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. 


Sunday, April 14

Gapers Block

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

« Jad Fair and Danielson Showed Schubas Their Solid Gold Heart Riot Fest 2014: Day 2 »

Riot Fest Sat Sep 13 2014

Riot Fest 2014: Day 1

One of the first thing you notice about Riot Fest is how large the festival has become. The second thing is the mud, but we'll get to that soon enough. During the previous two years, the festival took place in the smaller southern portion of Humboldt Park. Before that for the better part of a decade, it was scattered around town with shows happening at various clubs around the city. This year is Riot Fest's tenth anniversary and they've decided to go big in response.

As seen in the above tweet, Riot Fest has taken over the much larger northern section of Humboldt Park, growing massively in the process. The new grounds feel immense in comparison to last year, like a small village or a commune in the middle of a metropolis brought to you by Red Bull and the upcoming Sunset Overdrive for XBox One. I walked in the park and surveyed my new surroundings. GWAR had just taken one of the stages and sounded as tight and as ridiculous as ever, seemingly not losing a step since the passing of Dave Brockie earlier this year. Their metal absurdities fit in rather well I as passed the haunted house, mini golf course, and fully stocked arcade as I made my way to Circa Survive.

This brings me to my minor criticism of the new grounds. As we all know, it was cold and rainy yesterday and got super muddy as a result. This is not Riot Fest's fault at all. But the gross weather in combination with the new grounds with little to no signage to direct people where to go made navigation problematic, as people wandered around aimlessly and extremely slowly, not knowing where to go while trying not slip in the mud.
Justin Freeman

ALL by Katie Hovland

Circa Survive

It rained during pretty much all of Riot Fest Friday. The majority wasn't hard storming rain, but the dreary and grey misty kind. This sullen weather served many bands well. Backed by a ambiguously ominous grey sky, screeching guitars and Anthony Green's boundless and almost cult leader like charisma, Circa Survive whipped the crowd into a frenzy; Green getting in the muddy crowd, letting them touch him like a newfound messiah and placing his microphone in their faces so they can sing along during "The Difference Between Medicine and Poison is the Dose."
Justin Freeman

The Hotelier

At this point it was raining slightly harder. Water was falling at a quickening pace and the sky looked ever more sinister, but still had a light of hopefulness. This served The Hotelier rather well. Drawing heavily from their excellent recent album, Home, Like Noplace Is There, they played an earnest set of Sunny Day Real Estate and Brand New-inspired emo. "Thank you. This is for sure the biggest crowd who've wanted to pay attention to us," they said with complete sincerity before playing "Your Deep Rest." As the rain continued to fall, the crowd sang in unison along with the lines "I called in sick to your funeral." It was fantastic.
Justin Freeman


Pussy Riot by Katie Hovland

Pussy Riot

Henry Rollins appeared on stage and chatted some of that "punk rock is a continuum for all our lives" rhetoric. This set the the tone for the majority of the panel as Rollins waxed poetically about many things. Like Henry Rollins tends to do. This was both good and bad. I find Rollins to be fascinating, but I would have liked to hear a little more from Pussy Riot. I really dig the idea of these discussions and hope they have more of them in the future at the festival -- it was an interesting concept and a nice break from the music.
Justin Freeman

NOFX by Katie Hovland


While rushing over from the Pussy Riot panel, I caught the the end of Radkey's set. Oozing with psychobilly cool, Radkey are a trio of three black men from Missouri who use punk to examine things from their point of view, such as white entitlement and racism, with songs such as "N.I.G.G.A (Not OK)." One of the most enthusiastic and impressive sets I saw on Friday.
Justin Freeman

Mastodon by Katie Hovland

The Offspring

"Wow, I feel like I'm back in 8th grade right now," the man behind me declared as The Offspring careened into their hour-long Riot Fest set. Though the four-person group is still recording together, having released their latest album in 2012, their music sensed its height of peak popularity back in the early '90s. However, this did not stop them from packing the muddy field that we all sloshed through to hear their greatest hits.

Combining '80s traditional music elements with a gritty hard rock vibe, The Offspring brought their cherished tunes out in full force. Outfitted in black, their sound was precise and crisp. Frontman Dexter Holland is a seasoned performer, truly at home on stage.

In order to celebrate Riot Fest's 10th year, 10 bands will commemorate their epic careers and play 10 pivotal albums from their catalog. The Offspring played one of their earliest records, 1993's Smash, much to the crowd's delight. With the audience typically singing along during songs such as "Self Esteem," the group finished with this album and dove right in to some of their high-octane popular jams, including "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)," and the ballad "Why Don't You Get a Job?", which the audience just couldn't help to sing along to. With a high-energy career retrospective, The Offspring showcased their immense staying power. As their opener "Time To Relax" stated, Lean back and just enjoy the melodies / After all, music soothes even the savage beast.
Sarah Brooks

Slayer by Katie Hovland


At this point, the sky was pitch black and it slowly was starting to rain pretty heavily. Bathed in rain and red light, Slayer appeared to their legions of unholy followers to play the very much appropriately titled, Reign in Blood. It was a master class and I looked on in amazement as I watched Kerry King absolutely shred his guitar. Also, watching thousands of people thrash around in the mud to songs such as "Altar of Sacrifice" as Tom Araya goes ballistic is an incredible sight to behold.
Justin Freeman

Jane's Addiction

Jane's Addiction is one of those bands I needed to check off of my musical bucket list. I'd heard whisperings of Perry Farrell's stage antics, from their eccentric actions to their tour-de-force showmanship. With all of Jane's Addiction's controversy, therein lies stellar rock music that continues to influence that of today.

Their set brought us back in time, unfettered by the signs of the current day and age, to a crowded Los Angeles venue where they got their start. Also participating in the 10 albums initiative, Jane's Addiction played straight through their 1988 release, Nothing's Shocking. The title of this album permeated the set, with Perry Farrell exhibiting his talents as a true frontman. While I couldn't help but be dazzled by the quick-paced drumming of Stephen Perkins, who never missed a beat, or the cool, collected artistry of Dave Navarro's guitar backings, as an audience, our eyes kept going back to Farrell.

As all genius is infused with a bit of madness, such was Farrell's demeanor exhibited onstage. Emerging while somehow missing the signs of any age, Farrell careened across the stage, stepped down into the audience, and exhibited eccentric dance moves throughout the set. He is truly connected deeply with the music he creates, and he proves that it is more than merely a career, but an art form, an identity. His banter with the audience was a bit unorthodox and nonsensical, as he gave an ode about the rain's effect on his hair, and also prided himself on his (somewhat bleak) knowledge of Chicago sports.

"Jay Cutler is fucking great. But he's no Perry Farrell," he snickered as the set wound down and he expressed his sincere gratitude to the audience. As they wound through the album with their electrifying sound, it seemed as if we were transported in time and able to indulge in the past for just a little while. The only sour note of the set transpired during "Jane Says," during which the volume was simply not loud enough — the rain's deluge a likely culprit, as I watched Dave Navarro mouth words of confusion. Though it still sounded lovely, the audience was definitely aching to belt out all of the lyrics for this one. Ending their set featuring scantily-clad burlesque dancers suspended from the stage, hoisted around and eased down as if controlled by the hands of a puppeteer, I can honestly say that I had never seen anything of that kind before, and was joyous that I got to see the famous Jane's Addiction persona come to life. As Jane's Addiction is currently on a recording hiatus, this set was perhaps one of the intermittent Chicago stops the group would make, and I am all too pleased I got to be a part of it, eccentricity and all.
Sarah Brooks

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