Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Wednesday, December 6

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Hideout Block Party & A.V. Fest: Day Two Review Your Preview for Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements »

Riot Fest Tue Sep 18 2012

Riot Fest Day Three: Up the Punx

White Mystery-by Katie Hovland GB.jpg
White Mystery (photo by Katie Hovland)

My biggest issue with Riot Fest on Sunday was that the line-up was too perfect. With most other festivals, I end up with only a handful of bands I really want to see and am able to space out my day accordingly. This time around, I was looking forward to almost every single act. I ended up running from stage to stage with little opportunity to sit down and take a break for a second. I barely even had the chance to take faux-artsy Instagrams of carnival rides! And I still wasn't able to catch every band I had been hoping to see. To the fine people that run Riot Fest: Please consider adding a few crappy bands to your line-up next year so I don't have so many painstakingly difficult decisions to make.
- Stephanie Griffin

Val Capone (Hells Bells) working by Katie Hovland GB.jpg
Derby girl Val Capone of the Hell's Belles (photo by Katie Hovland)

Less Than Jake

It's been 20 years since Less Than Jake formed. To put that into perspective, when these five guys first got together Kurt Cobain was still alive, George W. Bush's dad was in office and Justin Bieber hadn't even been born yet. Needless to say, the ska/punk vets have seen their fair share of rises and falls along the course of their career. Although Sunday's performance at Riot Fest proved that they've certainly made a mark along the way.

I felt a small twang of disappointment and worry when the schedule was released last week. Would an early 1:40pm set yield LTG the crowd they deserved? Every once in a while, I underestimate you, Chicago. My apologies. By the time the Gainesville, Florida dudes took the stage there was a larger crowd formed at the Riot stage than there had been for some of the late afternoon/evening performers the day before. Quality wasn't the only thing this audience possessed, the quality was superb as well. They went crazy as Less Than Jake fed them classics like "How's My Driving, Doug Hastings," "Automatic," and "Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts." Anthem, arguably the band's most popular album, was well represented too, with "Look What Happened," "The Ghost of You and Me" and closer "Plastic Cup Politics" all drawing huge responses. As a diehard fan of these quirky "old-timers," I often find myself fearing the day that Less Than Jake will be no more. However, after shows like Sunday's I can't help but think they won't be stopping any time soon.
- Katie Karpowicz

NOFX_Promo by Katie Hovland GB.jpg
NOFX (photo by Katie Hovland)


The last time I'd seen NOFX live was at Riot Fest 2009, when Fat Mike premiered his bizarre Cokie the Clown bit that spiraled out of control half a year later at SXSW. I was expecting nothing short of controversial during their set, and I was met with Fat Mike bashing pretty much every other artist playing the festival. He called Elvis Costello over-rated and claimed that even with his raspy voice (Fat Mike was suffering through vocal issues on Sunday) they still sounded better than Alkaline Trio. It was humorous at first, but as he kept going on and on it just got tiring. I was over it, so I ended up leaving their stage for a bit and headed over to catch some of White Mystery's performance. Luckily at Riot Fest it was fairly easy to make your way from stage to stage, which meant I was able to catch a few White Mystery songs over at the Rebel stage and still make it back to the Roots stage to catch NOFX's last song, "The Separation of Church and Skate."

NOFX_2 by Katie Hovland GB.jpg
NOFX (photo by Katie Hovland)


When Chiodos was at their peak, I — like most of their fans — was in the midst of my high school days. If you were not into screamo, hardcore, emo-metal, crap, whatever the heck you called it at the time, you did not like Chiodos. But, for better or for worse, I was. Every once in a while I still throw on one of their discs. I still think Jason Hale is a pretty good guitarist and did well to get creative within the limitations of the genre. So when I found out the original lineup had gotten back together and were going to be at Riot Fest, I was intrigued ...OK, maybe even a little excited in a throwback kind of way.

Here's my thing with music: if you like or liked a band at any point, be proud. Life's too short to worry about liking what's cool. There are already enough Dave Matthews fans in the world. That was the most frustrating thing about this performance. Anyone over the age of 21 seemed hesitant to get into it. C'mon, you showed up. I can see those scars from your old snakebite piercings and I guarantee you at least owned All's Well That Ends Well. Just go ahead, admit it and sing along.

That said, the performance itself wasn't the greatest of the great. Recently re-added singer Craig Owens, who has clearly felt the effects of years of testing his vocal chords, seemed reluctant to even attempt melodies that challenged his range, letting the crowd cover these duties. Due to some apparent technical difficulties, the set also had an awkward momentum to it. The band seemed to have trouble keeping in step with a keyboard that only seemed to be working half of the time... understandable. Overall, Chiodos' set was all about what you made of it. They did do a great job of choosing older fan favorites so I had fun reminiscing even if the show wasn't earth-shattering.
- Katie Karpowicz

Julia by Katie Hovland GB.jpg
Photo by Katie Hovland

Screaming Females

Screaming Females' frontwoman Marissa Paternoster is a mysterious figure. On the surface, she could be mistaken for an introvert. She's a bit mousy, her hair covers her face, she speaks in a low, but quiet voice. Then the music starts and she just howls. She screaming, she's roaring, she's stomping her feet. And she can totally shred on the guitar. In a festival that typically doesn't have many female musicians, it was great to see both White Mystery and Screaming Females back-to-back on the same stage just totally killing it.


I simply can't seem to wrap my head around AWOLNATION... in a good way. I just can't figure out where they land in the musical landscape. They've garnered a fanbase amongst the punk/alternative crowd despite the fact that their debut album was essentially a collection of shimmery pop-rock cuts. Their performance on Sunday, however, introduced me to yet another new side to this band. The sounds were grittier, the vocals more coarse than anything found on Megalithic Symphony. Front man Aaron Bruno is a compelling performer and songs like lead single "Sail" took a whole new feel Sunday. As long as they keep me on my toes, I'll keep coming back for more AWOLNATION.
- Katie Karpowicz

Alkaline Trio by Katie Hovland
Alkaline Trio (photo by Katie Hovland)

Alkaline Trio

It's a good thing Riot Fest is over because I'm pretty sure my roommate was going to punch me if I told him how excited I was for Alkaline Trio one more time. You know those bands that sneak up on you? You never really consider them one of your favorites but then all of a sudden it's eight years later and you're still going to their shows, buying every new album they make and genuinely loving them? That sums up my relationship with Alkaline Trio. The band has seen some tough years in the last decade. Pretty much everybody who ever bought Goddamnit hated 2005's Crimson and 2008's Agony & Irony. But the Trio took it in stride and released This Addiction in 2010, a wonderful blend of their punk roots and the more polished and poppy rock sound they've adopted over the years. It's been 16 years since Alkaline Trio formed and I still stand by my belief that they are one of the classiest, most adaptable and talented acts to ever come out of the city of Chicago.

Alkaline Trio by Katie Hovland GB.jpg
Alkaline Trio (photo by Katie Hovland)

As I think back over Sunday's set list, I realize that the only album that went unrepresented, interestingly enough, was their most recent. Or maybe there was one track thrown in there. Any readers remember? Anyways, even the picks off the more unpopular records — "Mercy Me" and "Calling All Skeletons" — were well received in light of the diversity. For those of you wondering, "Clavicle," "Cringe" and "Nose Over Tail" were resurrected from the Goddamnit days and still sounded incredible nearly a decade and a half since they were first performed. It's truly a treat to see what sort of new spins Derek Grant will put on older tracks (originally recorded by founding drummer Glenn Porter). Surprises like "She Took Him to the Lake" mixed well with set list frequenters like "Warbrain" and "Blue Carolina." And though they've dropped their "kings of darkness" act since the mid-2000s, there was more passion and emotion than ever in these tunes. OK, now someone please take me back in time.
- Katie Karpowicz

Gogol Bordello

Gogol Bordello sparked the closest thing to an actual riot at Riot Fest over the weekend. I'd seen them once before at the Congress Theater but I'd kept my distance that night because I'd heard they had crazy crowds and sadly I'm not a teenager anymore. This time around, it was the end of Riot Fest so I figured I might as well go hard, and I made my way to the very front by the stage. The energy of this band is insane, which is only amplified by the sheer number of people on stage at a time. There's something endearing about a band's singer who takes swigs out of a bottle of wine rather than whiskey or tequila. By the end of the set when they broke out into "Start Wearing Purple," everyone went nuts. Luckily they mellowed the crowd out with the more toned-down "Alcohol" before capping off their performance with another "riot" instigator, "Think Locally, Fuck Globally."

Roy by Katie Hovland GB.jpg
Photo by Katie Hovland

Iggy & the Stooges

Iggy came on immediately after Gogol Bordello ended, so I rushed my way over to the Riot stage to get a decent spot for the last set of the festival. Somehow I ended up getting right in front again (without having to shove past people like a jerk!). Pro tip: Walk around the perimeter of the crowd, particularly on the side that doesn't have the beer vendors, and then make your way in. To be honest, I was a bit star-struck at being so close to Iggy Pop that it took a few songs for me to settle down and actually enjoy the music and performance. And man, can that guy perform! He may be getting up there in age but his intensity and endurance sure hasn't depleted.

Moving Riot Fest outdoors was the right call. It was so much easier having all the bands I wanted to see in a centralized location rather than having to run all over the city, and the carnival rides and games sure didn't hurt. I'm really hoping they keep the festival outside in the coming years.
- Stephanie Griffin

GB store
GB store

Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

GB store


Featured Series


Transmission on Flickr

Join the Transmission Flickr Pool.

About Transmission

Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Sarah Brooks,
Transmission staff inbox:



Transmission Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15