Written by Clarissa Fraser
Riot Fest you say? If you think I’m going to start telling you about the Chicago show, don’t get your hopes up too high (but keep your head down low). This past weekend we got the awesome opportunity to hit the Riot Fest’s travelling roadshow in Toronto down at Fort York.
Due to the hordes of families heading down to the CNE, we unfortunately missed Real Friends (plan ahead kids- this pop punk band is blowing up and they are not to be missed) but got there right in time for Structures. After seeing Structures countless times, they still bring a great set with their token heavy metalcore and rowdy crowds, especially with this being a hometown show.
Next up was my most anticipated set of the day- The Ghost Inside. Due to their guitarist having so many border difficulties, they had a bit of a short set, but still played an awesome set. With a huge crowd who kept yelling the words right back at the band, it seemed like everyone was just excited as I was. With good reason too- TGI played a setlist comprised of songs from all 3 of their full-length albums, keeping everyone stoked. Vocalist Jonathan Vigil even took the time to explain the meaning behind one of the newer songs, talking about losing loved ones to addiction- a sure-fire way to inspire everyone in the crowd.
Following this was Grade- who from a glance seem a little out of place on this lineup until you give them a good listen and realise that it was them who inspired so many of the post-hardcore and metalcore bands that are huge today. Although I’d peg them with one of the smallest crowds of the day, every one in that crowd was super into them- including the other bands on the festival.
Taking a turn to the poppier side brought Mayday Parade. Even though they were a little out of place, as soon as they started playing songs of off A Lesson In Romantics, everyone suddenly realised they knew all the words and all I could hear was the crowd passionately singing the lyrics right back at the band. Nostalgic value hit an all time high when they played the first song they had ever written- Three Cheers for Five Years- and we all remembered why we used to love this band so much. Continuing on and playing some newer songs too, Mayday brought a great performance full of energy and well chosen songs to get the crowd pumped up.
And after that we promptly headed back to the world of heavy music, brought to you by Every Time I Die. Although they’ve been playing Hot Damn! back to front all summer, here in Toronto they played a set full of songs from every album, keeping the crowd on their toes not knowing what to expect next. As always, the band was on point, with vocalist Keith Buckley belting out songs with the rest of the band backing him perfectly. ETID also wins the award for biggest pit of the day- stretching the entire width of the stage and devouring all those who approached it. Hell, if you didn’t walk away from that set covered in dust and dirt, you were doing something wrong.
In time for Pierce The Veil, the crowd seemed to have tripled in size with everyone trying to get as close to the front as possible. I was a little disappointed to realise that PTV were playing a setlist comprised mostly of newer songs, but throughout the set I realised those were the songs that their younger crowd wanted to hear. Seeing as their newest release is probably their strongest to date, the set was still great to hear with super upbeat songs like King for a Day, but still slowing down for songs like Hold on til May. The band always puts on a great show, with tons of energy and engaging the crowd, and one of the highlights was definitely getting to see Jeremy McKinnon of A Day To Remember come out to do his vocals on Caraphernelia.
Ending off the night right was the headliner of the night, A Day To Remember. Taking a risky move and opening with a new song, the crowd immediately showed them love by singing back and opening up another huge pit. Luckily ADTR had something for everyone, playing old songs like You Should Have Killed Me When You Had the Chance along with newer ones like All I Want. As always, ADTR never fails to put on a show, with things like Adam Elmakias dressed in a banana suit shooting shirts at fans and surfing through the crowd in a raft. Although Jeremy’s vocals seemed a bit off, it was overshadowed by the fact that everyone already knew all the words and were too busy singing and screaming them back. Even with playing acoustic versions of It’s Complicated and the slower If It Means A Lot To You, the crowd never faded and anticipation stayed as high as ever. By the end, ADTR took the time to remind us that they’ve now been a band for 10 years, and with shows like these it’s no wonder why.