Scenes From Riot Fest's First Foray Into Dallas.
Now in its eighth year, Chicago's Riot Fest has taken is act on the road.
And, this past weekend, the event stopped off at Gexa Energy Pavilion in Dallas' Fair Park for a hot day filled with legendary tunage.
Yeah, Andrew W.K. was there. Venomous Maximus and The Sword also garnered a lot of attention. But, most importantly, the festival afforded Dallas punk fans the chance to see such legends as Teenage Bottlerocket, NOFX, Rise Against and the Descendents.
It didn't disappoint.
Teenage Bottlerocket incited quite a bit of body moving (read: pogo dancing), and the small side stage seemed too small for the mass crowd gathered to support the fast-paced songs.
NOFX, meanwhile, was everything their music ever expressed them to be. Lead singer, Fat Mike scolded the crowd for helping kids up in the mosh pit. There was also a lot of beer-, shoe- and garment-throwing during their set. Racist jokes between Fat Mike and guitarist El Hefe, too. Everything was hot, messy, and totally rad. NOFX even cut their set 10 minutes short to give the Descendents more time on stage.
And, hey, that much was deserved.
Considering they're a band that's been around for over three decades, the Descendents' crowd was surprisingly young — many attendees, one assumes, weren't event glints in their parents' eyes when the Descendents released their Enjoy! LP in 1986.
But that didn't seem to matter much.
As the guitar noise faded after “Clean Sheets,” one fan in yelled out his appreciation: “I've been waiting 10 years for that moment!”
Yes, they Descendents were playing nerd rock — hey, the lead singer is a professional biologist after all — but you wouldn't know it from the crowd's response. Despite the arena's posted “NO CROWD SURFING. NO MOSHING.” rule, there was plenty of both. The only breathing room in the whole place was actually in the very middle of the mosh pit — where you were more likely to get shoved than a breathe of fresh air.
The one lasting moment of awing silence came with the Descendents' theatrical performance of “All-O-Gistics,” for which they brought on stage kids to aid in reading the commandments of All. Lead singer and band icon Milo Aukerman might have aged over the years with the other guys, but the Descendents' music is forever young. Before every song, just like on the records, Auckerman announced the track titles. They played an all-encompassing set, too. From love singles like “Silly Girl” to anthems like “I'm Not a Loser,” all generations of misled youth were singing along, sweat in their eyes, beer on their shoes and elbows in their backs.
The Dallas crowd seemed much pleased with the Descendents' nerdy punk explosion. In fact, the crowd thinned out a lot before the headlining act Rise Against took to the stage. Their loss: Rise Against really tied things together in the end by inviting Fat Mike, Auckerman, and Descendents drummer Bill Stevenson on stage for a Minor Threat song and a Black Flag cover.
As a video of Charlie Chaplin”s final speech in The Great Dictator played, the long day filled with triumphant angst and riveting guitar riffs seemed to come to a calming close.
For those who did wait 10 years for the Descendents to rock out, Riot Fest proved to be the place to be. Lawn seats really meant “as close to the pit as you can be,” and band members were spotted hanging around the venue all afternoon. It was kind of perfect, if a little under-attended.
All photos by Alexander Flores.