Don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 52. I was a little nervous about attending a three-day music fest this year. Would I have the stamina? Could my feet survive standing up all day long all weekend? Would I still have fun? We missed Riot Fest last year because of fucking covid, so I knew my fest game would be rusty. Nevertheless, I persisted.
And you know what? I had nothing to worry about. And by the looks of some of the people in the crowd, I’ve still got a lot of years left in me. Looking strictly at age demographics, Riot Fest is surprisingly diverse. I was definitely not the oldest person there. And despite its punk and punk-adjacent lineup, they draw a lot of young people too. Turns out plenty of kids still like guitar music. Thank goodness. They’ll be able to push me around in my wheelchair when my feet finally give out on me.
As always happens at fests, there were a couple of bands I wanted to see first thing on Friday. And as always happens, I missed them. I would’ve loved to have seen Olivia Jean and the Bobby Lees. But nope. At least we made it in for Quasi, who were everything I was hoping they would be. After the 2019 car accident that broke her collar bone and her tibia, all fans of rock and roll drumming were scared that we might never get to see Janet Weiss behind the kit again, so it was wonderful to see her back at full strength and as powerful and explosive and musical as ever. And Sam Coomes is a great frontman…or sideman or whatever you call the singer in a two-piece that place their instruments facing each other on the stage.
It’s been thirty years since I’ve seen any incarnation of P-Funk. Back in the 90s, George Clinton would come out on stage in dreads made out of yarn and wearing a Smurfs bed sheet. These days Clinton wears a bejeweled captain’s hat and a custom Cosmic Slop hockey jersey and he’s like DJ Khaled up there, where nobody really knows if he’s contributing anything to the music. He’s the host of the party, making sure everybody’s having a funky good time. And then he goes back to sitting on the drum riser until the party needs another boost. Whenever a survey asks about the greatest American rock band, I always immediately say Funkadelic. George Clinton has had more of an influence on today’s music than just about anybody and he deserves our eternal respect. “Cosmic Slop” is one of the greatest songs of all time, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that from this performance. He’s been on a farewell tour since 2019 and I’m glad I got the chance to see him one more time. But I won’t be sad if he retires for real now.