Day 1 of Riot Fest was topped off for me, personally, by a set from the elusive Long Island hardcore outfit known as Glassjaw. These industry veterans performed with the same enthusiasm and enamored looks on stage as they would have had twenty years ago. Frontman Daryl Palumbo is known for his crazed facial expressions and unusual contortions while the other members keep their arms and legs at work with complex rhythms and syncopation.
Palumbo gripped the microphone like a first born child and stared into the crowd with an almost intoxicating command. As the sunset perfectly silhouetted his peppered pompadour the crowd huddled together and chanted the band name in perfect unison while a few guys made suggestive comments about their own wives– something seemingly all-too-familiar at a Glassjaw show.
Day 2 of Riot Fest welcomed and reluctantly said goodbye to one of the final two performances from Motion City Soundtrack.
The band thundered in on the Roots Stage, combining both member and crowd favorites, ending their evening in tears as thousands of devoted MCS listeners moshed towards the stage and abandoned all inhibitions for the moment to share a final anthem with one of emo and pop punk’s most beloved act.
On the way back to the Rebel Stage for Black Foxxes, I came across another Morrissey propaganda sighting. This time, it was one of his own crew members sporting the words “Be Kind to Morrissey or I’ll Kill You.” It seemed a little brash, but he had a nice smile. I’m sure he meant well.
Anticipation began to build for Morrissey even more as patrons witnessed food truck staff posting signs near their carefully crafted menus out of respect for the festival’s respect of Morrissey’s respect for animal rights. It’s a long line of respect, but it all seemed to work out. Just maybe not in favor of the Italian beef or barbecue trucks. They were out of luck.
As a devout Brand New fan, the night truly began as security opened the gate to the Riot Stage photo pit.
Frontman Jesse Lacey and fellow guitarist Vinnie Accardi hammered on their signature road haggard Fender instruments as hits from Deja Entendu including “Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades” and “Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don’t” projected from the stage monitors.
Brand New fans were in a panic as fake flowers, fashioned into floral crowns, rained into the pit and matched the synthetic arrangement dressing the microphone stands that stood before Lacey and Accardi.
Bassist Garrett Tierney glazed over the crowd intently while drummer Brian Lane carried the pace of the set with an auxiliary percussion companion at his side. The band continued on to play songs from Daisy and The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, closing with epic masterpieces such as “You Won’t Know” and “Jesus Christ.”
Lacey ended the performance with his staple sense of gratitude and encouraged everyone to “have fun with Morrissey.”
And who could forget Morrissey? After waiting over 30 minutes before his 8:15 pm scheduled performance to start, I certainly couldn’t ever forget. The audience was showered with a nearly pornographic video montage as the security guards reluctantly changed from blue to black shirts and the scent of Lysol lingered around the center stage microphone.
But I was urged to be kind to Morrissey. So I will leave you all with a snapshot of a cult 1980s dark pop-rock star and the world’s best vegan activist according to PETA. It was a killer experience to have, but I have waited less time for my grandma to cook dinner.
Until next year, Riot Fest! You’ve done well, and you’ve kept the rain away. I just hope the poncho vendors outside the gates weren’t too hurt by it.