This year at Riot Fest, ten bands will play their most beloved albums all the way through. Doing my best to set aside nostalgia, I revisited several of these "classics" to see how they hold up today.
Album: Reign in Blood (1986)
Date, Set Time, Stage: Fri 9/12, 8:45 PM, Rebel Stage
The Verdict: One of the greatest albums of all time, Reign in Blood still sounds just as scary, unhinged, and brutal as it did the first time I heard it—I've grown to distrust people who claim to dislike it. Unfortunately the years haven't been so kind to the lineup that recorded it: drummer Dave Lombardo is out of the band, and guitarist Jeff Hanneman died last year.
Album: Weezer (1994)
Date, Set Time, Stage: Sun 9/14, 8:40 PM, Rebel Stage
The Verdict: Ric Ocasek's production on the so-called Blue Album is so brilliantly ageless that this record could pass for something cut last month (or 40 years ago). Every song is still a perfect charmer, which makes the way Weezer have sullied their reputation over the past decade even more heartbreaking.
Album: Punk in Drublic (1994)
Date, Set Time, Stage: Fri 9/12, 6 PM, Roots Stage
The Verdict: NOFX are so good at writing high-octane pop-punk hooks that Punk in Drublic almost comes off like a scientific demonstration of a proven formula. Overall this record has aged surprisingly well—except for the hilariously compressed drum sounds, the Mesa Boogie guitar tones, and the fucking ska parts all over it.
Band: The Offspring
Album: Smash (1994)
Date, Set Time, Stage: Fri 9/12, 7:45 PM, Roots Stage
The Verdict: When I was in elementary school, fuck-the-system lyrics such as "You stupid dumbshit goddamn motherfucker!" and "Kill! Fuck off! Hate! Die!" really spoke to my rebellious side, but when I hear them now, I wonder why Dexter Holland (with his master's degree in molecular biology) decided that committing those words to tape would be wise. The highlight of this record—in contrast to the NOFX album—is the ska song.
Band: The Get Up Kids
Album: Something to Write Home About (1999)
Date, Set Time, Stage: Sat 9/13, 5:55 PM, Rise Stage
The Verdict: The melodrama that dominates the vibe here is borderline laughable today. In my youth, the ramshackle performances on this record felt excitable and urgent, but nowadays they just sound like too many people who aren't quite sure what they're doing playing over one another. The Get Up Kids were much better after they turned into hippies.
Correction: This article has been amended to correctly reflect the date and time of Weezer's set.