For the first time ever, Red Bull Sound Select is bringing its “30 Days In” series to the Windy City with 30 days of concerts and events this November. After taking over Los Angeles last November with its “30 Days in LA” series, this year’s “30 Days in Chicago” is setting up shop at concert halls and DIY venues across town, kicking off November 1 with Young Thug at Metro and concluding with Migos and Lil Yachty at the Riviera November 30. In between, there will be live music every night of the month (excluding Thanksgiving) at venues including Thalia Hall, Lincoln Hall, Schubas, Metro, Riviera, and Empty Bottle, as well as DIY venues like Fourth Presbyterian Church, The Annex, and House of Vans. There will also be classes and seminars at Columbia College, with concert highlights including Parquet Courts and Meat Wave November 15 at Empty Bottle and Fake Shore Drive’s 10th anniversary showcase November 4 at Portage Theater. Visit the 30 Days in Chicago website for tickets and details.
Sunday is always the day where the true fans show themselves. You’ve been sandwiched inside a sweaty squadron of humanity for two straight days, and the last day is staring right at you. But Riot Fest packed more than enough punch to get tired fans out in droves. That Dog kept the ‘90s alive with a throwback set that titillated a smattering of hardcore fans, while Mighty Mighty Bosstones won the award for most stylish stage attire as they blasted through 1997 classic Let’s Face It in its entirety. Cap’n Jazz provided one of the most surprisingly energetic sets of the fest, with Tim Kinsella crowd surfing shirtless and clearly having a helluva time on stage. Built to Spill kept the vibe mellow with a laid-back rendering of 1999’s Keep It Like a Secret, while Best Coast donned some heartfelt guitar jammers that paired perfectly with corndogs and lemonade (i.e. “recovery food”). TV On The Radio guided their crowd to sways and screams via songs like the powerful “Province” and glorious set closer “Staring At The Sun”. M.I.A. is always an artist to count on to generate some jaunty dancing, and of course this is what happened as Maya Arulpragasam let her politics largely take a back seat as the white-coated rapper clearly came to party. GWAR ushered in a bit of comedy and shreddage that was much needed, while Andrew W.K. once again unmistakably demonstrated that he is still into rocking and partying. Jawbreaker’s festival closing reunion felt emotional, resonate and about damn time. The crew picked up right where they left off, kicking off with set opener “Boxcar” and steering the crowd through a batch of old favorites that had fans losing their minds in appreciation. “Honored is a word used by a lot of twits out there,” they told the crowd. “But it’s what we feel”. Clearly, the feeling was mutual. BY JIMBY SISTO & JAY GENTILE–PHOTO BY TIMOTHY HIATT
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Saturday brought in a wonderful variety of music. Black Pistol Fire exploded a hell of a lot of noise for just two people early on, jolting festivalgoers out of their hangover-induced stupor and initiating plenty of movement. Peaches delivered one of the most-talked about sets of the fest, showcasing her visceral visual wonderland of weird wonkiness in a sex-forward set that included on-stage nudity and her trademark giant vagina costume. Shabazz Palaces brought Chicago to outer space for an hour in a set that scientists will most likely dissect for decades yet never fully understand, while Dead Cross provided one of the most memorable moments of the fest by closing out their blazing set with a timely rendition of Dead Kenndys banger “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”. The cult of Bayside showed up in great numbers to support the band’s 10-year anniversary of their landmark Walking Wounded album, reinforcing their bona fides as one of the best pop-punk bands of the last 15 years. FIDLAR’s cover of “Sabotage” was pure gold, and Danzig spent much of his set fighting with the sunlight before giving the audience what they wanted with closer “Mother.” Mike D ran through a head-scratching DJ set that failed to land with the audience, while Gogol Bordello elicited the exact opposite reaction from a frenzied crowd that never wanted their gypsy punk freakout to ever end. Wu-Tang Clan injected more wild energy into the crowd, bringing a fan on stage and showing some Chicago love with Raekwon outfitted in a Bears shirt and hat. Josh Homme and Queens of The Stone Age shredded through a masterful set of licks that could have made you bite through your tongue, running through a tight 14-song set featuring songs from new instant classic Villains as well as old favorite like “Go With the Flow” — ending their set a bit early and leaving the audience salivating for more. BY JIMBY SISTO & JAY GENTILE–PHOTO BY JASON PENDELTON
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It’s hard to achieve that perfect festival weather. Surely the later in the year you go, the less likely of getting trounced in rain or dying in 101 degrees. But you always risk getting chilly in the Midwest midway through September. Yet the gods of rock, many of whom graced the stages of Riot Fest 2017, instead allowed for a spectacular set of evenings. And Friday took full advantage, with some bangers straight out of the gate. Angus Andrew of Liars rocked a gorgeous white wedding dress for their set, bringing some hearty doom rock in the process that set the stage for The Hotelier to send out some feverous energy and punchy guitar riffs into the sunny mid-80s air. The always hilarious and masterful lyricist Action Bronson danced around the stage with the audience wrapped around his little finger, while Death From Above ran through a workmanlike set that didn’t quite seem to translate all that well to the outdoor stage. That disappointment carried over when industrial rock legends Ministry took to the stage to deliver a loud set most remarkable for its deafening loudness and its nods to the Antifa movement. Things started to turn around when New Order began a serviceable if slightly lethargic set, culminating in a sober yet joyful tribute to Ian Curtis during “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Vic Mensa of course let his true feelings about the police be known during his naturally powerful set, but nothing could prepare for the magic that was about to unfurl. Nine Inch Nails delivered one of the finest sets of any Chicago festival in recent memory, uncorking an emotionally cathartic and impeccably gorgeous sonic work of art including hits like “Head Like a Hole” and culminating in the teary-eyed beauty of “Hurt” — leaving festivalgoers in a philosophical mood as they piled onto buses lined up outside the festival and fanned out into the Chicago night. BY JIMBY SISTO & JAY GENTILE–PHOTO BY ANTHONY NGUYEN
Next: Riot Fest Day Two