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Riot Fest is a punk/alternative rock music festival that was founded in 2005 in Chicago. In 2014 the festival is hosted in three cities; Chicago, Denver, and Toronto. This year’s Toronto stop featured 2 days of great music, food and carnival festivities. The night before the fest, a massive thunderstorms and torrential downpours occurred leaving the field at Downsview Park (The site of the fest) a muddy mess that only worsened as the day proceeded. Despite the condition of the grounds, the music did not disappoint. Once again, Riot Fest proved primacy as a premier music festival for the region.
 
The festival featured four stages. The Riot and The Root Stages were the two main stages for the day while the Rock stage featured some of the louder bands and the Rebel stage featured up and coming artists mostly of the punk variety.
 
 

Laura Stevenson

Laura Stevenson began the day with some indie-rock. Laura’s vocals were excellent and the group (her backing band, known as Laura Stevenson and the Cans) sounded excellent, especially for a show that started before noon. Most of the music played was from Laura’s terrific and most recent album “The Wheel.”

Title Fight

Title Fight was up next at the Rock stage. Located at the base of a hiss, this stage was often referred to as the muddy stage or the mud pit. The Pennsylvania based punk group really got the crowd moving and started the punk side of the festival with high energy and setting a good precedent.
 
Setlist
  1. Numb, But I Still Feel It
  2. Shed
  3. Like a Ritual
  4. Leaf
  5. Secret Society
  6. Head in the Ceiling Fan
  7. No One Stays at the Top Forever
  8. Symmetry
  9. Make You Cry
  10. 27

Glassjaw

Glassjaw is a group of legend. Hailing from Long Island, New York, the four-piece has not released a full length album since 2002. They tour rarely and sporadically. Their social media presence is virtually nonexistent. Despite all these factors, the group has maintained popularity and respect due to their talent and scarcity. I was personally very excited for this set and in one sense I wasn’t disappointed. The group was excellent in terms of musicianship. Manuel Carrero in particular was spectacular on bass. Beck and Lang were also excellent on guitars and drums. Palumbo, the lead vocalist was good on vocals but did not seem entirely present during the set. Perhaps it was the early afternoon set time or some bad Thai food but Palumbo’s heart was not in the performance and the set did suffer as a result.
 
Setlist
  1. Mu Empire
  2. Pink Roses
  3. Jesus Glue
  4. (You Think You're) John Fucking Lennon
  5. Pretty Lush
  6. Stuck Pig
  7. Tip Your Bartender
  8. Ape Dos Mil
  9. The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports
  10. Black Nurse
  11. Siberian Kiss

Circa Survive

Circa Survive is fronted by Anthony Green. Anthony Green’s heart was in his performance. No doubt about that. The group’s thirty minute set involved only 6 songs but the group made the most of the opportunity. A surprising highlight for the day, Green’s intense range paired with his showmanship as well as the band’s sonic precision made Circa Survive a surprise highlight of the festival.
 
Setlist
  1. Strange Terrain
  2. Sharp Practice
  3. Holding Someone's Hair Back
  4. In the Morning and Amazing...
  5. Jimi
  6. Get Out

Manchester Orchestra

Manchester Orchestra played the Rock stage and did not disappoint. Following Circa’s out of control enthusiasm, the restrained Anthony Hull was a stark contrast. It was not apathy, but the dark undertones of the lyrics commanded a more solemn demeanor. The performance was near perfect with the band balancing their low-key, alt-rock with the anthemic riffs. The band closed with a stirring rendition of “Cope” off their newest album.
 
Setlist
  1. Pride
  2. Shake It Out
  3. Pensacola
  4. The Ocean
  5. I've Got Friends
  6. Everything to Nothing
  7. Cope

Taking Back Sunday

Taking Back Sunday has been in the game for a while. Founded in 1999, the NY based punk group has slowly transitioned to a more pop-rock group. Their Riot Fest performance focused more on the punk edge from the past. Starting with “Cute Without the E” and finishing with “MakeDamnSure,” the set was a non-stop mosh-pitting affair from the crowd.  Adam Lazzara was his usual, self-confident self. At one point declaring to the crowd “We’re the best f***ing band ever.”
 
Setlist
  1. Cute Without the 'E' (Cut from the Team)
  2. Liar (It Takes One to Know One)
  3. Stood a Chance
  4. Timberwolves at New Jersey
  5. Faith (When I Let You Down)
  6. What's It Feel Like to Be a Ghost?
  7. A Decade Under the Influence
  8. Better Homes and Gardens
  9. Error: Operator
  10. Flicker, Fade
  11. All the Way
  12. MakeDamnSure

AWOLNATION

AWOLNATION, mostly known for their hit single “Sail,” demonstrated that they were more than a one hit wonder. Similarly, the crowd demonstrated that they realized that there was more to the band than their one song by signing along for the entirety of the performance. With his bright red, Hawaiian shirt and California surfer appearance, Aaron Bruno led the group in an energetic performance that drew the attention of individuals all across the fair grounds.
 
Setlist
  1. Megalithic Symphony
  2. Guilty Filthy Soul
  3. Soul Wars
  4. Not Your Fault
  5. Kill Your Heroes
  6. Some Kind of Joke
  7. All I Need
  8. Sail
  9. Burn It Down

Bring Me the Horizon

Bring Me the Horizon has undergone a number of changes stylistically. Their most recent album Sempiternal was a surprising and welcome change of form. Opening with “Shadow Moses” the crowd screamed along the lyrics “Can you tell from the look in our eyes? We’re going nowhere.” From that point on the show was a pummeling series metalcore tunes led by the dynamic Oliver Sykes and backed by the excellent drum work of Matt Nicholls. Fan or not, BMTH always puts on a show.
 
Setlist
  1. Shadow Moses
  2. Go to Hell, for Heaven's Sake
  3. The House of Wolves
  4. Sleepwalking
  5. Alligator Blood
  6. And the Snakes Start to Sing
  7. Chelsea Smile
  8. Can You Feel My Heart
  9. Antivist

Pentimento

Pentimento. At 6pm, fans had a choice. Brand New was playing on the Roots Stage. Simultaneously, Buffalo’s own Pentimento was playing on the Rebel Stage. Both bands recently played Buffalo’s Edgefest in support of Weezer. For the individuals who decided to stick with Pentimento at the Rebel stage, they were rewarded with an awesome set from the punk rockers. Many in attendance did not know the lyrics but those who did sang along at the top of their lungs. “The Bridge” in particular incited everyone, even those that didn’t know the song, to sing along to the repeated chorus of “All we are is blood and bones and sometimes a soul.” The final song of their set, “Unless,” was one of the best single song performances I saw on the day.
 
Setlist
  1. Just Friends
  2. It’s Okay
  3. The Wind
  4. Circles
  5. The Bridge
  6. Any Minute Now
  7. Unless
The band consists of Jeramiah Pauly on vocals and guitar, Lance Claypool on Guitar, Michael Hansen on Drums, and Cincent Caito on Bass.

Watch an audiotree live performance of “Unless” below:

Rise Against

Rise Against. The group was rather sloppy musically but more than made up for it with passion. Tim Mcllath along with the rest of the group (especially guitarist Zach Blair) were always moving. Running from one side to the other, Tim finally stood on the barricade enticing the already spirited crowd into a frenzy. The surprise ending to the show was when Wade of Alexisonfire joined Tim on stage for back to back Ramones covers. Teenage Lobotomy and Commando. It was a set to remember.
 
Setlist
  1. Ready to Fall
  2. Give It All
  3. Re-Education (Through Labor)
  4. Behind Closed Doors
  5. The Good Left Undone
  6. Last Chance Blueprint
  7. Help Is on the Way
  8. Prayer of the Refugee
  9. Chamber the Cartridge
  10. I Don't Want to Be Here Anymore
  11. Audience of One
  12. Satellite
  13. Teenage Lobotomy (Ramones cover) (with Wade from Alexisonfire)
  14. Commando (Ramones cover) (with Wade from Alexisonfire)
  15. Savior

Death From Above 1979

Death From Above 1979. Remember everything I said about Glassjaw having a following despite their lack of music releases? Same thing applies to DFA1979. The group released their first studio album in 2004 and have toured only sporadically since that point. Now the band is back with some tours and a studio album which was released on September 9th of this year. 3 days after their performance. The group consists of drummer and lead vocalist Sebastian Grainger and bassist/synth and backup vocalist Jesse Keeler. The pair only used half of the stage creating a sort of sonic cave of amps around themselves. The performance was excellent as they played classics as well as some new songs from their recent release.
 
Setlist
  1. Turn It Out
  2. Right On, Frankenstein!
  3. Virgins
  4. Cheap Talk
  5. You're a Woman, I'm a Machine
  6. Go Home, Get Down
  7. White Is Red
  8. Trainwreck 1979
  9. Crystal Ball
  10. Going Steady
  11. Gemini
  12. Government Trash
  13. Romantic Rights
  14. Always On
  15. Nothin' Left
  16. The Physical World

The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips. I almost regret attending this show since now I have to try and describe it. Described as some amalgamation of psychedelic rock and Space rock, the Oklahoma band did not disappoint anyone expecting the unexpected. The whole show was a dizzying flow of pulsating lights, magic wands, excessive tinsel, inflatable costumes, human hamster balls, and some serious confetti cannons.
 
In 2002, Q magazine named the flaming lips number 14 on the list of “50 Bands to See Before You Die.” After the set concluded, I looked at the gentleman to my right and asked “What just happened?” He didn’t answer, and just pulled some confetti out of his hair.
 
Setlist
  1. The Abandoned Hospital Ship
  2. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1
  3. The Golden Path (The Chemical Brothers cover)
  4. Race for the Prize
  5. Vein of Stars
  6. Look...The Sun Is Rising
  7. Do You Realize??
  8. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds (The Beatles cover)
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John Baker IV

Music Lover, ROC/BUF Photographer, BuffaloVibe Concert Photographer/Reviewer
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