Words/Photography By: Adam Harrison
The sun was out on Sunday for Day 2 of Riot Fest, and those who attended Day 1 were especially thankful as they were still wringing their socks out.
Early birds to the festival were able to experience the extreme enthusiasm of Andrew W.K., the dreaminess of The Joy Formidable and orchestration of The Airborne Toxic Event.
The main stages really started to heat up around 4:30 with the English folk-punk singer Frank Turner and his band The Sleeping Souls. Near the end of his set, Turner set the expectations for the rest of the evening when he leapt into the crowd and continued to perform in body surf mode.
One of the most impressive sets and perhaps the pleasant surprise of the whole weekend were indie/alternative newcomers, Bleachers. You’ve probably heard a couple of their singles like “I Wanna Get Better” and “Rollercoaster” on the radio, but the band sound much fuller in person. With each member playing multiple roles, from duel drummers and keyboardists, to saxophone solos, this five-piece out of Brooklyn was dropping jaws, especially during their spot on cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.”
If you weren’t pumped up enough after Bleachers, then ska punk veterans Rancid definitely got you going with their performance of their 1995 album, …And Out Come the Wolves, featuring punk rock classics like “Time Bomb” and “Ruby Soho.” They proved to a mob of young concertgoers that you can still be punk, even in your late 40s.
Day 2 also drew a different crowd into Downsview Park as the Rock Stage was transformed into a hip hop stage with the likes of Tyler, The Creator, Atmosphere and the legendary Wu-Tang Clan, featuring the line up of RZA, GZA, Inspectah Deck, U-God and Cappadonna. The Clan, who have been ranked by the likes of Rolling Stone magazine as the best rap group ever, ran through several hits such as “Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing to F*ck Wit” and “Protect Ya Neck,” along with their own rendition of The Beatles’ classic “Come Together.”
If you’re a fan of both rock n’ roll and hip hop, you may have been torn because while Wu-Tang were bringin’ da ruckus, over at the Roots Stage Weezer were performing their classic Blue Album. Despite looking like a middle-aged dad who had given up on his appearance with his over-sized tee, khakis and an un-trimmed beard, Rivers Cuomo still delivered the goods. With the help from his geeky band mates, he led the way through the timeless album, inspiring many sing-a-longs for such songs as “Buddy Holly,” “Undone (The Sweater Song)” and “Say It Ain’t So.”
Both Wu-Tang and Weezer drew enormous crowds, but everyone united for the headlining set from the Godfathers of rave, The Prodigy. It was a special appearance from the three-piece from Essex, England, who rarely tour and haven’t set foot on a stage in Toronto in over six years. The bizarre group opened their 75-minute set with “Breathe,” a song that holds a special place in many Canadians’ memory as it was the opening track on MuchMusic’s famous 1997 compilation album Big Shiny Tunes 2. An amazing thing about The Prodigy’s music is it’s a mash of so many genres and everyone seems to react differently to it. Whether you danced, jumped, fist-pumped, head-banged or moshed you’re way through anthems like “Firestarter,” “Smack My Bitch Up,” or “Their Law” it was a memorable way to wrap up an epic weekend.