My feet hurt, my back is achy and my skin is a bit toasted. What does that mean? That means that day two of Riot Fest is in the books and we are one step closer to being done with the fantastic weekend which is both a relief and devastating. I’m excited to get back in my bed and check on my cats that have surely destroyed something at this point but I always hate when it comes to the last day of Riot Fest because I know I have to wait a whole year to experience the thrill again.
Saturday was a hot day to start but that didn’t stop me from catching everything I possibly could starting with POORSTACY. POORSTACY is a bit more mainstream sounding than I typically go for but the amount of power vocalist Carlito Milfort had was enough to keep me lingering. Admitting to not having his full set and being a bit bummed about it due to the sheer amount of people that had showed up to the set, Carlito and his drummer did what they could for their set and it led to a great soundtrack to kick the day off with.
Bully is one of those bands that I don’t quite understand but seem to be all the rage so of course I wanted to see if anything would change with seeing them in a festival setting instead of inside a constricting venue. Their vibe didn’t change for me but the large crowd watching them so early in the day said everything I needed to hear about this band. They may not be for me but they have a sound that a lot of people love. I didn’t stay long for Bully as I wanted to get back to one of the mainstages to see the Ukraine Tribute that Riot Fest had planned.
At 2:30, everything at the fest seemed to stop. Bands left the stages and the screens were filled with messages from multiple musicians and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy asking for help for Ukraine. We all know it’s a terrible situation over in that part of the world right now and I did appreciate Riot Fest taking a stand for the wartorn country and make it next to impossible to get away from the powerful message. Milo from Descendents, Adam from Taking Back Sunday, all of Dropkick Murphys, and many others took to the screen to ask for donations but it was the surprise performance from Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hütz and the performance from a Ukranian dance troupe that really gave the message the power that I think the organizers were looking for. Although the cheers from the audience where I was wouldn’t be the loudest cheers I would hear on Saturday, they were the most heartfelt and powerful.
I do think a little more thought could have been put into who would follow the beautiful tribute. Don’t get me wrong, I was super excited to catch FEAR perform but it was a little tone-deaf to me that they played “Let’s Have A War” right after such a heartfelt and serious message was ringing through the audience. Beyond that little nuiansce, FEAR. FEAR has been around since 1977 and are absolutely the grandfathers of the punk and hardcore scenes. Seeing them on stage was an absolutely thrill and even though they are definitely old, they didn’t hold back and I had a great time watching their infectious energy unfold in front of me.
Following FEAR’s set was a mad dash between stages for me. Okay, maybe not a mad dash but a gingerly stroll throughout the grounds so I could catch a multitude of acts quickly. It started with The Get Up Kids, a personal favorite of mine. Vocalist Matt Pryor and the rest of the band sounded absolutely flawless but as has been the case the past few times I’ve seen The Get Up Kids, the energy was lacking so after a couple of tracks, I forged ahead and went back to the mainstage area to catch a bit of Jxdn. I talked yesterday about how seeing an act in a festival setting and in an enclosed venue can be two completely different experiences and, although not a fan of Jxdn’s, I just had to see what his performance would be like live. His energy, when playing, was on point, but the majority of his set was spent with him explaining to the crowd that he had just lost his best friend and the emotion attached to that. Although I absolutely sympathize with him, I felt that it put a damper on what could have been a super strong set.
One my buddies that is here with me (there’s a horde of us all living in the same house this weekend– we should have made a sitcom out of it because oh lord there have been laughs) was super excited to see Movements. I really think he may have come to Riot Fest just to see Movements and although I know very little about the band, I had to see what the hype was. I’m really glad that my buddy enjoyed the set but it just didn’t do it for me. The band sounded great but nothing about their sound really stood out to me so I moved on and back to the mainstage area to catch another personal favorite of mine, Yungblud.
I’ve seen Yungblud inside of various club and venues in Minneapolis and it has always been great. I’ve also seen video of Yungblud playing huge festivals and have always longed to be in the audience at those shows. Saturday was my chance for that and he did not disappoint. As one of my friends put it, his music is obnoxiously poppy which made Riot Fest a bit of a weird setting for him but the energy he had on stage said more than his music and had my entire horde of friends bopping along to the infectious beats. It was just what I had wanted from a Yungblud festival set and I truly think he could have headlined this festival and there wouldn’t have been many more complaints than there always are.
It was a quick but dusty jaunt over to one of the further stages to catch Madball after Yungblud but it was well worth all of the dust that I am still blowing out of my nose to see them. Madball was one of the few true hardcore bands to be on the line-up this year and they definitely held their own. A large crowd had formed around the smaller side stage for them and I can only imagine that there was an insane pit happening closer to the stage but that was out of view from me. Their set was tight and powerful and it made me fall back in love with the hardcore scene which, at times, can feel a bit intimidating at times but they welcomed anyone and everyone to their set with their positive mentality that translated well throughout the audience.
I wanted to stick close to this smaller stage for Gwar who was following Madball but there was a small pause in the stage which made me antsy so I shifted over one stage to catch some of The Story So Far. This California band knew exactly what the audience wanted to hear and seemed to play hit after hit without a single pause in their set. It was furious but in all of the right ways and it was honestly hard to pull myself away to see the almighty Gwar but it was one of my friend’s birthdays and he had never seen Gwar before. I knew what I had to do and, in the past, Gwar has never really had a huge pull at Riot so I figured we would be able to get right up in the audience so my friend could get doused in the fake blood that Gwar sprays into the audience from the stage. Something shifted this year and instead of a modest crowd for Gwar, the area surrounding the stage was packed like sardines. We never quite made it into the splashzone for the show but looking behind me to see the giant smile on my friend’s face made it all worth it. Gwar was up to their usual antics, killing characters on stage while performing their thrashy metal with a few jokes thrown in there and a whole lot of blood. Although bummed we couldn’t get any closer, it was a great set and I can’t wait to see them when they come through Minneapolis in just a couple of months.
The sun was starting to go down as I left Gwar and my feet were begging for a break so I headed back over to the side-by-side mainstages where I was going to spend the rest of my evening. I got back there just in time to catch the tail end of Gogol Bordello’s set which was unsurprisingly amazing. It was full of the passion that I would expect from Gogol and the unrelenting energy that vocalist Eugene Hutz and his band always brings to a stage regardless of where they are playing. There was also a serious edge to their set due to the political climate of, well, the world, but I loved how the band was able to balance the two and give the enormous crowd an amazing set.
Closing out the night for me was The Misfits. I wasn’t super excited to see The Misfits as they had just played Riot Fest a couple of years ago but something felt a bit more polished about their set on Saturday night which had me stuck where I was instead of running over to try and catch some of Yellowcard’s set. The Misfits’ performance on Saturday, like a couple of years ago, was done by the original line-up which, if you haven’t seen and experienced before, is a must. The audience was there for it and singing and bouncing around to every song until the night was over and we were once again being ushered out of the festival and onto the streets of Chicago.
I woke up this morning with sore feet, a sore shoulder (from holding my bag all day), a sore throat and dust in my nose. Bring it on day three of Riot Fest– bring it on!
Check Out The Full Line-Up HERE!
Smell-O-Meter: Where Do I Even Begin Here?
Average Age of the Crowd: 39
Crowd Surfers- There’s Zero Way To Count This
Mosh-ability- 11 out of 10
Sausage-Fest Meter- 9 out of 10
Amount of Beer Spilled On Me While Walking Around- $82
Broken Bones- None Spotted
Spotted Flying Through The Air- Drinks, People, Clothing
Pukers- None Spotted
Randomly Shirtless Men – Way Lost Count
Passed Out Kids- There’s No Way To Count This
Idiots Taken Out By Security – There’s No Way To Count This
People Tasered – 1
Drunk Captains – 1
Celebrity Sightings – Lee from Mithya
Overall Score- 11 out of 10
Show on Deck- Riot Fest Day 3!
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