It’s never too early to start thinking about festival season. To that end, Spring Awakening Music Festival, taking place June 9-11 in Adams-Medill Park, has made the first major announcement of the season by announcing phase one of its 2017 lineup to include Afrojack, Alesso, Armin Van Buuren, Axwell ^ Ingrosso, Diplo, Marshmello, Martin Garrix, Datsik, Die Antwoord, Duke Dumont, Excision, Galantis, Griz, Krewella, and Louis the Child. Tickets are currently on sale for $169 and up, with the festival’s phase two announcement scheduled for next week.
The sun was out in full force on a glorious Sunday afternoon for Riot Fest’s final day, and the weather did not go unnoticed by former Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, who thanked mother nature “for not being a cunt.” Meanwhile, Juliette Lewis rocked a tight set in an even tighter American flag-styled jumpsuit while strutting the stage and crowd surfing like she’d been shot out of a cannon, particularly on blazing covers of CCR’s “Proud Mary” and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” If anyone was yet to start feeling the vibes, Andrew W.K. immediately plastered smiles on the faces of the few remaining frowners with a typically uplifting set of party jams punctuated by a killer electric rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” that would have made Hendrix proud. Chevy Metal played one of the surprise sets of the fest, ripping through a good-times parade of well chosen covers including Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen”, Faces’ “Stay With Me” and Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talking Bout Love” (which should be played at every fest, just out of general principle.) Similarly, War on Women came out of nowhere to deliver a furious set most noteworthy for the time lead singer Shawna Potter destroyed a Donald Trump piñata with a baseball bat. Underoath underwhelmed, but thankfully Me First & the Gimme Gimmes were there to revive the party with a “did they really just play that?” set of unexpected covers including “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Me & Julio Down By the Schoolyard.” Sleater-Kinney uncorked an all-business set that was hard to find fault with, but Death Grips stole the show with one of the most searing performances in recent memory that felt about as revolutionary as a modern rock set could. Flanked by giant pumpkins, Misfits closed out the night with a terrifying set of crowd-pleasers that featured Glenn Danzig front and center with the audience feeling as if it was witnessing something truly special. Which, of course, it was. BY JOHN KURNAT–PHOTO BY SARAH HESS
Previous: Riot Fest Day Two
After a successful opening day, Riot Fest continued its trail of debauchery with a strong lineup to kick off day two. Fucked Up worked the crowd into a frenzy when lead singer Damian Abraham wandered into the audience and remained there for nearly the entire set, at times causing his microphone to become unplugged in the process. The Vandals reminded the crowd that they are still quite probably the funniest remaining true punk band, as they cracked joke after joke and at one point even roasted a photographer onstage. The Hold Steady opened their set with an introduction to fans: “We’re The Hold Steady, boys and girls in America. Let’s have a real sad time together.” Vocalist Craig Finn seemed a bit out of place holding his guitar through most songs rather than playing it, but nonetheless delivered an exciting if at times erratic set. Brand New drew an impressive crowd and wasted no time launching into hits like “Okay, I Believe you….But my Tommy Gun Don’t” with a video screen serving as their backdrop playing videos of long desolate roads and lonely cornfields. Method Man and Redman kicked off their set with a message to fans: “When you come to a Method Man and Redman show, you need two things: weed and energy.” Standing amongst the crowd, one could tell there was no shortage of either. Death Cab for Cutie put on a solid show as usual, although at times the band fought to be heard over the thumping bass of other acts playing simultaneously, with many drunken shouts of “MORRISSEY!” interrupting the quiet voice of vocalist Ben Gibbard. As fans lined up early to wait for the most widely anticipated act of the night, meat vendors prepared to shut down. In true Morrissey fashion, he arrived on stage more than 30 minutes late but did not disappoint, launching into fan favorites such as “Suedehead” with fans shouting along “she was a good lay, good lay.” BY MIKE MILAZZO–PHOTO BY SARAH HESS
Previous: Riot Fest Day One—Next: Riot Fest Day Three
Cloudy skies and a light drizzle set the scene for the kickoff of Riot Fest 2016, with Diarrhea Planet rolling out of bed just in time to deliver a riotous set of ballsy guitar-driven bangers. Dillinger Escape Plan assaulted eardrums with one of the loudest, most obnoxious sets in recent memory that made the escape to a nearby stage to see the criminally underrated reunion of Girls Against Boys just as the skies began to part all the more worthwhile. Despite rarely playing and advancing in age, the band looked and sounded much tighter than expected with an all-pro set before a way too sparse early afternoon crowd for a band that clearly deserved a later time slot. But there wasn’t too much to be upset about once Julian Marley took the stage, sounding exacting like his father in an Exodus-spanning set littered with Marley classics including “Jamming” and “Waiting In Vain.” The Specials ran through a workmanlike set that felt a little dated but was hard to find fault with, but the surprise set of the day was taking place in the tiny StubHub tent where Dan Deacon was setting up for another trademark electronic freakout that included audience danceoffs and had smiles plastered on the faces of everyone packed into the virtual sweat lodge. Ween played one of the most disappointing sets of the fest, starting out strong with “The Golden Eel” and “Baby Bitch” before devolving into a boring set of sleepy slow jams that succeeded in little besides sapping all the energy out of the park. Luckily, Flaming Lips were there to pick it back up with another colorblasted orgiastic explosion featuring giant blow-up centipedes wearing king’s crowns, Wayne Coyne surfing the crowd in his trademark bubble, and all manner of trippy stage theatrics that had the crowd rubbing their eyes to make sure this was real. A cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” felt especially apropos, while set closer “Do You Realize??” had festivalgoers leaving the park feeling warm and happy. TEXT & PHOTO BY JAY GENTILE
Next: Riot Fest Day Two