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« Riot Fest 2013: Friday Review Scout Niblett and Dope Body Bring Silence and Noise to the Hideout »

Riot Fest Sun Sep 15 2013

Riot Fest 2013: Saturday Review

Radkey 1 by Katie Hovland Gapers.jpg

Radkey by Katie Hovland

Logistically, things are starting to crumble at Riot Fest as the second day was marred with more sound issues, security issues, transit problems and injuries as a considerably much larger crowd trudged along in Humboldt Park. And the city woke Sunday morning to a chilly constant drizzle of rain, so one can only hope that the weekend can pull it off and end on a high note with the odds stacked against them. -Lisa White

As a Canadian indie-pop band, Stars doesn't exactly fit the Riot Fest mold and they seemed sort of aware of it, even remarking late that they were a little intimidated by the rest of the lineup "because... look at us." But they pulled a good crowd for an early set and injected a little more edge into their music than their records would suggest they have in them. The drums were harder and the riffs had a ton of punch. Near the end, singer Torq Campbell said that it doesn't matter "what kind of music you listen to, your ex is a fucking asshole" before launching into "Your Ex-Lover is Dead" and then crowning their "Take Me to the Riot" as the festival's theme song.

But at least Stars isn't too far removed from other Riot Fest bands, whereas DeVotchKa's gypsy/cabaret sound is unlike anything else you'll here all weekend. In spite of that (or maybe because of it), they got a nice crowd, even if it seemed many people just needed some background music on a break. If the band felt out of their element, they didn't show it. And they clearly gained some new fans, as more than a few people with initially questioning looks came around to them. -James Ziegenfus

X 2 by Katie Hovland Gapers.jpg

X by Katie Hovland

Muffled sound at the Roots stage was an issue Saturday, from X until Blondie. (Somehow Violent Femmes came off all right.) X still powered through with a hit-heavy set of their rockabilly-influenced punk. John Doe and Billy Zoom were solid and Exene Cervenka's enthusiasm was a big plus. Their political 1983 song "The New World" focuses on Detroit, but they swapped "motor city" for "windy city" throughout. And late in the set they got really political by mentioning the recent case where 4 men in India were sentenced to death for rape before playing "Johnny Hit and Run Paulene." (Their side on that issue seemed very clear.) -James Ziegenfus

Lillingtons by Katie Hovland Gapers.jpg

The Lillingtons by Katie Hovland

After reuniting once a few years ago, the Lillingtons are back after another 5-year hiatus. Kody Templeman's voice isn't in the shape it once was and they're a little rusty out of the gate, but their 45 minutes on Saturday was a tour de force of energetic pop-punk about secret agents, martians and spacemen. A young crowd kept it lively with plenty of crowd surfing and moshing while the oldsters hung on the fringes and sang along. -James Ziegenfus

I walked into Glassjaw's set as they launched into "Mu Empire" from their breakthrough album, Worship and Tribute. Those few minutes of relentless hardcore paired with Daryl Palumbo's melodic screaming was a good representation of why I grew to adore Glassjaw back in high school. The majority of their set continued in the same vein of intense breakdowns as Palumbo acted as the charismatic leader of a riot. Things slowed down for a brief moment as they played "Ape Dos Mil" only to immediately pick up the pace with "Pink Roses." They performed a lot of material from the aforementioned Worship and Tribute but also dove into some deeper cuts such as "Black Nurse" from the Coloring Book EP they gave out at shows during their 2011 tour and "You Think You're (John Fucking Lennon)" from their recent Our Color Green EP. In the end, Glassjaw gave me exactly what I wanted; a brief reminder of my Warped Tour youth. -Justin Freeman

Flag 1 by Katie Hovland Gapers.jpg

Flag by Katie Hovland

If you want to see a Black Flag tribute band, Flag is the best option you are going to find around. Then again, most incarnation of Black Flag are in many ways a tribute band since the hardcore punk pioneers have one of the most convoluted lineup histories in modern music. Thankfully the ever entertaining and wacky Keith Morris is the front man behind this latest incarnation, and despite the fact scientifically its a miracle that Morris is still standing, he can lead with the best of them. His voice is still as gruff and powerful as he screams obscenities into the sky and the crowd finally gets to witness what a proper mosh pit is like. Highlight of the entire set was the field singing and fist pumping along during "Rise Above" a song that is still as angry and joyous as it was more than 30 years ago. -Lisa White

Blondie by Katie Hovland Gapers.jpg

Blondie by Katie Hovland

Even after all these years, Debbie Harry is still one of the most captivatingly gorgeous bad ass lead singers in all the land. Entering the stage wearing a wizard robe and hat set to an imperial march soundtrack, Harry and her backing band (a mix of old and new members) immediately kicked off their set with an old Blondie fan favorite, "One Way or Another." This would set the tone for the mostly hit heavy set, although majority of the audience didn't seem to mind. Harry's voice still sounds as ethereal and breathy as it did in the 70s, and her range can still hit all the high notes and deliver some powerful punches, as witnessed on edgier tracks "Hanging on the Telephone" and grand finale "Call Me." But her sultry side is where she shines, as Harry wiggled her hips and spun around during the dreamy "Atomic" and disco glittery "Rapture" that included Harry doing the original rap part as well. At 68, Harry still posses the effortless cool and grace that always made Blondie such a sleek slice of disco pop punk. The set ended with back to back "Heart of Glass" and "Call Me" that made majority of the crowd descend into a dance party rather than the typical Riot Fest mosh pit as Blondie took a bow. -Lisa White

An additional note from James's Blondie experience: A guy standing next to me leaned over during "Rapture" and said something it being the first-ever rap song. I corrected him that rap, especially in New York, had been going strong for years by the time "Rapture" was out in the early 1980s. But he was not convinced and kept trying to make his point, so I ignored him. Unfortunately, I forgot in the moment that Grandmaster Flash and Fab Five Freddy are in the song's lyrics, so it couldn't possibly have been the first rap song. -James Ziegenfus

Tim Armstrong's voice is as raspy as ever, but somehow sounded like it improved as Rancid's set went on. Unfortunately, where I positioned myself was near the fire performers and I found them to be more interesting to watch than Rancid from 200+ feet away, even though their raw punk rock sounded good and the crowd was definitely into them. Luckily, the pyrotechnics ended before the short encore that was a delight with "Timebomb" (one of the rare times I've noticed every person surrounding me singing along) and "Ruby Soho" leading the way. -James Ziegenfus

Violent Femmes 1 by Katie Hovland Gapers.jpg

Violent Femmes by Katie Hovland

I'll be honest, it took me way too long to realize that Violent Femmes were playing their first album from front to back. I just thought they were appealing to the crowd with the hits. And that album's full of them. So it wasn't a surprise to overhear pockets in the crowd loving it since playing albums in full still seems to be some sort of spark. But the rest of the set, especially closing with a rousing "American Music", was looser and a little more fun.

The best part about Riot Fest also being a carnival is seeing people walking around with their game winnings all day. From Super Mario mushrooms to one of Gru's minions, there was a wide variety of stuffed toys hanging from backpacks and arms. Couples comparing their steps at the festival via Fitbit and the clever ones who brought walkie talkies to combat the horrendous cellular reception made their mark, too. -James Ziegenfus

Public Enemy 1 by Katie Hovland Gapers.jpg

Public Enemy by Katie Hovland

We headed over to catch a bit of Public Enemy before checking out Taking Back Sunday, and didn't get very far due to the largest crowd we've seen all weekend at the Rock stage. The area was packed, but at least the sound was louder than Joan Jett the night before. From what we were able to catch, the set felt a bit dated and going through the motions, and ringleader Flavor Flav was as obnoxious as ever. Personally I can always do without Flavor Flav, but it was worth sticking around and catching "Bring The Noise" while paying respects. The songs are still as enjoyable as ever, but with the setup last night it wasn't anything captivating. The set would have been a better fit for one of the larger stages, and after a while of not being able to see or hear much, we headed off to another stage.

Sadly we ended up with the exact same situation at Taking Back Sunday, which was at the Rise stage. Actually the sound was worse than at Public Enemy. We weren't that far back, close to the VIP area, and it sounded like we were listening to the set through a shitty pair of car speakers. The band opened with "You Know How I Do" off their debut album Tell All Your Friends. Everyone sang along, which ended up overpowering the weak sound system, but at least it made for a fun atmosphere. The band sounded strong at least and gave a lot of energy, but older material got the best response with tracks like "Liar" and "A Decade Under the Influence." The crap sound got the best of us, and we headed over to catch the tail end of Violent Femmes, and were surprised to realize that the farther away you got from the stage, the better the acoustics were. We hung out for a bit by the food tents and finally enjoyed the music, flabbergasted by all of this. Hopefully in the future Riot Fest can work out the sound issues at the Rise and Rock stages. -Lisa White

Blink 182 by Katie Hovland Gapers.jpg

Blink-182 by Katie Hovland

Saturday night ended with another headliner reminding many of their youth with Blink-182. Drawing a larger and more rowdy crowd than Fall Out Boy, the trio kicked off their set with "Feeling This," the lead single from their fifth album. We found a good vantage point back by the fence around the baseball diamond, until something incredibly stupid and dangerous started to happen. People started jumping and climbing the at least 15 foot tall fence, in the process kicking people on the other side and barely balancing on top. It took four songs before finally an EMT came over, followed by two security guards, who yelled at people to get down. And then the staff walked away, and people climbed right back up on the fence. This back and forth happened three times before finally security never showed up again, and people just stayed on the fence. We also saw two people rip down the large vinyl Riot Fest posters off the fence and steal them, which is a pretty shitty thing to do. As you can see below in the video our friend took, this was a pretty unsafe situation, where thankfully no one around us fell. Although according to NBC, at least six people were injured last night at the festival in a mosh pit, making us wonder if maybe security needs to be bulked up a bit.

After getting distracted with the safety issue at hand, we finally turned our attention back to the show, which was a mix of older favorites like "Josie" and "All the Small Things" mixed in with more recent hits like "I Miss You." Overall the band catered to the older crowd who didn't seem to mind singing along. They ended the night with a shower of confetti over the stage and an encore of "Carousel" and "Dammit (Growing Up)" a light hearted fun ending to a light hearted fun set. -Lisa White

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Paul Minarik / September 16, 2013 8:53 AM


For the sake of peace, maybe you were both a little right? "Rapture" was certainly not the first rap song, but it was both the first rap song to reach #1 and the first rap song to be aired on MTV. The guy in the crowd was probably vaguely aware of those facts. Therefore, you're both right! Everybody wins! Let's all hold hands and sing "If The Kids Are United".

Isn't that what RiotFest is really all about?

James / September 16, 2013 12:10 PM

Huh, I did not know it was the first one on MTV. Thanks for that insight, Paul. That must explain why the guy was so adamant. In my defense, I also come off just a little ruder in my paragraph here than I actually was to the guy.

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