Riot Fest 2017, Chicago - Day 3 - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Riot Fest 2017, Chicago - Day 3

by Texacaliago Rating: Release Date:
Dinosaur Jr at Riot Fest 2017 in Chicago
Dinosaur Jr at Riot Fest 2017 in Chicago

The final day of Riot Fest featured a welcome addition that was essentially entirely absent from the prior days' festivities: clouds.  And not the inconvenient type of clouds with rain in them, but rather those of the blanket overcast variety that offered a welcome relief from the blazing September sun.

And one band in particular that had to be thanking their lucky stars for the overcast skies were the plaid-suit wearing Mighty Mighty Bosstones who hit the stage shortly after 3:00 to an enthusiastic audience.  Mind you, in spite of the ample cloud cover, it was still a fairly warm day, so you had to tip your proverbial cap to MMB for going out and doing their thing in full uniform.  And they just so happened to do their thing (90s Ska) very well that afternoon.  While 90s Ska is definitely my 27th (or so) favorite genre of music, I will admit I am quite a sucker for 90s nostalgia, so I was casually looking forward to their performance.  If I had to describe their show in a word, it would be: fun.  It kind of took me back to a seemingly simpler, happier time (i.e. the 90s), a time when people just danced and thrashed their asses off with reckless abandon, without a care in the world.  There was a lot of cheerful ska-dancing going on in the crowd, and certain songs seemed to work up a jovial mosh pit to boot, so you have to give credit to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones for putting a lot of smiles on a lot of people’s faces during their set (including myself).  They were performing their breakout 1997 album Let’s Face It, an album I frankly never bothered to listen to in its entirety, but after soaking in their infectious performance Sunday afternoon, it might be worth revisiting.

Mighty Mighty Bosstones: B+

After grabbing a bite to eat, it was time for Pennywise to take the stage, a band that I had always appreciated, but being that I was more of an alt-metal fan in the 90s (as opposed to punk) I never really got into them.  That said, I was looking forward to their set, and they put on a pretty raucous performance. It had a “party-hardy” vibe to it (this is a band who’s most popular song is called “Bro Hymm” after all). So suffice to say there was a pretty fun and unruly energy to their set, as several concert-goers ended up onstage to sing along to the aforementioned “Bro Hymm”.  Witnessing the massive circle-pit, crowd-surfing, and OG Pennywise fans jamming on stage with the band, I couldn’t help but think that Generation X was infinitely cooler than Generation Y.  Traditionally, it’s the older generation that’s typically lamer than the younger generation, but from my prospective, the script has been completely flipped (and for the record, I’m technically Gen Y).  It’s all relative to your specific experiences I suppose, but, seeing Pennywise rip it up live just brought more 90s nostalgia-inspired smiles to my face.

Pennywise: B

The main draw (for me anyway) that Sunday was seeing Dinosaur Jr. perform their classic 1987 album You’re Living All Over Me in its entirety.  Not only that, but this would be the first time I had ever seen Dinosaur Jr. live, which surprised even me considering they’ve been around so long and are generally not hard to find on the tour circuit.  Unfortunately, they proved to be one of the more disappointing live acts I saw that entire weekend.  Mind you, I am keenly aware of J Mascis’s notoriously “low-key” personality, but that unenthusiastic style unfortunately seemed to carry over to their performance.  They actually opened with their classic cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” before somewhat haphazardly trudging their way through You’re Living All Over Me.  They played the songs true to the studio versions for the most part, but it all seemed incredibly underwhelming for whatever reason.  Maybe it seemed like such a come-down from Pennywise’s high-energy set on the adjacent stage, but whatever the case, Dinosaur Jr.’s performance just kind of “happened”.  They peppered in some classics like “Freak Scene” and some newer jams like “Goin Down” which seemed to kind of inject some life into their set, but overall the performance just felt a tad too understated, kind of like J Mascis’s personality as a whole.

Dinosaur Jr: C+

Normally I would have certainly stuck around to see some aging rap-rock heroes of mine (Prophets of Rage) and for the primary nostalgia event of the weekend (the recently reunited Jawbreaker), but there was another band in town playing a sold-out show a few miles away: Oh Sees.  The fact that the Oh Sees had sold-out Thalia Hall even with Riot Fest going on is a testament to their reputation as one of (if not the best) live bands on the planet, so I bid farewell to Riot Fest a bit early Sunday for an equally memorable date with John Dwyer and company (stay tuned for that review)...

Final inconsequential tidbits:

Number of people that liked my Minutemen shirt: 3

Number of other Minutemen shirts spotted: 0

Number of live hogs spotted: 1

Number of tip-shaming signs threatening children with mullets: 1

Number of delightfully demeaning tip signs of Trump: 1

Final tally of dubious/immaterial tidbits for Riot Fest weekend by this writer: 14

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