Last weekend’s Be The RIOTTT Culture Expo added its name to the list of day-long festivals showcasing cutting edge music and horrendously overpriced beer. Bay Area heads inside San Francisco’s Bill Graham Auditorium got down with the likes of the Rapture, Saul Williams, Girl Talk, Fall of Troy, the Clipse and whoever else Spin magazine is gushing over at the moment. The twelve-hour jaunt hoped to bring in what the flyer called “forever-forward freethinkers to form a community of change.” Instead, the festival hosted hip-hoppers adorned in their best LRG alongside scenesters in their best sweater vests, forming two communities hanging out at their respective hip-hop and indie rock stages for more than ten hours.
The evening rolled uneventfully for a riottt until Gregg Gillis AKA Girl Talk started a ruckus armed with only an Apple laptop. Gillis sampled MTV staples as he dove towards the crowd, slamming his ribs on the railing. He bounced off seemingly unperturbed, then brought two people from the crowd up to the stage and urged everyone else up as well, inciting the sole moment of the evening that lived up to the RIOTTT title as hordes mashed their way up as security guards reached for any ankle they could get a hold of.
Conversely, daytime act POS’ fiery delivery translated into stagnant bodies, and the Wrens’ piano rock proved three in the afternoon just isn’t a good time to slip on the boogie shoes.
Two hours later, Zion I used hyphy beats to get mad Bay love from the crowd, while early ’90’s throwbacks X-Clan got people to throw their hands in the air in a manner suggesting they just didn’t care.
On the opposite end of the auditorium at the indie rock stage, Fall of Troy threw down mean guitar riffs while security guards stod their ground against skinny kids in hoodies putting on their best “teen angst” routine and pushing the guard rail forward.
In the end, RIOTTT served as a poor man’s Coachella, which isn’t a bad thing. Attendees roamed free to catch numerous acts instead of having to stay in one spot for several hours to secure a good view of the Pixies reuniting. It even got the artists feeling a little high and mighty.
As massive blue stage lights illuminated Wrens lead singer Charles Bissell before his last song, he gave the crowd an earnest look, saying “Wow, I feel like the Cure.”
Soon after, someone was heard saying, “Well, you’re not.” — Oscar Pascual
Footage of the “Riot” at Riottt
Footage of Riot at Riottt II
Saul Williams Interview