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Riot Fest 2019 Day 3: Bikini Kill, Teenage Bottlerocket and…The Village People Close Out The Weekend With Help From Others

Words by: Fredric Hall
Photos and additional words by: Meredith Goldberg

For the third and final day of 2019’s Riot Fest festivities, punk sets were, again, on the small side. Still what’s there ain’t too shabby. Against Me! Had an awesome set, playing both “Reinventing Axl Rose” and “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” start-to-finish, while singer Laura Jane Grace was belting out every song with her unique voice that forces you to pay attention. A particular high point was “Osama bin Laden as the Crucified Christ” with its driving, distorted bass line and disturbing lyrics. At one point, someone in the crowd held up a sign saying “You Are My Hero”, a good indicator of the effect the band had on the crowd.

Against Me!

 

Dave Hause & The Mermaid

Frankie Iero and the Future Violents

 

Sincere Engineer

Perhaps the most curious event to take place at Riot Fest’s 15th Anniversary staging in Chicago was a Wall of Death during The Village People’s performance of their most famous tune, “YMCA.” The song has long been a staple at basketball games of all levels and in all communities despite its lyrical content often understood to refer to the YMCA as a gay hook up spot in the 1970’s. Yet on Day 3,  fans young, old and looking to represent virtually every demographic at Riot Fest joined in forming the 4 letters in the title. And per an organized Facebook event, many took part in a Wall of Death in the center of crowd. For the uninitiated, a Wall of Death is basically a move within a circle pit where a large group of people back off and then at the same moment run toward each other. The event even took the life of a photographer’s sunglasses (though not the DS photog’s sunglasses, whew).

The Village People

 

The Village People fans spell out Y.M.C.A.

Patti Smith had her brand of a slow burning performance later on. Now I know the organizers don’t pick out acts all willy-nilly and Patti Smith is a legend in the genre. However, I’m sure there is a good size of the attendees who have no idea who is she and her contributions to the punk genre. And I guess Smith knew this because she really brought it on stage. While not “punk” in regards to modern tastes, there was a energy about it that exuded a punk attitude, even with covers like Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experience”(with some “Third Stone of the Sun” thrown towards the end) and Midnight Oil’s “Beds are Burning”. She did close the set with “Gloria” which really brought the crowd to its knees.

 

Bikini Kill

Finally, we got Riot grrrl pioneers Bikini Kill, the headliners for the final evening of the festival. Though Kathleen Hanna sang most of the set, she did occasionally switch over to bass, while the rest of the band traded instruments for certain songs. Seriously, they did so many times I couldn’t keep up. Declaring “We’re a feminist band. And we’re headlining a festival” they blazed through songs like “Reject All-American” with the abrasiveness and in-you-face attitude that put them on the map for almost thirty years.

Bikini Kill

If you’ve made it this far, so you might have the impression Riot Fest is straying from it’s punk roots. Well, here’s the thing: I get that festivals like Riot Fest have to carter towards different demographics to stay afloat. To me, this year was more of a history lesson. Teenage punks with Op Ivy back patches on their vests now got to hear Patti Smith and Bikini Kill. They also got to see Slayer which is always a treat (and also played right after Rise Against). So, this is a chance to see all kinds of genres. Limiting yourself to one thing is narrow-minded and stupid. In the end we all need to go beyond our boundaries and explore what’s out there.

Ween

 

Teenage Bottlerocket

 

Please check out the rest of our images from the final day of Riot Fest 2019 below:



Riot Fest 2019 Day 2: Rise Against, Avail, Turnstile and Anthrax Bring the Hard to the Park; The Struts Evoke the Glam Rock 1970’s and The HU Combines New with Very Old

Words: Fredric Hall
Photos and Additional Words: Meredith Goldberg

Day two of Riot Fest 2019, the 15th Anniversary event, saw a bit of a change up. This was a bit slim on the punk side as the metal took over. Still, they were some standouts. You have Avail doing their “Over the James” album set. Honestly, there really is not that much to talk about. Singer Tim Barry mentioned it was his daughter’s birthday which got a collective “awww” from the already captivated crowd.

Avail

 

Avail

 

Anthrax

Anthrax started a few minutes early with a riff from Pantera’s “Cowboys From Hell”, which totally caught me off guard. From there they went into their setlist which was voted by fans via their website. With the band donning Bulls jerseys they tore through all the hits, including “Caught in a Mosh”, “I am the Law” and their cover of “Got the Time”. No “Among the Living” though. Sorry. The did, however, end the set with “Indians” which really got the crowd in uproar. Granted, this isn’t really “punk” but, like I said it was slim pickings that day.

Turnstile

 

Turnstile

Turnstile provided for an especially high energy set under the bright middle afternoon sun. Numerous band members kept busy going airborne and hopping back and forth from stage to speakers. You got the feeling the band members would have like to be performing in the crowd and would be if not for the wide barricaded area/photo pit. Turnstile in a non-barricade venue must surely be mandatory to experience for anyone calling themselves fans of the group.

The Struts

Derby U.K.’s The Struts, with lead singer Luke Spiller, channeling the spirit of Freddie Mercury, took over the Rise Stage. A welcome dose of variety to complement the otherwise predominantly hard-core punk and metal heavy day. Spiller, in a red glittery outfit and thick black eyeliner; and bassist Jed Elliot clad in black leather pants and his leather shirt unbuttoned half way down his evoked 1970’s glam rock.

The Struts

 

The HU

For many Riot Fest attendees, The HU afforded them possibly their first introduction to what the band calls Hunnu Rock. The HU, from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, combine Mongolian throat singing with traditional instruments such as “The morin khuur (Mongolian: морин хуур), also known as the horsehead fiddle, is a traditional Mongolian bowed stringed instrument. It is one of the most important musical instruments of the Mongol people, and is considered a symbol of the Mongolian nation.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morin_khuur].

The HU

Senses Fail

Rise Against

Rise Against

The day ends with Rise Against headlining the evening. Singer Tim McIlarth mentioned he is from Douglas Park (where Riot Fest is held) which obviously get applause from the crowd before going into the hit “Savior” followed by “Prayer of the Refugee.”

Please check out our gallery of additional day 2 photos below!



DS Exclusive: Riot Fest Kicks off 15th Anniversary Celebration with Jawbreaker, Rancid, Cock Sparrer (among others)

Words: Fredric Hall
Pics and additional words: Meredith Goldberg

Riot Fest’s 15th Anniversary event once again took place in Chicago’s Douglas Park, Sept 13th – 15th. A bit of morning rain on day one threatened to muddy the grounds and make for a messy fest. However, by the time the gates opened to attendees, the rain had subsided just a few random, very small soft spots in the ground and small patches of mud could be spotted throughout the park.

Violent Femmes

Anti-Flag

I don’t know what was going on at the Radicals Stage, but there were sound issue throughout the day. When Anti-Flag showed up, you could barely here Chris Parker’s bass and vocals. Despite this, the band blazed through their set, causing a nasty(in a good way) circle pit in process. Hell, as people were jumping up and down during “This is The End” a T-Rex showed up in the pit with spikes in its head, as you do. The band had the crowd by the throat, as most threw up the bird as “Police Brutality” blared out the speakers. With a brief intermission from a spokesperson from Amnesty International — the short of it is “Fuck Racism” — the band followed with “Press Corpse” who they dedicated to JBTV host Jerry Bryant who is currently battling cancer. And now the finale: the set ended with Parker and drummer Pat Thetic bringing their gear into the crowd and playing a few bars, closing out a raucous set.

Cock Sparrer

Before Cock Sparrer‘s came onstage, the already packed crowd was singing the chorus to “Take Em All”, so they were ready to get shit going. For the entire set, singer Colin McFaull had a bottle of Jack Daniels on stage, taking a occasional swig. They played all the hits: “Take Em All” of course, “A.U.” which really got the pumping and “Watch Your Back”. Though for the last one, McFaull missed his cue to go into the chorus, but it’s OK, he was probably tipsy from the Jack.

Pennywise

Like Anti-Flag earlier, Pennywise‘s set also had its fair share of audio problems. Mostly, Jim Lindberg’s vocals being barely audible during songs but fine by itself. They were the most interactive with the crowd of all the bands, with Jim asking the crowd what did they want them to cover and ending it saying, “We don’t know the songs by those bands”. But they did cover-or try to cover-a Sublime followed by a non-fucked up cover of “Minor Threat” by, um, Minor Threat. The whole cover song debacle ended with a sped up version of AC/DC’s “TNT” before going into their original song “Society”.

Rancid

Since they were playing at the same time, I had to leave the Descendents‘ set for Rancid‘s, but the few minutes I was there showed they still had it. Being Riot Fest regulars, they knew how to work a crowd. Not hard since most of their catalog is fast as hell, and starting the set with “Suburban Home” and “Everything Sucks” didn’t hurt either. Rancid’s set was equally energetic, with Tim Armstrong’s neckbeard and Lars Frederiksen’s skinhead look, they blazed through “Roots Radicals” and “Maxwell Murder,” which I didn’t think they’ll do.

Please check out our gallery of additional day 1 photos below:



Riot Festival Announces Impressive Line Up for Fifteenth Year

Riot Fest, now in its fifteenth year of the festival, have announced an impressive line up. Blink-182, who cancelled their 2018 set due to health issues, return to headline this year. Also gracing the stage will be the likes of Glassjaw, Dashboard Confessional, Descendents, Avail, The Get Up Kids and Against Me!

Riot Fest happens at Chicago, IL’s Douglas Park on September 13-15 tickets are on sale. To see the full line up click below.



More bands announced for London’s ‘Polite Riot Festival’ (Satanic Surfers, The Adolescents, CHASER, Darko, etc)

Polite Festival which takes place at the New Cross Inn in South London has announced some more bands for 2019. So far, 12 bands have been announced. Satanic Surfers, The Adolescents, CHASER, Darko & In Evil Hour are joined by For I Am, LineOut, City Mouse, WACO, Werecats, Fastfade, Müg, Snap Out, SKIV, Our Lives In Cinema, RxR and The Aversions. The New Cross Inn has become the centre of the punk scene in London and continues to host many leading bands.

The festival will take place June 28th-30th, tickets are available here.



DS Exclusive: Riot Fest Recap – Day Three (Alkaline Trio, Bad Religion, Bouncing Souls and more)

Day 3 started off rocky. FEAR went on stage play the debut album “FEAR: The Record”in its entirety. Actually, they started the set with “Fuck You, Let’s Rodeo”and “Honor and Obey”from their 1995 album “Have Another Beer with FEAR.” FEAR fans will tell you that the band is, well, not exactly PC, so it was interesting how the crowd will react to the album. Well, no need to worry because singer Lee Ving changed some of the words in certain songs to be a bit more friendly. But self-censorship was only one of the problems with the set, as it seemed the band didn’t do that much practicing, with the guitarist struggling during “Sanatorium”and Ving missed his cue on, well, quite a few songs, actually. A weird thing considering he’s been singing these songs for over thirty years.

 

By comparison Suicidal Tendencies were the complete opposite. The California thrash punk legends blazed through most of their self-title debut album (they didn’t play “I Want More”) completely annihilating the captive crowd with Mike running back and forth on stage, pumping his fists like a fucking lunatic off his meds. Naturally, with this much going on, one of the larger pits I’ve seen that day formed. Songs from “Fascist Pig” to “I Shot Reagan”were played with such ferocity that you forget singer Mike Muir is in his 50’s. The set ended with Mike bringing kids and adults on stage as he performed the classic “Institutionalized.”

The three-day Riot Fest experience was…good. Not great, but it didn’t suck either. There were some definite peaks and valleys in regards to the performances. Overall, I did enjoy it. Hopefully, they work out the kinks next year.

In the interim, please check out some images from a few of the other Day 3 acts, including Bad Religion, Beach Rats, Bouncing Souls and Alkaline Trio! For more coverage from the festival, check out our stories from Day One and Day Two. As with the last two days, all words by Frederic Hall and all photos by Meredith Goldberg.



Riot Fest Recap – Day Two (Street Dogs, Total Chaos, Conflict and more)

Riot Fest’s second day found that bastard, the sun, at it again when California punks Total Chaos began their afternoon set. Before they began, they did treat the crowd with a quick verse from Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades”during soundcheck. The band played a blistering set of breakneck punk like “In Unity,” “Riot City” and their recent track “Street Punx”off their eponymous EP. Both the band and the crowd were wearing studded jackets, patched-up vests, Mohawks and liberty spikes.

Lower Class Brats keep the momentum going. Wearing all black and singer Bones channeling his inner Adicts with his derby hat, the Austin, Texas band covered “All The Young Dudes” as a dedication to David Bowie. The rest of the set was blessed with an insane circle pit and folks just crowd surfing.

British anarcho-punks Conflict were a bit disappointing. Keeping up Lower Class Brat’s all-black-everything look, the band tried their best to get the crowd going with a smattering of success. Even singer Colin Jerwood (the only original member), stepping off stage to sing and greet the crowd didn’t help. Add to the equation some problems with the vocal mic and the overall set was a bit of a let down.

Street Dogs, on the other hand, put on a pumped set. Even with their covers of “Guns of Brixton”, “Borstal Breakout,” and “Blitzkrieg Bop” the Boston band infused it with a kinetic energy that slammed the crowd into hysterics. Even singer Mike McColgan stage dived and kept singing while he was crowdsurfing.

 

Please check out our images below from some of the other Day 2 acts. If you missed yesterday’s Day One coverage, you can check that out here. All photos by Meredith Goldberg, and words by Frederic Hall.



Riot Fest Recap – Day One (Flogging Molly, Lagwagon, Bombpops, Direct Hit!, Pussy Riot and more)

The beer was $9. The crowd was greeted on inaugural day with a horrendous flute cover of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”, complete with straining and crackling high notes. This year’s Riot Fest was a gorgeous, grotesque display of gathering bodies of drunk and fucked-up folks bathed in sweat thanks to an unforgiving sun radiating degrees in the upper 80’s throughout the three-day event.

Our coverage of Day One kicked off with Direct Hit, who played an energetic set, the type where the bassist Steve Murray hops sound so you hope he doesn’t land wrong and break his ankle. The band admitted most of their songs are about drugs. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. Oh, and between songs, the singer Nick Woods something about “The Big Bitch.” Towards the end of the set, drummer Danny Walkowiak actually ran from his drum set to the edge of the stage banging his drumsticks along with the clapping crowd before running back to his kit the second the band started back. It’s cliche as hell, but people loved the shit out of it.

Pussy Riot’s set was…interesting. I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan. While I do appreciate their political message and my heart goes out to member Pyotr Verzilov, who is recovering after being poisoned(!), the music didn’t quite move me that much. However, I would say their stage performance, consisting of everybody wearing florescent green ski-masks and button-up shirts was a sight to behold. But whatever momentum they was stopped when the group exited the stage and a played an audio recording of someone – who sounded like a robotic female voice – reciting twenty-five points about the one-percent and wealth redistribution. I don’t know how long the recording was, but it felt like forever, trust me. Probably sensing the crowd is restless, the group burst from the backstage, flaying their arms and torsos while the loudspeakers blasted the most Earth-shattering bass ever. That was enough to snap the crowd out of it before ending their set.

 

Next up for us were The Bombpops. Holy shit, The Bombpops. The name is fitting since this female-fronted LA band were popping bombs of raw, sonic goodness for the hefty sized crowd that afternoon. To give you an idea of their lyrical prowess, they played a song about shitting their pants called “Dear Beer,” a song about traffic called “Brake Lights” and, at one point, they talked about the heat giving them the “pussy sweats”and “sweaty assholes”.

Shifting gears, we got old-school hip-hop trio Digable Planets. Backed up by a live band, the group played the classic debut album “Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space).” Of course they played their hits “Rebirth of Slick (Cool like Dat)” and “Nickle Bag of Funk.” After twenty some-odd years, the trio still had the chemistry that made them popular in the first place. The band were no slouches either , with the bassist just going off on the slap bass solo that make Flea nod his head approvingly.

Atmosphere’s set seemed to complement Digable’s perfectly, with Slug’s dropping bars from a more introspective place. The seminal “God Loves Ugly”and “Fuck You Lucy”were definitely bangers for the large crowd as the sun ended its shift for the day. Slug’s charisma held the crowd’s attention throughout the set, with his words being more sermon and less hype, with gems such as “I wanna have as much fun as you’re having.” He did deviate from the serious by telling the crowd to raise their hands if they ever masturbated and touch take said hand and touch their neighbor with it.

Head below to check out more of our photos from Day One, including shots from Blood People, Lagwagon, Face To Face, Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly!

(All photography by Meredith Goldberg. Words by Frederic Hall.)



Riot Fest announce bands to play full albums

In celebration of Riot Fest’s annual tradition of inviting landmark names to play their seminal albums front-to-back, we are pleased to announce that the lineup is looking excellent. 

Check out the list below!



Riot Fest announce first round of artists for 2018 lineup

Chicago’s Riot Fest have just announced their first round of artists for the 2018. lineup!

The festival takes place in Douglas Park over September 14, 15, and 16 with music, food vendors, rides, and plenty of beer to go around.

Three day passes are now available here. Riot Fest also offers the ‘layaway’ option for those of you who would like to pay off your tickets in the coming months in segmented payments.

See below for a list of the lineup!



DS Photo Gallery: Riot Fest Chicago – Day 3 (Jawbreaker, Hot Water Music, The Flatliners, The Menzingers and more)

The weekend of September 15-17 saw the annual return of Riot Fest. Riot Fest 2017 was held for the 12th consecutive year in Chicago and for the third consecutive year in Douglas Park. Once again, Riot Fest saw an eclectic crowd turn out, including multiple generations of families. You can check out our coverage of day one here and our shots from day two here, but we, like Riot Fest organizers this year, certainly saved the best for last. 

While last year’s Riot Fest included a Danzig-led Misfits reunion that was noteworthy in its own right, this year’s headline reunion band felt somewhat bigger and more important in a lot of ways. There’s a giant faction of the punk rock scene that’s effectively been the House That Jawbreaker built, and that was certainly reflected in this particular day’s lineup. There’s a direct sonic and stylistic connection from newly-reformed trio, playing only their third show in over two decades, to bands like Hot Water Music to more recent torch-bearers like The Flatliners and The Menzingers. All of the above were on display on a hot and sweaty third-and-final day of Riot Fest 2017, marking a notable past, present and future that seemed to find each generation drawing inspiration from the others.

But wait, there was plenty of other punk rock history to go around! GWAR have kept on keeping on following the death of frontmonster Dave Brockie a few years ago, and have been Riot Fest regulars for years. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones made another stop on their Let’s Face It 20-year celebration shows that’ll wind down with this year’s Hometown Throwdown around Christmastime. Pennywise, who will be celebrating their thirtieth birthday as a band next year, played one of the weekend’s best-received sets. Check out our full photo rundown below!



DS Photo Gallery: Riot Fest Chicago – Day 2 (Bad Brains, The Lawrence Arms, Fishbone and more)

The weekend of September 15-17 saw the annual return of Riot Fest. Riot Fest 2017 was held for the 12th consecutive year in Chicago and for the third consecutive year in Douglas Park. Once again, Riot Fest saw an eclectic crowd turn out, including multiple generations of families. We brought you our full day one gallery a week-or-so ago, so now we’re on to Day Two!

Taking Back Sunday was billed as a co-headliner on this particular evening, but perhaps the most anticipated set was that of Bad Brains. Given the health issues that varying members of the band have experienced over the last handful of years — most notably frontman H.R.’s recent brain surgery, there have been rumors circulating that this fortieth anniversary set might have been the DC punk scene pioneers last ever. If so, it was a hell of a way to go out!

Also featured on the second day of the three-day whirlwind in the sweltering heat were hometown boys The Lawrence Arms; Wu-Tang Clan, the Beastie Boys’ Mike D performing a DJ set, ska-punk pioneers Fishbone, English street punk veterans GBH, Australia’s The Smith Street Band, and Faith No More’s Mike Patton’s latest project, Dead Cross. Check out our full photo gallery of the festivities below, and stay tuned for day three (JAWBREAKER!!) tomorrow!



DS Photo Gallery: Riot Fest Chicago – Day One (Nine Inch Nails, X, Buzzcocks and more)

The weekend of September 15-17 saw the annual return of Riot Fest. Riot Fest 2017 was held for the 12th consecutive year in Chicago and for the third consecutive year in Douglas Park. Riot Fest saw an eclectic crowd turn out, including multiple generations of families. There were too many young punk fans, some just a few months old with mohawks and iconic band tees, to count. 

Day 1, held on September 15th, saw, per usual, a wide variety of acts. As with every previous year, legends and veterans gained the headlining spots and the most attention. In this case, the top billed act for Day 1 of Riot Fest, was Nine Inch Nails

NIN also remains relevant for the prolific film and television scoring work that lead singer Trent Reznor and his collaborator Atticus Ross outside of the group. The duo won the 2011 Oscar for the Score for the film The Social Network. Their work for the currently being broadcast and critically acclaimed 10 part PBS documentary by Ken Burns/Lynn Novick “The Vietnam War” is receiving equal acclaim to the reception of the documentary itself.

The NIN set also demonstrated that the group is as electric as ever. Classics such as “Closer” and “Head Like a Hole” had the large crowd at a fever pitch. However, capping the set; and the night out with  “Hurt” was an emotional gut punch. It has always been a powerful song, but as covered by Johnny Cash, that emotional shot to the heart was upgraded several notches, especially as performed in the video accompanying it. Johnny would lose his beloved June Carter Cash just three months after the filming of the video, and he followed her 4 months later.  It seemed on this night that NIN was not merely playing one of their own best tunes, but rather, they were also singing it in tribute to one of our most beloved, acclaimed and greatest singer-songwriters. Again, an absolute emotional gut punch and shot to the heart. Not something many people would immediately associate with or expect from what started out as a punk rock festival, at least those with little knowledge of this music.

Also, per usual, several veteran acts played one of their albums in full. On day 1, X did the honors with their classic album, “Los Angeles.”  Singer Exene Cervanka wore a black t-shirt emblazoned with her surname on the back and the Los Angeles Dodger log on the front. But a good portion of the crowd (made up of both citizens of the Chicago area, as well as fans who traveled in from other states and other nations) surely appreciated it when she donned a black baseball cap (with a slightly altered color-wise version of) the iconic 4 stars from the City of Chicago flag. X also proved they still have the chops and the songs are still highly adored by their fans. 

One of the most powerful sets was that of Saul Williams. He repeatedly challenged the crowd to face truths about the turbulent times brought on in large part by the current occupiers of the White House and Congressional majority party. He made it known, though perhaps not stated outright, that he was about speaking truth to power; and that words of condemnation are not enough,. His message remains that music is meant to spark change. Williams also repeatedly sent out calls to action with his oft-repeated refrain of “Your punk ain’t punk if you don’t smash Fascists.”

Other day 1 acts demonstrated quite the contrary to Riot Fest’s official and self-deprecating motto “Riot Fest Sucks,”  They included legends such as Buzzcocks and Ministry; and newer groups: The Hotelier, Death From Above; and The Story So Far.

It may be popular to hate on musical fests, including Riot Fest; something as noted above, at which the organizers playful wink. However, perhaps the only thing that truly sucked about day 1 was the blazing heat. It reached into the at least the mid to high 80’s but felt even hotter for those making their ways from stage to stage and the carnival areas. Head below to see our full photo gallery from Day 1 of Riot Fest Chicago, and stay tuned for coverage from Days 2 and 3 soon!



Fat Wreck announces Riot Fest flexi pack that may feature new Jawbreaker music

Fat Wreck Chords have announced they will once again be releasing a special flexi pack exclusive to Riot Fest. In total, the pack will include four flexis with previously unreleased songs.

As most of you know, Jawbreaker will be playing this festival, and some puns in the label’s press release make it sound like one of the flexis may include new music by the recently-reunited band:

“Trust us, you’ll Want the special bonus two song flexi that will be included with every pack…that’s right, four flexis total! Leave your Chesterfields at home and get to Riot Fest and grab a flexi pack!”

Jawbreaker frontman Blake Schwarzenbach recently revealed that the band has been “trying to” write new music. It’s been 22 years since their last album Dear You was released.



Riot Fest announces late night shows

If the three days of Riot Fest doesn’t satisfy your need for live music, fear not. The good folks at Riot Fest have announced the schedule for the after-party shows! Check below for ticket info.