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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wildfire Reviews top 5 Moments of Riot Festival Chicago

What: Concert Review
Riot Festival
September 13-15
Humbolt Park, Chicago, IL


Leo Pareti                                                                               Music Review


The Top          5 Minutes of Riot Festival


5)             The Festival Itself

Last weekend, the acclaimed and most anticipative summer event called Riot Festival & Carnival rocked Chicago’s Humboldt Park. Now in its 3rd year running, and 2nd in Chicago’s Humboldt Park, Riot Festival has proven itself to the biggest punk rock festival in the America’s. “This is like Reading and Leads!” Pennywise’s lead singer excitedly quoted on Saturday Afternoon. Indeed, when looking out form the main stage one can just see a sea of people and always a notorious mosh-pit. The event was a close if not sold out festival with as many as 20K plus people flooding the festival grounds.

Rather late in the festival season, it was held September 13-15 and unfortunately, the cool weather & down pouring rain Sunday let everyone aware that summer is indeed over and autumn has begun. Despite many Mohawks and bald skin heads being covered up on Sunday with rain jackets & umbrellas, the weather for Friday & Saturday was pleasant enough to have a festival worthy time.

            Riot Festival isn’t part of America’s big four yet, being Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza & Sasquatch festivals, but it may as well be. Even at these festivals, it was recorded many festival goers asking each other, ‘Well are you going to Riot Festival this year?”       What made Riot Festival the most talked about event of the summer and Chicago’s most anticipated party? It wasn’t because of its location-Humboldt Park is actually in a bad part of town and hard to get to transportation wise. The answer why so many people flocked to this location, most being from out of town, was because of the line up. The line up brought legendary punk bands like Blondie, Lou Reed & Bad Religion to play against modern punk legends like Rancid, Pennywise, Yellowcard & Against Me. One might be surprised enough to see a band that hasn’t performed in 25 years called The Replacements sharing the same stage as Blink 182 & Fall Out Boy, but it happened at Riot Festival 2013, making this a true punk rock festival. The crowd was a mixture of both old & new fans alike as they flocked into see their favorite bands at Riot Festival.

            One more thing to add about the festival is its uniqueness. Riot Festival is unlike any other festival because its actually a carnival. Big Carnival tents & various rides including a Ferris wheel were set up across the park, and hundreds of carnival employees like clowns, flame flowers & general weird costumes flowed across the festival making it extremely entertaining & fun to look at. This was why Riot Festival was one of the best festivals of the year.






4) Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

            One of these punk rock legends that performed & Riot Festival & Carnival 2013 was the legendary Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. Across the way, Bad Religion’s lead singer joked, ‘Man there’s a lot of 80’s bands here today. Oh wait, were unfortunately from the 80s, I almost forgot.” Joan rocked the festival Friday night, providing dance friendly tunes the crowd knew and sang along to during her entire set.

            Many older rock fans might be thinking nowadays Joan Jett might be too old & washed up to see live. Not true at all. The female rock and roll star performed with energy & merit, strumming her guitar to familiar tunes like ‘Bad Reputation’ and ‘I love Rock and Roll’. There was more dancing at Joan Jett than any  other performer at the festival, and the crowd cheered and swayed as she continued on throughout the night with her band the Blackhearts. It was a truly pleasant experience to be witnessing a rock and roll legend.

            Halfway through the set, Joan Jett brought out Against Me’s lead singer, Grace Kelly, who can also play the guitar splendidly. The crowd cheered with excitement as the pair tore through a song they had recorded together over the past year. In a way, Grace Kelly is a modern version of Joan Jett, and the two almost seemed to duel with guitars as they continued to play.

            And of course, as Kristen Stewart notably acted out to a T in The Runaways, Joan Jett let out her signature snarl and growl throughout the entire set lit. It was a concert well worth attending to, and even though she might be getting older nowadays, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts are still worth seeing.

Riot Festival Score:

3 out of 5 stars                        ***




3)             Guided by Voices

Another legendary group performed at Riot Festival Saturday evening. The Ohio band Guided by Voices rocked the Roots stage, proving that these old guys still have it. All with grey hair, the band members performed extremely well together with on centered beats that blended in well with the lead singers melodies as he sang out and entertained the crowd. Guided by Voices was probably the most comical of all the acts at Riot Festival as well.

            Lead singer Robert Polland continued to joke throughout the entire set. “Were at a festival, so let’s play all our hits. No fuck you guys, were going to play songs no knows,” he said as the set began. Fortunate to this, Guided by Voices did include many hits throughout the set that the crowd sang along to with joy and satisfaction. Guided by Voice’s lead singer carried on their performance, and by the end of the set, one had a little familiar notion of who they were and who he was. “I’ve always wanted to say up next, Blondie,” he joked near the end, so of course several times he mentioned Blondie was indeed up next. Overall, the set was extremely entertaining & one of the best of Riot Festival 2013.






 Riot Festival Score:   3.5 out of 5 stars         ***/*


2)
Meeting Kitten & Surfer Blood Backstage

              The best part of Riot Festival for this interviewer wasn’t the festival at all, but meeting some of the bands actually performing! On Saturday morning, L.A. indie rock band Kitten, who’s making a name for themselves even before their first full length album has been recorded, opened up the festival at 11:30. The performance was full of energy as everyone in the band is under the age of 20. Lead singer Chloe Chaidez is described as a ‘young rock goddess’ and that title can certainly be justified watching her live as she jumps around on stage, doing crazy dance moves, and every other minute seeming to be hugging & loving the other band members. “I’m for sure going on a carnival ride later today” Chloe said smiling, displaying that even though they might be an up and coming rock band, the members of kitten are still of course young at heart.



              Backstage however, meeting the band was a completely different feel. Everyone in the band, especially Chloe, was sensationally nice and easy to talk to. They might be kids at heart, and even backstage one could tell how youth full they are by watching them as they really wanted to be everywhere at once and talk to everyone, but most importantly, they can also be mature when they want to be.

              Surfer Blood, another young indie band from Florida, were also present at the media outlet. Lead singer John Paul Pitts was extremely grateful we saw a few songs of his set before going backstage.

Here are some questions I asked Kitten & Surfer Blood:

Surfer Blood:

Me:
“I noticed you did a lot of crowd inter reaction during your performance and even at one time, you got into the crowd and hugged everybody. Do you feel that necessary during your shows and do it often?”

John Maul Pitts:

“I love going into the crowd while performing. I try & do it as often as I can and every one of my shows. You’ve got to do things like that because it’s so easy just to spread love around.”

Kitten:

Me:

“You guys were the first performers at the festival today. Your performance was at 11:30AM in the morning, what that like?”

Kitten:

“Brutal! It completely sucks. But this time it was better than the last morning performance we did, because we had to perform after a band, so we had very limited time. This time, there was nobody opening, so we had time to come in, and actually do sound check up & make sure everything was ready. Riot festival was a lot better than the last performance we did in the morning because of that.”

Me:       “What do you like about this festival versus some of the other ones you’ve played at?”

Kitten:   “The line up! These are all bands we grew up on listening to during High School, so its awesome coming out here and seeing all of our music heroes perform at one place in one weekend.”

Me:       “So, you some of these bands performing here are some of your influences you might say?”

Kitten: “Of Course. Blondie, Dinosaur JR, Pennywise, Black Flag, Rancid, Quicksand, Mission of Burma, & Against Me were all some of the influences of our music.”

Me:       “Are you guys staying after your interviews to catch any of the performances?”

Kitten: “It really sucks, but our label has us flying out today at 7PM, so we have to leave the festival at around 5, even though this is a one off performance for us and we don’t have anything scheduled for a while. We really want to stick around for Flag later today, but we don’t think were going to have time.”

Me:       “Is there anyone playing today that you guys might be able to see?”

Kitten:   “Dinosaur JR! We really want to see them and we’ll be all there for that.”

Me:       “So what was the best tour you’ve guys done lately?”

Kitten:   “Opening up for Paramore. They are incredible musicians, and each show on the concert was sold out. So it was great exposure for us. Paramore were actually the nicest musicians we’ve met so far out on tour, because some of the time you are on tour with somebody and it isn’t too fun, especially when you don’t get along with them. With Paramore, we actually got to hang out with them almost every night after the show. It was kind of weird, because all of us (the guys in kitten) had a huge crush on Haley, so when were with her after the first time, that kind of worn off and we saw her as a good friend versus someone we had a crush on.”

Final Question:

Me:       “To wrap this up, What are some of your short term goals?”

Kitten:   “We’d really like to finally record a full length album, which will hopefully be soon. We only have 2 EPs out now.”



1)
Blink

              Blink 182 is one of those legendary bands that if you have a chance to go see them, you should. The reason why is because this group doesn’t tour that often, they only do a full nationwide tour maybe two or three times in a dozen years. Saturday night, the band performed in true and full form at Riot Festival & Carnival 2013 on the main stage. The band still has unlimited energy, and as always, a very ‘Fuck You’ attitude towards everything. That is what punk rock is all about, after all. The performance was powerful and satisfying, despite the unfortunate & awkward ending.

              Does Blink 182 still have it? The answer is yes, and they clearly love doing it. “Uh Oh, Travis is taking his shirt off by the 3rd song, you know what that means people? Let’s not slow down!’ Tom Delonge shouted out in the beginning of the show. It was surprising to see everyone in the crowd actually extremely friendly and respected towards one another. Before they came on stage, almost everyone was talking to other groups and relating concert experiences.  People who ‘rushed forward’ to the stage got an impressive ‘Assholes chant by the rest of the crowd, most notably because of what happened during Fall Out Boy the previous night as many people were crushed in front of the stage. So this time, everyone was a bit more friendly. During the performance, fans clapped each others hands, danced, moshed and did whatever they did like feeling (some girl was even doing cart wheels in the mosh pit), while singing along to every one of Blink 182’s songs.

              “You guys seemed tired,” Tom shouted towards the end of the set. What did everyone in the crowd say? “Fuck you” was the one response, of course. At the end of the performance, the band played an encore that was met with an intense awkward feel t it. The band already performed over the time limit (11PM), and Tom shouted, “Are you ready for a Grand Finale?” Unfortunately, the Chicago police can be extremely forceful at parks during evening festival performances, and the band could not play one more tune. That wasn’t the only thing awkward about Blink 182-the band has free masonry symbols over their speakers, but whether or not they are part of that group or perhaps the same group that may have caused the death of Michael Jackson, one can only speculate.

              In all, Blink 182 was exceptionally good, full of energy, and never slowed down from the beginning of their set to the last of it. They are indeed worth seeing in today’s musical world.

Riot Festival Rating:        4 out of 5 stars                ****
Set list:
1) Feeling This
2) Up all Night
3) The Rock Show
4) What's my Age Again?
5) Dogs Eating Dogs
6) Down
7) I Miss you
8) Wishing Well
9) Dumpweed
10) Always
11) Violence
12) After Midnight
13) First Date
14) Heart's all Gone
15) Man Overboard
16) Ghost on the Dancefloor
17) All the Small Things
18) Josie

Encore:
19) Carousel
20) Dammit
21) Family Reunion



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