Can something be kind of terrible and still pretty rad at the same time? There were too many bands I wanted to see at Riot Fest, too many stages too far away from each other, too many people, too much rain and I still had a great time. Friday night was the worst of it. Rainy, biting cold, mud everywhere, and I had to watch Jane’s Addiction.
Saturday was much better and warmer, though still muddy. A way too long breakfast excursion and a very long bus ride cost me sets by bands like Wavves, the Buzzcocks and Television, I got there in time to see the amazing Paul Weller (of the Jam and Style Council fame) in a rare Stateside appearance. His band was sounding tight as hell as they tore through stuff from his surprisingly solid recent albums. Then, I headed over to catch the Get Up Kids play their record, Something to Write Home About, in full. Though they were missing original bassist Rob Pope (who has got a day job in Spoon), they blasted through the timeless record despite messing up the track listing (“We said we’d play the album, we never said we’d play it in the right order,” quipped singer Matt Pryor) while the crowd sang every word. I caught a short set on a small stage by my beloved Skaters while hopped up teenagers moshed around me and didn’t recognize the tag of Violent Femmes’ “Kiss Off” that the band amended to their own “Schemers.” I ran over to see The Flaming Lips (from about a million feet away) lose power during the epic buildup of “The Abandoned Hospital Ship,” but recover to blast through a triumphant set. They got to play for a little while longer as the National were running late. The Brooklyn-based band apologized a million times and made up for it with typically wonderful set comprised mostly of material from their most recent album.
Sunday brought a killer Cheap Trick set and also the toughest decision of all for a sensitive indie rock boy: the Cure or Weezer? I decided to try to have my cake and eat it too and grabbed a fairly decent spot for the first 45 minutes of the Cure set before rushing to catch Weezer play their enduring Blue Album in full. Despite all the mud and running around and catching a nasty cold, when Weezer started those distinct opening chords for “My Name is Jonas,” everything was perfect.