Riot Fest Day 1 Recap: Thank God For Grade

By: Shelby Monita August 27, 2013
This past weekend, Toronto’s favourite historical site turned festival grounds, Fort York, played host to Chicago based punk rock carnival, Riot Fest. The weekend started out hot, heavy and loud, as Saturday’s line up was a stacked bill of only hardcore and emo pop rock bands. Swarms of self-conscious teenagers and their misunderstood angst had half the capacity of the land filled as bands screamed their way into fans hearts. 
Structures, the second act of the day came on stage, shocking the crowd with their individual version of hardcore. With the lead singer barking into the microphone, it was hard to tell when one song ended and the next began, just one long incoherent mess. Though I must admit they were very conscientious, promoting how important hydration is during a festival to the young crowd. The singer even gave us a touching story of a time he was at a festival, didn’t think much about drinking water and fainted. The metal-inspired band entertained us with the very young guitarist swinging his guitar around his neck and the bass player head banging with great enthusiasm. In ten years these guys will make a great Pantera cover band. 
Later in the day, some local flavour from Toronto-area’s Grade provided us with the first melody of the day. In true punk rock fashion they made note that the price of their merchandise wasn’t their prices and wasn’t punk rock. Much more professional and put together than the other acts, it was obvious that they were the older guys who the younger bands could look up to. 
It was difficult to tell Mayday Parade apart from Pierce the Veil. Both were young, both were pretty, both had shallow emo lyrics that the naïve minds of the stacks of teenagers in the audience understood to be “deep.” Mayday Parade put on a better show with less stage antics and more talent. Where as Pierce the Veil seemed to take notes from watching YouTube videos of Def Leppard, they were more focused on making sure they kept the attention of the MTV crowd with high jumps and throwing their guitars across the stage, while keeping huge exaggerated smiles on their faces. A bit too polished for a supposed-to-be punk rock fest. Though kudos to them for the broken home artwork they used as their backdrop on stage. Strong message there. 
The night ended with A Day to Remember, a hardcore band from Florida. Their performance can be summed up in the line they used when they first walked on stage: “Toronto, lets have a good time! This one is called ‘Violence.’” 
Shelby Monita is a freelance writer living in Toronto. Her writing mainly focuses on music, more specifically underground and punk rock. She welcomes the travel bug with open arms and loves to share her stories. You can read more of her work on her site  

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