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Thursday, September 29

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« Riot Fest Recap: Day One Riot Fest Recap: Day Three »

Riot Fest Sun Sep 13 2015

Riot Fest Recap: Day Two

Riot Fest 2015 - Saturday (photos by Rena Naltsas)

The second day of Riot Fest brought about a range of talent, and we were happy to revel in the diverse experience. From monster-outfitted rockers GWAR (who shot out a mysterious blue liquid at the crowd), to indulging in a bit of nostalgia at The Academy Is..., to capping the evening off with some System of A Down, the Saturday schedule left us with a variety of surprises and a solid lineup of performers within the enclave of Douglas Park.


While Alkaline Trio won the "best backdrop" award for Riot Fest on Friday, the esteemed prize went to FIDLAR for Saturday. The handsome foursome had replicas of their heads in stick figure format made out of cardboard, blown up to 10 times their size, and fitted with glowing yellow eyes. What's better than a creepy homage to yourself?

The Los Angeles based foursome kicked things off with some songs from their 2015 release Too, working their way through "Drone," "Leave Me Alone" (which includes the lyrics "Nothing in the world's going to change my mind so you can suck it" -- so often, the perfect response, and so often left unsaid), "West Coast" and "Punks." They left the enormously crowd-pleasing "Cocaine" from their self-titled 2013 album for last.

The cameraman for the show clearly knew the sweet spots to accentuate the band's visual appeal -- the camera lingered mostly on the lead singer's sweet black spiderweb guitar and the drummer with the good-looking curly red locks.

Having arrived at FIDLAR's set a couple of minutes after it started, I was slightly confused the entire time as to why there was a sharply dressed, corn-rowed mannequin on stage, but all questions were answered (sort of...) as Fidlar exited the stage saying "We'd like to thank Chicago's own R. Kelly for joining us onstage tonight."
-Celeste Mallama

Riot Fest 2015 - Saturday (photos by Rena Naltsas)

The Dear Hunter

The Dear Hunter was my first foray into the Roots Stage, which is somewhat secluded from the main four stages, but clearly does not lack for volume, as it seems to bleed into the Riot Stage pretty effectively. I wasn't planning on catching the foursome hailing out of Atlanta, Georgia, but was convinced by an incredibly enthusiastic fan who told me he'd bought the ticket solely for the group.

When I wandered over the group was working their way through "Home" from 2011's The Color Spectrum. They were definitely different and a nice break from the punkier groups around them - they reminded me a bit of Fleet Foxes, with the emphasis on harmony and introspective lyrics, especially on "Waves" from the 2015 release Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise.
-Celeste Mallama


I moved straight from Deerhunter to GWAR; I could not have created a starker difference had I tried. I went from "I'm preparing for a burial at sea/but I can't see the lighthouse" sung in perfect harmony by four fairly well (or at least normally) dressed gentlemen to GWAR, where I was met with between four and six (depending on the moment) dudes rocking monster outfits, one of whom had a device attached to his crotch that was spraying blue liquid on the crowd in time to the music. Gotta love Riot Fest.
-Celeste Mallama

The Joy Formidable

The Joy Formidable was clearly highly anticipated by the crowd as the Riot Stage started filling up a good 30 minutes before they took to the stage. Nobody went away thinking that it was time wasted. The second that diminutive, adorable, pocket-sized, hugely talented Ritzy Bryan took to the stage we were all hooked.

Rocking an adorable little black sparkly dress with a white collar studded with white and blue gems that matched her eyes perfectly, the Welsh songstress started things moving with "The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade" from 2011's The Big Roar, going next into "This Ladder is Ours," "Little Blimp," and "Maw Maw Song" from 2013's Wolf's Law.

Bryan told the crowd it was nice to finally be social again - the band spent the last 12 months recording their upcoming album, and were pleased to be back among their fans. The group ended their set by jamming out together on a grand finale finish to "Whirring" and blowing kisses to the crowd.
-Celeste Mallama

Riot Fest 2015 - Saturday (photos by Rena Naltsas)

The Dead Milkmen

The theme for Saturday's Riot Fest was "I wasn't planning on catching them but..." I wasn't planning on catching The Dead Milkmen, but when I turned from The Joy Formidable's set, I was presented with a man in a bowler hat, wearing an "Unpopular Music for Unpopular People" t-shirt and singing to the crowd over incredibly creepy carnival music: "Ear candy, ear candy, it's not so bad. Ear candy, ear candy, play it for your Dad" over and over again. How could I possibly resist?

Switching back and forth between lead singers Joe Genaro and Rodney Linderman, the satirical punk rock group from Philadelphia played through "Punk Rock Girl," "Tiny Town," "Tacoland," "Methodist Coloring Book," "VFW," and of course much to the crowd's delight, "Stuart."

The group still packs a punch with their sardonic and oftentimes silly lyrics, and they go hard, playing all out during their 45-minute set. Rodney Linderman took them off the stage saying, "You all were great, these guys (pointing to the band) were pretty good and I was curiously sexy for an old man."
-Celeste Mallama

Thurston Moore Band

Thurston Moore Band had a lot of things working against them - for one, The Dead Milkmen had just put on a fantastic, enthusiastic, funny, memorable set, as they're wont to do. For another, they were playing the Riot Stage which seems to have a lot of technical difficulties and also has a lot of bleed through from the Roots Stage. Essentially, Thurston Moore Band tried to be a jam band amidst all these difficulties and it just didn't play well. I think the guy standing behind me summed it up best when he said "That's not going to work. If you want that shit to stick you gotta play loud as hell." It just wasn't happening.
-Celeste Mallama

Echo and the Bunnymen

The English rockers, Echo and the Bunnymen, played the Riot Stage following Thurston Moore, opening with "Lips Like Sugar" and moving into "Clean" and "Rescue." Although the sound quality still wasn't great, the band was spot on - a well oiled machine. It was a quieter show, but still exceedingly well-put-together - as the dude next to me put it, "It's a quiet riot."

The band slowed it down for "Nothing Lasts Forever" from 2006's Me, I'm All Smiles and then reached way back to their 1985 release Songs to Learn and Sing and got the crowd and all the Donnie Darko fans pretty pumped with the ageless "The Killing Moon."
-Celeste Mallama

Riot Fest 2015 - Saturday (photos by Rena Naltsas)

The Academy Is...

The first time I got full-body goosebumps was when the local pop-punk cuteboys from The Academy Is... opened with the whimpery anthem "Attention," aka my 2008 MySpace profile song. Their successful debut Almost Here just turned 10, and hearing the full album live in 2015 was not any less exciting than it was as the soundtrack to many high school adventures. High-voltage squeals erupted at the first sight of every band member and consistently at the beginning of every dorky song, reminding us of the delightful potency some bands can still carry years on.
-Emily Ornberg

Riot Fest 2015 - Saturday (photos by Rena Naltsas)

Billy Idol

Although dancing to 80s glam rock in a mud pit is never a bad way to spend your Saturday, it was hard not to feel awkward watching a nostalgic Billy Idol frivolously sauntering about the stage during half-assed performances of "White Wedding" and "Rebel Yell." Seeing him proudly stare out to the crowd and belt his whimpery choruses without a fraction of the warranted vigor was like watching him lip sync to himself in a mirror. Overall, indulgent and strange.
-Emily Ornberg

System of a Down

"Can everyone just please take one step back? It's extremely awkward to sing when people look like they're dying right in front of me," frontman Serj Tankian pleaded to the raucous crowd. The mosh pit was so dangerous that the headliners couldn't seem to finish a full song without having to stop and administer the chaos, which seemed to anger festgoers even more. System of a Down's iterations of monotonous fuzzed guitar clamors sounded too horrifyingly similar to the hangover I just got rid of, so through the mud to the ferris wheel I trudged.
-Emily Ornberg

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Stuart / September 14, 2015 9:36 AM

You walked away from System of a Down. Sorry for me it was a highlight of the festival. Love love love that band

Wesley Davidson / September 14, 2015 11:41 AM

Just a quick correction. It was The Dear Hunter that played Riot Fest, not Deerhunter. I would have loved to see Deerhunter, however.

Celeste / September 14, 2015 2:07 PM

You're absolutely right - The Dear Hunter not Deerhunter (maybe they'll bring Deerhunter next year and I'll be ahead of the curve.) Thanks for the correction!

Maxwell Mutua / September 18, 2015 1:41 PM

This band is great and to my opinion the ageless killing moon is going to be enjoyed for many many years

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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.

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