Published on September 24th, 2014 | by Thompson
Taking Back Sunday Instigates Crowd Surfing and I Drink with a Member of Dropkick Murphys
I slept in on Saturday morning, rolled three spliffs, and packed a backpack with all my edibles, an empty water bottle, a raincoat, and my camera. I smoked a spliff on my way to the Sheridan light rail station and got to Riot Fest just before Strung Out took the stage. I got myself a beer brat and made my way to the stage, only to find Strung Out sounding pretty terrible. I loved some of their songs, but they just didn’t sound very good live.
As I settled in for Dum Dum Girls, I noticed someone near the audio mixing tent wearing a Queens of the Stone Age t-shirt. I immediately introduced myself and we got to talking about our favorite concerts. His name was Pete Jones. He taught me about Instagram and helped me smoke a spliff while Dum Dum Girls played a very mellow show that was perfect for the high. At times some audio feedback would ruin Dee Dee Penny’s voice, but they played all their greats like “Coming Down,” “Just a Creep,” and “Bedroom Eyes.” I pointed out to Pete how much “Coming Down” sounded like Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You,” but featured the complete opposite message. “Fade Into You” is an uplifting, love song, while Dum Dum Girls take the beat and make it into a depressingly lovely suicidal song good for heroin overdoses. It’s ironic that both Dum Dum Girls and Mazzy Star came out with new albums recently. I’d say Dum Dum Girls’ is a better listen thanks to “In the Wake of You” and “Little Minx,” which were the best songs they performed live at Riot Fest Denver besides maybe “Always Looking,” which was rockin’ despite some audio feedback.
Pete and I noticed our schedules for the day were nearly the same, and since he was “flying solo” because his wife couldn’t come, we ventured over to see We Came as Romans before I had an appointment at Floyd’s Barbershop truck. I had about an hour between bands I wanted to see, and proceeds were going to fight child diabetes, so I figured I’d make myself presentable for my job interview on Tuesday. Lucero played some pretty good tunes at the May Farms stage during my haircut by Kimberly, who commented on my hair and asked why I don’t do more with it than just comb it back. I told her I’m a hat person and don’t spend money on hair products. She requested that I let her style it today, and I told her she could, and I wouldn’t even wear my hat. She was finished in about a half hour, although she didn’t cut enough off. I made it very clear I only get my hair cut twice a year, but that’s how they get you to keep coming back. She gave me a $5 off coupon and told me to come back for a hot shave, which I probably will. I do it once a year. It’s like a manly spa day.
The Taking Back Sunday show was the best of the day. They played all their hits, including “What’s It Feel Like to be a Ghost,” “MakeDamnSure,” “Up Against (Blackout),” “Error: Operator,” and “Liar,” seen above. Adam Lazzara is a damn fine showman swinging that microphone around in a sort of rhythmic dance. He doesn’t sound too bad live, either. Pete said he saw them a decade ago, and they were still as good now as they were then. Once I saw that show, I knew the trip across the country, from Montana to Minneapolis to Raleigh-Durham to Denver, was all worth it. And we still had Descendents, The Used, Social Distortion, and The Cure on tap.
Since Descendents and The Used overlapped, I caught the beginning of Descendents with Pete and then caught the end of The Used, both of which were entertaining, but didn’t even touch Taking Back Sunday’s performance, which burned just about every calorie in my body. I replenished with a cheeseburger covered in sauerkraut and peperoncinis. It was all they had for condiments besides ketchup and mustard. I inhaled the cheeseburger on my way to meet my buddy Dave and his friends at the luxurious Strongbow cider tent. It was the place to be if you were seeing bands at the Byers General Store or May Farms stages. They were sipping cider while others played Giant Jenga with footlong, 2X2 lumber, but since I had no more cash for drinks, I decided to eat the chocolate bar I had been saving for The Cure. It was all melted, so I requested a cup of ice from the Strongbow folks to get it back into an edible format during Social Distortion.
My friends weren’t too keen on getting to May Farms for The Cure, but I was anxious and knew if we didn’t get there early, they’d want to leave early. There were far too many people at the venue to make it a comfortable show. The girls had to use the portas just before The Cure took the stage, so Dave and I moved to a spot left of stage next to the audio mixing tent. The view wasn’t terrible, and I wasn’t about to crush the crowd ahead of me to get closer. He stuck around for the first five songs before leaving to search for the girls. We both knew it would take 15 minutes just to make it through the crowd. The Cure didn’t come out and blow anyone away and shouldn’t really be expected to. They played great renditions of “Fascination Street,” and “Just Like Heaven,” but slowed things down a little too early with “Pictures of You,” a song of theirs I haven’t really enjoyed since Lit covered it. I think Lit’s version is better, and I still want to see them live.
The Cure lost me for a bit with never-ending versions of “Lullaby” and “Disintegration,” and I was probably really high, despite my feet and lower back killing me, so I went to rest my feet on a hay bale near the beer gardens. There I met a guy that gave me some Garbage Pail Kids stickers, exclaiming, “Doesn’t it make you feel like a kid!” He then shared a joint with me and offered me LSD. I told him any other day I’d take him up on it, but I had to be here by noon tomorrow and didn’t have eight hours of sleep to spare.
After smoking the joint with him, I got that weird, tingling feeling in the front of my mouth that always lingers after you eat acid. I chalked it up as marijuana paranoia since that chocolate bar was starting to play tricks on me now. I was pretty stoned, and needed a few drinks I could put on my credit card. I packed up my camera and made for the exit. I knew I would still be able to hear, and in some cases, see the show on my way out, so I left a little early. The Cure played “Love Song” as I passed by the stage, and I stayed to watch through the chain-link fence. I was a little pissed I didn’t hear “Close to Me,” but I was beat.
Then I made for my safe haven, Brooklyn’s Bar. There I noticed just one open seat at the bar, but the very welcoming, old bartender made me feel at home. I walked right up to the seat wondering why no one was sitting there, ordered a whiskey Coke, and then looked next to me and noticed who I thought was a musician from the festival. I could have swore I’d seen him before, and when he started talking to the bartender about Dropkick Murphys, it dawned on me that he was a member of the band.
‘You ever hear of a band called Dropkick Murphys?” he asked the bartender.
“Yeah, they did the soundtrack for The Departed,” he said. I couldn’t help but giggle while I sipped my whiskey Coke, and I noticed a smile on my neighbor’s face in the mirror across the bar as he replied.
“Yeah, that’s a good movie.” I didn’t want to invade the guy’s privacy or anything, so I let he and his friend talk, who I swore was another musician I couldn’t place. He did ask how easy it was to get a cab in town.
“You got a smart phone?”
I almost commented on his pronunciation of Uber. I believe it’s oo-ber. He said uh-ber, but we understood each other, so I left it at that. I could have given another recommendation. Lyft is a pretty great little taxi app as well. Hell, I could have told him about that time a few years ago I saw him at First Avenue in Minneapolis with my attorney, landed my ass in jail, and caught a nasty flu that ruined my cocaine, punk-rock vacation. But I was trying to be considerate, and I was a little paranoid. I went into the bathroom and took a shit that made everything better. Then I sucked down another whiskey Coke before leaving to catch the light rail.
The train looked like cans of sardines linked together, so I thought I’d wait for the next one. A very cute girl in short shorts had just missed the train, too, so I suggested we open her 18-pack of Bud Light and chug a few beers why we wait. Apparently I was over my paranoia. I even told her I had a disguise and pulled out the free coozy I got from Floyd’s Barbershop so people wouldn’t think we’re a couple of alcoholics. Just as we had the first beer out of the box and nearly in the coozy, her boyfriend came over and put an end to our fun, saying, “No, we’re not chugging beers at the train station,”
“Why not?” I asked, laughing. I eventually talked him into it, and we chugged a beer together. I let the cute girl keep the coozy and warned them they’d be waiting a while. The next train wasn’t for another 15 minutes. I took a seat on a bench and eyed the girl in short shorts until the train arrived.
Day 2 of Riot Fest in Denver was another training day for Sunday, when The Menzingers, The Bouncing Souls, and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes would all play. I’d also get to confirm whether I really drank with a member of Dropkick Murphys when they play, Sunday. My big day was just 12 hours away. I needed my rest.