Riot Fest Chicago - Day 1 - Douglas Park - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Riot Fest Chicago - Day 1 - Douglas Park

by Zach Johnson Rating:8 Release Date:2011-11-16


If there's one thing that comes to mind when recollecting day one of Riot Fest (aside from the stellar performances) it was the fact that Douglas Park was a bit of a soggy mess most of the day, as me and approximately 45,000 other attendees trudged our way through the slop on what turned out to be a pretty beautiful September afternoon.

The only thing more beautiful than the mostly sunny/cool conditions (the rain stopped by the time I got there) was the lineup on tap, the following of which were on my agenda for the day: Death (the punk band), Fishbone, Living Colour, Eagles of Death Metal, Faith No More, and Motorhead.  

Unfortunately for me, I had an extra ticket I needed to get rid of, so I ended up missing Death and Fishbone's respective sets waiting for my buyer to show up at the gate.  On the bright side, Death's set in particular was loud enough for me to hear from just outside the festival, so it was almost like being there.  OK not really, but hey, I did recognize a few of their songs from afar, which helped make the hour long wait for my buyer outside the gates a bit less excruciating. 

Fortunately I got rid of my ticket in time to catch Living Colour's set, but by that time I was starving and was somewhat more curious to checkout the festival grounds and get better acquainted with my surroundings.  I figured I would see how the first few Living Colour songs went and if they made an impression on me, I'd stay.  Unfortunately (or rather fortunately for my stomach) Living Colour didn't do much for me, so I chose nourishment over aural stimulation.  I wanted to see if I could make a round-trip around the grounds, and, if I was lucky, make it back in time to see them close their set with the only Living Colour song I truly like: "Cult of Personality".  

So I did just that.  

Riot Fest sports a carnival-like atmosphere, like going to your local county fair or circus, but with numerous large and loud stages hosting generally pretty good/great bands. There's Ferris wheels, circus tents from hell, tilt-a-whirls, rigged carny games, food trucks, and all the standard commercial booths selling this and that.  It was a festive atmosphere, and not overly crowded, which I found refreshing having braved the Lollapalooza crowds the prior month.  

So about the time I had made it almost fully around the festival, I did hear "Cult of Personality" blasting from the stage not to far from me, so my genius plan technically proved to be successful.  Suffice to say I was only half-interested in Living Colour to begin with, as  I was really there for the 3 upcoming bands: Eagles of Death Metal, Faith No More, and Motorhead.  

I had about an hour to kill before EODM hit the stage, so I ended up being lured by the sounds of a reggae-jam band playing at one of the nearby smaller stages.  That band turned out to be The Expendables, who I had never heard of, but they proved to be a somewhat pleasant surprise, and a perfectly fine way to pass 30 minutes prior to EODM's set across the park.  They weren't anything special mind you, sounding a bit like Pepper, or one of those many other mediocre post-Sublime bands, but again, not a bad band to hear casually on a September afternoon.

Eager to get a good spot for EODM, I bid farewell to The Expendables mid-set and made my way to the "Rock Stage".  And while it was certainly crowded in anticipation of EODM, I managed to politely pardon my way to a great spot approximately 5 or so "rows" from the front of the stage itself.

And I was glad I did.

I have been an EODM fan since their incredibly infectious first album (Peace, Love, and Death Metal) came out back in 2004.  If you're familiar with the band, you know that they are built to play live.  Their music is some of the most danceable rock n'roll you are ever going to hear, and coupled with their tongue-in-cheek, playful style, I had high expectations for the EODM live experience.  

In a nutshell, I was not disappointed.  In fact, I would say that EODM are one of the most entertaining live bands I have ever seen, not just because their music is so much fun, but also because of the antics of their hilariously flamboyant frontman Jessie Hughes.  Simply put, this guy knows how to put on a show, and has a borderline ridiculous sense of humor when performing (i.e.. coming out on stage with a cape...combing his hair during songs...pledging wholeheartedly to "shake his dick" for the audience...explaining how he has been possessed with the "spirit of rock n'roll", etc).  Eagles of Death Metal almost seem like a parody of a rock n'roll band, hyping up all the cliches in the book (which included a fantastic "guitar duel" between Hughes and his ZZ Top looking lead guitarist Dave Catching), but their music is just too infectious not to be taken seriously.  Then again, it's EODM, so the entire delivery is tongue-in-cheek, but whatever the case, it's seriously entertaining and enjoyable stuff.  Pretty fantastic performance.

Eagles of Death Metal: A-

After EODM, I had over 2 hours to kill until one of my all-time favorite bands hit the stage: Faith No More.  I grabbed some "dinner" from a food truck, listened to Dirty Heads and Coheed & Cambria in the distance while waiting in the epic beer and porta-potty lines respectively, and before I knew it, I was damn near front-and-center waiting for Faith No More to hit the stage. Although I wasn't quite as giddy as when I saw FNM for the first time a few months earlier, needless to say I was pretty excited to see them again, especially considering how close to the stage I was.  

As dusk settled over the jam-packed crowd, FNM hit the stage with their standard live opener for 2015, the brooding but underwhelming "Motherfucker", before launching into "Be Aggressive", "Caffeine", "Evidence", and "Epic".  These songs were all delivered with the utmost pummeling intensity, and were a lot of fun to jump/thrash around to in the mini-moshpit that predictably developed in my section of the crowd.  Their cover of "Easy" had me and the crowd swooning, which is kind of funny if you think about it,  but that was quickly canceled out by a particularly cathartic version of "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies".  They threw in "Black Friday", which I could have done without, as well as the A-OK "Ashes to Ashes", but the highlight was arguably "Midlife Crisis" which had myself and the crowd at large singing along in unison.  They closed with a punchy version of "Introduce Yourself" for old times sake, and seemingly just as quickly as they arrived, they were gone.  

Seeing Faith No More live is a highly enjoyable experience, especially for hardcore fans like myself.  Haven said that, I didn't find their set to be quite as satisfying as when I saw them a few months earlier, probably because they were limited to just an hour this time.  They continue to avoid their classic album "The Real Thing" like the plague, which makes sense considering they've been running from that album their whole career, but I would have liked to have heard at least one or two other songs off that album besides "Epic".  At the end of the day, it was Faith No More live, so my minor complaints are trivial at best.

Faith No More: B+

The schedulers at Riot Fest did a fairly good job of not overlapping certain bands with each other, and such was the case with Motorhead, who began about 15 minutes after FNM were finished.  Truth be told, I had a minor confliction in seeing Motorhead, as Ice Cube was also playing at the same time (an odd conflict I know).  Ice Cube and I go way back, but considering the guy hasn't put out a decent album since his Westside Connection days, coupled with the fact Lemmy seems to be nearing the end of his live performing career, made the decision to see Motorhead a pretty easy one.  

I can't say I was a huge Motorhead fan before this performance (I appreciated them more than anything) but seeing them live proved to be quite an experience.  I expected a good show, but I was really impressed with just how ferocious and powerful they are in a live setting.  Motorhead is the type of band that you picture playing in the background of a huge whisky-stained bar-fight (Roadhouse anyone?)  They are loud, nasty, and they come to kick ass and take names.  And even though Lemmy (who has had some medical issues as of late) was mostly stoic on stage, and was slurring his words at times, the intensity of the music being blasted at unholy levels from the stage more than made up for his limitations.  

Simply put, Motorhead destroyed the place, and it was a very impressive thing to behold.  And, I got to hear Lemmy say "we are Motorhead, and we play rock n'roll".  Lemmy is a living legend, so it was great to be able to see him perform live, regardless of the fact that he is well passed his prime.  An incredibly powerful band, seeing Motorhead live was a great way to end a fantastic day of music in Douglas Park.

Motorhead: A-

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet
Related Articles