Riot Fest Day Two – 9-13-2014 – Chicago, IL – Humboldt Park

With the sun finally making an appearance, day two was far more conducive for outdoor drinking…and, of course, watching more live music. On the subject outdoor drinking…All Rise Brewing Company sold an excellent pale ale (Wonder Beer) and blonde ale (Dizzy Blond) throughout the weekend for $7. Good stuff.

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Punk legends, The Buzzcocks played a frenetic 10 song, 30 minute set to a sizable sun-drenched crowd. Playing heavily from their earlier albums, the band never seemed to take a breath as they rattled song after song. And 59-year-old Pete Shelley still has his showman skills at his disposal. I just wished their set was longer.

The South African rave-rap duo Die Antwoord show off their brand of theatrics to a very receptive crowd. Yolandi Visser’s surreal voice only bolsters Die Antwoord’s growing cult following. They are certainly a weird group, which no doubt adds to their appeal, but they have tangible energy that is definitely contagious. Entertaining set.

The Afghan Whigs, promoting a new album Do to the Beast (their first in 16 years), had an excellent 45 minute set. Greg Dulli’s voice sounded rested and powerful especially during their new lead single “Algiers.” And they even played “Debonair” of their classic Gentleman album, which they reissued a few years back. It was good to finally see the band play live.

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The Wu-Tang Clan brought out one of the bigger crowds of the weekend as fans were eager to throw up the “Wu” symbol throughout their set. Playing nearly all the crowd pleasers from their classic 36 Chambers album like “C.R.E.A.M”, “Bring the Ruckus”, and “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit” Wu-Tang earned the crowd’s attention with precision. They also did an interesting take with The Beatles’ “Come Together,” which melded well with their set. Gotta love Wu-Tang…

The Flaming Lips possibly had the greatest stage setup out of any band during the weekend. After losing power during the beginning of their set due to a cannon shot of confetti, the crowd seemingly aww’ed in unison. But after some quick troubleshooting, DIY front man Wayne Coyne brought his psychedelic rock to the masses and mesmerized much of he crowd with his intricate lighting set-up. “The plastic bubble” also made an appearance during the show, which allowed Wayne his traditional “body surf” moment with his fans. The band’s final song was appropriately a trippy rendition of The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which cemented an excellent set for the band.

Day two was a success.

What did day three bring…

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Riot Fest – 9-12-2014 – Day One – Chicago, IL – Humboldt Park

Day one. A poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow before I begin my recap:

The Rainy Day

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;

It rains, and the wind is never weary;

The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,

But at every gust the dead leaves fall,

And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;

It rains, and the wind is never weary;

My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,

But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,

And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;

Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;

Thy fate is the common fate of all,

Into each life some rain must fall,

Some days must be dark and dreary.

In sum…the weather sucked on Friday but that’s life. Pouting aside, Riot Fest celebrated their ten-year anniversary (take that Nine Years’ War) at the (usually) scenic Humboldt Park.

Brimming with mud, concertgoers gingerly squished their way into the newly expanded seven-stage layout. Passing by a haunted house, wrestling ring, mini-golf course, a Ferris wheel, and countless of other carnival rides only amplified the scenery. Riot Fest is Chicago’s unequaled outdoor music festival. The opportunity for fun is all around you.

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Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears brought their blues-rock outfit in support of their latest album Electric Slave. The band brought as much swagger as they possibly could given the conditions. With rain falling on their equipment and later a broken string on Joe Lewis’ guitar, Joe was resigned in saying that everything was “f’ed up” towards the end of the set. The crowd itself was still trying to get acclimated to the conditions themselves. Still, the band brought their soulful blues-rock sound to get everyone’s blood pumping.


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(The original? demonic cosplay metal band) Gwar never had a dull moment during their set as their theatrics and heavy riffs still reigned supreme. Reeling from the death of their long time lead singer Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie), the band decided to continue on despite the huge loss. The band debuted their new female lead vocalist Vulvatron (Kim Dylla) for the first time at Riot Fest. And let’s just say Vulvatron fit right in with the band (especially when she started “projecting milk” into the crowd).” But don’t you fret…Gwar still continued their time-honored tradition of soaking their fans with blood” (water and food coloring). Plus, they slayed a dinosaur on stage…good times.

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Clutch (for you Kumas Corner’s fans…that’s the burger with four kinds of cheese) played an energetic blues-rock set as rain fell harder and harder upon the crowd. The band’s most popular hit “Electric Worry” at least made people move a bit as cold winds finally began to whip the park.

The Offspring, playing their breakthrough 90’s album Smash in its entirety, brought a massive crowd to the Roots Stage. “Come Out and Play (You Gotta Keep ‘Em Separated”  and “Self Esteem” earned the biggest cheers from the crowd and provide some unified headbanging.

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Slayer. What else can you really say about them…other than they still melt brains with their sonic fury. Playing their classic album Reign In Blood, the band offered little chit-chat as they played song after song at a 100mph rate. Amazingly, Tom Araya’s voice still sounds intact after decades of wailing into a microphone. Kerry King, Dave Lombardo, and Jeff Hanneman never missed a beat as they powered through one of the most energetic sets of the weekend. As I screamed into the air, raindrops falling on face, hearing “Angel of Death” strangely made me feel like life was good again.

By the way, although I only heard a couple of songs from Jane’s Addiction’s set, I can tell you Perry Farrell was pretty damn drunk. But hey…”Jane Says” sounded pretty good.

Memorable day one…