Riot Fest returns to Denver September 19 to 21

Categories: Music Festivals

Eric Gruneisen
Last year at Riot Fest in Denver
Riot Fest expanded its reach to Colorado last year, bringing The Replacements, Guided By Voices, FLAG and many more to May Farms.

The Chicago-based festival, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, will return to Denver this fall with the help of local concert promotion company Soda Jerk Presents. Riot Fest promises "more carnival rides and attractions" and more local food options, but other than that we don't know much. Ticket and lineup information is still coming, but we'll let you know when we hear anything.

Meanwhile, you can get caught up or reminisce with coverage of last year's Fest:

-The best of Riot Fest 2013

-Iggy and the Stooges: Review

-The Replacements: Review

-PHOTOS: The bands of Riot Fest

Riot Fest has seized on the festival boom of the last half-decade, adding a carnival and building the lineup in both size and scope. They have tested the waters in other cities, as well. But after hosting traveling versions in Toronto, Brooklyn and Dallas in 2012, they only returned to Toronto last year and added the Denver dates. That seems to have worked out -- those two (in addition to the flagship festival in Chicago) are the only ones on the schedule for this year.

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Dustin Bova
Dustin Bova

oh my gatos.....that just looks sooo thooooooper!!

Dillon Rosenberg
Dillon Rosenberg

Hope it's as awesome as last year! I only went one day but plan on camping and the whole thing this time around.


Many of the bands last year were very good.  But, the venue was less than ideal.  

There were a lot of issues with parking, traffic, dust (in your food due to the high winds and arid climate), trash, little shelter from hot sun, etc.  Also, there was no running water on the site; by the time I arrived there bottled water had to be purchased (via tickets, and they weren't cheap).  IMPORTANT, what a lot of concert goers did not know last year is that once they entered the site, they could not leave (even to walk to their cars to get something or to grab a bit to eat in town) and then re-enter the site.  I personally spoke with quite a few attendees who were extremely angry about this, and rightfully so considering distance traveled, time and money spent.

Also, last year's "Denver" event was marketed by May Farms as "a family event."  It certainly was not ... as most of us with any clue about the bands playing and other similar venues could have told (and DID tell) the site owner.  

If you have children you are taking (which, to my surprise, some did), be aware that venue was not "family-friendly."  There were lots of teens there ... exposed to a great deal of over-21 type stuff (including second-hand pot smoke).  To each his own!  Keep in mind, there were only TWO carnival rides, as well ... a point of contention among parents who were thinking this was going to be a broader-based venue for their youngsters.

Safety could be a concern if better lighting is not provided in the parking areas and along Highway 36.  Also, last year people were parking across 36 on private property NOT designated for Riot Fest parking.  This could have been a huge disaster for someone stumbling on a rattle snake or tripping over the barb wire along private property (not to mention what a mess it could have created for some unsuspecting owner).  Use caution and common sense when attending this event.  Young ladies, please do not park in dark areas not designated for parking.  Although this is a rural community, it's like any other place in that it can (and at times DOES) draw crime. 


Arturo Acosta III
Arturo Acosta III

whilest I was in Nashville I met a lady who in a Guided by Voices tribute band. i didn't know one existed and now i know.

Jesse Tafoya
Jesse Tafoya

Last year was a disaster. Gonna need a great lineup for me

Riley Cochran
Riley Cochran

Jess S. This looks like your type of scene....leather jackets n mosh pits, try to contain your sexual urges


Technically, it is supposed to be in Byers, CO.  This is a rural community that is about 40 miles east of Denver on the I-70 corridor.  Although nothing has been passed by the review board yet, it is assumed that the local cronies running the show already have the location locked down.  If you like lots of dust, hot sun, and high wind ... this is the location for you!  

Also, there's not much for food and attraction outside of the May Farms venue.  Traffic is routed through Strasburg, where several small diner types exist.  The best place, Country Burger, was almost completely overlooked last year by attendees, as they were routed around the establishment.  

If you wanna know what REALLY went on at the 2013 Riot Fest in "Denver," ask the locals (and do not rely on the Denver Post to give a straight up review).  The town is very divided; and, it receives almost NO benefits from the event ... but does get all the traffic mess, trash, and disruption of a very loud rock event.  The music was good last year ... but as a local, pretty much everything else sucked.


Michelle, read my review.  I also attended this event (as someone who loves music and who is a local).  What you read in the Denver Post and on online sites promoting the event do not give those contemplating attending a very accurate depiction of the event at the May Farms site.  

Personally, I had hoped to stick around for the better bands later in the evening (on Sat.), but the dust and smoke was so bad I had to leave due to asthma.  There was no leaving the venue to walk across the street to my own house to get my asthma med (could not get back in once leaving) ... so I just called it an early night.  But, hey, I did get to hear the music late Sunday night (until around midnight due to the really bad rain storm) ... it was so damned loud my appliances and windows were literally vibrating!  This would not have been so bad if those of us across from the site didn't have to get up at 4 AM to go to work.  That was quite a drag.

Maybe if more planning and thoughtful consideration of those attending and those residing in the community had existed, the event would have been better.  IDK.  I guess we'll see if the promoters and May Farms can get it right this year.  All we can do is wait and see ...

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