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Riot Fest 2015, Day One: It's Raining, It's Sunny, It's Raining, It's Sunny

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 12, 2015 8:00PM

So let’s get this out of the way first. With all that rain that hit early Friday, how is Riot Fest going to deal with it? Their spokesperson Chris Mather told us, “Riot Fest brought several tons of mulch in to address low areas that were impacted by rain. Also the landscaper is on site already making preparations for grass repairs on Monday so there is no wait time after festival ends.“ From my experience yesterday this was certainly the case. While the baseball diamonds in Douglas Park were pretty swampy, the rest of the grounds seemed to be pretty under control.

Let’s get the other thing out of the way. How has the move from Humboldt Park to Douglas Park affected the festival? While we heard much hand wringing over the safety of the new neighborhood—the same stuff we heard a few years ago before people realized Humboldt Park wasn’t that scary either—the new location is great. In fact the layout is far better than the maze of last year, probably because organizers were working with Aldermen that actually welcomed their presence this time around.

The only real downside to the day for me was getting there. I opted to take a route that would drop me at the front gates since I was unfamiliar with the area and that, due to bus delays and then construction long the bus route, took forever. So if you are going today, learn from my mistake. The absolute fastest way there outside of taking a cab is the Pink Line. The grounds are literally a block and half away. And if you’re worried about your safety, don’t be. From every experience I had in the areas surrounding the grounds the community is pretty stoked to have Riot Fest in their midst.

So, how did the day go, blow by blow? Let’s see. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

12:30 p.m. After a bit of a delay I’m told gates are actually open and the line is moving. I wouldn’t know because my CTA adventure is just beginning. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

1 p.m. As our weather forecast wil attest to in a bit, what the fuck is going on with today? A few hours ago I was resigned to another cold and rainy Riot Fest. Then it got sunny and hot. Then cold and rainy. Now I’m wearing a coat and waiting for a bus (that seems destined to never arrive) and sweating to death. But there’s still rain in the forecast? Oh well, once a Boy Scout, always a Boy Scout, so sweaty or not right now, I’ll be prepared. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

2:10 p.m. Finally at the Roosevelt Station and learning that a) non one here has any idea there are supposed to be RIot Fest shuttles and b) there are a lot of people looking for Riot Fest shuttles. A #18 bus shows up though and I hop on, not knowing it’s going to be at least another hour to get to the fest via this route. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

3:15 p.m. The festival grounds are soggy but nowhere near the catastrophe I was expecting. Bayside is just hitting the Rise Stage and the kids are into it. I explore the grounds for a bit and am pleased with how much better the layout is this year over last year. I guess that’s what happens when Alderman Maldonado doesn’t make you completely redesign your footprint a week or two before gates open? And even given the reports that there were some last minute changes made to please Saint Anthony Hospital, this is still a really navigable layout. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

3:48 p.m. Been waiting a while at the Roosevelt station for this Riot Fest shuttle or a #18 bus when I finally ask a CTA attendant if I’m in the right place. He tells me to hop on a #18 and it will take me right to the festival entrance, but bus tracker shows no #18s coming at all so he says he’ll convert a #12 into an #18 for me. CTA win! I opt to take the Pink Line instead though because that bus stop is starting to get real crowded with fest-goers. —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

4:50 p.m. After almost two hours trying to get to Douglas Park from the loop, I'm finally here. —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

5:05 p.m. Watching Laura Jane Grace and Against Me! perform "FuckMyLife666" and looking into the crowd I can’t help but wonder; what does it feel like to have so many people so heartily singing your lyrics back to you? Especially on subject matter so personal? Considering the fact I’m actually getting a little choked up I’m going to guess the answer to those questions is “pretty fucking good.” —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Against Me! Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

5:22 p.m. #monkeysightings in the Against Me crowd. One guy is crowd surfing in a monkey mask while I see a Mylar monkey balloon toward the back. —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

5:32 p.m. Walked into Douglas Park and was greeted by Atreyu. “Becoming the Bull” and “Lip Gloss and Black” sound as good as ever while also reminding me of everything that i love/hate/love about the early 2000’s Victory Records metalcore scene.—Justin Freeman

5:45 p.m. I drag my friend’s to watch Coheed and Cambria. Not so much because I think Coheed and Cambria are all that good (though their set is unexpectedly impressive) but more to prove that there are American bands who are just as stratospherically ridiculous as Rush. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

6:15 p.m. Another welcome addition to this year’s grounds layout? Flags with numbers on them a la parking garages. It makes it far easier to meet up with folks and I immediately wonder why more festivals haven’t adopted this approach. Genius! —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

6:47 p.m. “Huh. There is a drone ominously hovering over me as I watch Thrice,” is a sentence I’d never thought I’d have to think about, but here we are. “Of Dust and Nations” had a slow anxious buildup befitting the intrusive drone hovering over our heads and sounded absolutely massive while songs like “In Exile” sounded forlorn and desolate. Also, I’m kinda hoping that Thrice continues to tour and does a few shows for the ten year anniversary of Vheissu. That album is stellar and those songs were so good live. —Justin Freeman

7:45 p.m. Faith No More takes the stage. Their set is solid but lacks the energy of their show at the Concord just a few months ago. The band is firing in lockstep, but there’s something off. SInger Mike Patton still commands the crowd but he also seems a little bored of the festival setting. Maybe the band needs to play more small shows? However even after witnessing their full force and fury a few months ago, this set is impressive. And aggressive. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

7:53 p.m. “There are rumors swirling about me. Rumors that I worship the Devil when the reality is that the Devil worships me,” Prayers vocalist Rafael Reyes said at some point during their set. Reyes may be antagonistically arrogant, but Prayers may be one of the better things I saw at Riot Fest yesterday. Prayers are heavily inspired by electronic bands like Some Great Reward-era Depeche Mode while they narrate the harsh realities of life in a notorious San Diego street gang. Shoutout to goths of color.—Justin Freeman

8:38 p.m. "Hey! Who are you watching over there?!" Mike Patton yells to the fans gathering at the stage next door for No Doubt. "Cause if you're not with us turn the fuck around." —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

8:49 p.m. Gwen commands every person in the crowd to dance as No Doubt plays "Hella Good." I'm enjoying all the familiar songs—they’ve got a ton of them—but still waiting for the older Tragic Kingdom material. —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

No Doubt. Photo by Jessica Mlinaric/Chicagoist

8:58 p.m. No Doubt starts into "Underneath It All," but I'm just looking at Gwen's stomach. It must be a requirement for her to show as much of her midriff as possible. If I looked that fit, I guess would too. —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

8:59 p.m. Holy shit. Gwen Stefani is older than me?! I’m in shock. Also, I really have to get to the gym more often than I already do. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

9:13 p.m. Gwen, shhhh. I think I hear the beat to "You Can Do It." —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

9:24 p.m. Ice Cube just stopped his set to make everyone watch the trailer to Straight Outta Compton. Ice Cube covering NWA was what it was, an approximation that was equal parts love letter and money grab but still a reminder of how important his body of work is to the genre. —Justin Freeman

9:26 p.m. Follow the bass to the other end of the park and you'll find the real party on the Roots Stage. One hit after another as Ice Cube and his guests keep the energy high with fans yelling back whatever he tells them to. —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

9:30 p.m. Lemmy and Motorhead are killing it. I admit that amidst reports of Lemmy’s failing health and < a href=””>his decision to switch from drinking whiskey to vodka (unspeakable!) I had my doubts he’d make it to the stage tonight. But after canceling on Riot Fest in 2013 he’s made good on his debt, and is giving a performance the delivers on any accrued interest since then. Here’s hoping he’ll still be around to school the kids at Riot Fest 2017, right? —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

10:30 p.m. I learn a lesson on making sure you ask the bus driver where the bus you’re boarding is going. There must be a number of different California #52 buses, one of which drops you at the end of its line in a neighborhood you probably don’t want to be wandering around in at this hour of the evening. Though looking at the bus schedule after the fact, we’re not sure why why our driver decided to terminate her route where she did. So I did what any good citizen would do. I called an Uber, and offered a ride to the other attendees I was with. And called it a night. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

RELATED: Day two recap, day three recap.