When we last left off, I think I was telling you, Sir Blog, about our breakfast with my work pal, Vicki. God, that was a good time!! After breakfast, she was kind enough to drop us off at Douglass Park. It was around 11:30 at that point and the gates were supposed to open at 11. We said our sad goodbyes to Vicki and skipped across the street to the end of the line (well, I skipped; Henry stalked). As soon as we had claimed our spot in line (which wasn’t even that long), a couple walking past in the opposite direction began announcing to everyone in line that gate-opening was delayed until AT LEAST 2pm due to the downpour that had been happening all through the night and most of the morning. While it wasn’t raining anymore and the sun was blissfully shining, I can only imagine the park grounds were pretty saturated. And it’s already bad enough that the Douglass Park community really, vehemently does not want Riot Fest taking over the park every year, so I can imagine the powers-that-be behind the festival want to do everything within their power to ensure that the grounds don’t get absolutely obliterated like with what happened at the old location, Humboldt Park, in 2014. Phew, that was BAD. That was the last time Riot Fest was ever held there because they kicked out hard on their asses by THAT community.
That left us with a lot of time, and very little to do. I didn’t want to text Vicki and be like, “Come back and hang out with some more, come pay attention to me, come babysit me” because what if she had shit to do!? I didn’t want her to feel obligated. So, we found a cafe that was “right around the block” according to Henry but was actually pretty far away and then by the time we got there, it was like a ton of Riot Festers had the same idea, so the line was practically out the door AND there was nowhere to sit.
We ended up getting on the train thing and going back to the section of town where we had breakfast. We found a sports bar that was crowded but slightly less crowded than all of the other ones on that block and sat down to have a BEER while people were screaming about football. Mm. My favorite environment.
I don’t even remember the name of the bar, it was very standard. And everything was FINE until HENRY told me what beer to order (something called Gumballhead or something) and it was fucking disgusting. Even Henry was not hitting it off with this beer. “I’M SORRY, BUT THIS TASTES LIKE AN IPA, NOT A WHEAT BEER.”
Whatever that means.
It was supposed to have a “lemony finish.” Oh, they got that right. Because that shit tasted like I just licked a table polished with Lemon Pledge, honey.
I am gagging in hindsight.
DUDE. LOL – so I took a break to walk to Dunkin’ with Henry because I wanted to spy (or, if you’re a Pittsburgher, “neb”) on the work that is going on next door — the still-vacant unit that I am lowkey panicking about because I want it to stay vacant forever. The front door was open so I wanted to, you know, casually gawk and see what’s going on but I all I saw the was DIARRHEA wall color, which is….well, somehow less ugly than the color that was over there when Blake lived there. Some disgusting sea moss or something – it made me so uncomfortable. I hated going over there.
Anyway, were was I! Yeah, so we were walking to Dunkin’ but then stopped at the BEER STORE first because I am still desperate for the Jelly Donut bullshit, and well well well, look what I found stinkin’ up the place:
Back to Riot Fest day. I kept checking Instagram and it appeared that they were definitely going to open the gates at 2PM, so we left the bar around 1:00ish I think. My original plan was actually to just go there around 2:00 anyway, because I didn’t care about many of the earlier bands until 2pm. So, I wasn’t very broken up about this to be honest. I do feel bad for the people who were upset to see their favorite bands get cut from the schedule though :(
The line to get in wrapped around the block quite a bit and Henry had me panicking, thinking it was going to take over an hour to get in. It didn’t take an hour. I would say maybe 30 minutes because the Riot Fest staff was basically like FUCK IT and started waving people through without even searching most bags. Only one of our tickets was scanned. The guy was like, “It’s cool, I scanned one, just go ‘head in.”
Um. OK. If this wasn’t AMERICA, I wouldn’t have so felt so clenched about this, but spoiler aleart: It turned out to be fine.
The only downside is that we completely missed Thursday, who went on promptly at 2pm but we could hear them on the other side of the fence, at least. I’ve seen them a bunch of times over the years so I wasn’t too sad about it but I would have liked to have been inside to support them.
THAT’S JUST THE MOM IN ME.
So surreal being at Riot Fest again after…how many years ago 2016 was. Most of the ground was dry but there was DEFINITELY some swampy areas and we came out of their with mud-spatter all over our legs. I’m glad I brought my plain black Vans!
My one main takeaway is that even though we hadn’t been there in so long, and even though I haven’t been in this SCENE for just as long, it was like everything was frozen in time. You could really say that the Riot Fest scene is timeless, and that’s not really bad. It’s nostalgic and comforting.
Henry felt neither nostalgia nor comfort.
I had to laugh though because really THE ONE BAND that I wanted to see that day aside from The Cure was the recently-reunited Balance and Composure. You might remember how deep my love was for them before I turned the way of South Korea. Actually, 2016 might have been the last time I saw them, now that I think about it. Their set started at 2:55PM and Henry conveniently was in line to buy the Cure’s Riot Fest tour poster, so once again I found myself alone in front of the scene, crying to B&C. Some things really DON’T change!! But before they came on, I got to hear the end of Cult’s set on one of the main stages. They ended with “Do You Know What I Mean” and it brought back memories of the Early Years at the law firm when this song was an inside joke for Kaitlin and me. That seems like an entire lifetime ago! God, Riot Fest was really doing it to me.
Oh! I almost forgot. For some inexplicable reason, I packed my old Hotel Books t-shirt which I haven’t worn in years. I didn’t really think much of until that morning when I put it on. I laughingly said, “God, I hope no one wants to talk to me about Hotel Books because I literally can’t remember a single thing about them aside from that I liked them a lot for a minute!”
I’m not kidding, as soon as I staked out my spot at the stage before B&C started, some guy leaned over and said to me, “I like your shirt!”
“Thanks!” I said, like I fucking made it in my t-shirt factory. And then I got real fidgety, my eyes practically screaming, “IMPOSTER! IMPOSTER! SHE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW THIS BAND!”
All I remember is going to see them at some defunct club on the Southside, getting kind of drunk, and hugging the singer/spoken-worder at the end of the night.
I really did like Hotel Books back then though!! I actually put them on in the car on the way home the next day and my chest got real warm like I just did a shot of Robitussin (Janna’s drug of choice) and I thought to myself, “Oh yeah. There it is.”
But FUCK MY LIFE, Balance and Composure still REALLY do it for me. Like, really really.
After this, I found Henry standing a safe distance away from the crowd. The next band I wanted to see was also on the same stage, but we had about 30-45 minutes to kill so we walked around, checked out The Bronx briefly (we’ve seen them numerous times over the years but it was like a homecoming hearing them live again, if only for a few minutes). Then we went and got some free samples of FUNNY WATER which was fine but I wasn’t ready to commit to a full can of it.
Henry kept asking me who were seeing next and I was like YOU WILL SEE and OH JUST WAIT so he was getting really paranoid, like it was going to be some fucked Jonny Craig side project revival bullshit set.
It was just LS Dunes, but it was funny to me because it’s the latest Anthony Green side project and literally every time we go to Riot Fest, Anthony is there in one form or another. Can you believe we (“we” lol) have been supporting him and all of his projects since 2004?? Staring with Saosin, but really getting in deep with Circa Survive in 2005. I had to actually google to see when it was that we saw Circa for the first time, and it was July 2005 at the Grog Shop, right before I got pregnant, and Anthony signed my Circa CD outside the venue. Say Anything was headlining and I didn’t like them (still don’t) so we must have ducked out before they came on and Anthony was just chilling on a wall outside, with a few fan boys jawing his ear off.
And now it’s 2023, he’s a dad of 3, been in and out of recovery, but continued to be obscenely prolific in the scene. Henry actually recognized his voice, but not his face. I mean, face it – we’re all ageing! It’s just so much more surreal when we see it happen to bands that we have been fans of for decades.
Anyway, LS Dunes – amazing. Frank Iero – amazing. Anthon Green – fucking ICONIC.
I really didn’t take many pictures. We were mostly there for The Cure and I felt pretty distracted all day because of that anticipation.
I got this crunchie vegan person bowl for dinner because my body was CRAVING vegetables. It was…ok. $18 worth of ok. :/
Meanwhile, Henry went off on his own, leaving me to eat alone under a tree a bowl of stuff that tasted like said tree, and came back with a vegan mac n’ cheesesteak. I was jel at first but after stealing a few bites, my final assessment was that eh, didn’t really like it that much.
I also was trying to keep myself from getting sick. I didn’t want to be standing for three hours at the main stage with a bloated stomach. You know?!
LOL JK I still felt like shit!!
Almost forgot to take a selfie. Yikes. Who am I.
Then Finch came on and can you believe it was the first time seeing them??!! I was obsessed with them in 2003? 2004? I just remember going on weekend drives with Henry and fucking blasting them and Thrice.
Henry stalking me. Lol I was sitting in the gross grass because MY STOMACH HURT from that stupid bowl.
The last band to play on this same stage, the only stage we were at all day which is insane because all of my past Riot Fests consisted of me SPRINTING from stage to stage, was the Used. Ugh. It was fine. I didn’t cry. But I also didn’t feel great in the heart.
“Now, which one dated Kelly Osbourne?” asked some guy behind us. “Oh the singer?”
Wow. That was a blast from the past lol.
I miss screaming-Bert. I get that he can’t scream anymore but man, I will never forget seeing them at X Fest on a tiny stage and seeing him puking all over the stage from intensity of his screams.
Those were the days, man.
I felt really fucking old at Riot Fest. Not because everyone was young, but because of all of these bands from my way-back years. I couldn’t handle it. It was a lot.
I’ll end this here. The Cure deserve their own post <3