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Review: Sunday At Riot Fest 2013

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 16, 2013 7:30PM

The final day of Riot Fest was soggy, as the rain started early in the morning and remained throughout the entire day. This didn’t dampen the spirits of the crowd—sorry, I had to go there—with a solid day of music that ended with the most anticipated return to Chicago by a band that broke up here, The Replacements. The one upside to the inclement weather was a noticeably thinned crowd throughout most of the day, making the travel from one stage to another pretty quick, allowing us to bop all over Humboldt Park to take in the last couple of band before Riot Fest folds up shop in Humboldt Park until next year. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

The Silks, 1:30 p.m. at the Rebel Stage
The Silks may hail from Providence, R.I., but their brand of rock is of the Southern variety. The twangy riffs and blues rhythms were a refreshing break from the largely punk and pop lineup of the afternoon. What started out as a meager 20-person audience huddled under the trees quickly grew, and—despite the dismal weather, early-afternoon time slot and a few failed sing-alongs—there erupted a surprising energy at Rebel Stage. That’s thanks to foot-stompers like “Mountain Man,” “Trouble” and “Mean Old Woman.” The Silks set an ardent mood for the afternoon, and frontman Tyler-James Kelly gave instructions that would prove useful for the rest of the showery day: “Let’s make this rain romantic and get into a lot of trouble.” — Sarah Cobarrubias

Quicksand, 2:00 p.m. at the Riot Stage
I would’ve rather seen Quicksand at a venue like the Cobra Lounge, but even the big stage didn’t stop them from kicking the afternoon into high gear. As always, Walter Schreifels is probably one of the most fun people to watch on stage, as he’s nearly always beaming a huge smile while spinning around. Though their set felt relatively short, they still covered the best bases with tracks like “Omission,” “Fazer” and “Dine Alone.” — Aaron Cynic

Against Me!, 2:30 p.m. at the Roots Stage
Against Me! never fail to put on one of the most energetic and lively sets, and even a mud filled mosh pit couldn’t keep the crowd from enjoying itself. They burned almost too quickly through a badass set of staples like “Walking is Still Honest” and “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” and anthems like “New Wave” and “Cliche Guevara.” Newer tracks like “Fuckmylife666” sounded absolutely magnificent, and after hearing it live, we can expect their latest effort to become an instant classic. — Aaron Cynic

Direct Hit!, 3:30 p.m. at the Rebel Stage
Milwaukee group Direct Hit! were not so much a hit in the sense of "to the jugular" so much as a hit as in "hitting the spot." Their style of sardonic pop-punk was sonic comfort food, and absolutely what the crowd at the Rebel Stage wanted to hear on a rainy afternoon. Hilarious stage banter didn't hurt either. "Remember Green Day's set in '94, and how it was all muddy and legendary and people remembered it? This is gonna suck way worse than that," one member said. Except that it didn't, and the band showcased a strong sensibility on old worn punk. Direct Hit! sounded comfortable with both horror movie-inspired tracks for kids both raised on zombie flicks (shades of The Misfits) with satirical aims at religious fundamentalism styled like The Thermals. Songs like "Getting What You Asked For" and "The World Is Ending (And No One Cares)" were brash, loud, fast and snotty. At Riot Fest, who could ask for anything more? — Jon Graef

Best Coast, 3:45 p.m. at the Rise Stage
It was pouring by time Best Coast took the stage, but their fans aren’t afraid of getting a little wet. The bubbly love ditties of this surf-pop act were just what we needed to brighten our spirits: Tracks like “When the Sun Don’t Shine” and “Summer Mood” were perfect for holding hands and romping in the rain. They also gave us a taste of their upcoming EP, Fade Away, playing new songs such as “This Lonely Morning,” “Fear of My Identity” and the album’s title track. The stage performance wasn’t much to talk about—there weren’t any crazy acrobatics or even dancing, really, but it’s all about sound and mood with this act: Bethany Cosentino’s has a dreamy yet powerful voice, and Bobb Bruno has an incredible knack for shamelessly catchy melodies—a little bit of 60s nostalgia for Riot Festers to enjoy. — Sarah Cobarrubias

Twin Peaks, 4:30 p.m. at the Rebel Stage
It will be interesting to see what kind of band Chicago's latest youthful, teenaged punk sensations Twin Peaks become. For now, the band, who released their first record, Sunken, earlier this year, plays the same kind of sing-songy punk-tinged garage rock not entirely unlike those other enfant terribles, the Smith Westerns. Twin Peaks certainly know how to take the piss: their set included a dude in a McDonald's milkshake costume throwing out t-shirts, off-key renditions of Kelis's big hit, and a cover of the "Malcolm and The Middle" theme song. And while that music was all fine and good, it was the newer material Twin Peaks debuted—for the first time to an audience, even—that truly stood out. Twin Peaks's new music is noisier, and more melodically nuanced. the group sounded like Ride circa "Going Blank Again," while at other times suggested a blue-eyed soul take on Thin Lizzy's melodic guitar heroics. Youthful as they may be, Twin Peaks seem to be growing up already. — Jon Graef

Off With Their Heads, 5:30 p.m.
I walked into Off With Their Heads’ set based solely on the fact that one of my friends raves about them and never misses a show, and after seeing them rip through their set on Sunday I can see why. Their brand of punk is nothing new, but it’s steadfastly Midwestern as the riffs need to be hummable and the choruses sing-along-able. Frontman Ryan Young is apparently the only permanent member of the group when the band hits the road, but you’d never know he hadn’t been playing with the rest of the band for the entirety of their eleven year existence. Their tunes are steadfast and straightforward and you can bet I’ll be catching them next time they swing through Chicago to get even better acquainted with them. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Suicidal Tendencies, 5:30 p.m. at the Rise Stage
It wouldn’t have surprised me if a tired and waterlogged crowd was a bit more subdued by the time Suicidal Tendencies hit the stage, but Mike Muir and company were not going to let the weather or anything else keep them down. The crowd definitely didn’t let up either. From the opening chords of “You can’t bring me down” to the end of their set, Suicidal flew back and forth across the stage, barely stopping to take a quick breath. Their set was one of the most high octane of the entire weekend, and it almost felt impossible to keep up. While I was feeling a bit sluggish just before they hit the stage, by the time the crowd began screaming the chorus of “Institutionalized,” I was completely reinvigorated and ready to continue rioting. — Aaron Cynic

AFI, 7:00 p.m. at the Riot Stage
It’s hard to believe that what was once a scrappy skate punk band from the west coast has become a hardcore classic, but last night AFI proved that their evolution over the years only made them better. Personally, I’d still much rather hear Shut Your Mouth and Open Your Eyes in its entirety, but one can’t continue to live in the past. AFI pulled heavily off of Sing the Sorrow, which at this point, has become a punk/metal/gothic classic in its own right. They did however reach back all the way to the late '90s and gave the crowd “God Called in Sick Today,” which outside of a delightful cover of “Just Like Heaven” was the highlight of their set. — Aaron Cynic

White Mystery, 7:30 p.m. at the Rebel Stage
Look up "hit it and quit it" in a dictionary and you'll find a picture of White Mystery. The ever-dependable Chicago duo dipped into their three album catalog for a solid twenty-minute set that played like a medley of greatest hits. The White siblings--singer/guitarist Alex and her brother, drummer Francis—kept their set crisp and brisk, doling out fuzzy tracks like "Good Girl", "Power Glove" and "Telepathic." Will White Mystery ever change? Probably not. Do they even need to? Well, absolutely not. — Jon Graef

The Pixies, 8 p.m. at the Roots Stage
Blame it on the rain or on three straight days of pit frenzy, but by Sunday night the rowdy riot fest crowd had subdued. Yet with a draw like the crowning finale of Riot Fest weekend, back to back sets by The Pixies and The Replacements, the waterlogged fans would have braved worse to converge at the Roots Stage. Some people even left during the deluge and returned just for the final shows, bucking the no re-entry policy.

The Pixies returned to the Chicago stage opening with a cover of “Big New Prinz.” The question on everyone’s mind was alleviated with Kim Shattuck taking over bass after Kim Deal took leave of the band earlier this summer. There’s no replacing Deal, but Shattuck’s integration was seamless, bringing a fresh energy to the stage with animated bass work and lively vocal contributions. The set was frontloaded with well received new material from the band’s recently released EP, including “Indie Cindy,” “What Goes Boom,” and “Bagboy.” Black Francis led the quartet yowling through their classic catalog including “Debaser,” “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” and “Here Comes Your Man,” with the nostalgic crowd never missing a lyric. Joey Santiago’s wailing lead and drummer David Lovering rounded out the dynamic delivery. By the time they closed with “Where Is My Mind?” everyone had revived and spirits were high heading into The Replacements set. As exciting as it was to look back with The Pixies, they confirmed there’s plenty to look forward to as the band begins a new phase. — Jessica Mlinaric

The Replacements, 9:15 p.m. at the Riot Stage
And then there was a little band called The Replacements. The band hadn’t played in Chicago since they broke up rather publicly onstage at the Taste of Chicago in 1991, and we’re still not sure just how the festival organizers talked them into reuniting, but we’re happy they did. While frontman Paul Westerberg has maintained a relatively low profile in recent years, releases like 49:00 and 3oclockreep show he hasn’t mellowed with age, leading to high hopes that this reunion would be more than a nostalgia ride. The Chicago setlist was similar to their show a few weeks ago at the Toronto edition of Riot Fest, and I couldn’t have been happier, since that meant we got the band in its full, ragged glory. The set pulled from every segment of the band’s catalog, from “Takin’ A Ride” through “Merry Go Round,” and while the session musicians backing core ‘Mats Westerberg and Tommy Stinson meant we weren’t going to see the songs fall apart onstage, even they couldn’t tame Westerberg’s wail and propulsive guitar work. In fact at one point Westerberg threatened to replace guitarist David Minehan with Bob Mould if he couldn’t get his guitar to stop sounding like The Cure. It’s a testament to the band’s legacy that they ripped through 25 songs in their set and it still felt like it went by too quickly. The band closed with “Bastard Of Young” before returning for a brief encore, but during that song’s length the entire crowd at Riot Fest was angry teenagers punching their fists into the sky, and The Replacements were the greatest basement punk rock show in the world at that second. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

So as we call it a wrap on Riot Fest 2013, I’m pleased to see that the event maintained the elements that made me such a fan of it last year. Attendance was higher than 2012, but there was < ahref=””>more of an upheaval in nearby Wicker Park than in Humboldt Park, proving that you can put on a massive DIY event in a Chicago neighborhood and walk away leaving both fans and residents happy. Honestly, the worst thing about the weekend was getting out of the area if you were depending on the CTA, but that’s not really different from any other weekend, right? Despite the weather butting the festival through its paces with three radically different days of varying temperatures and wetness, the proceedings went off smoothly. The crowds never got out of control—any more than one should when moshing and crowd surfing to your favorite band—and the organizers continue to make the case for Riot Fest growing into the best Chicago music festival. The only real bummer of the weekend? Removing my wristband Monday morning and realizing that Riot Fest, and the summer concert season, is officially over. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy