My Top Five Riot Fest 2017 Acts

Thu, 2017/09/21

2017 was a big year for Riot Fest, especially with such big names as Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, and Jawbreaker headlining. As an attendee of the annual punk/metal/alternative/anything that's loud music festival, I had high hopes for a quite of few of the acts. What I got between September 15 and 17 was an amazing array of diversely talented acts bringing a lot of energy to the people there. I decided it was only right that I highlight my five favorite acts, commending them for the shows they put on.

5. Wu-Tang Clan: The legendary New York rap group came to bring the ruckus, and they sure did. Performing their entire debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), the crowd was incredibly excited to see the group perform. The show featured enormous amounts of energy from Method Man especially, and the group even went so far as to bring a young girl up on stage from the front row, as they had noticed she was able to flawlessly sing along to every song. It was yet another reminder that Wu-Tang is for the children.

4. Prophets of Rage: The rap rock supergroup did not disappoint late Sunday night with their set. Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Cypress Hill’s B-Real provided great vocals to both the group’s new songs and their respective classics “Bring the Noise” and “Insane in the Brain.” Arguably the best performer of the group though, was former Rage Against the Machine guitarist, Tom Morello. Morello's guitar riffs were loud and heavy as always, and his showmanship was on point, playing with his teeth and flipping his hand over and under the neck of his guitar. The group’s two final performances of “Bulls on Parade” and “Killing in the Name Of” reiterated what Riot Fest is all about.

3. New Order: Despite being one of the oldest acts at the festival, New Order did not disappoint. The new wave legends had the crowd dancing and singing along all night to hits such as “Bizarre Love Triangle,” “Blue Monday,” and Joy Division’s “Disorder.” With an array of flashing lights and Bernard Sumner’s voice sounding as clean as ever, the group proved they can still play amazing music at their age. Arguably, the highlight of the show was the very last song, which Bernard Sumner stated was played for “a very special crowd in a very special city.” This was Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” which was accompanied by visuals of the late Ian Curtis as well as text reading “Forever Joy Division.” I’ll admit, the tribute almost brought me to tears.

2. Dinosaur Jr.: J. Mascis and crew proved yet again that old guys can still shred. Starting with a cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” Dinosaur Jr. started off very strong. Next, the alternative band played their 1987 album You’re Living All Over Me in its entirety to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Songs like “Little Fury Things” and “In a Jar” had the crowd both headbanging and head bobbing. Lou Barlow’s bass lines were killer alongside J. Mascis’ jamming guitar riffs and gritty vocals. Following the playing of You’re Living All Over Me, the band played some of their other hits such as “Freak Scene” and “Feel the Pain,” which had the whole crowd singing along. I don’t think anyone left this show disapointed.

1. Queens of the Stone Age: Josh Homme’s stoner rock collective was definitely the act to see at all of Riot Fest. The headliners of Saturday night, Queens proved that their songs sound even better live than they do as recordings. Sporting a clean, polished look, he band played much more than just songs from their latest album, Villains; in fact, they played just as many songs from 2002’s Songs for the Deaf. No matter what the quintet played, though, they did so with energy and style. With a good mix of new material and hits like “No One Knows” and “Make it Wit Chu,” the crowd seemed to be at the command of the Palm Desert based band. The hour long set kept listeners on their toes the entire time. What made the set truly amazing was the epic of a closer, “Song for the Dead.” Pounding drums and violent guitar riffs concluded day two on a perfect note. No other act set themselves apart the way Queens did.