Riot Fest Chicago day 2 in pics (The National, Flaming Lips, Afghan Whigs, Television, Buzzcocks, Samiam, more)
photos by James Richards IV, words by Zach Pollack & Milos Markicevic
The Flaming Lips / Afghan Whigs / mohawks
Riot Fest Chicago kicked off this past Friday (9/12) in Humboldt Park and continued the following day with Samhain (playing Initium) (video below), The National, The Flaming Lips, Descendents (playing Milo Goes to College), The Get Up Kids (playing Something to Write Home About), The Afghan Whigs, Television, Buzzcocks, Samiam, Wavves and many more. Pictures of the second day, and Milos and Zach's reviews, are in this post.
I skipped the rainy first day of Riot Fest and waded through the muddy aftermath to The Dandy Warhols perform at the Riot Stage. Getting there early I used the extra time attempting (and failing) to clean my sneakers, which had accumulated enough mud under the soles to make them look like brown platform shoes. The Dandys hit the stage on time and managed to squeeze in a good variety of their hits in the short 45 minute set time, including "I Love You," "We Used To Be Friends," "Bohemian Like You," and "Boys Better." The sound was a bit off the first couple of songs, possibly having something to do with Courtney Taylor's dual mic setup. But overall the set was excellent and managed to distract me from the sinking feeling under my shoes. The band seemed to enjoy themselves, especially keyboardist Zia McCabe who danced like a hippy while playing her Korg synth and tambourine. I spotted her again later in the day rocking out among the audience during the Die Antwoord set. Overall my only complaint was that Dandy's set felt criminally short and left me craving more. --MM
I started off day 2 of the festival by catching NYC punk legends Television's late afternoon set on the Rise Stage. They delivered almost all of their classic Marquee Moon (3/4 of their current lineup recorded the LP), complete with its signature paranoid feel and fantastic interlocking guitar work. Though they don't play all that many shows these days, the band were way on at the fest and came off sounding just as powerful as their recordings. After watching a large part of their set, I headed over to the Riot Stage for something very different: Die Antwoord.
The South African rave rappers began their performance by piping a highly-effected "DJ Hi-Tek Rulez" over the sound system, which includes the hook "DJ Hi-Tek will fuck you in the ass." Their subsequent set followed suit, with more ridiculous and highly danceable songs. During what I stuck around for, rapper Ninja mooned the crowd multiple times and did some serious stage hopping with Yo-Landi Vi$$er. We then broke for food prior to The Afghan Whigs' set on the nearby Roots Stage. --ZP
The crowd waiting for the Whigs couldn't have been more different than the one we had left. Older and somber, they occasionally took furrowed glances at Die Antwoord's stage in manner similar to a disgruntled parent. The Afghan Whigs finally hit the stage at 4:15 sharp and the crowd erupted with a mix of excitement and relief. Greg Dulli and the band were dressed in the debonair style that they're known for and reached deep into their back log, pulling out favorites like "Debonair" from their classic Gentleman album (which they're reissuing this year). The band flat out rocked and Duli even slammed his own drum near the end of the set. It was a real pleasure seeing these guys fully back in action. --MM
After Afghan Whigs, we headed to the smaller Revolt Stage to catch Buffalo, NY punk pop trio Lemuria. The three-piece delivered a mix of tunes from last year's The Distance Is So Big and its predecessors with a ton of energy. The humble crowd they gathered seemed to eat it up too. Highlights included the driving "Clay Baby" and grungy "Brilliant Dancer." After a handful of songs from Lemuria, we headed over to the already-packed Roots Stage where Wu-Tang Clan would soon be playing.
The Wu entered with their classic party-starter "Bring Da Ruckus," followed by the majority of 36 Chambers. Standout moments from their overall fun set included the RZA-led "The Mystery Of Chessboxin'," "Protect Ya Neck," and the classic "C.R.E.A.M." RZA also gave Syl Johnson a big shout out while talking about influential Chicago artists. --ZP
The Flaming Lips were our next mark, who were to take the Roots Stage after Wu-Tang. Wayne Coyne and co. began their sprawling trip-out with "The Abandoned Hospital Ship" followed by "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1." The band had an elaborate, hanging fiber-optic setup and a stage-spanning screen with visuals behind them. When combined (most often with a tunnel-looking rainbow video), the backgrounds and fiber-optics worked extremely well together. There were also various blowup mascots on stage throughout their set, like a sun, mushrooms, a creepy butterfly, etc. with people inside animating them. While attempting a confetti cannon shot during "The Abandoned Hospital Ship," The Flaming Lips blew the power on the Roots Stage. The confetti still shot off, and it was a bit sad for a few minutes while they assessed the situation. They did manage to come back strong, yet Coyne still seemed understandably deflated. This didn't stop him from putting on a great show though, and he channeled some of that weirdness into an excellent performance of The Terror standout "Look...The Sun Is Rising." The uplifting "Do You Realize??" came next, followed by their incredibly warped cover of The Beatles classic "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds." The verses remain fairly intact, but the chorus is shopped with doom-ridden explosions throughout. It's a really interesting take on the song, and I'm curious to see what the recording will be like. --ZP
The National were a bit delayed due to a border crossing mishap in Ottawa, so The Flaming Lips were given a bit more time. When they did arrive, Matt Berninger first joked that he was busy checking his email before actually explaining what happened. The National proceeded to give us a mostly late-period headlining set that featured songs from Trouble Will Find Me and High Violet. That's not to say their older material was completely ignored. " They capped off their characteristically great show with "Fake Empire" into "Mr. November," and finished with "Terrible Love." --ZP
The Afghan Whigs
The Flaming Lips