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Riot Fest 2014, Day Two: The Weather Cooperates, Amazing Times Ensue

By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 14, 2014 6:30PM

11:25 a.m. Public transportation is a dream this morning. It took us less than 15 minutes to get from our Bucktown abode to the Riot Fest grounds.— Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

11:45 a.m. The gates are open, but the line to get in stretches for blocks. I make my way to the front and discover that, while a number of gates are open, the security people are thoroughly searching every person that enters. With each search taking an average of a minute or so, people will end up standing in line for over an hour to gain entry. — JK/Tankboy

12:10 p.m. There he is. Macaulay Culkin. He’s like some luminescent gazelle onstage playing a kazoo next to a girl using a pizza box as a bass drum. Pizza Underground is a one-joke band, but I admit that the crew’s playful demeanor and friendly stage banter carries that joke much further than should be possible. Extra points to them for previewing a new song from their possibly side project, Pussy Joel: songs about cats set to Billy Joel tunes. — JK/Tankboy

12:22 Today, instead of taking Division all the way down, I decide to take the Chicago bus to California and hike it to the park from there. My feet hate me, but the rest of my body doesn’t when I board a sparsely populated, calm bus, much different than the loud, sardine can on wheels that I rode yesterday. — Katie Karpowicz

12:24 p.m. “None of these songs are about pizza.” exclaims Wavves’ frontman Nathan Williams as they tear into an unexpectedly tight set of their mixture of sun, surf and punk. These guys have come a long way from the days when the band would routinely melt down onstage, and I think their songs are actually enticing a summer’s edge t cut through the chilly air. — JK/Tankboy

12:34 p.m. So much Quik Dry on the ground. Humboldt Park has been turned into one huge mud pit due to yesterday’s non-stop rain, but organizers are obviously doing their best to try and combat the squishy conditions on the ground. — JK/Tankboy

12:57 p.m. SO. MANY. BEES. Bees are everywhere. It’s insane. I’ve never seen this many bees. And, as a guy who’s allergic to bees, this makes most of my set viewing behavior resemble some sort of bizarre and chaotic dance as I keep running away from the flying stinging machines. It doesn’t dampen my enjoyment of Daniel Wade’s set, though, as he delivers blast after blast of crunchy power pop nuggets. — JK/Tankboy

1:10 p.m. A couple runs frantically to the Radical Stage. Screams “Oh fuck!” once they realize this is not the stage they’re looking for. Then the couple runs off. Man, I hope they catch at least a little of whatever band they’re missing right now. — JK/Tankboy

1:10 p.m. Rose’s Pawn Shop is ten minutes late to start their set, and there’s increasing tension with the Revolt Stage’s sound guy as the two camps bicker over monitor levels. All I can think about is how much the California folk group’s singer looks like Desmond from “Lost.” Finally, four minutes later, the band tells the sound guy, in so many words, “Screw it, we’re starting.” If they’re experiencing problems on stage, I can’t tell. The harmonies are spot on and the acoustic sounds warm the chilly early afternoon. Rose’s, a new find for me at Riot Fest this year, will go on to be one of my favorite sets of the day. — KK

1:19 p.m. Many industry folks write off The Orwells as being a bunch of spoiled kids that come from money and can hire the right people to push their career forward, but, over the last few years, I’ve decided that viewpoint is based on sour grapes. This band is the real deal, with great songs and an amazing stage presence. The great thing is they know people think this about them and they proudly don’t give a fuck. Near the end of their set singer Mario Cuomo gleefully screams “We’re from the suburbs!” before launching into s searing rendition of their song “Mallrats.” Punk rock is taking the suburbs back. — JK/Tankboy

1:25 p.m. Just watched a bush jump out from behind a tree to freak out passersbys. —Jessica Mlinaric

1:40 p.m. Normally I’m the one doing the interviewing, but today In Blue Handmade interviewed me for their blog! They make customized leather goods, including journals that writers like me use, and they’re doing a video series called “Between The Lines” where they talk to different artists, musicians and writers about their writing process. I’m excited to be a part of it! — Michelle Meywes

2:15 p.m. If there are two things this writer loves, it’s hard cider and a comfy couch. So, the Strongbow lounge is the move right now while The Dandy Warhols rock out in the distance. — KK

2:15 p.m. 7 Seconds is covering “99 Red Balloons” and making it a political statement. I’m amused at all the inherent math in that last sentence. — JK/Tankboy

2:22 p.m. The Buzzcocks basically wrote the guidebook for how to construct the perfect pop-punk song and they are schooling this crowd right now. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

2:35 p.m. Uh oh my camera lens is still foggy from yesterday’s deluge. At least the Buzzcocks are having fun onstage. The crowd up front looks like they had a rough night and are taking their time to get into things today. — JM

2:36 p.m. Just saw a guy in a Ravinia Festival t-shirt. Minus three mohawks. — MM

2:47 p.m. OK, the crowd in the back of the Buzzcocks is mixing cocktails out of ziplock bags and getting appropriately psyched. I spot my best pals and make my way to them just in time to groove to “What Do I Get” then hightail it to the Rise stage.— JM

2:49 p.m. My friend convinces me to ride something called Freak Out!, a giant swinging, spinning pendulum. It is simultaneously terrifying and amazing. This will be the most I laugh out loud all day. — KK

2:50 p.m. The worst is when security arbitrarily switches which side of the stage photography enters from. No one wants to be that dick busting across the crowd. Sorry guys!— JM

3:06 p.m. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die has always perplexed me, so I decide to discover whether their live show will help me to clear up my feelings towards the band. This is definitely music for moody male dorm room dwellers but this one of the biggest and surprisingly oldest crowds I’ve seen at the Revolt Stage all weekend. I’m digging the ponderous guitar and keyboard melodies but could do without the unnecessary screaming from one of the guitarists—there are three of them (also unnecessary). — KK

3:27 p.m. I think I set my Television expectations too high. The sexagenarians are missing the brazen edge in their otherwise fine set. Notes hang at the pace of those trying to lumber across the muddy grounds. Jimmy Rip provides some animation onstage and it’s still something to watch Tom Verlaine play—did he just smile? Everyone perks up at the first strains of “Marquee Moon.”— JM

3:50 p.m. I traverse the massive Riot stage horde to get some shots of Die Antwoord and it’s worth the struggle. This is the first crowd I’ve seen all weekend that comes close to riotous. The South African duo spits amid ghostly backup dancers and administers a dose of frenzied energy that’s essential amid all the throwback feelings of the weekend’s lineup.— JM

4:53 p.m. I am singing along to Say Anything’s “Spidersong”, off an album that came out when I was in high school, with friends I’ve known since high school. These are the moments that Riot Fest must love creating. — KK

5:00 p.m. I’ve missed the entire Mighty Mighty Bosstones set waiting in the porta-potty line. Seriously, what are you guys doing in there! During the wait I manage to befriend some Slayer fans from St. Louis—this will prove essential later.— JM

5:12 p.m. As much as I love Say Anything, I’m beginning to regret making the tough decision to catch their set instead of up and comers Restorations. This is the exact same setlist they played just two months ago at Concord Music Hall. That’s the only problem with a band like this. When singer Max Bemis is the one writing and recording all the songs and the backing musicians are just hired to tour, there’s not much room for improvisation during the shows. — KK

5:17 p.m. ”They’re playing so many covers,” someone remarks of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Go home, you’re drunk. Speaking of drunk, I reunite with my new St. Louis friends in the crowd and much symbolic flask trading ensues.— JM

5:36 p.m. In line for coffee. Consistently the longest line at concessions. One thing this festival needs is more places to get caffeinated. —MM

6:02 p.m. I’m laughing I’m smiling so wide. The Get Up Kids are rocking out to “Action and Action” and it’s the biggest collective sing-a-long I’ve seen all weekend. — KK

6:27 p.m. Oops! The Get Up Kids’ Matt Pryor starts in on “I’m A Loner Dottie, A Rebel” out of order as the band continues to rip through Something To Write Home About. “We’re just contractually obligated to play all the songs on the album. They didn’t tell us in what order!” — KK

6:30 p.m. Now that I’m sufficiently lubricated, it’s time to ride the rides. There’s nothing like being flung through the air at top speed with a heights-averse friend to a live Wu Tang soundtrack.— JM

6:46 p.m. Chubby Wieners over everything.— JM

7:00 p.m.Cock Sparrer or Metric? I wish it were easier to dash between stages. Guess I’ll admire Emily Haines from afar while I line up for Flaming Lips photography.— JM

7:35 p.m. Despite me having an All Access pass, the kid working security at The Flaming Lips’ stage is telling me he can’t let me on stage. Unless I have $20 for him. I consider reporting him to his supervisor, but, in the end, just give him the $20. I’m sure he’s been dealing with jerks all day so I hope he buys himself a beer with it. Of course, the second the band starts to play I can’t resist watching the show from the front so I spend almost the entire set in the photo pit. — JK/Tankboy

7:38 p.m. I wish I could have taken every moment of that Get Up Kids set and bottled it up in a jar. Now I’m watching The Used, a band that hasn’t aged as gracefully. When I was in my early teens, I wanted a tattoo inspired by their lyrics. Thankfully, I outgrew my screamo phase (it was just the times, I swear!). Sadly, bands of that era don’t have the same luxury as their former fans. They’re not allowed to outgrow it. When this band tried to make records that veered away from the dated genre, no one cared. The only songs that are getting a response right now are a decade old. Still, when they play “The Taste Of Ink,” I spark a smile and join in the clapping and singing. — KK

7:54 p.m. D’oh! Right at the height of The Flaming Lips’ “The Abandoned Hospital Ship” confetti begins to spray forth from the stage and milliseconds later everything goes dark and quiet. For the first 45 seconds, I’m convinced this is just Wayne Coyne being weird but after a while it’s quite clear this is an unintentional power outage. — KK

7:55 p.m. Ho-lee shit. The Flaming Lips just blew power to the stage. Everything is dark. I’ve never see this happen at a live show before. Crews are running around in frantic disbelief behind the stage. — Michelle Meywes

7:55 p.m. Wayne Coyne’s phantasmagoria of confetti, giant mushrooms, and rainbows blew a fuse. What’s left of the Flaming Lips doesn’t really do it for me these days, so I’m here for the photos.— JM

7:58 p.m. Just as the crowd starts to chant “one more song!” power is restored to the Roots stage, and the Lips pick up right where they left off. — Michelle Meywes

8:01 p.m. After an awkward few minutes, it looks like things are back on track at the Roots Stage. Coyne and co. pick where they left off and continue into part one of “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.” A woman who has clearly gotten into the band’s magical mushroom supply wanders towards me and wordlessly lays her head on my shoulder. She eventually becomes irritated when I refuse to hold her hand and leaves just as quickly as she appeared. — KK

8:30 p.m. Wherein I spend 45 minutes talking to a security team member about his experimentations with the occult. — JM

9:08 p.m. I think the first time I ever saw Taking Back Sunday was in 2004. It seems like they haven’t stopped touring since and the band should really think about adopting the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” After singing along to “Cute Without The ‘E’” for what feels like the billionth time, I’m honestly bored and decide to leave while I’m still in a great mood. — KK

9:30 p.m. I’m a sucker for The National’s Matt Beringer’s brooding baritone. I can only imagine what Samhain is conjuring at the Rebel stage, as we can hear their distant howls between songs. There’s nothing anarchic about The National’s set, but singing along to classically crafted indie rock is a lovely end to a boisterous festival day.— JM

9:36 p.m., I’m amusing some of the security people with my imitations of The National’s Matt Beringer’s baritone while improvising mopey lyrics. Much laughter ensues. I can’t believe I booked this band at The Pontiac in Wicker Park (where Big Star now is) back in the day. How these maudlin tunes have won over the baby boomers and suburban moms and dads of America is beyond me but, hey, good for them. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

9:38 p.m. Sometimes having a boyfriend who works on the Cheesie’s truck really pays off. Yum. Now it’s a race against time to get home before sleepiness sets in. — KK

For more Riot Fest 2014 coverage, check out our day one recap, or listen to our Riot Fest weekend playlist.