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Day 2 of Riot Fest - 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.
See our recap of Riot Fest Day 1 here »
 
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.
 

Lemuria

Lemuria is a Buffalo, NY based punk group with ten years under their belt. The band is fronted by vocalist and guitarist Sheena Ozzella. Alex Kerns supports with drums and vocals while Max Gregor adds bass and vocals. Helping to open the fest, Lemuria brought energy and helped to wake up the crowd. Despite the early hours once again, the crowds on Sunday were larger, earlier than on Saturday. Featuring songs from all their previous records, the group closed with the fan favorite, “Pants” from their 2008 release Get Better.
 
Setlist
  1. Brilliant Dancer
  2. Dog
  3. Dogs
  4. Clay Baby
  5. Lipstick
  6. Oahu, Hawaii
  7. Pants  
 

Seaway

Seaway is a Canadian punk band. I was referred to them by a friend who saw their recent show at the waiting room in buffalo. A fully engaged crowd added to the great show as the band put on a lively performance.    
 
Setlist
  1. Keep Your Stick On The Ice
  2. Sabrina The Teenage Bitch
  3. Your Best Friend
  4. Too Fast For Love
  5. The Basics
  6. Familiar Faces
  7. Slowing Down
  8. Shy Guys  
 

The New Pornographers

The New Pornographers are an indie-rock band formed in 1999. The group is comprised of 8 individuals most of whom are associated with other music projects. Most notably is Neko Case provides vocals and keys to the group, she is well known for her work as a solo artist. The New Pornographers are touring in support of their latest release Brill Bruises. The group’s musical execution was excellent as they played through many old but a surprising number of new tunes from Bruises. My favorite performance was the song “War On the East Coast.”
 
Setlist                              
  1. Brill Bruisers
  2. Myriad Harbour
  3. Dancehall Domine
  4. Moves
  5. War On the East Coast
  6. The Laws Have Changed
  7. Jackie
  8. Backstairs
  9. Mass Romantic
  10. Testament to Youth in Verse
 

The Hotelier

The Hotelier is a punk group with heart. The opening song, “An Introduction to the Album” was a slower tune with a chorus of vocals led by the long haired, croc wearing Christian Holden. The enthusiastic crowd shouted along the building tune until 3 minutes in the building crescendo finally reached its peak and the crowd went nuts.  
 
Setlist
  1. An Introduction to the Album
  2. The Scope of All This Rebuilding
  3. Your Deep Rest
  4. Among the Wildflowers
  5. Life in Drag
  6. Housebroken
  7. An Ode to the Nite Ratz Club
  8. Dendron  

Dropkick Murphys

Dropkick Murphys have been playing their signature style of celtic-punk for 18 years now. The band delivered the level of energy and excitement one would expect from their act. Lead vocalist Al Barr paced back and forth along the stage seemingly attempting to make eye contact and challenge every single member of the crowd to have a good time. With your typical rock and roll instrumentation mixed with bagpipes, accordions, and banjos the group powered through a commanding set. Opening with “The Boys Are Back” and finally closing with a triumvirate of covers, the Dropkick Murphys played their collective hearts out and made the most of the afternoon performance.
 
Setlist
  1. The Boys Are Back
  2. Citizen C.I.A.
  3. Black Velvet Band
  4. Don't Tear Us Apart
  5. Which Side Are You On? (The Almanac Singers cover)
  6. Prisoner's Song
  7. Going Out in Style
  8. Jimmy Collins' Wake
  9. Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya
  10. Rose Tattoo
  11. I'm Shipping Up to Boston
  12. Takin' Care of Business / We're An American Band / Blitzkrieg Bop  

Social Distortion

Social Distortion has been around since 1978 and they still put on a display of punk rock that few bands can match. As relative fathers of the genre, the group has sold over 3 million albums to date. Still fronted by Mike Ness, Johnny Wickersham, Brent Harding, and David Hidalgo Jr make up the rest of the group. At a festival like Riot, it is great to appreciation the evolution of music over time. Originators and early movers such as social distortion play in the same field as young acts like Seaway and the Hotelier. The group closed with “Misery Loves Company,” a Mike Ness solo tune followed by an Anita Carter cover, “Love’s Ring of Fire” which was later covered by Johnny Cash and made famous with the title “Ring of Fire.”
 
Setlist
  1. Through These Eyes
  2. Don't Drag Me Down
  3. Crown of Thorns
  4. Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown
  5. The Creeps (I Just Wanna Give You)
  6. Another State of Mind
  7. Machine Gun Blues
  8. Cold Feelings
  9. Ball and Chain
  10. Gotta Know the Rules
  11. Misery Loves Company (Mike Ness song)
  12. Ring of Fire (Anita Carter cover)
 

Death Cab for Cutie

Death Cab for Cutie Opened their set with the full, 8 minute version of “I will possess your heart.” The excellent tune opens with 4 minutes of bass and drums with differing time signatures played over with Gibbard’s effects-heavy guitar. Playing a solid variety of songs from all their albums, the band gained the strongest response from the crowd with the 2005 hit, “Soul Meets Body.” Ben Gibbard at one point made a note of how unusual is was to be playing at the same festival as the “F***ing Buzzcocks” also commenting that if you measured a band’s “punk-ness” by the number of tattoos, that would make them the least punk band at the festival. Or, as he soon added, “Depending on how you look at it, the most punk motherf***ers here.”
 
Setlist
  1. I Will Possess Your Heart
  2. Crooked Teeth
  3. We Laugh Indoors
  4. Doors Unlocked and Open
  5. Long Division
  6. Grapevine Fires
  7. Title Track
  8. You Are a Tourist
  9. The New Year
  10. Cath...
  11. Soul Meets Body
  12. The Sound of Settling

The National

The National have an air about them. Something about their performance that gives them the appearance of grandeur. Perhaps it was the lush, synth backdrop combined with the acoustic horns. Or maybe it is the ambient lighting and aesthetic. Regardless during the performance, everyone was fully enraptured in the performance. Matt Berninger, the melancholy yet forceful baritone kept his eyes shut while singing a majority of the time. Likewise, most of the musicians seemed fully absorbed in their instruments, hardly acknowledging the crowd. Opening with a song “Don’t Swallow the Cap” from their newest album Trouble Will Find Me, the group continued with a 14 song set which never once broke the trance. Not until during Mr. November when Matt proceeded to climb into the crowd and run around through the parting crowd. With a wired microphone in hand. The sea of people was ablaze with a light show of cameras and cell phones trying to capture the rogue singing running through their midst. It was something to behold.  The group finally finished with the haunting “Terrible Love.”
 
Setlist
  1. Don't Swallow the Cap
  2. I Should Live in Salt
  3. Bloodbuzz Ohio
  4. Sea of Love
  5. Afraid of Everyone
  6. Squalor Victoria
  7. I Need My Girl
  8. This Is the Last Time
  9. Ada (With Sufjan Stevens "Chicago" trumpet outro)
  10. England
  11. Graceless
  12. Fake Empire
  13. Mr. November
  14. Terrible Love 
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John Baker IV

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