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.
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.
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.
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”.
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: