Well, it’s over. I’m both relieved but oh so bummed that in just a little bit, I will be loading up my car and leaving Chicago. Riot Fest went out with a bang and Sunday ended up being the cherry on top of an amazing (albeit exhausting) weekend.
While some of my friends went to brunch, a small group of us broke off and went straight to the festival in the morning. After grabbing an early-day giant slice of pizza, we found ourselves stationed right in front of one of the side stages for a band that I hadn’t thought of in damn near twenty years but was absolutely thrilled to see. It may have been early and we may have still been shaking off the night before but that wasn’t going to stop me from enjoying every second of Treaty of Paris. Their pop-punk anthems reigned through the fairly deserted fields and right into my heart. There was many a singalong for a handful of people in the audience and the excitement was ripe. Treaty of Paris had stopped being a band about twelve years ago but clearly, they had some lasting influence. It was the perfect way to kick off the final day at Riot Fest.
Jawbox was the second act that I caught and although I found their overall stage presence and energy to be a bit lackluster, I thoroughly enjoyed watching them for a bit. The sun was reaching it’s peak and it was getting hot as all get out so it was nice to just stand and chill out for a second as performed. When I say it was hot, I mean it and by the time Jawbox was done, I just needed to sit for a bit so I met up with the larger horde of friends just in time to catch some of Less Than Jake’s sets. Unfortunately, the heat was starting to get to me and I truly just didn’t have the energy to stand there as my skin burned so we just sat and bopped around to Less Than Jake’s infectious ska-fueled tunes. Although bummed I didn’t actually get up in the audience for them, they sounded great.
Remember that song “Gangsta’s Paradise”? Well, that was performed by Artis Ivey, also known as Coolio, and that’s who I had the honor of seeing next. Sadly, I only made it through a handful of songs before I succumbed to the heat and had to go back into the shade and lay down for a bit for sake of not passing out but the few songs I caught sounded great. At 59 years old, Coolio has been doing this for some time and that was obvious. I wasn’t expecting to be super impressed by his set as his music just isn’t quite for me but I definitely got more than expected with him.
I don’t know if it was sun poisoning, heat stroke or just heat exhaustion but I was feeling a bit like death yet again as Coolio played and I knew I had to get out of it all so I found a shady spot next to a bar tent to listen to Jimmy Eat World. Having just seen them earlier in the week at First Avenue in Minneapolis, I didn’t really need to have a visual on them but as they played yet another flawless-sounding set, I couldn’t help but feel a bit bummed that I wasn’t watching them. To be honest, I was saving my energy for the next set which was coming in hot from Midtown.
Midtown, like Treaty of Paris, is one of those bands that I sadly haven’t thought about in years. It’s not that they are bad or didn’t have lasting power with me but just one that never quite comes to mind when looking for something to listen to. I remember seeing them way back in the day and they were an incredible live band. Vocalist Gabe Saporta (who went on to front Cobra Starship) was always fun to watch and always sounded great but that was not the case on Sunday. Unfortunately, after just a couple of songs, I was over it. His voice hasn’t held up over the years and there was weird energy on stage that sadly ruined their set for me. It’s not that I am writing Midtown off but I was definitely a bit disappointed with their set.
Feeling disappointed and with nothing else to really catch that was on “my list”, I went with some friends to check out Action Bronson. Action Bronson’s brand of rap music isn’t my thing but he was a dynamic performer that definitely knows how to draw you in. There was no shortage of personality from him or anyone else who joined him on stage. I don’t think his music will ever quite be my thing but I would definitely make an effort to see him if he ever makes his way back to Minneapolis and I will absolutely be watching his upcoming professional wresting debut when it happens.
On the way back to one of the side stages, I caught a little bit of Sleater-Kinney but it wasn’t enough to really comment on sadly. Sleater-Kinney is a band that is on my “I want to see” list but Sunday just didn’t seem like the time or place for that so I kept walking to make it in time to catch all of The Maine.
The Maine has been one of my favorite bands for years and, if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you’re probably sick of reading about them but I am far from sick of seeing them perform live. Sadly, their set on Sunday didn’t do much for me. They seemed to focus more on their newer stuff which, although good, just wasn’t what I was in the mood for. I did love the personality that shined from this band especially as vocalist John O’Callaghan told the crowd that his parents were in the audience and he wanted to prove that he had actually been working all this time and not just dinking around with a garage-band. It was a cute moment in an overall good set but it still just was not what I wanted and I left their set a bit disappointed.
That disappointment didn’t last long as the next thing I caught was the beginning of headliner act Nine Inch Nail’s set. The lights were frantic and catchy and the sound was obnoxiously loud but it worked for Nine Inch Nails and absolutely caught my attention to the point where I didn’t want to leave. I ended up leaving and coming back due to the sheer power of NIN. They sounded just like they do on recordings and their stage presence, although hard to see due to the constant light changes, was impressive to say the least. I wouldn’t call myself a huge NIN fan but, after seeing them on Sunday, I definitely plan to spend a little more time with the band.
Where did I go after a couple of songs from NIN? I don’t know if you saw it or not but The Academy Is… announced that they were back in March and Riot Fest was their first show back. Like Treaty of Paris and Midtown, this is one of those nostalgia bands for me so of course, I wasn’t going to let a single second of their set pass me by. Although it’s been years since I have seen them, it was as if the band hadn’t missed a beat. They sounded great and I was instantly flooded with emotion as I watched vocalist William Beckett power through their set with all of his heart and soul just like he used to do back in the day.
I have mixed emotions about my final day at Riot Fest. I hate the fact that the sun got to me. I hate the fact that some of the bands I was most excited to see seemingly let me down but I walked away loving the day as a whole.
Now it’s time to load up the car and go back to my real life. Goodbye Chicago and goodbye Riot Fest. I love you both and am already stoked and patiently awaiting next year!
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- $130
Broken Bones- None Spotted
Spotted Flying Through The Air- Drinks, People, Clothing
Fights- None Seen
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
Celebrity Sightings – None
Overall Score- 11 out of 10
Show on Deck- Tenacious D
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