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. 


Friday, December 2

Gapers Block

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

« A Tweet-by-Tweet Review of Riot Fest Artists Riot Fest Recap: Day Two »

Riot Fest Sat Sep 12 2015

Riot Fest Recap: Day One

riotfest1.JPGRiot Fest 2015 - Friday (photos by Rena Naltsas)

After complaints from neighbors and the alderman, Riot Fest moved to Douglas Park in the city's Southwest Side (though opposition has arisen there, too). The size of the park allowed the fest to maintain its carnival component, and the early afternoon downpour made it feel right at home.

Living Colour

"This is Riot Fest, right? Where's the riot?" So asked Living Colour, the four-piece out of New York City, to the rather stagnant crowd. The group got their desired level of riot, however, when they busted out their crowd pleaser "Cult of Personality," much to the delight of their fans (as well as anybody who's ever played Grand Theft Auto or Guitar Hero).

The band added a gravely-needed pop of fashion to the fest--so much black!--rocking some colorful 80s-esque threads, with lead singer Corey Glover sporting a bright purple button up and a skinny black tie and looking sharp. The band (who was all about the stage chatter) self-remonstrated at one point, saying "there's too much talking - not enough rock" before breaking into their final song, a cover of "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by The Clash, with Glover changing it up so that it sounded like punked-out Chipmunks on speed (in the best of ways - it's a great song to begin with, and he only made it better).

The foursome ended the show by coming up to the front of the stage, taking each others hands and taking a much deserved bow (middle school play style). 10 points for an adorable ending, gentlemen.
-Celeste Mallama

Ground Up

Friday kicked off with eccentric Philadelphia-based hip-hop trio Ground Up serving bombastic production and witty wordplay to help bring the buzz in the early afternoon. "We are best f--kin' friends," MC AZAR shouted in the mic of his counterparts MALAKAI and Bij Lincs. "Who is here today with someone you love? Who is here with someone you're gonna get f--ked up with today?"
-Emily Ornberg

Psalm One

Next up were Psalm One and Rapper Chicks, whose jaw-dropping flows and explosive energy proved their worth as dynamic Chicago emcees. They performed shape-shifting sounds atop a live band, Sexy Decoy, who could keep up with their rap-tinged punk to jazzy influences. She performed some old throwbacks like "Just U and Us" with a new sound, thanks to added flavors from Fluffy and powerhouse Angel Davanport's insatiable vocal abilities. They brought on local rockers My Gold Mask's frontwoman Gretta Rochelle, performed dominating covers of Green Day and Kendrick Lamar and looked good while doing it.
-Emily Ornberg

friendship.JPGRiot Fest 2015 - Friday (photos by Rena Naltsas)

Against Me!

Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace took to the Rise Stage at Riot Fest sporting a black t-shirt reading "Gender is Over!" Appropriate, given that the versatile lead singer is an exquisite performer regardless of her gender. The foursome immediately broke out into "True Trans Soul Rebel." Grace wasn't much for stage chatter, but she would often preempt songs by informing the audience what the song was about. Preceding "Unconditional Love," Grace told us, "This song is all about self love, self empowerment, smoking cigars, and drinking whiskey." Before "Protest Song," "This one's a protest song" and before "F---mylife666," "This is a love song."

It was nice to see that the crowd was with Grace for the new material and the old, getting just as excited for the new Transgender Dysphoria Blues as for the classic "Thrash Unreal." The band finished up with "I Was a Teenage Anarchist."
-Celeste Mallama

Flogging Molly

The crowd was ready to go. The band was ready to go. The sound technician was not ready to go. Unfortunately, Flogging Molly was incomprehensible for the first half of their set because the speakers weren't working. Luckily, however, Jimmy the sound technician got it sorted out just in time for "Drunken Lullabies," much to the delight of the half of the crowd that actually stuck around. Unfortunately at that point, Slightly Stoopid had already lured away the other half of the crowd with their reggae/rock/hiphop vibes.
-Celeste Mallama

Alkaline Trio

Alkaline Trio won for best stage setup - the band was backed by a Chicago flag with four simple skull outlines nestled within the four Chicago stars. The hometown heroes (McHenry Illinois - close enough) made their way through "Fatally Yours," "Every Thug Needs a Lady," "Mr. Chainsaw" (which includes the delightful lyric "sleeping is my 9 to 5". - I wish), and "This Could Be Love." The threesome switched lead singers between guitarist Matt Skiba and bassist Dan Andriano keeping the crowd on their toes as they finished up their set with "Blue Carolina," "My Little Needle," "Fine," and "Warbrain." Only true fans stuck around though - the last fifteen minutes of the set overlapped with No Doubt - the allure of Ms. Stefani is pretty hard to resist.
-Celeste Mallama

dodoubt2.JPGRiot Fest 2015 - Friday (photos by Rena Naltsas)

No Doubt

No Doubt undoubtedly had the largest fanbase awaiting their performance, and as the opening chords of "Hella Good" blew from the amps, the park set ablaze with excitement. They performed hit after hit, showcasing their ability to marry ska-influenced pop in a timeless fashion. Gwen Stefani's impeccable vocal powers, overall coolness and eerie ability to stop aging has not ceased to amaze, and is gifted in connecting with an audience no matter the size.
-Emily Ornberg

icecube2.JPGRiot Fest 2015 - Friday (photos by Rena Naltsas)

Ice Cube

The night was brought to a meteoric close with legendary headliner Ice Cube, who was billed with ambiguous "Special Guests." As his opening numbers brought growing anticipation of who he could possibly bring on stage, he announced former N.W.A. members DJ Yella and MC Ren and his son O'Shea Jackson Jr. to assist his monumental performance of favorites such as "Straight Outta Compton," "Check Yo Self" and "It Was a Good Day." The sprawling crowd held up middle fingers along to "F--k the Police" as he rapped in detail of police shakedowns and racial profiling in the inner-city turmoil of Compton, California in the late 1980s, making intentional nods to police brutality in recent times.

As the crowds trudged through the puddles of mud in the dark to exit the fest, the gates were so poorly set up that if you made the wrong step, you were trapped like a mouse. Of course, Riot Festers knew better than to stay put: they simply jumped over the fences, or tore them down entirely.
-Emily Ornberg

GB store

PulSe / September 13, 2015 1:21 PM

Maldonado is a racist. We'll remember.

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