Riot Fest, Denver: You Are Unprepared


I could be wrong about everything you are about to read. If I am, this blog doesn’t get any better.

Normally, I hate music festivals and even took the trivial time to write an opinion piece about how much I hate them. But with a lineup consisting of some great punk bands, new and old, Riot Fest, Denver sounded like a great, nostalgic time. With the festival expanding to Colorado and Toronto this year, these sounded like better locations then, let’s say, Palm Springs is for a festival. It even seemed worth it to fly out to Colorado from San Francisco just for the weekend. Then, late September happened. Colorado has been no stranger to severe weather this past week. From severe thunderstorms and flooding, it makes someone like me happy to live in a state like California. Rain or shine, the Riot Fest was scheduled to continue. To sum up how the weather affected the festival (and since this is not a narrative about my weekend,) if you have been paying attention to the flooding, the festival was postponed Sunday for over two hours because of a severe thunderstorm. Bands eventually performed with shortened set lists. It was during this whole fiasco that I realized how unprepared the organizers of Riot Fest: Denver, were for weather problems and arranging a festival all together. I camped the weekend, so this is from the perspective of just some silly camper.


The festival was held on a giant stretch of land known as May Farms, owned by Gary May, and it is located in the small town of Byers, which by the way, has some of the nicest people you can hope to meet. One of the liquor store clerks I met mentioned that holding this festival in their small town, according to May, was supposed to put their small town on the map. It sounded logical. Nothing like bringing in a few drunken idiots to put some revenue into your small town. And that’s where some of the problems started. In my opinion, Mr. May did not realize what he was getting himself into. You have punk music, you have drunk people and you’re charging over $130 to camp and park; you’re going to piss people off. Not to mention a last minute booze itinerary list change of what campers can bring in caused some confusion. Refusing to purchase beers at $7 a pop, my girlfriend and I would drive to local liquor stores to buy our own case of beer. According to the liquor store owner I met, (whom I’m leaving her name and store name out of) it was not well communicated between liquor store owners and the festival organizers about what type of booze is allowed to be brought in and as a result, you have glass bottles and wine coolers being dumped at the campground check-in grounds. Also, liquor store owners couldn’t warn booze purchasers that no glass bottles, liquor or wine wasn’t allowed in because they found out from the attendees the day of. This was not well communicated to the festival attendants either until about a few days before the festival, so for all we know, our booze was being stored in May’s private farm barn. However, if you worked the festival, it was no problem to bring in glass bottles of tequila.

The results? A bunch of pissed off, drunken campers. Aside from the people working the small general store, the staff did jack to provide assistance. They were virtually ghosts unless it involved dumping booze in a trash can. You don’t really expect much when you’re camping, but you can tell that the festival was rushed into formation and the staff didn’t know how to handle a festival crowd. I have snuck in festivals before, but this was way too easy. I don’t know if the staff was too focused on enforcing the “no outside food or drink policy” but myself, and people who clearly didn’t purchase the tickets, were hopping fences to get in. That’s how I got my outside beer in.

I don’t want to rip on the staff too much; they were enforcing a set of unclear rules from an oblivious person. My girlfriend and I drove around the town of Byers in between bands and had the privilege of meeting the great people of the town, but also learning how some of the townsfolk were up in arms about the festival. Oh, the reason we drove around was out of boredom. Aside from overly expensive carnival games, people were lying around out of boredom because the festival provided nothing to do. If I’m dishing out cash for the festival itself, I don’t want to pay extra money to ride a ferris wheel. Take notes from Coachella. But one thing we learned from the townsfolk is that their local firefighters had to also work the festival, as volunteers, and unpaid. They were not well equipped with a medical staff, so they were borrowing from the town without bothering to pay them. Keep in mind, this is just what I heard from local liquor store owners and farmers. I don’t know how accurate it is. Being unpaid was the theme for this festival. I got two free beers from the beer vendors because I tipped three bucks. What the bartender said is that the festival is NOT paying them hourly and they are solely paid from tips. Which sucks, because with how expensive beers were, it was not likely you were going to tip. They were getting screwed. Speaking of beer vendors, work on what you have to offer for beer Mr. May. Every festival I’ve been to has some decent choices. An IPA and a Pabst should both not be $7. But hey, your land virtually was destroyed by this festival, so what do I care. Here is a pretty good list about what did and did not work at Riot Fest, Denver if you want to check it out.

Then, alas, came day two. It was pretty sunny until about 5 pm, when Public Enemy performed.


After their set, the rain started coming down hard. The rain and shine festival soon turned into an emergency evacuation. Over loud speakers we heard that the weather was going to be severe and to seek shelter. We packed up our tent and bolted to our car. It was unclear what we were supposed to do at this point so everyone in the parking lot just honked their horns, and were being loud, making the best out of a seemingly dangerous situation.


This too, was another point in the weekend that made the festival appear unprepared. In an article published by The Denver Post, Lt. Chris George of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Department was quoted saying “We had an emergency plan prepared, and put that plan in place in cooperation with Riot Fest.” I’m not sure what this emergency plan was because it did not appear there really was one.

87 were taken by bus to Byers High School for shelter. Which is great, but this sounds like a Titanic-type of situation. There were thousands of attendees and campers and only 87 were evacuated. Great emergency plan. Look, my opinion on this whole situation, for all I know, is misguided and completely false. I don’t want to take a shit on the Sheriff’s Department or anyone else (too much at least.) I’m just thinking out loud.

The real emergency plan appeared to be every man for themselves and go hide in your car, which for the record, is a pretty safe place to hide during thunder and lightning storms. So I guess their plan was great. Besides close lightning strikes and loud thunder, the storm never got much worst. If it did, I’m really curious how they would have handled it. That’s a lot of people to evacuate and there was no staff or medical presence before or after the storm. If their plan was to have the crowds of people drive away from May Farms before the severe part of the storm hit, that is a dangerous idea. Aside from the fact traffic in and out of that place is a nightmare and the main highway is only two lanes, everyone has been drinking. The people we were hiding out next to and ourselves were discussing how dangerous this night could get if it was decided to have everyone leave on their own. They would have been sending out drunk drivers in a storm. It almost sounds like an ethics question really: “Would you send out a drunk driver to drive away from a hurricane if it meant that was their only option to be safe?”

We never received an “ok” to return to the festival 2 hours after and it was obvious, we were all on our own. We were left out of the loop with information about the storm and festival; most of us just followed weather patterns on our phones to put it all together. We all sort of guessed when it was safe to return to the festival. To justify charging us full price, we saw the remaining bands for the day play for about 20 minutes instead of the scheduled hour. It is better than nothing I supposed and to give credit where credit is due, many of the bands were fantastic live. Against Me! primarily.

We slept in our car that night and planned on leaving early Monday morning. It rained all night and the patch that was once a dirt parking lot, turned into an ocean of mud. Anyone who attempted to drive that did not have a truck or jeep, were stuck. Words can’t explain how much of a shit show this mud grave of cars looked like. It looked like a scene after a huge weather disaster. People were stuck left and right and it was every man for themselves. Once word got out that no one was getting out, the festival organizers quickly arranged for help to come. Just kidding, they weren’t around and when the one staff member I saw drive by, they turned the other cheek. Maybe we should have given them a bottle of wine to dump out first.

Everyone called their own tow trucks, but with the serious flooding and how many distress calls of being at the mercy of mud AAA was receiving, no one was coming for at least 2 hours minimum. We were on our own. Strangers soon became our best friends. We helped one couple push their car all the way to stronger ground and the favor was reversed. Two hours later,  we made it out of the mud. Driving out of the exit, it was desolate with the exception of other cars being stuck. Staff remained a ghost and it as corny as it sounds, it was a sad and lonely scene. All these cars trapped with people getting dirtied up in the cold rain trying to push them all the way to the exit. No help came nor was given, except the assistance between festival attendants. I feel lucky that my girlfriend and I met this guy, Nick whom we helped. Otherwise, I’d be writing this blog from Denver International. No help came nor was given, except the assistance between festival attendants.

I learned from AAA that they were working with the actual county to send in help for everyone that was stranded. If this was a result of festival organizers assisting to help, then the only thing they really had to work on was relaying information better. I’m probably just a whiner about this whole scenario, but when you hear from other townsfolk about how unprepared their town was for this festival, it makes sense. They were a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off when it came to handling a large group of people. If the storm got worst, I’m really curious how that would have turned out.

On a positive note, the bands kicked ass and I hope Riot Fest continues expanding to various locations. Their lineups are awesome and I’d even go to the Byers location again. If they learn from the mistakes of this past year, it has potential to be something great in years to come.

The Guide To Being A Man?? LOL

How old this column of “advice” may be, I was just recently exposed to it. It is essentially CNBC’s John Carney, who also is behind the @GSElevator twitter account, giving his insight on being a “real man” You don’t know who John Carney is? It is ok. A simple google search won’t clear that up. Anyway, Mr. Carney was kind enough to offer his insight on what it takes to be a “real man” in 2013. But it all it ends up sounding like is a graduated frat boy’s list of how to remain a douchebag, yet, still try appear as an adult. You can check out the original page here. In the meantime, here are my rebuttals to his list. I am just another asshole with an opinion, keep in mind. 

(my responses are in bold)

You will regret your tattoos.- Will I really though? I love my tattoos. Mine are just a reflection of my Norwegian background and my love for Irish music. Mr. Carney, do you have tattoos? Do you regret yours? I’m pretty sure I’d regret my tattoos as well if it was ridiculous font spewing out “Only God Can Judge Me” or having my last name tattooed on my back. Then yes, I would regret my tattoos. I’d also be writing a column on how to be a real man, when in reality, I’m just suppressing how big of a tool I am. 

Stop talking about where you went to college.- This is the first of many words of wisdom that has no correlation with being a man. Yes, someone who talks about their college continuously is irritating, but so are roided out brothers talking about how many handles of no-label vodka they killed. To each its own Mr. Carney. This does not contribute to one’s masculinity, it contributes to whether or not people are going to want to hang out with them. Let people be proud and live in the past as long as they want. 

The best public restrooms are in hotels.-Um, I’ll call bullshit. The best public restroom is the great outdoors. Ever been camping and were in desperate need of a quick piss or poop? Have no fear. You just drop your pants and let your body do the rest. There are no stall lines and you don’t have to deal with the pesky task of washing your hands. I don’t need my shits to feel prestigious, elite or 5 stars. I just need enough dirt to bury my shit in a hole. 

After college, never stay out after midnight three nights in a row… Unless something really good comes up on the third night.-Or unless there is a 3 day weekend. You let me dictate my own sleep pattern Mr. Carney. A real man comes inside when the street lights come on. 

If riding the bus doesn’t incentivize you to improve your station in life, nothing will.-Do you live in San Francisco? Owning a car sucks, and has nothing to do with your station in life. Riding the bus is great! You can drink all the Natural Ice you want and not have to worry about driving home! Why does owning a car make you a man? At $4 a gallon, it makes you stupid. I have professors on tenure or sabbatical and they ride Muni. I would say my professors, who encouraged my growth and learning experience, have a great station in life. Does owning a nice car make you feel better about yourself? Most people just end up making fun of your penis size.  

Time is too short to do your own laundry.-…said the person who doesn’t know how to do their own laundry. But hey, I can’t help but agree. Time is too short to wipe your own ass, blow your own nose, pump their own gas: YOLO bro.  

When the bartender asks, you should already know what you want to drink.- Unless you’re at a brewery bar or speakeasy. Been to one of those? You’re foolish if you don’t take the time to enjoy the different options of the beers or cocktails they offer. But no, you’re right. Just continue having your whiskey or rum watered down with Coke. God damn, what a man! You probably drink Cosmopolitans too. 

You don’t have to like baseball, but you should understand the concept of what a pitcher’s ERA means. Approach life similarly.-Well that’s stupid. Do you understand the concept of icing, cross-checking, boarding or a Gordie-Howe hat-trick? If not, it is probably because you don’t watch hockey and I wouldn’t expect you to know these things otherwise. Speaking of which, if you want to discuss manliness, just look up professional hockey players Steve Stamkos or Greg Campbell, and that will help define your precious definition. The best part about these guys and sport is the humility, which, if we are going to discuss being a “man,” just makes you a decent person; much more than discussing those bitches you fucked with your frat buddies while jerking off on each other. Take notes. I don’t like baseball because it’s stupid, boring and being how unpatriotic I am, I could care less if it is America’s favorite past time. Also, stop trying to sound deep by applying the concept of understanding baseball terminologies to living life. Try this one on for size: If you don’t like something, don’t watch it. Deep, eh? 

When people don’t invite you to a party, you really shouldn’t go. And sometimes even when you are invited, you shouldn’t go.-When people don’t invite you to party, you really shouldn’t go because you weren’t invited. It’s rude. When you are invited, and still don’t go, well then you’re just a flake and most people will stop caring about you making an appearance. Nothing to do with manliness, just being pretentious. You’re on a roll good sir. 

When in doubt, always kiss the girl.-Sure, but your mom doesn’t count. 

Tip more than you should.– Also, nothing to do with masculinity. However, a very kind gesture. Anyone in the service industry will certainly appreciate this. So, you’re not completely hopeless. 

When the bouncer says it’s time for you to leave, it is.-Yeah, probably. What’s your manly point? 

Buy expensive sunglasses. Superficial? Yes, but so are the women judging you. And it tells these women you appreciate nice things and are responsible enough not to lose them.-Are you only going for superficial girls? I have Star Wars posters in my room and heck, my girlfriend still likes me. I also have an HD Television as well as a Pearl Export drum set. Both of which are more expensive than sunglasses, more useful, in good shape and I appreciate these nice things a lot. Does that really say anything more than I enjoy my movies in HD and I play music as a hobby? Guess what Mr. Carrey, or is it Carney? Sorry, this got long. Chicks dig musicians! I’ll stick to my Wal-Mart sunglasses while being better at something than you. This doesn’t make me more of a “man” than you; it just shows that I have a passion for something other than being Patrick Bateman. Enjoy your spray tan. 

Do 50 push-ups, sit-ups, and dips before you shower each morning.-You’re health conscious. That’s a great thing. Something that applies to both sexes. You’re so smart.  

Eat brunch with friends at least every other weekend.-Why brunch? Whenever I’ve had brunch, no one has ever walked by and said, “Hey Connie! Look at that man!” Is brunch really the manly meals of all meals? Can’t I just circle jerk with my friends every other weekend instead? It’s cheaper and we still have time to watch the game. 

Be a regular at more than one bar.-Or get a new hobby/past time. If drinking is your main activity of nightlife other than having people make fun of you, you’re stupid. 

No selfies. Aspire to experience photo-worthy moments in the company of a beautiful woman.-You sound like someone who instagrams their food. 

Posting pictures on Facebook from a private jet or Vegas suite let’s everyone know it’s your first time… and probably the last.-Or you can just let them post pictures about their life, when in reality, no one cares. Your pictures serve no more purpose to the general public or your friends than the aforementioned. I’d personally be pretty stoked to be on a private jet. Is being stoked about something you normally don’t get to do make you less masculine? Well then, I lost all my masculine points getting excited over Miley Cyrus’s new jam.   

You can get away with a lot more if you’re the one buying the drinks.-You can also have some money left over for that manly brunch date the next day if you’re coaxing others to buy your rounds. I can also get away with a lot more on the internet. What’s your point Darwin? 

Ask for a salad instead of fries.
-Dressing on the side right? This will make it ok to continue pumping alcohol in your system. Thank goodness for that salad. 

Don’t split a check.-Your server would probably appreciate that. You have some kind gestures littered through here Mr. Corny. 

Pretty women who are unaccompanied want you to talk to them.-…said Captain Douchebag. Have you ever worked in a bar sir? Often times, a pretty woman just wants to read a book (or iPad) and drink their wine. Or did your steroids and spray tan give you the impression everyone likes you? “They hate us, because they ain’t us.”-said every insecure jackoff. 

When a bartender buys you a round, tip double. -I will give you this; when it comes to restaurant etiquette,

 I’d really hope to serve you one day. Your man tips, however, come across as vague. 

Find a Times New Roman in the streets and a Wingdings in the sheets. She exists.-“A day without sunshine is like night.” What’s your point? 

Piercings are liabilities in fights.-Very true. Do you just assume, Mr. Manly, that being a man, means you’re going to fight? Anyone who has the audacity to make this list can have their asses kicked by my sister. (she’s pretty scary though) Pressing your faces close together, resisting a quick smooch, while yelling “What the fuck bro?” isn’t a fight. This is a fight.

Desserts are for women. Order one and pretend you don’t mind that she’s eating yours.
-Excuse me? Have you ever had Chubby Hubby? You’re missing out. You appear to fancy yourself a prestigious fellow. What about those fancy 3 course meals? I managed to have one in Napa, paired with different types of wine. When they handed me the dessert paired with a Cabernet, I didn’t act sexist and respond, “Oh, no thanks! Desserts are for women.” Desserts aren’t like a piece of clothing. 

Buy a tuxedo before you are thirty. Stay that size.
-You sound very health conscious. I admire that. But does it have to be a tuxedo? Girls do the same thing with a pair of jeans or their wedding dresses. The desire to want to fit into a piece of clothing you purchased at 30 doesn’t mean you’re a man; it means you want to remain fit. 

One girlfriend at a time is probably enough.
-Oh man, could you imagine having two? Think of the headaches! Actually, having more than one makes you a dick. 

Throw parties. 
But have someone else clean up the next day.-Be an asshole! Why don’t you have the people who do your laundry clean your house? Do you like Huey Lewis and the News?

Measure yourself only against your previous self.-A good piece of advice for everyone. Still, not applicable to one sex. You suck. 

If you wear a baseball cap in bars, the girls will assume you are balding.-What about beanies? Fedoras? Those cool hats from the 30s? If you wear a muscle t-shirt in a bar, the bar will assume you’re a tool. 

Revenge can be a good way of getting over anger.-Well, good thing I’m writing this.  

If she expects the person you are 20% of the time, 100% of the time, then she doesn’t want you.-No one ever liked you for your personality, did they?

Always bring a bottle of something to the party.

– A very sweet gesture again. There’s a human being in there! I can sense it!

Avoid that “last” whiskey. You’ve probably had enough.-It’s not whiskey if you put Coke in it, pussy.  

If you are wittier than you are handsome, avoid loud clubs.-Yeah, probably. Clubs are stupid and only exist to boost your ego for your mediocre social status. Enjoy your $20 vodka tonic. If you’re handsome and a real man, you spend an hour on WordPress responding to a “Be A Real Man List…” Duh!  

Learn how to speak before a large audience.-That’s what my speech teacher said. That class had more than just dudes in it. Probably a good skill to learn for everyone. 

Do not buy the product insurance.-Just because you said not to, I’m going to. You mad bro?

If it’s got velvet ropes and lines, walk away unless you know someone.-If the line is too long, get a Fastpass, and go on the Buzz Lightyear ride.  

No one cares if you are offended, so stop it.-This whole piece is just ironic then isn’t it, queer? Is that offensive?  

Never take an ex back. She tried to do better and is settling with you.-What are you, 17? 

Eating out alone can be magnificent. Find a place where you can sit at the bar.-It really can. But I thought if someone was alone, it should be assumed that they want us to talk to them. 

Read more. It allows you to borrow someone else’s brain, and will make you more interesting.-Well, if you’re trying to pick up on superficial girls, they can’t read anything else except their iPhones, so the idea of reading is obsolete. Also, reading “The Hunger Games” doesn’t make you more interesting. 

Don’t ever say, “It is what it is.”-You’re a douche. it is what it is. 

Start a wine collection for your kids when they are born. Add a few cases every year without telling them. It’ll make a phenomenal gift in twenty years.Or be a “real man” and build them a treehouse, eh? What if your kids don’t like wine? What a phenomenal waste of time. 

Don’t gamble if losing $100 is going to piss you off.Probably, yeah. I still don’t get where this ties in to the man factor.


Holy shit, did you get through all that? If so, here’s a picture of the Emperor.



Do you also find it funny that I took the time to respond to all of that? So do I. I’m just another asshole with a blog, my opinion doesn’t really matter, but I certainly have fun writing it. Thank you and go with Christ.