By: Shelby Monita August 28, 2013
Day two of Riot Fest was a welcome change from what was endured during day one. With a stellar line up of punk rock icons, it would be nearly impossible to disappoint. That is, as soon as Best Coast left the stage. Lead by Bethany Cosentino, California natives Best Coast take the laid back lifestyle a few steps too far. It’s hard to tell if Cosentino is playing the part of bored or just really hates what she does for a living. While on stage, it seems like achieving something most bands could ever dream of is the worst thing that has ever happened to her. There is also the fact that almost all her songs have the same whiney tone to them, in the end just sounds like one long, drawn out temper tantrum. Best Coast is not punk rock, and it would have been nice if she did the audience and herself a favour and just sat this show out.
Thankfully Dinosaur Jr. was on directly after to restore our faith in music and in punk rock festivals. Though still paying homage to the first day of Riot Fest, the band lead by J Mascis and Lou Barlow played a song from their first band together, which coincidentally was a hardcore punk band by the name of Deep Wounds. The guys were as polite as the crowd, noting that the mosh pit was kind and friendly–a very Toronto mosh pit–and showing gratitude to be playing on the same bill as Iggy and The Stooges and Replacements, two bands that were a huge influence on them. Playing a selection of songs from their massive catalogue, these boys did not let us down and had everyone moving when they busted out their stellar single, “Freak Scene.”
The Weakerthans were a strange choice to be a part of this punk rock line up. A polite folk rock band from Winnipeg, seems like they were only on stage to fill the Canadian band quota, like Fucked Up did last year. Despite the odd placement, they put on an entertaining show. Singing songs about their justified hatred for Winnipeg, making curling references and saying “thank you” a disgusting amount of times, they did bring everyone back to their polite, northern roots.
Finally, the time came for the living hurricane to come and sweep us away. Iggy and The Stooges came out full throttle and busting right into “Raw Power,” the perfect upper the audience needed to come alive. Iggy Pop is just as wild as ever, jumping around stage, singing beautifully, smiling at the crowd and cracking jokes, everyone was a bit changed after this performance. With a selection of songs from the past as well as a select few from latest album, Ready to Die, the arrangement kept the hour-long set fresh. Not to mention, despite doctors orders for Iggy to stop stage diving, that did not keep him from taking a massive leap with a running start, over the huge security gap and into the audience. A trick only a seasoned pro can pull off.
The crowd came together when Iggy had everyone singing, “I Want to Be Your Dog” and moshing their hardest during “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell.” Few acts can make a polite Canadian crowd turn into crazed animals, completely letting loose. The set ended with “Sex with Money,” leaving the crowd in awe and most likely horny.
Riot Fest came to a beautiful and perfect end when The Replacements, after breaking up 22 years ago on stage reunited for the first time.
Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson walked out, like it was no big deal, like thousands of fans haven’t been waiting for this moment an entire lifetime. Westerberg made a joke, apologizing for taking so long–they had an unresolved 25-year-old dispute–then they jumped right into “Takin’ a Ride.” Everything was perfect, especially the imperfect parts. For example, when Westerberg forgot the words during “I Will Dare.”
The set list spanned their entire career, included b-sides, and even had a Chuck Berry cover. The band was happy, was comfortable on stage and couldn’t stop smiling at each other. In total they played an 80-minute set, far too short for making us wait so long, but just enough to leave us wanting more. After seeing so much joy and love on stage it would be hard to say that this is it for The Replacements reunion. They still have another two Riot Fest dates to fill, though no one would be shocked if they came back for more.
At the end of a strange weekend, Riot Fest came through. It was one hell of a festival.
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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 casamonita.com.
Photography by Paddy Jane.