Riot Fest 2022 day 2 pics & review: Sunny Day Real Estate, Bad Religion, Menzingers, 7Seconds, more
Riot Fest 2022 day two (Saturday, 9/17) is a wrap. The day, which felt noticeably less overcrowded than day one, was headlined by the Misfits, who played Walk Among Us in full. You can read our review of that here and read on for reviews of other day two highlights, and many more day two pics.
A stacked lineup means having to make some tough calls, and on Saturday one of the toughest ones was being faced with Fear playing their 1982 hardcore classic The Record for its 40th anniversary and The Get Up Kids playing their 1997 emo classic Four Minute Mile for its 25th. I gave into my emo kid instincts and picked The Get Up Kids. The Get Up Kids are certainly not kids anymore, but they were when they wrote this album -- they were still in high school -- and they recorded the album with Shellac's Bob Weston right here in Chicago. So it was both a full circle homecoming for the record, and a treat to hear them play songs they wrote half a lifetime ago with all the spirit (and the same lineup) that they had back then. The Get Up Kids had done their more widely-celebrated classic Something to Write Home About in full at Riot Fest 2014, so it was cool to see them returning to the festival to dig into their scrappier debut, which is home to a lot of songs they don't play as often. They began playing the album in full on tour in late August (with Sparta, who played Riot Fest day one), and if there was any rust on those deeper cuts at any point, they'd fully shaken it off by the time they got to Riot Fest. They sounded great. After the album was done, they played "Satellite" from their genuinely great 2019 comeback album Problems, followed by three fan faves from Something to Write Home About that got the crowd yelling every word and ended the set on a very high note. For those in the NYC-area, the Four Minute Mile tour hits Irving Plaza (9/25) and House of Independents (9/28) later this month.
Fear wasn't the only classic '80s hardcore band playing Riot Fest day two, and after The Get Up Kids I headed over to catch 7Seconds, who recently ended a three-year hiatus and have been having a bit of a resurgence thanks to an awesome reissue of The Crew and a recent tour with Circle Jerks. They played a good chunk of The Crew, alongside other '80s classics and a few songs from their comparatively more recent albums, and the whole set sounded great. Kevin Seconds' melodic bark is still in fine form, bassist Steve Youth runs around the stage like a madman, Bobby Adams' guitar playing is pure force, and they've currently got Sammy Siegler (Youth of Today, Judge, Rival Schools, etc) on drums, and Sammy's insane level of precision and endurance gives 7Seconds the unfaltering backbone that these mile-a-minute rippers need. Especially in an era where melodic hardcore is making (another) comeback, it's great to have 7Seconds looking and sounded totally rejuvenated, and breathing new life into songs that never go out of style.
The next band I caught was another full-album set: The Menzingers doing On the Impossible Past for its 10th anniversary. In the context of a music festival where multiple bands are playing forty year-old songs, it's almost hard to believe The Menzingers are already at the point where they're celebrating a significant anniversary of a classic album, but they are and what a classic On the Impossible Past truly is. They drew a very large crowd to the Rise side stage, and as soon as they hit the stage and went into album opener "Good Things," the entire place was yelling every word, and that energy level stayed for pretty much the entirety of the album. Again, in comparison to a lot of other bands that played on Saturday, On the Impossible Past still feels like a new album, its songs still sound just as fresh as they did a decade ago, and The Menzingers have only gotten even better at playing them. But at the same time, you could feel how these songs were like second nature for both the band and a very large majority of the crowd. It might be safe to say that The Menzingers had more constant screaming along from the crowd than any non-headliner I saw all day. The love for On the Impossible Past has just grown more and more each year since it came out, and it's remained a constant in modern punk or emo or whatever you wanna call it. Seeing it played in full for its 10th anniversary didn't induce nostalgia so much as it cemented how far this band has come, and the comparatively newer songs they played after the album ended were a reminder that they're still pushing forward. The Menzingers are also playing OTIP in full at The Fest and then on a headlining tour with Touche Amore and Screaming Females. Go see 'em.
As for bands that toe the line between nostalgia and evergreen freshness, there might not be a single punk band that does it more gracefully than Bad Religion. For 40 straight years, they've been at the forefront of punk. They've influenced probably every band that likes their punk with a little melody, and they've remained both forebears and peers for generation after generation of bands. And at Riot Fest, they played a career-spanning set that pulled from just about every era of this band, and it just felt like hit after hit and got better and better as their set went on. As always, Bad Religion were an impossibly tight live band; Greg Graffin is among the most commanding frontpeople the genre has to offer, the band's trademark vocal harmonies soar just as much as they do on the records, bassist Jay Bentley has boundless energy and remains a thrill to watch, new-ish drummer Jamie Miller keeps their backbone strong, and guitarists Brian Baker and Mike Dimkich lock in perfectly, and when given the chance, Brian seriously shreds. They loaded their setlist with fan faves ("Los Angeles Is Burning," "Epiphany," "We're Only Gonna Die," "Suffer," "Generator," "21st Century Digital Boy," "You," "Sorrow," "American Jesus," and so many more), and it really is just awe-inspiring to think about how many stone cold classics have come out of so many different eras of Bad Religion. The band also still haven't forgotten where they come from -- Jay shouted out Fear as "what we grew up listening to" and Greg told a story about the band's first-ever Chicago show, which he said was for about 30 people at The Cubby Bear.
Right in between Bad Religion and the Misfits on the Riot Stage, the adjacent Roots Stage hosted Gogol Bordello, who were a change of pace and a major highlight. Every Gogol Bordello show is a ton of fun and has off-the-charts energy levels, and this one was no different, but because of the war in Ukraine, the band's Ukrainian-born singer Eugene Hutz also made this an especially powerful show that leaned as heavily on activism and celebrating Ukrainian culture as it did on flat-out fun. Eugene had also co-hosted a Ukraine tribute on that same stage hours earlier with a local group of Ukrainian dancers, and he brought those dancers back on stage with him during Gogol's set, which was met by huge cheers from the crowd. Eugene also shouted out how the festival's lineup celebrated so many originators of punk and hardcore, and then he did an acoustic cover of Agnostic Front's "Victim In Pain," and changed the last line to turn the context into a Ukrainian folk punk protest song. Gogol celebrated human rights, punk history, and the power of dance with all the passion you could ask for. They were a last-minute addition after Bauhaus unfortunately had to drop off, and what a great addition they were.
And speaking of tough conflicts, seeing the Misfits sadly meant missing the Sunny Day Real Estate reunion for me, but James Richards IV did get shots of them. Head here for the Misfits review, and head below for Riot Fest day two pics by James, including SDRE, all of the above-mentioned bands, Madball, GWAR, Fear, No Trigger, and more.
Day one review and pics here, pics and review of My Chemical Romance's headlining day one set here, and pics and review of supergroup L.S. Dunes' live debut at day one here. Day three pics & review here.