Photos by Katrina Lat.
And on the third day we rose again, ready to rock and hungry for more. After two days of experiences ranging from the sublime to the sublimely incomprehensible we were ready for anything. Anything including Say Anything, our first band of the day. Disappointing for one who is not a die-hard fan, however they gave a perfectly crowd pleasing performance. After a less than exciting start to the day The Mighty Mighty Bosstones provided a refreshingly old-school punk approach to a performance that combined smooth Sinatra-esque brass and the raw guttural power of punk rock. It was as if Sinatra got a makeover from Henry Rollins and it rocked.
“O Captain! My Captain!” Our fearful trip was not done, with many more bands to weather and nary a port in sight we sailed over to Cap’n Jazz to endure a storm of lyrics with the final syllables elongated straight out of a nineties rock video. After weathering the storm, we spilled over to the Radical stage to experience Built To Spill. The raspy voice and off key harmonies made it perfectly clear this is the band your way cooler older hipster friend listened to or so it appeared. However after sometime to acclimatize to the less frenetic vibes their cooler than you style began to grow on me, like a dry martini it was an acquired taste.
In much need of a pallet cleanser we found our way to Pennywise, who were refreshingly straightforward hardcore punk with clear influences from Black Flag and the like. Almost as if Smash Mouth were a hardcore band, they came, they played and gave no sh**s. Neither did the old bearded man in the circle pit. Finding our bearings, after a beatific mental pummeling we romped over to Minus The Bear for something radically different. A sedentary and whimsical performance just in time for afternoon tea. Their guitarist wandered all over the principal melodic line like an artist on a blank canvas, adding appropriate flourishes only where necessary as if to accentuate the straightforward harmonic rhythm and melodic concept.
TV on The Radio managed to achieve the divided parallel of performing wonderfully angsty music with a chill vibe. Their bluesy melodies and hard rocking beats had us grooving right into prehistoric times to Dinosaur Jr. The guitarist led the performance with a monstrous display of skill and passion leaving us in no doubt as to their skill and dedication. And now, time for something completely different! AKA Gwar, the intergalactic conquerors of metal and bloody performances. An indeterminate number of otherworldly beings ripped an otherworldly set that had one’s teeth on edge in a kind of painful glory reserved specifically to axe wielding, blood spraying metal heads.
Like a second coming the Prophets of Rage showed the audience no mercy, screaming “make America rage again” they broke into an extraordinary rendition of Testify blasting us with the blistering heat of their righteous rage before they swept the audience up with them into a set that served as both a culmination of the Left’s rage and a call to action. Protest music at its visceral and effective they gave all and held nothing back. Having torn myself away from such a breathtaking experience I sidled over to the Rise stage for MIA. In marked difference to The Prophets of Rage whose performance seamed brilliantly improved and based in passion MIA was cold, controlled and scripted. It was a perfect set; the only thing that was missing in action was the passion.
We finished the final day of Riot Fest with an old favorite. The stage went dark and the drums, in time with our hearts heralded the arrival of Haley Williams. With a flash of light Paramore took to the stage with practiced ease. Leaning heavily on her newer gentler works she lead the first half of the set with a gentler tone than the previous Paramore experience I’ve had. However halfway through she launched into Misery Business and suddenly we we’re back in high school, rocking out to one of our favorites and she was right there with us. Bringing one star struck fan on stage to help finish the performance in a lovely gesture she gave us what we came for with an energetic and passionate performance. Seeming to grow more and more punk as she continued, as if she was warming her attitude up and it finally came to fruition she finished the set with a bang, and so revitalized we headed out into the night. Bidding Chicago and Riot Fest farewell.