TVD Live: Riot Fest 2014, Saturday, 9/13

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | If the atmospheric theme was rain and mud for Friday night at Riot Fest Chicago 2014, then Saturday was defined by buzzing yellow jackets. No, that’s not a punk band. There were bees everywhere! Bees nosediving into my beer. Bees chasing me around in circles. Bees getting trapped in my sunglasses while I’m trying to sing along the hilarious covers by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. These bees were like festival fence jumpers, but really…they just want to be near the action.

Die Antwoord was the first main stage act I saw on Saturday. Where do I even go with this one? It was arguably the loudest set of the entire weekend and also probably the only act backed by a DJ and not a band.

Instead of a variety of familiar guitar riffs or politically driven lyrics, Die Antwoord delivered multiple costume changes and proclamations from rapper, Ninja, about how big his dick is. If you can’t get into this super weird South African rape-rave duo’s record, I don’t blame you. But watching their music videos or seeing them live is worth it. It will be strange, you might get scared and pee your pants a tiny bit—but hey, why do something if it doesn’t scare you, right?

A sizable crowd showed up for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and to some, proving that ska is still alive (even if it really isn’t…) They played crowd pleasers like, “Impression That I Get” and “The Rascal King.” They didn’t do their “essential” album, but they did do an essential song from the all-time classic movie, Clueless, “Someday I Suppose.”

I was able to catch the end of Metric, one of the only female fronted acts on Chicago’s bill. Walking up to the main stage through lines of people waiting to get on the ferris wheel or the Gravitron, Emily Haines belted out one of the many classic Metric songs, “Gold Guns Girls.” It was a pretty spectacular way to see them despite having been held up trying to weave through large crowds while trying not to totally eat it from slipping in the mud.

We made our way to the Root stage where in a few moments, The Flaming Lips would perform. Wayne Coyne did a great job of improvising while having to recover from the power completely blowing out from the massive amount of lights and confetti exploding into the air only about a minute or two into the first song.

Coyne did a hilarious job of keeping the audience informed of The National’s status who were late to arrive at the fest which gave Lips fans fifteen extra minutes of musical psychedelic insanity. There was just so much good stuff to see and it was the most colorful set of the whole weekend.

And, it was all about Wayne. Wayne Coyne walking in a giant plastic ball on top of the crowd. Wayne Coyne surrounded by fog and inflatable clouds and mushrooms. Wayne Coyne in a jacket made of tinsel just being a madman, passionately singing “Do You Realize” while a light-show of rainbows and pixelated color splashes were displayed on the screen behind him. “We feel like the party just started!” Coyne exclaimed at one point. Yes, Wayne. The party is here and you certainly started it.

Music isn’t the only attraction at a festival that makes it awesome—Riot Fest is filled with fun carnival rides and games and this year there was a haunted house. There are also organizations like To Write Love On Her Arms, that were represented this year at Riot Fest.

To Write Love On Her Arms is a national organization that provides support and resources to people suffering from depression, self-injury, addiction, and suicide. The organization, as their music and events coordinator, Jason Blades, told me during a chat at their tent, also has its roots within the music community. The organization started with a group of friends trying to raise money with a t-shirt for treatment for a suicidal friend suffering from depression, self-injury, and addiction. One of the first big supporters the organization was Jon Foreman, the frontman for the band Switchfoot who wore one of their fundraising t-shirts on stage.

“We were not prepared! We had a Myspace that told [our friend, Renee’s] story and people started commenting and writing messages and responding to her story. So from there, we stumbled on to what was a much bigger conversation and now music is a very big part of our story. There are about 70,000 people here today and tomorrow—and you look at the diverse group of people—it just brings people together and the sense of community you can feel through music and how music can transcend words. But it connects and does such a great job. As an organization we like to partner with musicians, bands, but also with festivals to try to connect to people who might be struggling. There are such a diverse group of people here and it’s an amazing opportunity to connect with [so many] people.”

I also spoke with Joey (pictured below) from the California indie rock band, From Indian Lakes. The band has performed at TWLOHA benefit shows and we discussed what it means to support organizations like TWLOHA and of course, a bit about vinyl.

Joey told me that meeting the organizers from TWLOHA was rather organic and there was a mutual appreciation between both groups. “No matter what my situation is with mental health, I just want to create music that people want to listen to.” Like everyone, Joey told me that yeah, he gets sad and his music can sometimes reflect that. But making connections with others through his music is what keeps him going. “People will say things like, ‘Oh, you write such sad stuff you must be going through a lot,’ but whatever it is I’m going through right now, writing music is my way of putting it out there.”

You can now pre-order From Indian Lakes’ latest release, Absent Sounds, and hey-hey, that vinyl price point is ON point, so be sure you snag this one. Catch From Indian Lakes on tour this fall as well.

If you are interested in volunteering with TWLOHA or you or someone you know is seeking help for depression, self-injury, suicide, or addiction, you can get more info on their website, twloha.com.

THE FLAMING LIPS

METRIC

WU-TANG CLAN

AFGHAN WHIGS

DIE ANTWOORD

RIOT FEST 2014

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