by Corey Allen
Going into day 1, I had no idea what to expect. I had gone to Riot Fest last year but with two huge differences: last year it was on an actual farm (not in downtown Denver right by the Bronco’s stadium) and I didn’t have any press clearance. Right away, I was pretty astounded with the setup, but I only had one thing on my mind: anticipation for Die Antwoord. Coming straight out of Cape Town, South Africa, this group is definitely an anomaly in contemporary music. Outwardly candid about how their image and music is supposed to represent the South African “zeff” culture, this pair put on a show like I had never seen in my life. Coming out in orange jumpsuits, accompanied by a masked DJ and dancers in spandex suits covered in zeff symbols, the show quickly started. With undoubtedly the most aggressive interaction with the crowd that I have ever seen, the duo continued to pull everyone closer and closer to the stage, impressing those that knew them and intriguing and confusing everyone that didn’t. Whether you were there for the show or the curiousness, Yolandi Vi$er and Ninja had an undeniable chemistry on the stage that kept everyone captivated, moving, and yearning for an encore.
The Flaming Lips
Following Die Antwoord I staked my claim on a spot in the front row and waited patiently on the legend himself, Wayne Coyne, to walk on stage in whatever absurd outfit he donned on this particular day. Coming from Oklahoma, the birthplace of The Flaming Lips, I have always been drawn to their absurd imagery, antics, and psychedelic music, that of which is finally recognized as Oklahoma’s state rock song. Earlier today, I mistakenly walked through the wrong entrance (artist entrance instead of press) and ran into Wayne. To absolutely no surprise, he was just standing calmly cradling a stuffed dinosaur in his arms like a baby and talking to a few close friends. This did nothing but increase my expectations for the night. Finally, Wayne appears on stage wearing nothing but a spandex full body suit printed with muscle filaments and tendons. Greeted with his normal cheery self and smile, the crowd grew absolutely ecstatic. After saying hello a few times, Wayne was finally joined onstage by a few different people: his bandmates, two people dressed in massive mushroom costumes, and two people sharing the duty of enacting a rainbow. This show was unlike anything I had ever seen in my life. I have been planning on seeing The Flaming Lips since I was 9, but had been shut down twice in a row: once by a knee surgery and the other by a tornado (classic Oklahoma). Finally I got to see the beauty that was The Flaming Lips, the confetti, and the hamster ball that Wayne always climbs into during the show. After an hour or so of the most absurd light shows, the most unheard of amount of confetti, a prop baby, people in butterfly costumes, and the crowd having absolutely no idea how to take what exactly they were witnessing, The Flaming Lips ended their set with a cover of Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. Never have I even thought to claim that a cover of the Beatles was better than a Beatles original itself, until now. Wayne has a sort of genius in him that leads to not only a perfect sound, but also a theatrical performance that throws the entire crowd off, no matter the expectations that you enter with. There is no way that I shall forget this concert soon, nor doubt The Flaming Lips again, they undoubtedly know just exactly what they are doing.