Riot Fest 2022 day 3 pics & review: Nine Inch Nails, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sleater-Kinney, Jimmy Eat World, more
Riot Fest 2022 is a wrap. After kicking off on Friday (9/16) with headliners My Chemical Romance and continuing on Saturday (9/17) with headliners the Misfits playing Walk Among Us, Sunday (9/18) was headlined by Nine Inch Nails. It wasn't a reunion and/or a full album performance like the first two headliners, but Nine Inch Nails didn't need a special premise to put on one of the most memorable sets of the entire festival. They pulled songs from all over their 30+ year career, and they were genuinely mesmerizing. From their light and fog show to their intense musicianship, their set was a total sensory overload, the kind that you could really lose yourself in.
Nine Inch Nails loaded their set with an array of classics, from mind-numbing ragers like "Wish" and "March of the Pigs" to suspense-builders like "Sanctified" to massive singalongs like "Closer," "The Hand That Feeds," "Head Like A Hole," and "Hurt." And not only did Nine Inch Nails play so many long-established fan faves, they also played comparatively newer material that hits just as hard, like the alt-rock rager "Less Than" and the trippy, saxophone-fueled "God Break Down the Door." The classics still sound completely fresh, and the newer songs do just as much heavy lifting as the decades-old hits. It's really not every day you find a band you can say that about to the extent that you can for Nine Inch Nails, and it's not just that the setlist is so strong, it's also that Nine Inch Nails are out of this world as performers. Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Robin Finck, Alessandro Cortini, and Ilan Rubin are a tight-knit unit and a five-headed beast where every single person brings something crucial to the table. You could turn your attention to any individual person at any given moment, or just widen your gaze and take in everything at once, and Nine Inch Nails would never cease to amaze.
Right before NIN on the adjacent Roots Stage was one of the first Yeah Yeah Yeahs shows since the pandemic, and one of their first since announcing their anticipated new album Cool It Down (due 9/30 via Secretly Canadian). Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Nine Inch Nails may not seem similar on paper, but they actually made for a great back-to-back pairing, as both bands can rock the fuck out, get the crowd dancing, and mesmerize. YYYs played three songs off the upcoming album -- its singles "Spitting Off the Edge of the World" and "Burning" and the not-yet-released "Wolf" -- and the new songs sounded great next to colossal tracks like "Heads Will Roll," "Maps," "Gold Lion," and "Date With the Night." As always, Karen O is purely magnetic and a born superstar, Nick Zinner delivers inventive shredding and ultra-cool stage presence, and Brian Chase holds it down with his precise, forceful, and kinetic drumming. And they've got live member Imaad Wasif fleshing out their sound with bass, keys, and acoustic guitar. YYYs only have a few more live shows planned for this year, so if you get the chance to see them, don't miss it. With new music under their belts for the first time since they ended their mid 2010s hiatus, they seem totally re-energized, and they're looking and sounding their absolute best.
Riot Fest's main stages were especially stacked on Sunday, and right before YYYs it was Sleater-Kinney. They played with an expanded five-piece lineup, including new live drummer Angie Boylan (Aye Nako, Little Lungs, etc), who joined the band in 2019 after Janet Weiss' departure, Black Belt Eagle Scout on guitar and backing vocals, and keyboardist Galen Clark. It was my first time seeing the new lineup, and Janet is of course missed, but Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker were as fiery as ever, and Angie brings a lot of power to the band too. They sounded great tearing through iconic tracks like "Jumpers," "Dig Me Out," "All Hands on the Bad One," "Modern Girl," and more, the songs from the reunion-era albums were great too, and Sleater-Kinney just sounded better and better as the set went on.
Before Sleater-Kinney it was Jimmy Eat World (who Carrie said are Angie's favorite band of all time), and they powered through favorites from all across their 25+ year career, nailing each one with all the power and precision you'd expect from lifelong workhorses like Jimmy Eat World. I don't think you could have asked for a more crowd-pleasing setlist: "Futures," "Pain," "Bleed American," "Big Casino," "A Praise Chorus," "Let It Happen, "Work," "Blister," "Kill," and "Lucky Denver Mint" included, and their new single "Something Loud" fit in perfectly before set-closing hits "Sweetness" and "The Middle." The song has big Bleed American energy, but in a fresh way, and it's the kind of song you can yell along to after just hearing it a couple times. A lot of people did.
I unfortunately got to Riot Fest a little later than planned on Sunday and I missed some other main stage acts I was hoping to see like The Linda Lindas (who both the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Sleater-Kinney shouted out on stage) and Jawbox, but I did arrive in time to catch Gainesville ska-punk heroes Less Than Jake tearing it up on the side Radicals stage. They played for what felt like a very brief 40 minutes, and they gave the people what they wanted, delivering classic after classic, plus a couple from their newer record Silver Linings (one of which Chris DeMakes said they were filming at that show for a music video). It felt like it was 100 degrees for their midday set, without a cloud in the sky or a single breeze, and it was the third consecutive day of a music festival, but that didn't stop multiple circle pits from breaking out or the crowd from just going generally nuts for the entirety of their set. Less Than Jake have always known how to put on a fun show, and Riot Fest 2022 was no exception.
Since LTJ did end slightly early, I was able to run over the Roots stage and catch the last few songs of the Lunachicks, who reunited recently, and they absolutely ripped. Tough choices always have to made at festivals and that was one of them, but I wish I caught even more of the Lunachicks. Really, really tight.
James Richards IV shot all of the aforementioned acts, as well as Coolio, Action Bronson, Zola Jesus, Polica, and The Juliana Theory. Scroll on for many more pics.
Nine Inch Nails @ Riot Fest 2022 Setlist
March of the Pigs
God Break Down the Door
The Perfect Drug
Copy of A
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like a Hole
Yeah Yeah Yeahs @ Riot Fest 2022 Setlist
Spitting Off the Edge of the World
Under the Earth
Heads Will Roll
Date With the Night