Riot Fest 2017, Chicago - Day 2 - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Riot Fest 2017, Chicago - Day 2

by Texacaliago Rating: Release Date:

Due to parental obligations, I was unable to make it back to Day 2 of Riot Fest until about 6:00 that evening, which was unfortunately too late to check-out my boy Mike Patton’s new band Dead Cross or the legendary Bad Brains.

But on the upside, I arrived with plenty of time to spare for the main event that evening (QOTSA) and to checkout a couple of other moderately interesting acts to boot.  One such act was Mike D’s (Beastie Boys) DJ set at the Radicals Stage, which was positively slamming.  Interestingly enough, Mike D was actually at the Metallica show last June warming up the crowd before they hit the stage, so I recognized most of the hard-rock/metal material from his set.  It was decidedly aggro in nature, which is generally right up my alley, and the large crowd in attendance seemed to be enjoying themselves as well.   

I actually ditched Mike D’s set midway through and made my way to the two main stages with a passing interest in seeing At The Drive In.  But before they hit the stage, a peculiar band was playing adjacent to them that definitely caught my attention.  That band was Gogol Bordello, who I was not familiar with, but they put on an interesting show.  They seemed like a cross between Jethro Tull, Frank Zappa, and System of a Down, all thrown together, but maybe with more of a hip-hop element?  I only caught the last few songs in their set, but it was enough to pique my interest.  Seemed like an eclectic band, so might warrant further listening.

Anyway, back to At The Drive In…unlike most people (presumably), my first introduction to Cedric Bixler-Zavala was on The Mars Volta’s epic debut album Deloused in the Comatorium, so I essentially entirely missed the boat on his At The Drive In days.  By the time I got around to listening to ATDI, I had already heard The Mars Volta, so suffice to say I was a little underwhelmed with them.  Different strokes for different folks, but being that I’ve never been a fan of emo, I had always found At The Drive In difficult to enjoy.  With The Mars Volta, I thought Cedric’s vocals sounded otherworldly, so it seemed to suit the music.  But with At The Drive In's music, it just sounded like some overtly high-pitched emo kid, so it never really did anything for me personally.  That said, everybody likes “One Armed Scissor” right?  So I was looking forward to that, and perhaps a few surprises, but those never really came.  The band did their thing, but I found their sound slightly too arrhythmic, and although Cedric put on a great show (flailing around/jumping off amps/etc), as I mentioned earlier, I can only tolerate his vocals on Mars Volta records (specifically Deloused…they kind of lost me after that).

At The Drive In: C+

The Wu-Tang Clan were scheduled to go on back at the Radicals Stage mid-way through At The Drive In’s set, so I figured I would try and make my way back there to see if I could get a decent look at them.  In a nutshell, apparently 60% of the other festival-goers had the same idea, so I soon realized there was really no way in hell I was going to get anywhere remotely close to their performance.  Oh well, I was always more of a west coast G-Funk guy anyway when it came to rap.

So I made it back to the Riot Stage with a few minutes to spare before Queens of the Stone Age were due to go on.  Unfortunately, due to my ill-fated Wu-Tang idea (which took me half-way across the festival grounds), I was not afforded a particularly great vantage point for QOTSA’s set.  It wasn’t terrible mind you, but was a far cry from my position the prior night for NIN and Ministry.  That was somewhat disappointing, but considering I was in no condition to withstand another “up-close” experience like that again, I wasn’t totally bummed about it.

QOTSA proceeded to hit the stage to much fan-fare, kicking things off with the opening track from their breakout album Songs For the Deaf (“You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire”).  They followed that up with another classic album opener and a personal favorite of mine, “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” off their brilliant Rated R album.  I was hopeful they were on a reverse-chronological kick and would hit us with “Regular John” from their debut (and my personal favorite) album, but instead they did a 180 and went with “Feet Don’t Fail Me”, from their new album Villains.  It was one of the few newer songs I was actually looking forward to hearing live, and it definitely didn’t disappoint.  What did disappoint however is the fact the band completely ignored their self-titled debut album in their setlist.  No “Avon”, no “If Only”, no “How to Handle a Rope”, etc.  You can’t please everybody I suppose, but I was kind of flabbergasted they didn’t at least give us one song of that classic album.  My disappointment was somewhat quelled by the fact that, hey, they also have a lot of other good albums and songs too!  “No One Knows”, “Go With the Flow”, and all the usual suspects were awesome and fun as expected, and somewhat surprisingly, they seemed to lean a little heavily on material from Like Clockwork, which has a decidedly different vibe to it than their new “peppier” album Villains.  Perhaps Mr. Homme realizes Like Clockwork is the stronger album, but whatever the case, everything sounded pretty great coming out of the speakers regardless.  And speaking of Villains, for those that are worried Homme has traded in his lava-lamp and LSD for a disco-ball and MDMA, all the selections from Villains (“The Way You Used to Do”, “Domesticated Animals”, and "The Evil Has Landed") sounded great live and fit in nicely alongside their other classic material.  QOTSA may not always hit it out of the park on record, but they are a consistently good live act, as evidenced by their fun and high-quality performance to close out night 2 at Riot Fest.


More inconsequential tidbits:

Number of people that liked my Bob Dylan t-shirt: 0* (I arrived late, so it was dark you know?)

Number of other Bob Dylan t-shirts spotted: 0* (again it was dark, so…)

Is Bob Dylan punk-rock? Kind of, if you think about it.

Number of dubious/immaterial attempts to reference Bob Dylan by this writer: 4

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