Riot Fest Preview: 90’s Punks

Today we’ll take a look at a number of acts appearing at Riot Fest that I first started to listen to a lot in high school. While a number of my favorites from the era such as Green Day, MXPX, Offspring or Goldfinger will not be at the show, there are a lot I’m still excited to see.


So technically Pennywise has been a band since 1988, however, the CD that I listened to the most was Full Circle that came out in 1997. Their heavy punk sound was naturally appealing to me as a huge Metallica fan. “Fight Till You Die,” “Date with Destiny,” “Society,” and of course “Bro Hymn” all sport that high energy, aggressive sound.

I was at Riot Fest in 2013 where the above video was recorded and they were one of my favorite bands that year.


While not as heavy as Pennywise, Millencolin’s energy level is also one of their main appeals. The lead singer, Nikola Sarcevic has a very unique voice and gives the band their trademark sound. Their second and third CD, Life On a Plate and For Monkeys were in the regular rotation in each of my buddy’s car’s CD player (or Discman combined with this thing).

They recently released a new album and while I like it, I’m hoping that we hear more of the stuff I grew up with at Riot Fest. The one big downside to a festival is that you only get 30-45 minutes with a band unless they’re a headliner and generally that means you’re not going to hear everything you want to hear. As long as they play “No Cigar,” however, I’ll be happy.

Less Than Jake

Not a punk band, but the first ska band that I really got into. Hello Rockview had a ton of songs I listened to and more than any other band on this, this CD transports me back to high school.

Just hearing the opening to “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads” and I’m back in Tyler’s ’85 Dodge Daytona.

“This is a fair request,
and I promise I will not judge any person only as a teenager.
You will constantly remind yourself that some of my generation judges people by their race,
their belief, or the color of their skin, and that this is no more right
than saying all teenagers are drunken dope-addicts or glue-sniffers.”


Last year at Riot Fest ten bands played ten of their most influential albums. This year they’ve announced five bands that are continuing the trend. One of those bands is Rancid and they’ll be playing …And Out Come the Wolves. This is great news for me as that is the one album of theirs that I know.

I’d argue that Rancid has the most classically punk sound of any band in this post. I’ll be sure to try to catch them this year as I missed them when they played Riot Fest back in 2013.

The Ataris

The Ataris became popular a little later in the decade and I was never into them as much as the other bands in the post. That said, if I could only hear one song from one band on this list, it would be “San Dimas High School Football Rules.”

That song rocks.

Mustard Plug

You’ve probably noticed that this post was put in order from bands I was most excited to see to least excited. That doesn’t mean, however, I’m not excited to see Mustard Plug, they’re just the band that I listened to the least back in the 90s. Like Less Than Jake, Mustard Plug is a ska band and for that reason I’m hoping they have a cool stage show. Besides, they’ll play “Mr. Smiley” and that will make me happy.

Did I miss any bands you used to skank to during the Clinton presidency? Let me know which of these bands you can’t wait to see in the comments!

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