Photos: Queens Of The Stone Age Make It Wit Chu At Riot Fest Day 2

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 17, 2017 3:00PM


I don't want to jinx things, but the weather has been perfect at Riot Fest this weekend. By this time of year we're used to either being freezing or soaking wet, yet here we are. The second day of music held a similar sheen; everything just felt... nice. Now that the festival has both settled down in Douglas Park and fallen into its solid booking groove, we got a dependable series of sets that, for the most part, left us happy and exhausted by day's end. — Jim Kopeny / Tanboy

It’s all too common in hard-rock circles to see the genre’s emphasis on anti-pretense authenticity and swagger manifest more as dull artlessness and mugging self-display. God love 'em, Queens of the Stone Age personify triumph over those fatal errors. Singer/guitarist Josh Homme and his current supporting crew (now including dynamo drummer Jon Theodore, formerly of Mars Volta) slinked and drove through 14 taut, muscular riff groovers, with hooks aplenty, that define how—in the right hands—classic-minded hard rock can actually still radiate genuine sex appeal, with nary any shopworn rock-dude posture.

Queens tore out with a triple punch of album openers ("You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar,” “Feel Good Hit of the Summer,” “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now”) before settling into what played like an extended collective head nod and hip shake. (Homme duly showed the way on both moves.) Older faves like “I Can Go With the Flow” and “Make It Wit Chu” sounded excellent in the company of new slow burns “Domesticated Animals” and “The Evil Has Landed.” At the same time, Homme is too self-aware to let the steam overcook. An undeniable highlight: he paused mid-song to hilariously mock-sing a couple lines of “Mother,” by Danzig, the punk icon and Riot Fest regular who has indeed been known to allow his own magnetism to collapse into camp. — Stephen Gossett

At the Drive-In essentially played the role in which Refused were cast at last year’s Riot Fest: beloved, influential post-hardcore heroes, fronted by a singer with a penchant for MC5-esque athleticism, who burned out just as they achieved new artistic and commercial heights, and ultimately returned with a rather disappointing comeback record. In this case, new material saw short shrift, with more than half the set comprised of cuts from Relationship of Command (2000) or earlier work—which might spell an uncertain path forward for the band, but it made for a damn fun show. They can still bring total fury, however familiar; and we’re happy to report that the downright wacky non-sequiturs that Cedric Bixler-Zavala passes off as stage banter remain. His intro to “Pattern Against User?” “Previously on Law & Order…” — Stephen Gossett

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Photo: Annie Lesser
We weren't sure what to expect from Mike D's solo DJ set, but we didn't think it would basically be just him shouting along to Beastie Boys songs for the most part. It didn't go over well. And when you drop a Chance the Rapper track in the middle of the set and no one responds, prompting you to have to ask if there are any Chance fans in the audience, it probably means you've lost the crowd. Mike D's set would have been perfectly suited to a club environment, and for all I know that's where he usually performs nowadays, but it fell flat in an outdoor festival setting. — Jim Kopeny / Tanboy

As they've done in previous years, Gogol Bordello pretty much stole the evening show. Whenever and wherever the Gypsy punks show up turns into one giant party that nearly everyone is invited to. One simply can't not enjoy the anarchic, circus-like carnival they put on. Whether you were smashed against the front rail or spread out on the grass in the far back, it wasn't difficult to find folks dancing, clapping, singing along and having the time of their lives. — Aaron Cynic

Despite his reputation as something of an odd grouch, Danzig's still got it. This year, Glenn brought out almost all of How the Gods Kill from the woodshed and, for the most part, pulled it off spectacularly. For a weekend that's often about bands dusting off the classics, it was good to hear tracks like "Dirty Black Summer," "When the Dying Calls" and the title cut. Glenn even dug a little deeper into his hat and pulled out "Twist of Cain," along with a new one called "Devil on Highway 9."

At one point the punk-metal legend—who is not known for being apologetic—was just that, toward Mike Patton and Dave Lombardo of Dead Cross for not singing with them during their set. (He apparently stayed up too late the night before, and the supergroup played too early.) One sad notable absence from the set was the haunting hit "Sistinas," which Glenn told the crowd they would not be playing because "somebody didn't want to pay for the f*****g orchestra." — Aaron Cynic

The Afrofuturist avant-rap of Shabazz Palaces sounds pretty sui generis in just about any context, but it especially stood out here, where the majority of hip-hop leans toward old-school reunions or throwbacks. Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire gave virtually no mind to crowd-hyping, and aimed straight for cosmic liftoff with his impressionistic lyrics, some endearingly slight choreography and a mix of smeary bass and complex rhythms, part programmed, part live percussion. Right up until the mighty “Shine a Light” got interrupted for time, we enjoyed the zones. — Stephen Gossett

Though a slight breeze provided a little bit of relief from Saturday afternoon's heat, supergroup Dead Cross delivered a blistering scorcher of a set on the Roots Stage. While singer Mike Patton seemed almost laid back from his usual unpredictable antics, the group (which also features the Locust's Justin Pearson and founding Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo) still managed a hell of a performance of heavy musical chaos. To boot, Dead Cross pulled out a few covers, including GG Alin's epic "Suck My Ass It Smells," and closed out by shredding through Dead Kennedys' sadly timely "Nazi Punks F**k Off." — Aaron Cynic

There was a sense of passivity, if not hesitation, in the crowd over at the side stage during LA garage-pop punks The Regrettes. “Dancing is allowed. It’s acceptable,” decreed frontwoman Lydia Night at one point. But the melodic youth crew—each member is still high-school-aged—clearly won some converts with their 60s-style pop sense and grinny enthusiasm, and it definitely left us curious to see where they take it all next. Bonus points for Night’s ability to command one very highly coordinated mosh pit. — Stephen Gossett


Peaches has been giving puritans the vapors for over 15 years with her flamboyantly sexual, feminist electro-meets-performance-art, and we were thrilled to see that the (appropriately enough) onetime Queens tourmate still can still dirty up a party better than just about anyone. Vagina-masked dancers for the win, now and forever. — Stephen Gossett

In our preview we mentioned that Fishbone is one of those acts where you're never sure what you're going to get. But their locking into a performance of Truth & Soul meant we got to see the band perform their prime-era material with the added benefit of years of experience to help take the sound up to a new level of amazing. Singer Angelo Moore changed instruments, did backflips and generally acted as the amped-up master of ceremonies guiding the whole set. By the time the band ended, we were drenched in sweat from watching the pure physical exertion flowing from the stage. And maybe even a tear or two was added to that sheen. — Jim Kopeny / Tanboy

Festivals always bring intriguing stumble-upons, and we stumbled upon perhaps the Platonic ideal of one particular strand of Riot Fest DNA, Gin Rummy: a stakes-free, retro-to-the-bone pastiche of '50s rock, New Orleans jazz and live burlesque and circus arts. Wouldn’t want to live there, but a nice reminder of the small pleasures you can find along a detour. — Stephen Gossett

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