As I soaked in all of the sights, sounds and smells of FEST 16 in days 1 and 2, I purposely tried to keep day 3 out of my mind. Day 3 had some great bands that I couldn’t wait to check out, but I knew that getting to day 3 meant that FEST was coming to a close.
I don’t think I was the only one with the aforementioned sentiment, people were going after it hard Saturday night. I could hear them outside singing and reveling into the wee hours. I felt ok Sunday morning. Got some food and coffee in me, and got ready to face the day. T shirt game was not as important today as the forecast called for unseasonably cool temps. High of 65 meant that I would don the only sweatshirt I brought. It has the Chicago flag on the front of it, which prompted a shout of “Oh Calcutta!!” from an apparent Lawrence Arms fan. After three nights of mayhem, we were delayed getting out the door. I wanted to catch After the Fall, but we actually arrived too late for that and went straight to High Dive to catch Squirtgun doing a retrospective of all the bands they had been in. If you don’t know Squirtgun, they are fronted by Mass Giorgini who is probably best known as owner and resident producer at Sonic Iguana. Some major punk royalty has recorded at SI with Mass at the boards. Squirtgun broke out some of those tunes in a solid set which included The Riverdales and Screeching Weasel.
Next we grabbed a bite at Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille. We could’ve heard Apologies I have none, but it was too cold to sit outside. Sitting in a chain restaurant on Sunday afternoon did not do much to lift me out of the depression of FEST coming to an end. After lunch, we cruised over to Bo Diddley to catch The Movielife. I’ve been following these guys for a while and I real wanted to see them at Riot Fest, but a conflict messed that up. Although they played in a tough spot, Sunday, Outdoors, afternoon, cool day, they represented. Not my standout set of the FEST, but not bad.
After Movielife, we had some tough conflicts. Mean Jeans, Toyguitar, Hiccup, and Ray Rocket (Teenage Bottlerocket). My wife wanted to catch Ray, so we cruised over to Big Lou’s pizza for the show. I grabbed a couple of beers to perk us up and we sat on the patio there sipping our brews as Ray got set up. I’m so glad we caught this show, because he conveyed the hungover depressed malaise that everyone was feeling. Ray asked us to bear with him as he had spent the previous night going door to door at Holiday Inn with The Dopamines. Paint your own picture there. As the cool breeze blew through, Ray gave us a solid but chill set, the perfect cure to what ailed us. He played “Do you wanna go to Tijuana,” dedicated to his twin brother Brandon who passed away in 2015, and covered The Ramones “Pet Sematary.”
The Ray Rocket set definitely perked us up. We cruised over to Tall Paul’s and caught some of Makewar’s set. We bellied up to the bar and threw down some of their brewed-in-house craft beer. The habanero-spiced pale ale stole the show. It brought the heat!! We had to cut out of Makewar to get a good spot for Smoking Popes. Being from Chicago, my wife and I are both big Popes fans. The Popes never disappoint. They’ve been around a long time and they know what people want to hear. They bring the hits one after the other. They played my fave “No More Smiles” as well as “Megan,” “Paul,” “Rubella.” One of the many highlights of this set was their cover of MC5’s “Ramblin’ Rose.” And of course they played “Need You Around.” When it came to playing Bo Diddley, some bands sounded better than others, but the Popes really rocked this stage. Safe to say, this set was up there in the top 5 of FEST.
Iron Chic hit the Bo Diddley stage next, so we hung around for that. IC had a very lively crowd and their brand of punk rock really got the people moving and singing along. You could tell people were amped for this band. We watched the set from afar, but we already had tickets to see them in Chicago in December, so we cut out to check some other sets. We caught Kamikaze Girls at the Wooly. I have no recollection of it. I remember bouncing across the street to The Atlantic where Machinist! was playing. I only caught the last song, wish I had seen more. This mad dash ended at Rockey’s where we caught the last few songs from The Raging Nathans. We must’ve been in the right place as a few dignitaries were on hand such as OWTH’s Ryan Young.
One of the reasons I broke the bank and travelled down to FEST this year was Superchunk. I’ve seen them a handful of times; the first time in 1993. At one point I remember thinking to myself, “I’m going to buy every Superchunk album that ever comes out.” Well who knew they would put out like 40 records!?! I don’t have them all, but I have a lot of them. So we trekked over to Bo Diddley to catch Sunday’s headliner, Superchunk. For one, they sounded great. I’ll give them that. They didn’t play the full 90 minutes, which was a bit of a bummer. They also threw in some random tunes like “Hello Hawk” and “I Got Cut.” Deep cuts aside, they also dropped some fan favorites like: “Slack Motherfucker, Sick to Move, Driveway to Driveway, Hyper Enough, Precision Auto, and Seed Toss.” The ‘Chunk brought the goods and sent the main stage out in grand fashion.
The main stage might have been done, but we were not! We popped over to The Wooly, grabbed a brew and caught Meat Wave. Their new album, “The Incessant” is on my list of the best of 2017. These guys rock the 3 piece like Alkaline Trio or Husker Du; although their sound is more like Big Black. I’m definitely going to catch these guys again. After MW, I made a fatal error. I decided we should hit Durty Nelly’s to catch Dingus. For one, I had the complete wrong band. I guess there are two Dingus’s (Dingi?). Unfortunately, the one I planned to see was recording an album in Belgium at the time. I sat there for about a half hour completely confused. When we came to our senses, I looked my wife in the eye and I could tell she was done. 40 shows over 3 days will tend to wear you out. I was running on fumes as well. We decided to call it quits. I had hoped to catch Night Witch, Teen Agers, and Tiltwheel; but I will have to wait for them to come to town.
We survived FEST 16, and had an amazing time! One thing is for sure, we will be marking our calendars for the lineup announcement for FEST 17. We will be back!