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The Road to Riot Fest Tour Journal 14: Riot Fest pt3
The last day of Riot Fest. But not actually the last day of “The Road To Riot Fest.” 

Saturday came and went. I found out later that Zech, Jake and Aj all went to Fallout Boy Saturday night. I’m sure they enjoyed the shit out that because they all love the fuck out of that band. Ted and I enjoyed our simple night, full of much deserved rest. 

So here we are, on our last day of Riot Fest. The guys had to get up early (like 9am early) to prep for our big day. The first thing they needed to do was take the van and trailer to Bottom Lounge. A risky manuever, because Bottom Lounge isn’t in the best of places. But they had to take it there because we weren’t going to be able to park at Riot Fest again, and we weren’t going to be able go get the van and bring it back in time for our 5 o clock load in time. I stayed in bed, because I didn’t need to be at Riot at 11am like they did. They had some live Q&A with Alt Press, and I think 3 or  4 o ther media things to do. I on the other hand just wanted to catch the Menzingers at 4, and maybe watch some footbal prior to heading out.

I went to the grocery store and grabbed myself some shit to make breakfast with, but I wound up only cooking a pound of bacon and making a BLT. (Minus the T because tomatoes are gross.)

I had a hard time really relaxing while trying to watch football. Not just because The Browns are frustrating to watch, or that my fantasy teams were struggling, rather I was uneasy because in the back of my head I knew that work wasn’t over. I was still techinically on tour, and I have a job that I need to be doing. It was throwing me off because I had really only seen Teddy this weekend (we live together), and we hadn’t played since Friday afternoon. 3 days in my own apartment, in my own bed, and my body starts to readjust to normie life. Meanwhile my brain is constantly thinking “hey, don’t forget you still have shows you need to do. You still have to trudge your fatass to Canada again.” 

So I sat there. Choking down a sandwich full of bacon I don’t think I cooked thoroughly, while watching the Browns choke through a playbook they didn’t learn thoroughly. 

Honestly not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

I haven’t even repacked my shit yet either. I just see it sprawled out on the couch and I get anxious. I’ll just keep putting it off until the last possible minute like I do everything else in life. 

The time to leave finally rolled around. Emilee and I wanted to get to The Menzingers set, because they’re amazing and she’s never seen them live. We went to grab a Lyft only to be met with a $50 potential cab fare. “Fuck that” was the first thing that came out of our mouths, as we opted to take the train instead. This took a 30 minute ride and turned it into a full hour commute, but some how by the grace of Buddy Holly, we made it there on time to see their entire set in full. 

Around the end of The Menzingers set the guys had to go load in at Bottom Lounge. I didn’t need to go with them, as doors weren’t until 10, and it doesn’t take me 5 hours to set up merch. Instead I stuck around to hang out with Emilee, Whitney, Connor and some other friends. I had a backstage pass that I coulda used to get me sidestage to any of these sets I wanted to see, but I really only used it to grab cold water from artist catering. I’m not one to really do the whole “elbow rubbing” thing. Especially because I’m not really a player in the scene. Like it’d be cool to bump into The Menzinger guys or Chad Gilbert or some shit, but what I am going to say? “Hi, yes I’ve had sex to your music.” Not exactly a good opener. I did talk to Christian from The Hotlier on Saturday a bit. But that was only because he semi-recognized me from this one show a couple years ago I did with T.J’s old band. The story isn’t very exciting, but before they dropped Home Like No Place There Is, I did a little bit of merch for them. They kept having people wanting to buy their shit and they didn’t have a merch person so I just offered to help. 

That’s it. No pictures, just a boring story. 

I know I needed to be at the venue for Sleep On It’s show by like 8pm-ish, which gave me enough time to catch some of GWAR’s set. If you don’t know who GWAR is, please look them up. I wouldn’t say I’m a “fan” of their music, but they absolutely have one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. The entire thing is the massive production that involves a lot of theatrical gore and a Gallagher-esq drenching of the crowd. Except, instead of smashing watermelons GWAR is squirting their fans with “blood” and “bile.” You can always tell the fans who were at GWAR, as they are the ones with their faces dyed beet red. I watched from afar, enjoying their usage of tear-away limbs that reveal blood squirting hoses. 

I have a lot of questions about GWAR’s set. Mostly the one that bothers me the most is that I wanna know just how much liquid they go through in a set. Do they mix it themselves or is that something Riot Fest provides? Like for Sleep On It, their green room rider is like “A bottle of Jameson Whiskey, Miller High Life, snacks but no peanuts because Aj will die.” Does GWAR’s rider have “50 gallons of fake blood, and a box of Mallomars” on it? Because if it does, where does one find a box of Mallomars?

Afterward Emilee and I left the fest one last time to get a Lyft to Bottom Lounge. We walked past all the people watching Paramore. A specticle, I’m sure. But I’ve never really gotten into Paramore. No disrespect, it’s just never been my thing. I know a lot of the guys (and many of our friends) were stoked to see it. Good for them. I enjoyed my time watching a 10 ft tall puppet man get decapitated. To each their own, I suppose.

I got to the venue in time to do a full count and set shit up. For merch at Riot Fest we had to dismantle our merch bins in order to make it easier for everyone. But now I had to go back through and reorganize everything. A minor inconvenience, but I am getting used to taking this job a tad more seriously. (Not that I didn’t take it seriously before, I’ve just learned a lot over the last year or so and have been trying to put it to good use.) 

The set up wasn’t the most room I’ve ever worked with, but it wasn’t the least either. It was all very narrow. But it was well lit, and I was right next to Taking Back Sunday, so I really couldn’t have asked for a better spot. Meanwhile, the guys were doing soundcheck and I realized possibly too late in the day that we didn’t have any change, or a credit card swiper. I managed to get some change at the bar (which rarely happens and I was so thankful they were able to do that), and for the credit cards I was just going to have to type it in manually. That sucks, but it’s better than not being able to get credit cards at all. Meanwhile Emilee was doing her best impression of me:

Tonight was one of those situations wherein I was both bummed and stoked to be able to do what I do. I’ll start with what I was stoked about:

Some of my closest friends got to open a sold out show for Taking Back Sunday. For those who don’t know, Taking Back Sunday is a legendary band in our scene. T.J’s first concert ever was a Taking Back Sunday show. Jake and Zech worship this band. And it’s not surprising, because they’ve been such a longstanding force in the music scene for 15 years. I’ve been listening to Taking Back Sunday for forever, personally, but I was never as into music as these other guys. But this show, the one that didn’t start until 11pm on a Sunday, was the most anxious I’ve ever seen them be about a show. Even more than playing Riot Fest on Friday in front of 1,500 people. There were a lot of heavy hitters in the music industry there, and more than that, the guys got to rub elbows with one of the most iconic frontmen in recent history. To be able to converse with Scene legends John Nolan and Adam Lazzara was quite literally a dream come true to these guys. (Except Luka, who grew up on Limp Bizkit, but he’s always down for a good time.)

This was amazing. This feeling of excitment behind the scenes. The electricity I could see radiating out of their eyes. Johnny Minardi and T.J wearing the same Good Future Club t-shirt. A nervous calm before the storm as I went back stage to check on them one last time before their set started. I didn’t really know what to say, just wanted to give them a hug and tell them to go out and do the same thing they’ve been doing for the last couple weeks. 

The downside to all this is perhaps stating the obvious. This was such a special moment for my friends and I had to spend it behind the merch table. And the tables weren’t in a position that allowed me to watch the show or anything like that. I could see the crowd but that was about it. This is the life I’ve chosen to live, and in no way am I upset with that choice. I love what I do. But in this particular moment I woulda loved to have been able to sit back there and experience them talking to their heroes and being able to write about that a little more conscisely.  C’est la vie I suppose. The show still rocked.

Taking Back Sunday didn’t go on until midnight, so by the time the show wrapped up and we bounced out it was like 2 am. People were attempting to get us to go to the bar but we had to politely decline. Not only was it super late, but we still had to make our way to Fargo. All things considered the weekend was a wild success. Lots of friends from all over came out to the show and I was able to introduce some of my readers to each other (perhaps even allowing them to make new friends). George and Danni, meet Deanna. Deanna meet Kayla. Kayla meet Aly. Everyone meet Whitney and Emilee. It was a pretty surreal experience when they all said “I feel like I know you from somewhere.” And I was able to chime in with “you’ve read about them in the tour journals.” 

Pretty sick if you ask me.

The Road to Riot Fest is done, but tour is not. Stick around and if you haven’t signed up yet do so. Things are probably going to get weird up in Canada. 

Here’s hoping.