When compared to the day that preceded it, there was something noticeably different about Saturday’s lineup at the Riot Fest & Rodeo in Denver, Colo. On this day, rap was no longer the focal point. On this day, the people were given a chance to thrash, rage and rock hard.
Many didn’t quite make it that far however, succumbing to the onstage slaughter that was GWAR. These Scumdogs of the Universe, engaged in an epic battle in front of the audience’s very eyes. They decapitated, mutilated and violated all kinds of different kinds of creatures; covering those closest to the stage in blood, bile and a bevy of other bodily fluids. Oh, they also played a little music.
The crowd then was treated to a punk rock history lesson, with back-to-back performances by the Vandals and the Damned. The Vandals kept things light, even when singing about their dead girlfriend. While slightly more gloomy, the Damned also rocked hard, delivering plenty of Music for Pleasure.
The Eagles of Death Metal lightened the mood some. Offering a dose of straightforward rock-n-roll and comic relief, the only thing that rivaled their sound was their singer’s ridiculous outfit.
Next up was the metalcore/post-hardcore outfit Thrice. Coming off of a three-year hiatus, the band showed no signs of rust. They got the crowd, and the circle pit going; offering a blend of music that was visceral, ambient and complex.
To the delight of pop Goths everywhere, Alkaline Trio took to the stage. Musically they sounded alright, but their performance lacked energy and they fell flat vocally, at points.
Next up was the night’s lone hip-hop offering. The lights dimmed, and the legendary Run DMC took their turn on the mics. Run then repeatedly asked for the lights to be turned up, then dimmed again repeatedly. When they were playing, they sounded great. The issue with their set was the lengthy banter between songs. Though, perhaps you cannot blame them for that. Perhaps, it’s difficult to find the proper balance. One might even say that “It’s Tricky.”
Noticeably missing from Run DMC’s performance was their departed DJ Jam Master Jay. Much like Ice Cube the night before, they decided to turn the show into a family affair. Taking Jay’s place on the turntables was none other than his son: Jam Master J’Son. The talent must be in his blood, as he masterfully scratched and mixed during a marijuana-themed medley that may have been the highlight of the night.
On opposite sides of the venue, Rancid and Modest Mouse were tasked with closing out the night’s festivities. Catching part of each, Modest Mouse played too slow of a selection and failed to establish any stage presence. Rancid on the other hand, delivered. It was a full moon on Saturday, and out came the wolves. Needless to say, it was a howling good time.