TVD Live Shots: Riot Fest Chicago, 9/16

1:24PM: I’ve arrived for the third and final day of Riot Fest ’18! I hear the Beach Goons covering “La Bamba” as I walk into Douglas Park.

1:42PM: The crowd is youthful and here early to see Finn Wolfhard’s (of the TV show Stranger Things) band, Calpurnia. The whole band is solid—way more polished than I expected them to be given their age—but guitarist Ayla Tesler-Mabe is stealing the show. This chick can shred—and she’s young!

2:18PM: Kevin Devine is leaping around the Radicals Stage doing his thing. The crowd, hot from the sun (it’s as if it’s July!), perks up.

2:35PM: Currently listening to some nice, mid-afternoon, uplifting rockabilly from JD McPherson.

3:31PM: “We came from space via Oakland, California and we came to fuck shit up and have a good time!” Swmrs lead singer Cole Becker shouts. This young band is impressing. Their set is super high energy and they’re using their platform to preach positivity, self-acceptance, and kindness.

3:58PM: “Nail me Johnny!” a fan screams at Johnny Marr in between songs. And that about sums up the vibe right now. A member of The Smiths is on stage, so naturally people are freaking the fuck out.

4:15PM: My fan vomit counter is up to three. That’s actually pretty low. Good work, Riot Festers!

5:37PM: Superchunk has stamina. Blinded by the sun they nonetheless deliver a strong set.

5:45PM: As Blondie and her band take the stage, the sound of bees buzzing is playing loudly over the speakers. Debbie Harry looks incredible in a neon green wig and a white, honeycomb-patterned flowing jacket that reads ““Stop Fucking Our World.” At 73, she still hasn’t lost her edge.’

5:55PM: “I once had a rendezvous in one of these,” Harry confesses before singing “I’m in the phone booth,” the opening lyrics to one of her many hits, “Hanging on the Telephone.”

7:02PM: The award for show with the most crowd-surfers goes to local heroes Alkaline Trio.

8:12PM: Father John Misty shimmies and wiggles; he drops to the ground and flails his arms around. Once could say his stage alter-ego is a bit on the dramatic side. But then again that’s exactly why I love him.

8:30PM: Happy to report that Brandon Boyd is still a beautifully chiseled music Jesus. Also happy to report that Incubus is currently covering INXS’ “Need You Tonight.”

9:10PM: “We are Run the Jewels and we’re about to burn this stage to the ground,” Killer Mike declares to a roaring crowd. Goddammit I love these two. Late additions to the lineup, Killer Mike and El-P had the daunting task of closing out the festival. But they are leaving it all on the stage right now. It’s partially a hip hop show and partially a comedy set. The chemistry between the two is undeniable and their messages to the fans to respect one another verbally, emotionally, and physically are thoughtful and timely. There’s not a better duo in rap.

9:46PM: There have been two things I’ve noticed throughout the weekend: the first is that there have been many, many kilts. This isn’t surprising, given that Flogging Molly and The Dropkick Murphys were in the lineup. I’ve personally eyed 22 kilts throughout the weekend. The other thing I counted? Walking casts. For some reason, there was a major spike in people wearing walking casts at Riot Fest this year. I’m not sure what that’s all about, but I’m hella impressed with the 17 people I’ve seen limping around. Festival exhaustion is real, so props to those music lovers who sacrificed their bodies for the love of the art.

9:50PM: Riot Fest ’18 has come to an end. It’s always a bittersweet feeling but there’s next year to look forward to now.













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