As with many music festivals, the extensive and varied lineup at Riot Fest made it impossible to see every act performing. These are the five that stuck out to me as the must-see acts from this year’s lineup:
With this list, I tried to keep it to indie bands, as they often do not have the budget or fanbase to reach as wide an audience as the bigger acts; however, after seeing Beck for the first time, it was hard to keep him off this list. Performing hits like “Wow” and “Loser," Beck strutted onstage with swagger and charisma, sending out good vibes that could be felt throughout the festival. While quite different from many of the other acts headlining, Beck certainly knows how to make his mark. .
2. Mannequin Pussy
Much to my disappointment, even with the stellar lineup of bands on the roster, there weren’t many spaces for female-fronted bands, and there were zero headliners with frontwomen. However, that doesn’t mean that the women playing Riot Fest didn’t bring some good old fashioned riot girl attitudet. Case in point: Mannequin Pussy, whose frontwoman Marisa Dabice wailed like a banshee against screaming guitars and heart-stopping beats.
As a fan of Stranger Things, I was immediately intrigued upon seeing Calpurnia, fronted by the show’s very own Finn Wolfhard, on the lineup. Yet, I was not prepared for the talent exhibited by this young group of musicians. The entire band bled youthful exuberance, and guitarist Ayla Tesler-Mabe shreds well beyond her years and helped put Calpurnia from a good to great.
They’re still just starting out, but they certainly have a good start and the chops to take them over the top.
4. Street Dogs
With all of the punk bands performing at Riot Fest, I was somewhat disappointed to see how little mosh pits I ran into while walking the grounds. So, the excitement I felt while covering punk rock veterans Street Dogs was indescribable. The energy from the crowd was infectious as they raucously jumped around to the riotous energy that comes to mind when you think about Riot Fest. Punk’s not dead by any stretch, and Street Dogs proved that definitively.
5. The Districts
If you were looking for a sweet middle between the ultra-cool Beck or the manic energy of Street Dogs, The Districts would likely be your best bet. Their energy was matched only by some at the festival, and the good old-fashioned rock and roll presented by the band offered something different and fresh for attendees. While the band didn’t necessarily melt faces, they certainly knew how to work a crowd and leave them wanting more.
It wasn’t hard to find an act to like at Riot Fest, whether you were looking for face-melting guitar solos, a mellow mood, or a good mosh pit. This is what makes Riot Fest a fun and energizing experience, no matter your taste in music