TVD Live: Riot Fest 2014, Friday, 9/12

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | When I walk up to the gates on the first day of a music festival, I always feel like I’ve got stage fright—my hands get clammy and a knot forms in the pit of my stomach. Maybe I’m nervous security will find my secret flask or that some crazy forces of the universe will prevent me from seeing Patti Smith on Sunday. It is Riot Fest after all, and it is unlike any other festival you’ve been to all summer.

Expect the weather to be cool with a strong chance of rain, everyone will be wearing black, and pretty much all of the acts will have actual instruments to play. The layout was expanded to almost double the size of previous years allowing for much more music to be seen but also a lot of unexpected walking and weaving through the park. Also, this year, ten headliners and rock veterans like Cheap Trick, Naked Raygun, and Descendants, played their “essential” albums in 2014 to celebrate the fest’s 10th anniversary. It is only the third year for Chicago’s Humboldt Park to host, but the festival travels to Denver and Toronto too.

Our attempt at making it to the Stiff Little Fingers’ set was totally botched due to the massive amounts of walking in the mud, so we only caught the last few riffs of the set. NOFX was on afterwards and they came out making jokes about the other bands that were playing the fest and that they were going to play Pinkerton in its entirety, but out of order. (They actually played their essential album, Punk in Drublic.)

Gogol Bordello played at the main stage, Riot Stage, on Friday night. The super popular gypsy-punk band is always a solid one to see, especially in a festival setting. They’ve got a huge sound filled with accordions, huge bass drums, horns, and guitars. Eugene Hütz sings impassioned lyrics about the struggles of being an immigrant, his eyes wide open and his voice raspy and angry. The whole band punched their fists in the air as they led the crowd through energetic songs like “Break The Spell” and “Start Wearing Purple.” As my buddy Dave put it, Gogol Bordello are “very momentum driven.”

Up after that at the Roots stage was The Offspring and not a bad show. I wasn’t sure what to expect because the last time I heard them was when they were on the radio with their biggest mainstream radio hits, “Why Don’t You Get a Job” and “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy).” They played some of their 1994 album, Smash out of order, ending with “Self-esteem.”

The crowd was pumped for this and it was the biggest sing-a-long I saw all weekend. With about fifteen minutes left, they stopped and said something like, “OK we’re gonna take a break now” and put on cheesy lounge music. This was a little bit confusing and there were a number of fans who left early either to catch one of the other headliners or because they thought the set actually ended early. Good thing I stuck around because then they played the only songs I knew, so you know, I felt like I could finally participate in the sing-a-long.

Jane’s Addiction is like one of those classic rock bands that you have to see if they come to your city because the future is unpredictable and you don’t know if something will happen eliminating any possibility of future tours. Anyway, Dave Navarro came out balancing a lit cigarette on the neck of his guitar, acting like he was too cool for the Chicago park smoking ban passed last Wednesday. Perry Farrell looked pretty cool with the rain coming down, one leg up on the speaker while he screamed into the mic for “Up The Beach,” the opener to their “essential” album, Nothing’s Shocking.

I was really curious to see Slayer since “Raining Blood” was probably one of the only metal songs I know by them and also it was raining and very muddy so it was kind of perfect—and that is probably the sissiest thing I could ever say about Slayer. Plus, Slayer wins for most metal thing I can wrap my head around because they’re so classically metal—the upside down crosses, the lyrics about Satan and violent death, the screaming and finger-blazing guitar playing. I may not know anything “essential” there is to know about metal but at least now I can say that I saw Slayer live.

Sorry I don’t have any pics. I was too busy headbanging.




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