Riot Fest & Rodeo: The Music Festival That Knows How to Keep It Real

By: Sierra Voss

The final day of Riot Fest had my feet beginning to ache in my boots, my skin reppin’ a not so healthy I-have-been-in-the-sun-for-over-24-hours kinda glow, and a thin layer of sweat forever coating my body. Riot Fest is not for the weak-hearted. On the last day, energy levels were high, perhaps even higher than Saturday’s. A quiet buzz filled the air in anticipation for the night's headliners: The Original Misfits and NAS.

Bleached.

Bleached.

Sunday’s overall lineup was actually epic. I started my day off with girl punk band, Bleached, and these ladies were true crushers. They rocked and ripped their set on the Hoffman Stage. Bassit Micayla Grace was a forever stream of headbanging and hair flips, while lead singer, Jennifer Francis Clavin, slowly crawled to the edge of the stage to get as close as she could to her audience. After Bleached, I popped over to the Rock Stage to catch 2 Chainz. Thirty  minutes into his set time, he still hadn’t taken the stage, so I bailed. I am not into artists that makes their audience wait. I don’t care who you are, it’s lame. Bad Religion took the Riot Stage in the late afternoon, just as the day was cooling off and the sun was starting to make its way down the sky. Fans gathered, singing along with every word of their classic set.

Bad Religion.

Bad Religion.

This year’s Riot Fest was a pretty crazy mix of rock and hip hop culture. The last four sets I caught were a perfect representation of the dynamic diversity of music and people that Riot Fest wrangled up for this year’s rodeo:

Tyler, the Creator.

Tyler, the Creator.

Tyler, the Creator, a big up and coming hip hop artist, had a very subtle rock vibe integrated into his craft. As I looked around at the audience glazin’ up at him, I saw a unique mixture of humans. Some repped NAS shirts while others sported studded and patched jean jacket vests, but all were singing and dancing along to his set.

Sleigh Bells.

Sleigh Bells.

The band Sleigh Bells, were similar to Tyler, representing a perfect mixture of vibes for this year's crowd. At it’s core, SB are a rock band, but they have subtle hip hop flares throughout their tunes. And I have a big ole girl crush on Sleigh Bells’ lead singer, Alexis Krauss. She is all the things and is definitely worth catching for a live show.

Rowdy at the Rodeo.

Rowdy at the Rodeo.

The night ended with two historic performances: The Original Misfits, reunited for the first time since 1983, rocked the Riot Stage, while NAS dropped dirty beats on the opposite side of the festival grounds at the Rock Stage.

Misfits Only.

Misfits Only.

Whoever created the lineup for the fest this year was pretty crafty. I truly was not expecting to be as into this festival as I ended up being. But there I stood, at the end of day three, as the dust settled into the festival grounds around me, loving all the bands that had taken the four stages throughout the weekend and having met some pretty incredible festi-goers. Riot Fest has an authentic vibe about it: no crazy light shows, no weird heady worlds or attractions, and no BS. It’s a festival with solid rock and hip hop artists in a pretty stripped down setting, filled with festival goers that are ready to rock. This was one rodeo I’m glad I didn’t miss.

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-Sierra

All photos per the author for BolderBeat. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.