Concert Reviews

Wu-Tang Clan with Slayer, Bloc Party, Anthrax, and PVRIS at Riot Fest 2019 Day 2

Photos by Neil Van & Review by Maria Elisa Maltese

Day Two consisted of a number of set time conflicts for attendees who found themselves running from stage to stage to catch a bit of everything. Organizers clearly listened to fan reports of seemingly lower volumes on the main stages and pumped up the volume, but to a point that some bands were threatened to be drowned out at times between songs. The crowd that came out was slightly different compared to the previous day, with more obvious metal influences and a marked increase in second-hand cigarette smoke (seriously – it was pretty bad).

Having the unfortunate privilege of being one of the first to play on Day Two, Masked Intruder was worth getting there early for. Quirky and engaging, the playful set consisted of a scene-stealing cop in flashy briefs and a fan joining on stage to assist with vocals.

Cobourg, Ontario natives Cleopatrick instantly brought energy and heaviness for their early afternoon set. Playing at the Rebel Stage, they played a short, snarling set that hopefully won them some more fans states-side.

Cherry Glazerr played for a full hour and brought some dreamy, lighter pop-punk to the masses that gathered in-front of the Rise Stage.

Hardcore band Turnstiles brought an extremely loud and heavy set to the early afternoon that the crowd gleefully moshed and screamed along to. They had a sound slightly reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine, which audience members clearly appreciated.

Riot Fest stalwarts Gwar brought their typical stage performance to the adoring crowd, complete with over-the-top costumes and copious amounts of blood. However, a few exchanges during their stage show between songs had the audience questioning the need to include transphobia at a seemingly inclusive festival.

One act that surprised festival goers was Grandson. A relative unknown, the band brought mainstream political awareness mixed with hard hitting beats to galvanized all those in attendance. If this is what the future path of rock music sounds like, the kids are alright.

Some questioned how The Struts fit in a metal-heavy day line-up, but they delivered a jubilantly campy set that got the crowd dancing along. Singer Luke Spiller, dressed in bright red with infectious energy to match, bounced around the stage drawing comparisons to Freddie Mercury in the best of ways.

Hometown heroes Rise Against paid tribute to the city they hail from and paid respects to sharing a bill with legends like Slayer to the delight of their fans. They also benefited from improved sound quality at the Roots Stage which amplified their solid set. Starting with “Architects” and “Ready to Fall”, singer Tim McIlgrath inspired cheers with his calls to action, which was a common theme among other artists on the bill. No matter where they stood/moshed, audience members enjoyed the energy they brought to the stage.

If there is one Riot Fest mainstay that delivers every time, it’s Andrew WK. The man brings his relentless and infectious positive energy to his shows that sets the stage for a massive dance party every time. It was hard not to get swept up with the jubilant crowd. The mad dash across the festival grounds to Rebel Stage to catch this set was well worth every moment.

Despite being a last-minute addition to the line up, Wu-Tang Clan was a more than welcome addition and helped to fill a gap due to the very few number of hip-hop acts on the bill. They surprised the crowd with a full album play of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) to the delight of everyone present, and it was clear the large group of Wu-Tang members gathered were in top form.

Bloc Party played their album Silent Alarm in reverse order which gave it a different feel. The band appeared mainly stoic on stage while they powered through the edgy, dance-friendly and increasingly energetic set. It was possible to hear the sheer audible onslaught of Slayer between songs at times, but it didn’t seem to bother anyone who came out to watch.

As what was billed as Slayer’s last Chicago/Milwaukee show, devoted fans came out in droves to bear witness. Despite being in the industry for over 40 years, you couldn’t tell based on the sheer volume and quality of sound, with members sounding as tight as ever. They pulled out all the stops, complete with epic pyrotechnics and massive-sounding favourites “Angel of Death” and Raining Blood”. They definitely benefited from the improved sound at the Riot Stage compared to the previous day, though it threatened to drown out neighbouring bands on the Rise Stage (including an excellent Bloc Party set). Few words were said by the band besides a moving goodbye, but it was clear the fans were there to send off the thrash metal mainstays in style with screams of “FUCKING SLAYERRR!!” long after the band left the stage.

See our coverage from Day 1 here