The American Heist and Venomous Maximus were the lone Houston representatives Saturday at Riot Fest Dallas, which featured heavyweights on the bill such as Rise Against, Andrew WK and the Descendents.
Playing on the side stage, the American Heist and Venomous Maximus had decent-sized crowds despite playing at the same time against larger acts Andrew WK and Less Than Jake, respectfully. The American Heist, who has won over many crowds opening for touring acts in Houston, drew a lively reaction from a mostly lethargic Dallas crowd.
“The crowd response was awesome, and I was surprised by that,” said the American Heist guitarist Alex Cetina. “I don’t want to be cocky and say that we are awesome, because I don’t think we are, but I think it is cool that people really like us given the fact we work so hard on the music.”
While Houston’s acts shined, the event as a whole was disorganized. Punk and metal shows are supposed to be chaotic by the music’s frantic nature, but there were no signs at the Gexa Energy Pavilion to inform the audience of the band's set times, the video screens by the main stage were blurry and looked like footage from a 1980s VHS tape rather a live feed and the main-stage bands seemed disinterested. Andrew WK spent about the first 10 minutes of his bizarre solo set stalling and handing out random DVDs.
The Gaslight Anthem’s performance was one the day’s best, but the band played just eight songs in a set that was just over 30 minutes. NOFX started its set with front man Fat Mike’s message of “prepare to be disappointed.” The comment struck a chord considering the day’s lack of energy from the stage and crowd. However, NOFX’s hilarious on stage banter did make up for a disjointed set.
Smaller bands, especially the ones from Houston, used the event to showcase their music to new fans. The American Heist guitarist Tim Blackout categorized the newbies as “fresh meat” and saw Riot Fest as a good chance for an introduction.
“The majority of the people at these types of shows have never heard of the American Heist, so we have to be on the ball,” Blackout said. “(We) attack a new crowd, tell them who we are and show them we are here to stay.”