Photos: Jawbreaker Finally Have Their 'Revenge,' Paramore Dazzle At Riot Fest Day 3
By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 18, 2017 6:50PM
The third and final day of Riot Fest 2017 was mercifully less packed but still long on highlights. Sunday saw a heavy emphasis on '90s punk survivors, multiple indie guitar crews who performed defining albums in full, and a couple of cultishly adored reunited emo pioneers. Here's what stuck out—for good and ill (though primarily good)—on the final day of the Douglas Park blowout.
You can’t really disentangle Jawbreaker’s music from their narrative, especially in the context of the beloved emo heroes' feverishly anticipated reunion show. The trio—led by singer/songwriter and (for some) generational voice Blake Schwarzenbach—broke apart acrimoniously way back in 1996, amid intense fan backlash after the band jumped to a major label and made one glossily produced record, both of which were cardinal sins during the lamentably purist days of ‘90s punk. All of which is to say they are the perfect Riot Fest victory-lap get: wronged by history, hugely influential, and deeply missed among their legion.
The Sunday headliners kicked off with a bang, going straight to “Boxcar,” perhaps their signature song and a direct address to all that punk puritanism. Schwarzenbach for the most part let the music do the talking, giving a near-even split between Dear You (including "Million," "Chemistry," "Sluttering") and the band’s pinnacle 24 Hour Revenge Therapy (an early-set “The Boat Dreams from the Hill”, “Condition Oakland,” “West Bay Invitational” among them). (Even agnostics put off by Schwarzenbach’s pronounced self-pitying would have difficulty denying the catchy latter camp of material.) By the time it crested with a rampaging “Bivouac,” I was surrounded by literal chest clutches of emotion. Other past Riot Fest marquee reunions like Misfits and The Replacements surely did bigger biz, but this carried a distinct sense of reclamation. As Schwarzenbach once sang, in what could double as a Riot Fest manifesto, “Survival never goes out of style.”— Stephen Gossett
Of course that whole nostalgia-as-transcendence mission is a tricky one, even at Riot Fest, and Prophets of Rage served as the weekend’s most instructive cautionary tale. The supergroup—three quarters of Rage Against the Machine, plus B Real (Cypress Hill) and Chuck D and DJ Lord (Public Enemy)—played like its own bludgeoning tribute act, leaning extremely hard on Rage’s catalog of ‘90s rap-rock artifacts, with a stillborn medley of Cypress Hill and Public Enemy hits in the center. This even though the band was a mere two days from having released a full-length of brand-new material—which makes it difficult to imagine the band itself holds it in much more esteem than the rest of us. It drew a horde, no doubt, but it played like aggro self-parody from where we stood. — Stephen Gossett
I love the new Paramore album, and while I know their nod to ‘80s pop might have lost the attention of many of their fans, I can respect the craft that went into writing the most recent batch of songs. And the band didn’t back off from that approach last night, pulling the majority of the set’s work from the new LP. Singer Hayley Williams completely owned the stage, throwing around her tiny frame and expanding her voice and presence to fill up a few football fields’ worth of space. I know it sounds cliche, but Williams is truly a force of nature that can’t be contained by any sort of frame. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
By a degree of magnitude, the award for Biggest Ham of the weekend goes to Tim Kinsella, frontman of emo legends Cap'n Jazz, He took advantage of the band’s main-stage slot to deliver an endless parade of WTF antics: lip-synching into his fist when he separated from his mic; rewriting their cover of A-Ha’s “Take on Me” to include new lines “I’m the guy who wrote this song! I totally wrote it;” holding up the music to offer “a few administrative notes;” and (heads up) holding an extended game of tambourine Frisbee with the gobsmacked crowd. It was made all the more bizarre by the band’s ferocity, like watching Andy Kaufmann front Rites of Spring. As one floored attendee opined, “That was the most punk as fuck I’ve seen in a long time.” Even if you didn’t love it, you’ll remember it. — Stephen Gossett
that dog. recreated live their 1997 masterpiece Retreat from the Sun, and the amazing thing is, it didn’t feel like a nostalgia trip. The sunny harmonies and surpassingly intricate arrangements have aged more than just well, they honestly felt timeless. Perhaps the most powerful statement the band could have made was just how effortlessly they pulled the whole thing off. You go ahead and try to write an album full of catchy power chords and indelible melodies like this one. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Riot Fest ain’t exactly Trump country, and this being the festival’s first iteration since his election, there were references aplenty to the sorry state of current affairs. But TV on the Radio played like a nearly full-set commentary. Aside from Tunde Adebimpe’s urge to defend DACA, the politics were less topical than poetic, particularly on the three-song cycle of “Trouble,” “Province” (Hold your heart courageously As we walk into this dark place) and “DLZ” (This is beginning to feel like the dawn of a loser forever). So hope and despair alike, but a feeling of humanist resolve more than anything—and more resonant than the requisite sloganeering. — Stephen Gossett
Watching Dinosaur Jr. play You're Living All Over Me and Built to Spill perform Keep It Like a Secret was pretty outrageous. It was like watching two distinct eras of indie rock personified, and I’m sure I wasn’t in the minority of folks hearing these songs and reveling in the fact they were literally the soundtrack of our youth. And it could have been a pure nostalgia trip, but instead both bands cranked up the amp and did their damnedest to make an argument for their songs being just as vivacious and important as ever. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Maybe for Riot Fest 2018?
Sometimes we all need a break from Riot Fest’s usual lineup of sonic intensity. Even though it was difficult to skip Southern California skate-punk heroes Pennywise, I wandered away to catch Seattle indie-rock supergroup Minus The Bear. Their quirky, intricate, and beautifully painted soundscape was a perfect respite for an otherwise intense and rapidfire Sunday. In addition to fan favorites like “Pachuca Sunrise,” “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse,” and the ever so danceable “My Time,” they squeezed in three tracks from their sixth and latest album, Voids, released earlier this year, and which may be—both live and on record—the band’s best material since 2005’s Menos El Oso. — Aaron Cynic
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Andrew WK have a lot in common, which I have to admit even I didn’t realize prior to yesterday. They both like to party. Both bands' ethos is built around positivity and embracing life in the moment. And both bands can come off as kind of cartoonish, until you realize they are both deadly serious about their central message: life is meant to be lived, and enjoyed, to its fullest. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
If Friday and Saturday were all about feeling nostalgic for metal and industrial of the late '80s and '90s, Sunday was much more about '90s punk. And there's no better way to start off a day than with Hot Water Music. Despite its members myriad side projects and solo acts, the crew not only found the time to hit Riot Fest, but managed to put out a new record, which was released that same weekend. And while they stuck to the catalog of classics they’ve built over the years, digging as far back as “Hard To Know” off No Division, the handful of songs they pulled out from Light It Up show that Gainseville’s post-hardcore legends have just as much life in them as they did in 1993, with plenty more to give. — Aaron Cynic
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