For the past decade, Riot Fest (a three-day festival that takes place each year in Denver and Chicago) has been the place where childhood punk-rock dreams come true. For instance, two years ago outside Mile High Stadium, I got to see the Descendents tear through Milo Goes to College, which I played so many times in my Walkman as a high-school freshman in Pittsburgh that the cassette was destroyed. Last year, when Riot Fest’s Denver edition moved to the National Western Complex, I earned a new appreciation for goth trailblazers the Damned and beamed, laughed and sang along with thousands of others to the Dead Milkmen’s “Punk Rock Girl.”
Riot Fest, which began as a multi-venue festival at clubs and theaters in Chicago, is mostly about reveling in raucous performances by edgy, legendary bands you had no idea were still around and making pilgrimages to witness long-awaited reunions. The most anticipated reunion in the history of heavy music, arguably, took place last night in Denver, but I’ll get to that in a bit. (Read the full article at Westword.com)
I’ve had some time alone the past two weeks. Some of it productive; some of it downright lazy; some of it getting ready for a 5k I’m running in Pittsburgh July 4 with my uncle and cousin; some of it sitting on my balcony like a total loser singing and playing “Not Dark Yet” on my Little Martin. Most relevant, with the little one away I’ve had the rare chance to live without time constraints and do things like hike Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak back to back, bike from Boulder and back to see Rockies games, and bike Lefthand Canyon over and over to prepare for my bike tour through Switzerland next month.
Biking lets me embrace a physical and mental challenge not many people who I’m close with can seem to relate to. Though they support my hobby, I’ve been generally unable to convince friends or family – outside of my work, where nearly everyone happens to be a cycling geek – to share in something like biking from Denver to Boulder or biking Lefthand Canyon. Maybe someday – but anyway even on group rides no one can really do the pedaling for you, do the mental and physical centering for you, or help you come to grips with painful thoughts and memories that might come up as your wheels spin mile after mile. Just as I’ve come to say “Fuck cars; get a bike,” I guess my stance is also “Fuck meditation; go on bike trips.”
Anyway, today – before cycling up to the Jamestown Merc and back – I made a third attempt at buying a touring bike in order to stop hauling my beloved, but heavy, 2013 Kona Splice around the country with loaded panniers. I tried a 2013 Surly Cross Check about six weeks ago and couldn’t deal with the hunched-over position or the way it dragged weight in the back when loaded. I tried a 2013 Marin Four Corners last week and found it slow. Very slow. Today I picked up a 2013 Bianchi Volpe (57cm with a very elevated stem Bicycle Village threw on) and so far am digging it, besides the soft-looking powder-blue color that’s the antithesis of the black, or black and yellow, I’ve gone with when buying bikes since using a single-speed Kona Lanai (built from parts by Box Dog Bikes) to get everywhere in San Francisco for about half the seven years I lived there.
Yes, I’m shallow enough to review the 2013 Volpe (“fox” in Italian) by saying I hate the color. But I do, essentially because it’s not a dark bike. It’s not punk. It’s not tough. It’s powder blue, with a vintage (see: self-conscious) aesthetic that, to me, comes off as cheesy. Gold-bordered white letters on a powder-blue frame? How am I supposed to bike around listening to “Horror Business” or “I’ll Be Your Sister” on this thing? OK, I’ll wrap some black electrical tape or whatever around the lettering and move on. The all-steel Volpe – which has been a staple of the Bianchi brand for many years – seems like a great bike so far, other than some shifting problems a trouble not taking too-wide turns (which is probably the result of the higher stem I had Bicycle Village throw on). The Fox is fast, smooth, sturdy, and a screaming downhill machine. I’ll see how it feels with loaded panniers tomorrow. ..
Saturday May 3, 2011
by Adam Perry for Westword
Better Than: Watching Jerry Only, bassist for the original Misfits—the seminal punk band fronted by Glenn Danzig, who wrote all their songs—trudge through laser-quick versions of Danzig’s classic songs while dressed like a professional wrestler. Sadly that’s what’s passed for “The Misfits” for many years.
The first time I went out to see Danzig, over a decade ago as a teenager in the Pittsburgh, Pa., of my youth, the concert was inexplicably canceled minutes before show time and I returned to my ’89 Pontiac Sunbird to find it towed. Last night in Boulder, I feared some similar fate would follow me to Colorado, but, when doom appeared in the form of a dead camera battery, local photographer Dane Cronin tapped on my shoulder just before the Satanic cacophony began and offered to use my much-coveted photo pass to provide professional-quality pictures of his own. And he even bought me a beer.
Cronin proved talented, altruistic, and even courageous, as Danzig appeared onstage just after 10pm at the Boulder Theater—flanked by Spinal Tap-worthy statues of giant skull-octopi—and literally ripped an expensive camera out of a concertgoer’s hand mid-song before handing it to a roadie. The former Misfits frontman has been known to walk into record stores and snatch bootleg recordings of the Misfits and Danzig, but Tuesday night was the first time I’ve seen him, or any other artist, prowl the crowd for cameras. It’s hard to see the point—a true metal legend, Danzig looks fine for his age (55)—but at least the guy sticks to his convictions.
Musically, Danzig’s Boulder Theater performance was surprisingly impressive, considering the departure of Danzig’s bandmates from the group’s heyday (1987-1994). After a few incomprehensible newer songs that found the audience excited to see its longtime hero but puzzled by unexceptional and unfamiliar music and lyrics, Danzig plunged deep into his treasure chest of darkly themed classics and won the crowd, many dressed in just-purchased $35 t-shirts, over easily. With the muscle-bound vocalist’s booming, vengeful voice mostly intact, “Twist of Cain” and “Her Black Wings” energized the whole building, inspiring Danzig to repeatedly give the Boulder faithful a chance to sing into his microphone, and “How the Gods Kill” provided a reminder of just how powerful and enjoyable heavy music can be.
There’s a reason Danzig—who still sports long black hair, a massive skull and horns belt buckle and a skin-tight muscle t-shirt—influenced just about every relevant heavy American band from the mid-‘80s on, from Metallica to Korn. His huge voice, equal parts Elvis and Mephistopheles, is inimitable and startlingly compelling, even today, 35 years after his debut with the Misfits and 24 years after Danzig’s eponymous debut. And his best lyrics, from the psychosexual horror of “Bullet” to the somehow soulful murder-obsessed rage of “Long Way Back From Hell,” pique the primitive American intellect just enough to remain a guilty pleasure for decades after teenhood. At least for myself and the few hundred other headbangers surrounding me last night at a venue where considerably mellower acts, such as Jolie Holland, Nick Lowe and Broken Social Scene, have treated me to some magical performances in the recent past, it was metal heaven for a while. And man, Danzig and eTown would make for an incredibly interesting evening together.
Personal Bias: It was a fun show, but in reality watching Danzig perform forceful favorites he wrote and recorded 20-25 years ago is only marginally more significant than seeing one original member of the Misfits—Jerry Only—pounce on a bunch of songs he played bass on 30-35 years ago. But I was in the Boulder Theater bathroom when Danzig broke into “Mother,” the group’s 1993 MTV hit, so maybe I missed the high moment of the evening.
Random Detail: Danzig’s current backing band, which dons matching black wife-beaters and jet-black manes of shoulder-length hair, looks like it’d be equally comfortable giving the devil sign to audiences of weight-lifter automobile enthusiasts and excelling behind the counter at a pizza parlor at the gates in Hell.
By The Way: It’s unfortunate that Danzig, a New Jersey native and comic book enthusiast who reportedly turned down a chance to play Wolverine in the X-Men movie series, may end up being best remembered not for his impressive recorded works but for amateur footage of him getting knocked out by a rival band a few years ago, which ended up on YouTube and has been viewed a million times. I mean, Johnny Cash even recorded one of his songs, for God’s sake. Either way, both his classic music and the video below are all kinds of awesome.