Riot Fest 2012 @ Williamsburg Park, NY (or Rain Fest 2012)

Live Reviews | Sep 9th, 2012

Date: September 8th 2012
Bands: Larry and His Flask, The Menzingers, Screaming Females, The Bronx
Bands That Didn’t Play (Outside): Hot Water Music, The Descendents, Gogol Bordello

Riot Fest 2012 is happening in select cities the next few weeks and this weekend the fest was in Brooklyn and today in Toronto. Of course, the New York City date got the shit end of stick with the weather…and some will say the lineup as well. Not to dig other bands on the bill, but the other cities had a better lineup with even more bands. Even if there were more bands in Brooklyn, that just means more bands I wouldn’t have gotten to see.

The day started off with some early freak storms in NYC area, where the rare tornado touched down in Queens and Brooklyn. Yet for some reason, Riot Fest promoters felt the need to press on even though there was more severe weather heading this way later that day. It was hot and sunny for while during the festival, but then you just saw the dark, ominous clouds coming over the stage. You knew it was going to be a nasty storm. But let’s go back a little bit.

I arrived in Brooklyn early so hung out for a few minutes in East River Park and you can just feel more bad weather was coming. It was a different kind of wind, and the clouds looked eerie at times. Walking to Williamsburg Park, I must have spotted over a 1,000 hipster douchebags wearing their pink jorts, fake prescription glasses, elf shoes and jewfro hair. Then again, I’m in the mecca of Hipsterdom so I shouldn’t be surprised. Felt like being in another country honestly.

The crowd didn’t really show up in the beginning, or really all that much. I thought this place would be jam packed but the threat of storms for the day probably kept people at home, or the kids’ parents maybe told them they couldn’t go. Larry and His Flask were the opening band on the lineup and I thought, the best band of the bands I saw. For those that don’t know, they are a bluegrass/folk/Americana band from Oregon. Their stage presence and energy was incredible. They just engage the crowd every song and wandered all over the place. Jumping & moving around a lot on stage, in the crowd, all over. I never saw them before but been listening to their latest release a lot. I recognized a lot of songs, from what I could hear. They have a new EP coming out in October as well.

The audio at Williamsburg Park is complete shit by the way. I was on the side a lot and couldn’t barely make out most songs that were being played. Unless you were dead center, you couldn’t hear a thing. And I thought Terminal 5 was bad! I really hope if they decide to give Riot Fest another try in New York, one it’s not in Brooklyn and two, HAVE THE FESTIVAL INSIDE! Williamsburg Park is like an open prison yard, nowhere to hide from the sun or in this case, severe thunderstorms so I can see why they canceled the fest. I was considering hiding in the Porta Potties if the rain got really bad.

After Larry and His Flask was done, The Menzingers from PA were up. I’ve seen these guys a couple of times and have gotten very popular since then. They were playing small club shows and now playing a fest like this. Again, it was tough to hear them where I was. In the photo pit, I could barely hear one of them sing, and then when I got out of the pit, it was the same thing. From what I could remember, they were pretty good.

The latest talked-about band on the indie blogs is Screaming Females. I really don’t know that much about the band, aside from a few videos and photos. The female-fronted band played a set that felt quicker than other sets. I honestly don’t even think the band talked to the crowd once. She was a great guitarist that screamed a lot but had the personality of a rock (for this set anyway). I didn’t really care for the music either and it was a little more experimental for my tastes. The crowd seemed to enjoy their set though (of course).

The final band to play outside were The Bronx. Another band I never saw but put on a great set! I didn’t know any songs but just tried to take as many shots as I could. The singer was bouncing all over the place and ended up in the crowd a few times. It was hard to pay attention to the Bronx towards the end of the set since the dark clouds were slowly moving over us. I decided to put on my rain jacket that I just got that day, and put my camera gear in baggies. Once the Bronx got off the stage, you had the sense this fest was about to be canceled, and it was. Hot Water Music, The Descendents, and Gogol Bordello didn’t get a chance to play outside which sucked since those were the bands I was there to see. I just had a feeling I wasn’t going to see those bands that day.

People booed and cursed at the announcement, then quickly got the hell out of dodge. The rain started coming down pretty quickly as kids filled into the streets. I walked along Kent Ave. as best as I could without getting rained on but that proved to be difficult. It was raining sideways and I was soaked. By the time I got into Jersey City, it wasn’t raining anymore which pissed me off even more. They could have just delayed the fest until it stopped. But the rain picked up later on that evening. Would have been miserable to shoot in but they could have went on.

I get a press release from Riot Fest when I got home saying Hot Water Music and The Descendents were playing a small free show in Brooklyn at 8pm. Just fucking wonderful. Even if I got over there, I probably wouldn’t have gotten in since the only people that got in were ones that had an inside knowledge of it. So basically it was a free show for the bands’ friends or people that lingered outside and got word of it. As soon as it was announced on Facebook and Twitter, the line was around the block from what I read. I really hope the 3 bands decide to come back soon to play for the fans that got jipped because it’s not really fair to the fans that paid to see those bands. Sure, they got a refund but they rather see the bands play.

Enough of this bitch fest I wrote, enjoy the photos I took!

(Rob Menzer is prepared for the storm)

I’ll have all the photos (bigger too!) posted up on this week.


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