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Riot Fest 2014, Day One: We're Gonna Need A Bigger Ark

By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 13, 2014 7:00PM

It was an unseasonably chilly, and very rainy, start to the Riot Fest weekend on Friday but that didn’t dampen the spirit of attendees. Sorry, couldn’t resist. The new layout of the festival occupies a much larger footprint, but fencing put up to protect more vulnerable areas of the park made getting one’s bearings a little challenging at times.

Environmental and meteorological hiccups aside, once we got settled in and allowed the music to take center stage, nothing could bring us down. Personally, I didn’t witness a bad set, though I admit the first few hours of my time in Humboldt Park were spent tackling the more administrative duties related to acting as editor of festival coverage. Our crack team of writers, however, were taking it all in, beginning our coverage before a single band had hit any Riot Fest stages. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

1:55 p.m. I'm on my way. Someone on the Division bus just used the term “dank tunes” when describing the music his favorite bar plays. I try not to hate him. — Katie Karpowicz

2 p.m. I'm presented with a case of beer and brownies made of bacon and whiskey by my companions prior to the festival. Seeing as I spent half of last night's pre-Riot Fest Murder City Devils party at the Double Door in a whiskey induced half-coma, I'm going to have to take it easy on myself today. — Aaron Cynic

2:45 p.m That awkward moment when you checked in at the press tent early and have been wandering around a near empty park for 20 minutes. Open the gates, Riot Fest, I’m lonely! — KK

3:05 p.m. Somos’s first notes ring through the speakers. They look like babies up there! Am I getting older or are these new bands getting younger? Wait, don’t answer that. The Massachusetts emo punks’ debut album, Temple Of Plenty, was surprisingly good and if their singer can learn to grow more comfortable projecting his voice, their live show should be as well. — KK

3:28 p.m. If anyone reading this watched me struggle with my poncho in the wind and rain for a full five minutes before getting it on while waiting for Title Fight to start, I promise I am typically a much more capable human being than you think. — KK

3:45 p.m. The park is already more mud than grass and the light drizzle is enough to already dampen spirits. The portajohns are somehow already disgusting. Seriously, kids, it's not that hard to not be a dick. We've all got to live here for a couple days. Hoping for a lecture on mutual aid at that Pussy Riot panel. It would do some of these folks good. — AC

4:15 p.m. This is the right way to begin things. Blothar, the newest addition who replaced fallen warrior Oderus Urungus is a worthy vocalist. Sawbone Destructor announces to the crowd he can outfight and outfuck the lot of them, and it finally gets the kids moving around. Unfortunately, the antarctic barbarians preferred to fling fluids mostly towards stage left. Even midway through the set, I barely have any blood on my face. Still, the power of GWAR can't be denied. Onstage a dinosaur was slain and a Nazi skinhead was beheaded. An orgy of destruction is the right way to start one's day. — AC

4:19 p.m. I honestly can’t decide if this Circa Survive performance is a success or a flop. Anthony Green’s bizarro onstage personality is in full force. He’s bouncing around so much I’m genuinely terrified he’ll wipe out on the visibly wet stage. But he doesn’t seem as concerned with singing into the mic, and the sound from where I’m standing isn’t that great to start with. They’re playing “In Fear And Faith” though, so I can’t complain. — KK

4:28 p.m. Green is talking about how excited he is to see Failure next. It dawns on me that one of the coolest features of Riot Fest is that you’re actually able to watch bands that you love and the bands that inspired their sound in a single day. My thoughts are interrupted when Green leaps off the stage, wipes mud across his face and then does the same to everyone in the front row. They love it. — KK

4:30 p.m.Hooray for plenty of bike parking at the Division St. entrance! —Jessica Mlinaric

4:33 p.m. Darting from one stage to the next is much easier when you’re toes aren’t freezing cold. — KK

4:45 p.m.Am I taking crazy pills? I’m wandering around a metal fence labyrinth wondering how the hell I’m supposed to cut over to the music side of things. I’ll just jump this fence. Also, if anyone has crazy pills let me know.—JM

4:52 p.m. Cheezborger. — KK

5:06 p.m. Everyone is covered in (fake) blood and mohawks are at half mast which means two things: GWAR’s set has ended and, yep, it’s been raining all day. — KK

5:31 p.m. I’m 15 minutes late to Failure’s set and I’m still able to walk right up to the front of the stage?! This is tragic. Oh well, everyone else is missing out. — KK

5:51 p.m. Greg Edwards of Failure just totally fucked up the keyboard part in “Stuck On You” and drummer Kellii Scott thinks it’s hilarious. — KK

5:58 p.m.“Punk rock is one of the greatest humanitarian movements of my lifetime,” says Henry Rollins as he moderates the Pussy Riot panel. It’s a cozy affair at this small, unmarked stage, but the crowd is staying in good spirits despite the rainy chill. —JM

6:05 p.m.Everybody is booing Putin as Nadya Tolokonnikova describes Pussy Riot’s adoption of punk. “We moved to punk to make a really loud statement because that was the only way we thought we could do it.”—JM

6:10 p.m. I'm already caked in mud from trying to navigate from stage to stage and the drizzle has washed what little blood I had on me from GWAR completely off. The Pussy Riot panel is jam packed and while it's a nice discussion, I was really hoping for more of a talk about current events, rather than everyone's punk history. — AC

6:18 p.m. It is SO much warmer in the Hellzapoppin tent! Maybe that’s just the heat coming off the flaming sword Chelsea NoPants is currently shoving down her throat. — KK

6:24 p.m. Yup, there a bunch of kids who obviously were near the front at GWAR’s set. So much blood! — JK/ Tankboy

6:30 p.m. Drawn in by the wall of flyers, I check out the Radical Stage. Radkey, a trio of brothers, half my age, are belting out fast three chord Misfits/Ramones style punk and I'm loving it. I wish I'd have heard of these guys beforehand, because I wish I could be up front, screaming along to what sound like very chanty choruses. Honestly, feeling a bit jealous that the bands I was in when I was there age weren't even half as good. Could possibly be my favorite new find of the fest. —AC

6:30 p.m. Does the press tent exist? I’m back in the land of fence barriers and very misdirected on a quest to pick up Offspring photo credentials. Pro tip: it’s the amorphous yellow blob on the map behind the Roots stage. —JM

6:52 p.m. Just ran into Ur Lineup Sux, Bro at the In Blue Handmade tent as they got customized flasks made. — Michelle Meywes

7:00 p.m.All my friends are leaving because it’s that miserable outside. —JM

7:15 p.m. The rain is coming down harder now and I'm shivering. Shorts and a windbreaker were a poor choice. I tried to fight my way up to Gogol Bordello, because gypsy-punk is probably the best thing to mosh for warmth to. Unfortunately, the clusterfuck of a crowd in front of the roots stage has made it nearly impossible to navigate anywhere near. I wander in the other direction, take a swim in some mud and end up at Mastodon. While I've never been a huge fan of sludge metal, everything about their set and style fits perfectly well with my surroundings. AC

7:18 p.m. I watch how majestic the members of Mastodon look as their long beards and locks blow in the wind and the rain falls poetically in front of them, I can’t help but think they planned this weather. — KK

7:18 p.m.“The conditions are extremely luxurious,” shouts Eugene Hütz. The delights of Gogol Bordello are doing battle with the persistent rain, and it’s the perfect theatrical setting for the dynamic spectacle. The accordion and violin wail in defiance of any soggy attitudes while the parade of band members gleam while whirling across the stage. My camera, however, is waterlogged. —JM

8:08 p.m.Dexter Holland declares the crowd “97 percent doable,” inviting everyone to meet him behind the tilt-a-whirl after the show for a mass orgy. The warmth would be nice, because it’s now so cold you can see his breath. —JM

8:10 p.m. Despite it’s smaller size, the Revolt stage has hosted some great shows today. Pity Sex is currently churning out woozy rock songs. If only we could hear them better over Dexter Holland. — KK

8:45 p.m.I don’t see anything but Dave Navarro. The image of him riffing in a cutoff will sustain me on the arctic bike ride home.—JM

8:45 p.m. My shoes are more muck than leather at this point, and I've made the "I'm getting too old for this shit" comment enough times to make myself sick of it.

The fact I'm probably not is cemented as deep as the dirt covering most fest goers by a guy nearly twice my age who throttles me halfway to the other side of the stage during the opening riffs of "War Ensemble." Slayer’s set made it all worth it. There's something so comical about metal's heaviest band, flanked by four upside down crosses, ripping through “Angel of Death,” “Mandatory Suicide” and “Criminally Insane” in the shadow of a candy-colored Ferris wheel I can't stop laughing. Or maybe it's just the joy of seeing Slayer. Between the soundtrack, the mountains of smoke billowing from the stage that hung over the pit, and the eerie green and red lighting, the band's set is as close as this festival is getting to an actual riot. — AC

9:01 p.m.Perry Farrell declares that Chicago is, “colder than a witch’s tit.” —JM

9:13 p.m. “There’s something about rain at shows,” Tim McIlrath of Rise Against says, “It brings us all together. We’re all in the same boat.” He’s absolutely right. No one here can claim that their not too far from misery in their chilliness and dampness, but we’re here and, dammit, we’re going to enjoy it. I do, at least until the one-two punch of monster singles “Prayer Of The Refugee” and “I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore” around 9:30 p.m. when I decide I’ve put in seven full hours today. I’ve done my Riot Fest duty and I’m ready for some dry sweatpants.KK

9:30 p.m.I can’t anymore. Watching Slayer from a distance, calf-deep in mud with no feeling my extremities I decide not to slog toward the stage. Frustratingly, there’s no way to cut across the grounds so the slimy hordes trudge all the way around the park like recently unearthed zombies. Oh wait—there is a zombie!—JM

10 p.m. It's raining, and then it's pouring, and the old man is definitely not boring. O.K., O.K., Perry Farrell is not quite as old as some of the acts here, but Jane’s Addiction has been around for almost 30 years. Hell, their farewell tour (the first one) was 23 years ago. The group played their classic album, Nothing’s Shocking, from start to finish and Farrell was in top form. For all his other projects, he never shines quite the way he does at the front of this band. They closed the show with “Been Caught Stealing” and brought out a couple of scantily clad dancing girls (including Farrell’s wife, Etty) with two of them hanging above the stage by the skin of their backs. Literally. It's the kind of freaky, shocking performance art that we miss from the time of their heyday. But we were supposed to find nothing shocking anyway, right? — MM

10:00 p.m.Waiting for the Division shuttle buses, I make note of how kind the guy from the CTA is in the face of people who don't seem to know how to pay attention to instructions. He repeatedly tells several queues that have formed that the line starts at the point he's standing at, but no one seems to understand. As buses roll up to his point, folks surge from the side over and we remind them the line starts behind us. Several protest, trying to force their way onto the bus, which prompts a lot of people to remind them what special hell they're going to. Somewhere along the way home, a brodude makes an announcement: "Breaking news everybody...I'm drunk," he shouts. While I chuckle lightly to myself, I'm reminded that there were a hell of a lot more bro-dudes at this fest than previous ones. I find a new hole in my shorts which can't be held together with one inch buttons, which I'm glad for, because I'll hopefully keep warmer being forced to wear pants the next two days. AC

10:00 p.m.Picante—sweet relief.—JM

12:17 a.m. Plugged my phone into my iHome alarm clock after jotting down some notes about Jane’s show and it starts playing “Jane Says.” It really freaks me out. Then I realize I accidentally hit the 93.1 preset button. Still, odd timing… — MM