If the aux in the car had been working, I might have played “Guess Who’s Back” by Eminem on the way to Douglas Park on Saturday morning. Instead, I was bombarded by Harry Styles’s “Late Night Talking” from all radio waves. It could have been worse.

“This is a touching song about our favorite mental hospital,” I heard as I entered day two of Riot Fest, followed by the musicians’ one-sided battle against electric instruments. This was the noise of Fear, a revolutionary band in the late ’70s LA punk scene known for lyrics like “Fuck you! I don’t care about you!” as well as more targeted slurs that I won’t now repeat.

Then I waddled over to Together Pangea, another LA band, this time with a more aught-indie vibe, and one that I would not have associated with the festival. Their lyrics lean more toward the morose, but they have a noisy side too. Their bigger songs are going through a streaming renaissance, especially their top hit, “Sick Shit,” which you might recognize from the distinctive lyrics, “My dick is soft / these things mean nothing to me.” These words were treated to a full scream-along, as well as a vibrant and respectful mosh.

I was able to sit down with Together Pangea later that day. The three band members — all in their mid-thirties — squeezed together on a leather bench made for two. I told them I was pleasantly surprised to find them at the festival. What did they think of their being selected for Riot Fest?

“We’re definitely super honored to be here,” said the guitarist, lyricist and vocalist, William Keegan.

“Yeah, I mean somehow we got lumped in with emo,” chimed in bassist Danny Bengston.

“Sadness will always be something people relate to,” proposed the drummer, Erik Jimenez. He continued, “We fit in here because it’s an aggressive sadness, like you might be bummed out but you might be pissed at the same time.”

We ended up talking for a bit. Keegan explained the anti-machismo basis for his famed soft-dick line. He seemed kind and exceptionally level-headed. Bengston was the jokester of the group. Jiminez spoke only to philosophize. They were sweet dudes, and it was a pleasure meeting them, but it was time to head back to the festival.

There weren’t many artists that I was desperate to see on Saturday. I spent much of the day sprawled out on a picnic blanket on the main lawn, sipping a cider and taking it all in. Maybe that’s why Saturday ended up being my favorite day of the festival.

It was during one of these lawn-sprawls that I discovered Jxdn, a Chattanooga TikTok thirst trap turned adolescent pop-punk angst-man. “My name is Jaden, but you can call me whatever the fuck you want,” he said, by way of introduction. Then he started singing lyrics like, “LA parties are the worst / Everybody’s a bitch,” and “I hate everything!” and more introspectively, “I think I have more tattoos than friends.” I thought this last line was actually a little deep, especially compared to the screamed hook that followed: “Get away from meeeee!”

An hour later, YUNGBLUD took the same stage. I don’t like to make direct comparisons, but on the same stage, an hour after each other, I couldn’t help but think that YUNGBLUD was Jxdn, just better in every way. From the moment the lead singer, Dominic Harrison, walked on the stage, I knew we were in for a show. He had an almost Joker-like smile and an eerie look in his eyes. “Are you all ready to go fucking crazay?!?” he asked via scream. Harris is from northern England. Maybe it was just the accent, but after a few songs, I developed a strong belief that I was watching and listening to the angrier Gen-Z incarnation of the Arctic Monkeys, with poppier, angstier hooks. His recent release about “Parents” and how they “ain’t always right,” seemed to resonate quite a bit with the crowd. Long after the set, I found myself still humming one of his tunes: “I love you, will you marry me / Oh, what a shame we gotta pay for reality.”

After a few more hours of cider-sipping and lawn-chilling, I returned to the moshes for what ended up being my surprise highlight of the festival, the famed group Gogol Bordello. The main singer, Eugene Hütz, looked like what would have happened to “The Princess Bride’”s Inigo Montoya if André the Giant hadn’t saved him from his crazed drunkenness and Montoya had instead moved to New York in the ’90s and started a riot-y punk band.

“Dance around the fire!” Hütz-Montoya yelled, as Sergey Ryabtsev, the 64-year-old pirate-costumed electric violinist, violently swooned. It was lit. I think I truly lost myself during their set. I know this because at one point I was arm in arm with bald, bearded strangers, doing that Rockettes leg kick thing, spinning in concentric circles. True, I was about eight ciders deep by this point, but that doesn’t explain half of it. Hütz finished up the set by crowd surfing on a kick drum, brandishing the Ukrainian flag like a cape and pumping his fist. At that moment, I would have done anything for the man. If I had come across any six-fingered men, you best believe there would have been problems.

After that extreme high, the headliner, The Misfits, felt like a bit of a letdown. Yes, it was extremely fun to scream, “I ain’t no goddamn son of a bitch!” along with thousands of people. And yes, it is hard not to appreciate the importance that The Misfits had on contemporary alternative culture, the punk scene and America as a whole. But again, I was sidelined to a sub-par view of their set, and whatever I thought of the music or performance, I can’t say I wasn’t a little put off by the lead singer Glenn Danzig’s interjections between songs, like, “Here’s another fucked up little song that you couldn’t write today because they’d cancel you in two fucking seconds, but I don’t give two fucks.” The audience was not thrilled by this line. It didn’t help that the song that followed, “Die, Die My Darling,” contains vulgar sentiments, but nothing remotely cancelable, meaning Danzig doesn’t even understand the culture he is fighting against. I don’t think I was the only one who physically squirmed when he called out to the audience, asking, “How are we doing, Chiraq? How many people killed themselves out there today?”

So again, I took out my blanket, cracked another cider and watched the rest of the concert on the big screen. When it was over, I was tired and ready to sleep. I was going to need all the energy I could muster for the next day.

Daily Arts Writer Joshua Medintz can be reached at jmedintz@umich.edu.