The kaleidoscopic view of Riot Fest at night

Judging by its first day, one thing that Riot Fest has going for it is that it feels like a real, old-school festival. The volume of people induced sparse or nonexistent cell phone reception, which prevented festival goers from spending hours staring into iPhones and Androids and prompted them to focus on the festival itself. And all around are candy-colored ferris wheels and faux-plushy prizes and Coney Island-esque stands for corn dogs and nachos, all of it looking like a twisted, rockabilly version of the erstwhile Kiddieland Amusement Park. Focus on the music (or, in Saul Williams’s case, the lack thereof) and you’d find Fall Out Boy bringing the Stanley Cup onstage, Joan Jett still rocking out, Danzig still rocking out, and Gwar still spraying people with whatever it is that Gwar is using to spray audience members these days. The Reader was there to witness all of it—check out some choice photos of yesterday’s festivities below.

@kevinwarwick: No idea where to go? Just follow the whoa-whoa-whoas. Thats what I did. #screechingweasel #riotfest

Luca Cimarusti: Screeching Weasel’s high-energy, classics-heavy set sounded great. Heartwarming moment: Ben “Weasel” Foster dedicating a song to his two young daughters, who were seeing dad sing onstage for the first time in their lives.

@imleor: Saul Williams: Im out here without music today, forgive me. [Small groups of people walk away.] #RiotFest
  • Alison Green
  • @imleor: Saul Williams: “I’m out here without music today, forgive me.” [Small groups of people walk away.] #RiotFest

@imLeor: Saul Williams: “I’m out here without music today, forgive me.” [Small groups of people walk away.] #RiotFest


Gwar doing an excellent rendition of the final third of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.


Former intern Summer Concepcion: “Yes I love rock n roll, but I love you too, Joan Jett! Great set and love the guest song with Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!”

Alison Green

Leor Galil: When Danzig didn’t show up on time part of me wondered if he was throwing one of his famous tantrums because Fall Out Boy was playing a bigger stage, or something. Instead he showed up five minutes late and yelled in a way that suggested he’d forgotten how to sing. After one song I quickly made my way over to Fall Out Boy.


Leor Galil: Fall Out Boy is as big as almost any aughties rock band can be in 2013, and the group put on a show made for an arena. FoB rolled out the hits, lit up the stage with flames and sheets of falling sparks, and brought out the Stanley Cup.