Riot Fest '14

sunset on Day 1

Smelly, dirty, rainy, and LOUD. If I could only use four words to describe this weekend, those would be them without a doubt. This past weekend was the Chicago punk-rock festival's second year in Denver, and although we weren't out in a crazy dust-bowl farm like last year, the patrons certainly made it fell just the same. 

Riot Fest was just a little different for me this year, because I was actually working for the festival, instead of just covering it for Ultra5280. I was managing the two VIP Areas available to folks who paid for the fancier tickets, and I had no idea exactly what I had gotten myself into upon arrival on Friday. All I knew is I would be working, music would be playing, and it would be awesome. My idea was fairly spot on, but it became quickly apparent to me that for a show like this, I would rather be off having fun than stuck babysitting adults. For those of you saying, "but Maddie, Tour Managing is babysitting drunk people! you LOVE this!", babysitting drunks is only fun when you know them...and there's not 300 of them in a big parking lot, left to you to manage alone. Can anyone say "herding cats"?

The lineup for this year's show was amazing. Weezer, The Flaming Lips, The Cure, Manchester Orchestra, Taking Back Sunday, Gogol Bordello, Die Antwoord, The Violent Femmes, In The Whale, My Body Sings Electric, Wiredogs, The Epilogues, the list could go on and on...there wasn't a single day I wasn't excited for, so I thought it'd be perfect to work the show and get guaranteed admission. In that sense, my idea was perfect, but I didn't know that playing VIP Manager would mean I was corralled into the VIP areas all day every day. I had assumed that I would be running all of the performer VIP's around all day, handling their needs, not playing liaison to the folks who purchase VIP tickets. Lesson #1 learned this weekend: job titles can be very deceiving. The job wasn't endlessly demanding or even that hard at all, I was simply keeping things in check, making sure the VIP areas were presentable, and that nothing was going wrong with the patrons or the bar. Lesson #2 learned this weekend: I am not good at not having stuff to do. If I come to work, I want to be put to work. I don't wanna be standing around just minding my own, I want either my brain or my muscles to be burning...I want something to challenge me. With no one around to present challenges to me, I found ways to challenge myself. Interacting with patrons, checking on the bar staff, running back and forth between the two areas, always chatting with the security staff to find ways to help them. I gave myself pet projects and made use of my time, building my day around what area I needed to be in to hear whatever band I wanted to catch. 


MBSE talking w/KTCL

Mile High &I getting acquainted


the view from the VIP area

As the weekend progressed, I settled into my role and found myself having more fun. Matt and Castro from Ultra5280 arrived on Saturday to cover the festival for the blog so I could finally start tweeting and Instagraming for them when I had the time. My friend Tyler came on Saturday night to have a religious experience watching The Cure (which he did. He loved it), and Laurel came on Sunday and watched me mosh to In The Whale early in the AM, and we jammed to 3OH!3 and Dropkick Murphy's later in the day. I ran into tons of tour family throughout the weekend, and finally saw some folks I hadn't been able to meet up with since I'd returned home. I hung with some of the non-profit guys I'd met through my time at Red Rocks from the Love, Hope, Strength Foundation and helped them celebrate getting 666 donors registered by the weekend's end. I even got the chance to help some friends from CU Denver get jobs as well that weekend driving artists to and from stage (on golf carts! I wanted their job, no lie. I was jealous). Lesson #3 this weekend: Sometimes not being slaughtered by your work is okay. Having fun and getting paid can go hand in hand without you making your brain melt and your body ache. 

your Ultra5280 crew representing!

Love, Hope, Strength hitting lucky #666

By the end of Sunday night I was sad to see the weekend go. Although I missed the farm atmosphere that last year had brought the show, having the venue so close this year made the weekend feel like less of a crazy commitment. It felt much more relaxed, and thanks to all the hay bails, windmills, and tractors, some of the country charm was still present. Sunday we were drenched by rain and my feet ached, but the weekend had been so fun that I didn't care; I already couldn't wait for next year. I was so excited to have had the chance to prove to the Riot Fest team that I can be an asset in any situation, and I hope that maybe next year I can do something that will challenge me a bit more while still being involved in this amazing Festival. I am soooo happy that Riot Fest has come to Denver - how have I been missing out on this for the past decade?!? Lesson #4 of the weekend: I work in the coolest industry in the world. I love my job, no matter what it may be that particular day. I can't imagine doing anything else. The little weekend break from merch and Red Rocks was nice, and it's amazing to me that it's been five months since graduation and I'm somehow managing to stay afloat working in this business. I know i'll hit rough patches eventually, but this has been amazing. I'm so very thankful.

Fond Fare-WARPED: Warped Update #8

my farewell sunrise from Denver the day i left for tour

Warped Tour started and ended with a sunrise. From the sunrise on my front porch the morning of my birthday, to this morning's warm orange salute, my cross-country adventures have come to a close once more. It's August 5th, and I just got home from an early morning run to drop off a friend off at the airport for his final flight home. Warped Tour is over and done, another summer on the books. These past eight weeks have been exhausting, but they have also been some of the most fun I have ever had. Since I last updated you, we've gone all the way from Virginia down through Atlanta, Florida, and skirted through the midwest (North Carolina, Nashville, Milwaukee, Kansas, Salt Lake City) and made it back to my beautiful and beloved state of Colorado. This past week was a rush to say the least, but I think it also led to some of the most fun I had all tour. 

Georgia was a hot mess - literally. It was a scorcher of nearly 100 degrees out, but by the middle of the day (as always, during our set) the rain began to come down and Warped suddenly went from hot and happy to shut down and under tornado warnings. IFD was on stage as all this took place, and although we got DRENCHED, no one was hurt for which I am sooo thankful. The kids eventually returned from the required waiting in Tornado shelters, but not in as huge crowds as they originally were. That's the bummer about weather and Warped: some days you win, and some days you lose, you just have to hope that the fans will stick it through with you and make the most of whatever comes your way. The rain followed us south to Florida and drenched us in Saint Petersburg before we could even open the doors for the day! Luckily the rain cleared for the rest of the afternoon, and after two disgusting days of unrelenting "wet" the rest of the week was warm and dry.

my view of the band trapped onstage in GA

the band's view of me trapped in tent in GA

Florida's shows are at some of my favorite venues of the whole tour. St. Petersburg's show takes place at Vinoy Park - a gorgeous grassy park that sits directly on the coastline. There were Protomen crab fishing, dolphins swimming next to We Are the In Crowd's merch tent, and our team went out for a big, delicious seafood dinner downtown to celebrate Hari's birthday! Miami the next day was just as fun as the whole crew was decked out in grey shirts made to celebrate Less Than Jake's 365th day of Warped Tour! The band has literally spent a year of their lives playing this tour, and so we all donned some custom-made shirts to help commemorate the occasion. Did I mention there was an Alligator pond behind my bus?! SCARY! Orlando led to more adventures as a friend of one of the bands brought a boat out on the lake just behind our bus parking, and spent his day driving artists around on the lake to relax. Orlando was one of the first times my whole stage family was all done for the day early with no rush to leave, and so we got to just sit on the dock and enjoy one another's was surreal to just have time to sit and relax, made even more special knowing it'd all be coming to a close so soon. The rest of the week was just as fun, with a special early screening of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in North Carolina, some fun old Warped Tour family reunions in Milwaukee, and a spectacular stage family BBQ courtesy of Teenage Bottlerocket on our last day off in Laramie, WY. 

dock hangs with my stage family in Orlando. Photo credit: Joel McDonald

Yes. We had a day off in Laramie, WY when we only had two shows left, and the tour ended in Denver. Sounds absolutely maddening, eh? I thought i'd be going crazy that whole day, being so close to home I could taste it while knowing I couldn't go back just quite yet. Thankfully our bus mates, Teenage Bottlerocket, are actually from Wyoming and their bassist Miguel opened his home to not only our bus but to all of our tour friends. We ended having a full-day barbecue complete with a horseshoe competition! Courage My Love brought their trusty Margarita machine, we grilled some dogs and veggie burgers, and to all of our surprise, Australian band The City Shakeup totally cleaned up shop and beat every last American at horsehoes. We played some card games and watched movies until it was time to go...the day was an absolute blast beginning to end. Over the past two months all of the bands on our stage had become very close, and to be able to just spend time with one another, relaxing and enjoying their company just before we all had to part ways was absolutely perfect - I couldn't have asked for any better. 

horseshoe tournament!

card games in WY.

Yesterday was a complete and total whirlwind beginning to end. My amazing roommate Laurel agreed to pick up my favorite local breakfast burritos (Santiago's!) for all of my stage family. I saw countless familiar faces, family, and friends throughout the day, but most importantly, I was back a mile above sea level - finally breathing that crisp mountain air. The day came and went all too quickly with some goodbyes missed, and others just barely caught. I was so terribly sad to see everyone go, but like I keep saying, Tour family really is family, and I knew that the universe would have us all crossing paths again soon. I spent a good hour or so cleaning out the bus and getting all my belongings off. I arrived on Warped with one suitcase, and left on our last day with an entire hand-truck FULL of stuff. How does that even happen?! We barely fit it all in my car, and at nearly 11:00pm at night, I bid farewell to my final parking lot of the summer, my bus, and headed home. To my real home. 

This summer on Warped was honestly nothing like I expected. I'd done Warped before, and so I thought that there was no way this summer could be much different. To my shock and surprise, I feel like the two Warped Tour's I have gone on were unlike one another in more ways than they were similar. I was doing a lot of different jobs this summer that I wasn't last time, and although I wasn't expecting it, I was happy to take on new responsibilities and challenges. Although I feel like I got to spend less time with the band I was working for, I made many new, diverse friends compared to my first summer, probably because I was no longer afraid of being the "new kid on the block". My living situation was a huge upgrade and really helped keep my stamina up (not to mention my mental health), which for the record reallyyyy changes your perception of this entire tour. I've always been told that if you can do Warped Tour, you can do anything...the people who said that to me were talking about touring in particular, but every year I come back from this adventure feeling just a little bit more at peace with myself - a better, newer "me" more in line with my heart, my head and my thoughts. I feel more ready for what lies ahead, and more sure that I can handle just about anything because hell, I just got home from 2 months of Warped.

me. Roseburg, OR. photo cred: Brain Mazzaferri

I hope you all keep following along with me and this new chapter in my life, but for all of you who were here just for Warped, I'll see ya next summer :)