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Photos: Riot Fest 2015 Makes Chicago Proud As It Closes Out The Weekend

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 14, 2015 6:22PM

Sunday’s Riot Fest was filled with unexpected surprises.

The grounds were still pretty soggy in certain sections—with the worst cordoned off—but overall the mud triggered by rain the previous two mornings had stabilized.

With 45,000 fans attending each day, Riot Fest is now officially the second largest music festival in Chicago. For such a huge festival it’s remarkable that the grounds still have an indie, DIY flavor to them. Maybe it’s because of the weird confluence of bands, mixed with an actual, full-scale carnival in the middle of it all, but there’s definitely something very unique to Riot Fest I have yet to experience another festival. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s truly a homegrown Chicago event that makes it stand apart from the others? If that’s the case, then Chicago can be proud.

So let’s recap Day Three and wrap up our coverage of Riot Fest 2015 from its new home in Douglas Park. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

3 p.m. There is dried mud at the Clark and Lake CTA station. I think you can tell this is the central transportation hub for people heading to Riot Fest. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

3:41 p.m. Heard a little bit of New Politics as I walked into Douglas Park. New Politics is an indie pop band from Copenhagen and they remind me of bands like Bastille, Walk the Moon and Fun. They have a few songs that are big on Q101...err 101WKQX. They finished their set with the crowd pleaser “Harlem.” —Justin Freeman

3:56 p.m. “We’re the only band that’s looking out for your well-being,” says Less Than Jake as a toilet paper cannon streams into the audience. “It’s day three, the port-a-potties are disgusting.” The predictably enjoyable set is punctuated by shout outs to Elgin, Schaumburg, and Downers Grove as they launch into “History of a Boring Town.”—Jessica Mlinaric

4:17 p.m. Taking Back Sunday is playing a “secret” show at the Revolt Stage right now. For context, the Revolt Stage is one of the small side stages and Taking Back Sunday are arguably one of the largest bands on the planet. It was a bit crowded but not overwhelming so. If anything, it was rather chill. People were making sure everyone had enough space and if someone fell while pogo-ing to “Timberwolves at New Jersey,” they’d be helped up. On a much smaller stage than usual, you can tell the band was having a blast. They even covered Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings” for the thrill of it.

“I was never good at graphs,” frontman Adam Lazzara says to the crowd before continuing, “...which is my I’m in a rock n' roll band.” He stops for a moment to look at the crowd and seemingly reflect on this life that he’s built. “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re Taking Back Sunday and this is our last song. This is ‘MakeDamnSure.’” —Justin Freeman

5:05 p.m. The crowd is chanting “PARTY” at the Rebel Stage in anticipation of Andrew WK and friends. His set is only 45 minutes, but it’s one jam-packed, non-stop party.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

5:15 p.m. There’s a kid in the crowd, who can’t be more than 6 or 7 years old, perched on top of his dad’s shoulders and pumping his fist non-stop to Andrew WK’s calls to party. This kid is totally winning Riot Fest. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

5:22 p.m. The band stationed in the neighboring stage are loudly soundchecking their instruments during the delicate parts of Foxing’s songs. Everyone in the audience is giving the intrusive band an annoyed look. Foxing are trying their very best to power through and songs like “The Medic” and “Rory” are still compelling, but the damage has been done. Oh well. I look forward to watch Foxing play with The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die at Beat Kitchen in November. —Justin Freeman

5:20 p.m. Andrew WK plays the national anthem on a pizza guitar. Because why not? Follow it up with guitarist Dave Pino throwing T-shirts out into the crowd. It’s like an award for partying so hard.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

5:21 p.m.I almost HAD that t-shirt! —Jessica Mlinaric

5:23 p.m. Spotted an inflatable monkey crowd surfing at Andrew WK. #monkeytracker —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

5:47 p.m. These people will do anything Andrew WK tells them to do. The result is the greatest mosh pit I've ever seen. It’s just people running in a giant circle. Party hard.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

Riot Fest Speaks with Dem Hopkins (owner of club Oz), Nan Warshaw (founder of Bloodshot Records), Joe Shanahan (owner of Metro), Brendan Kelly (The Lawrence Arms),Joe Principe (Rise Against), Daryl Wilson (The Bollweevils) and Jeff Pezzati (Naked Raygun), photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

6:08 p.m. Today’s Riot Fest Speaks panel is with some the city’s long time independent music biz folks. Metro owner Joe Shanahan sits alongside Bloodshot Records founder Nan Warshaw, former club Oz owner Dem Hopkins and musicians from Chicago’s punk scene, all with decades of experience in the business. The talk went from music to politics to record stores with some interesting asides that provided an inside look at the music scene in Chicago. One story that stood out was Shanahan talking with Jeff Pezzati of Naked Raygun about bands posting flyers in the middle of the night to promote upcoming shows. When a band would put the address of the show on the flyer, the cops would inevitably come to the venue looking to ticket someone for the postings. Even though the Metro didn’t post them, they would pay the fine because they weren’t about to rat out the bands.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

6:09 p.m. During the Riot Fest Speaks panel The Bollweevils’ Daryl Wilson says, “If you're a guitar player in Chicago and you say you're not influenced by John Haggerty you're a fucking liar.” He’s right. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

6:30 p.m. Joe Shanahan lets the Basement Screams panel run a little long so that they could take questions from the audience. The group got into a lively discussion about high ticket prices. More than once Shanahan called it a “delicate balance between art and commerce.” They want to keep ticket prices affordable for fans, but still get bands paid what they deserve, especially since musicians don’t make money from album sales anymore.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

6:37 p.m. Posted up on a hill in the back having a quick bite to eat while watching Cypress Hill, and clouds of pot smoke emerge everywhere you look. Suddenly the security guards are dancing like a scene out of Reefer Madness as they play “Insane in the Brain.” Everyone slurs in unison I LOVE YOU MARY JANE as they play “Hits From the Bong” and something resembling a mosh pit breaks out as they finish with “Rock Superstar.” —Justin Freeman

6:59 p.m. “Melt off their balls and titties please. In a nice way.” says L7’s Donita Sparks to their sound-person. Her request is granted and the band’s already punishing attack is turned up a few notches. This band came up through the L.A. metal scene in the ‘80s and when the dude crowd was all going hairspray and spandex, this quartet just focussed on aggression and killer riffs. I had my fears this might be a bit of nostalgic victory lap for L7 but no, they are focused on melting faces and leaving people as puddles in the wake of their rock. It’s wonderful to behold. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

7:13 p.m. For a 67-year-old, Jimmy Cliff has an astounding amount of energy. He’s dancing all over the stage in what appears to be a mixture of aerobic workout and pure glee. His band is top notch and delivers a high powered reggae-tinged performance. And the area by the Roots Stage is choked with an overflowing crowd. There’s a VIP section just behind me and even in there folks are pressed up against the chain link fence take in the set. Cliff’s band jumps from the high-powered “You Can Get It If You Really Want” into an unlikely mid-tempo cover of Cat Stevens’ “Wild World.” In the hands of anyone else this would probably be a disaster, but Cliff makes it work, and the audience just keeps dancing. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

7:15 p.m. Have Mercy are slightly terrified. They just told us so. “This is the most amount of people we’ve ever played for. This is the first time I’ve been nervous,” one of the members of the band muses. The jitters didn't last last too long or really hamper them at all. If anything, they probably seized the moment. Have Mercy are an emo band from Baltimore. If you’re into bands like Manchester Orchestra, Into It. Over It., perhaps even The Colour and the Shape-era Foo Fighters, they may be worth checking out. Their current single “Spacecrafts” is robust and translates so well in a live setting. —Justin Freeman

7:24 p.m. I did not know there was putt putt here, and I did not know that Dancing Guy was here. But there he is, playing Riot Putt in the middle of a freaking music festival.—Michelle Meywes Kopeny

Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

8:01 p.m. Jack Black informs us that he is contractually obligated to play those old songs, but that they have moved on creatively. Their new album, he says jokingly, has only one song and it’s titled simply, “Jazz.” —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

8:01 p.m. Snoop Dogg is late. I’ve seen Snoop before, and it was apparent he wasn’t going to have time to do much, so I bailed to check out other things. Apparently, Snoop was about 30 minutes late and was solid when he eventually showed up though. —Justin Freeman

8:05 p.m. Tenacious D wasn’t kidding about “Jazz.” Kyle Gass plays not one, but two jazz flutes at the same time. Jack Black is scatting and shifts into using actual words telling us, “Jazz! 12 minutes of uninterrupted non-stop jazz! Real music! Real genius! JAZZZZZZ!” Over the next couple minutes every time Black refers to the duration of the song it will keep getting longer and longer, until the point he insists that security will have to forcibly remove them from the stage to stop their non-stop jazz attack. I’m laughing so hard I’m crying. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

8:18 p.m. Uh oh. Tenacious D’s guitar player is possessed by Satan. Time for a rocksorcism rock-off. —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

8:33 p.m. Knuckle Puck start their set with “Transparency.” The crowd implodes into a colossal, zealous fit, and stays that way of the duration of their set. People are crowd-surfing and a massive circle pit breaks out, but people are watching out for each other—a far cry from what happening during System of a Down yesterday. Singles like “Disdain,” “Gold Rush,” and “True Contrite” are magnetic and sound large. Knuckle Puck just may be the next big pop punk band to come out of Chicago and we’re excited to see what happens next. —Justin Freeman

8:40 p.m. Snoop or Tenacious D? Sometimes I think about making a “would you rather” game out of music festival schedule conflicts. I thought I would be able to catch half of Tenacious D’s set and then see the second half of Snoop Dogg, but Jack Black and Kyle Gass were just too good to walk away from. Sorry, Dogg. —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

The Prodigy, photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
8:51 p.m. “This is how we do it in the fuckin’ UK.” Hell yeah it is. Prodigy takes the stage after a ten minute musical intro. It’s nonstop flashing lights and driving beats and people are losing their minds. I had no idea Prodigy’s live set was this intense. They come right out the gates with “Breathe,” one of the hits, but I quickly realize that it doesn’t matter if they’re playing a song I’m familiar with or not. I can’t tear myself away. People are literally jumping the fence out of the VIP viewing area to get closer. —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

9:20 p.m. Some tall dude just shoved his way past me and I realize it’s Maxim, one of The Prodigy’s co-lead vocalists. He’s making his way through the VIP area and staring people down and it is menacing as hell. Keith Flint holds down the fort on stage. The Prodigy hasn’t played Chicago since 2009 and they seem set on making us regret they’re not here annually. This set is revelatory. And people are absolutely losing it. There is dancing happening all around me, much of it in the back of the field, where people can’t even see the stage, just the light show. The volume is incredible and I swear it actually gets louder with each song. My shirt is vibrating from the bass and I’ve never had that happen when I wasn’t standing directly in front of speakers on a stage.

I look over at the stage Modest Mouse is playing on in the distance and feel sorry for those people, because if you picked Modest Mouse over The Prodigy then you fucked up. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

9:45 p.m. Is Prodigy going to play 15 minutes of “Smack My Bitch Up”? “I hope so,” says my neighbor. I agree, but this band does not close with the hit. They close with a different track, an equally bold song and move. —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

9:54 p.m. When Keith Flint and Maxim tell you to get low, you get low. The only other time you see a crowd follow instruction like this is when somebody plays the Isley Brothers’ “Shout.” When the beat hits though, the crowd explodes toward the sky. I didn’t think think these people could go any more crazy than they already were, but we’ve got families spinning in circles and kids doing the worm here. —Michelle Meywes Kopeny

10:04 p.m. Modest Mouse is playing past curfew. Not cool dudes. I hope the band is planning on paying the massive fines incurred by every minute they play past 10 p.m. If anyone should be allowed to break curfew it should be The Prodigy. Bring them back for one more song! I mean, they didn’t even play “Take Me To The Hosptial,” which, admit it, would have been fitting.

11:14 p.m. Holy hell, there’s even dried mud all over the platform of the Damen stop?! I guess people just don’t want to leave Riot Fest behind. —Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

RELATED: Day one recap, day two recap.