Formed for the express purpose of a one off tour of Spain, the Riot Act brought together key members of five well respected San Diego groups: The Tell-Tale Hearts (Brandes), Manual Scan/ The Shambles (Mendoza), the Crawdaddys (Miesner), the Zeros/Flying Colour (Hector Penalosa), and the Melanies (Victor Penalosa). The group was the brain child of Brandes while on a joint tour of Spain with Mendoza in January 1999. The pair were backed by Los Impossibles. Finding a receptive audience familiar with their music, a plan was made to return as soon as possible with more San Diego musicians.
A warm up show was held at San Diego bar, Live Wire on March 20, 1999, and the group also played at the Casbah prior to departing for Barcelona. The group performed seven concerts in Spain and also made several national radio appearances.
The set list had a core of roughly 24 songs, but others were added on a one off basis at various shows, some of which were hours long. The sets were round robin style with each member except Victor taking a vocal turn and then repeating the order throughout the rest of the set. One offs included Rosie & The Originals “Angel Baby” (Burgos) and “Dizzie Ms. Lizzie” “The Last Time” “Can’t Judge A Book” (Ponferrada).
Video exists of all the shows. Rally footage is included in the 1999 VespAmerica souvenir video. The show at O’Connor’s was unplugged, with round robin sets from each band member and audience requests. This was the only show that Victor sang on, notably a version of “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.”
A Riot Act single, featuring Brandes' “This Town” and a cover of Gene Clark’s “Tried so Hard” was issued by Spanish label Snap! Records, though sans Mendoza. Though the band was never intended to continue past the Spanish dates, demand saw the band perform two further West Coast dates, in San Diego and Los Angeles, a few weeks after their return.
Having formed in February 1999, the Riot Act went their separate ways in May of the same year. In all, the shortlived group played eleven concerts, in seven cities, on two continents.