I’ll admit it, I was a bit fed up by then end of my first day at Riot Fest. I got bored with the festival. I felt more fatigue than enjoyment, and I wasn’t impressed with whatever happened after that torrential downpour. I was just miserable, but day two is a new day! The sun was shining, and the bands continued to play for the final day of Riot Fest Toronto.
Immediately after checking in, I headed to get lunch at Meltdown Cheesery. Why does he want to talk about food, you ask? ‘Cause of pulled pork grilled cheese, that’s why. What a delight! I was also pleasantly surprised to find fresh sand soaking up a lot of the moisture from the rain from the day before. So, brownie points to the crew at Riot Fest!
My day officially started when I watched a band I hadn’t heard of before. Foxtrott performed on the Radical stage, and they were… different. Combining rap-beats with a French horn and synthesiser; I don’t know if I was the biggest fan of it to be honest, but they did manage to get the attention of a lot of people in the general area around the stage, which is always a good thing for a small band. For the sake of everyone reading this article, I watched a bit of Andrew W.K.’s set, and I thought it was quite charming! He was giving away prizes to members of the audience. The rest of the band would stop playing until someone claimed it in the crowd, then continued the song and congratulated them. It put a smile on my face and, since yesterday didn’t really do that for me, it was a nice surprise. You could also smell the pot being smoked from a mile away. The crowd here was very different from yesterday, and that wasn’t a bad thing.
The atmosphere clashed significantly, and with The Prodigy being the headlining act for the day, it was understandable. A bunch of punk rockers, and a bunch of ravers were there for rappers like Atmosphere, who was excellent at he did. I’ve never seen a rap concert before, and I was interested to see what happens even though it was just a DJ and the artist. He drew a crowd, and did rather well. What was kind of funny, however, was the fact that if you were in the right place, you could hear both styles of music being performed simultaneously. As I sat and watched Babes In Toyland on the Riot Stage, who played like they were hungover from the night before, I could hear trap beats being played behind me… sometimes the sound would clash. I thought it was fairly hilarious until it gave me a headache.
I need to give a shoutout to PartyCat from Toronto. They had a massive crowd for a ‘local, independent band,’ as they so clearly stated, almost boastfully. A girl even managed to crowd-surf over the barricade, dodge security, and make it on stage. She started dancing before being picked up, and carried off. Fun to see people react that way for local talent!
Rancid had a huge part in helping plan this event and, therefore, everyone was there to see them. Everywhere I looked, there were people wearing their merchandise and expressing themselves by dancing with themselves or with total strangers. And the band hadn’t even started playing yet! It was cool to see. They played through all of their album …And Out Come The Wolves, the same one they played in Montebello for Amnesia Rockfest, and that really got the fans going. Tim Armstrong is a great front man, despite the iconic mumbled vocals.
I have no idea why The Prodigy were headlining other than the fact that they can bring in the big bucks. I personally believe that they didn’t suit the festival lineup at all, but they did put on an incredible EDM show. Lights, euphoria, the whole shebang! I never got into the crowd because I didn’t want to get a residual high from the MDMA going around, or grind up against underage girls, but their music is always high energy. Definitely got people moving.
The overall vibe of the festival for day two was vastly different from the day before. I found that everyone seemed miserable on day one, and didn’t want to be there. I overheard people claiming how badly they wanted to come for Saturday, but the rain just completely ruined that opportunity. Day two, though, everyone was happy, and more sociable. I even made a couple new friends myself!
The weather is impossible to control, but can be planned for. Riot Fest Toronto really redeemed themselves on day two by pouring sand over the mud, and simple things like that can create a change in atmosphere. You could feel that there wasn’t as much stress in the air and for someone like me, who went alone to the event, I quite honestly didn’t enjoy myself on day one because of it. Music festivals should be experienced with your friends and family. There was so much diversity and community, and it was absolutely beautiful! I just wish I could have shared that experience. All the bands I saw sounded great for an outdoor setting, an excellent job by the sound crew for making sure everything was clear and crisp. There was something there for everyone this weekend, regardless of what day you went, and I was humbled to have the opportunity to experience bands I would have otherwise. The historic bands that graced the festival this weekend have provided thousands of people memories they will never forget, and that’s the beauty of an event like this.
It’s something you have to experience at least once or twice in your life. Go to a show, get dirty in a mosh-pit, crowd-surf, scream and sing at the top of your lungs! I hope Riot Fest will be back next year. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t rain again, or I’ll have to buy another pair of shoes.
Written by Rian Cunningham
Photography by Stacey Rebertz
*edited by Danielle Kenedy