to be honest, I pretty much stopped listening to the band altogether a long time ago. The last album of theirs that I bought was 1997s So Long and Thanks For All the Shoes. That was a really good album but everything since I just have not been impressed with. Anyway, it was a typical NOFX set with Fat Mike making crude comments about everything from Oklahoma to George Bush. It is just hard to take the guy seriously. They played some good stuff though, the highlight of their set beings “The Brews.”
The climax of the evening, though, came next. The Descendents. This band was the main reason I even bothered to pay $50 for a ticket and drive 3 ½ hours out of town to attend Riot Fest. The Descendents are unquestionably my favorite band of all-time and somehow, I have never seen them play live. Granted, I have seen the band play as their alter-ego, All, with Chad Price singing but I have never seen the Descendents with Milo play. This evening ended that dry spell. This band and their set was nothing less than amazing and did not disappoint at all. The fact that this band has not released any new music since 2004 has no negative vibe on this band at all. Heck, with a catalog of songs as large and amazing as theirs, who needs new songs? This band could easily play another 10 years as a nostalgia act and never release any new material. From memory, here is the list of songs that they played (I might be missing a few and this is no way in any kind of order, except for the opening and closing songs):
I Wanna Be a Bear
I’m Not a Loser
I Don’t Want to Grow Up
Get the Time
I’m the One
When I Get Old
Nothing With You
Coming off of the Descendents high, and having gotten to the point of almost total exhaustion, my friend Dave and I had made the decision, not to stay for the rest of the evening, which consisted of the headline act, Rise Against. I like the band and at some point in time would probably like to see them play live but I still don’t regret the decision to leave early. I did hear from a co-worker who was at the show that their set was really good and full of energy.
All in all, Riot Fest 2012 was certainly an event that will go down in the pages of great concert history.