Words by Kimberly Eggleston
All Live Photos Credit: Jonathan Sippel
Riot Fest day 2 was a lot crazier than day 1. When we arrived at Douglas Park around 1pm it was almost as packed as Friday evening, and there were already large crowds of people as far as the eye could see. I mean, I’m only 5 foot 2, so I couldn’t see very far, but I could tell it was going to be a busy day.
Although there weren’t any bands we were scheduled to cover until almost 5:30 that day, we decided to look at the line-up anyway for any familiar names and went over to the Rock stage to check out Toronto punk band Fucked Up. They were loud, fast, played hard, and were overall pretty good for a band of people who hated each other. I’ve never heard of any other band that, when forming they’re musical group, actually put effort into purposefully picking people they knew they wouldn’t get along with, but whatever, it worked for them. And what they lacked in love for each other, they definitely made up for in how much they appreciated their fans. Mr. Damian leaped into the crowd and eagerly hugged fans, and took a puff from a joint that a fest-goer handed to him. As a band that started in 2001 by doing house shows, they clearly haven’t forgotten their roots, and the importance of having a connection with the audience. When they finished Damian laid on the ground in front of the stage and thanked everyone for coming out, and boasted about how much he loved Chicago. They were a good start to our day.
A couple other good bands we saw that day were Motion City Sound Track who played one of my favorites by them “This is for Real”. Indie pop group Fitz and the Tantrums were also a nice treat to the day, playing a high-energy hour-long set. We also saw Wu-Tang rapper GZA who did some of his own solo music, as well as a few Wu-Tang covers such as “Protect Ya Neck.” An hour after GZA had finished other Wu-Tang legends Method Man and Redman hit the same stage. The DJ got the crowd revved up by performing some 90s hip-hop classics the crowd eagerly cheered for including Snoop Dogg and Gangstarr before the rap duo came out. I watched the people around me sing along, and make the infamous Wu-Tang “W” symbol with their hands while chanting “Wu-Tang clan ain’t nothin to fuck with.” It was fun seeing the other side of Riot Fest that wasn’t just Rock Music, but the people who came to fully support the fine art that is Hip Hop. This weekend was about legends of all sorts, and these Wu-Tang wonders were a prime part of that.
As the sun went down, and the white clouds tinted pink against the blue sky, Death Cab for Cutie took to the Roots Stage. They seemed to be what a lot of people were talking about throughout the day, and I couldn’t blame them as I had been looking forward to them as well. Ben Gibbard came out on stage and performed “I Will Possess your heart” on the piano, and I could tell from the crowd reaction he was doing just that. The greenish blue stage lights followed him as he finished and grabbed a guitar to the front of the stage to continue the show with other great songs like they’re hit “I Will Follow you into the Dark” which I remember vividly being one of my all time favorite songs in middle school. Unfortunately, we had to cut our Cutie show short as we went over to the Rock Stage to see the night’s second headliner.
Social Distortion is a late 70s punk rock band who’s been through a lot, and a lot of band members. Mike Ness, the lead singer and only remaining band member from when they started back in ’78, put on a good high energy show for rioters. Playing through the entirety of one of their heaviest albums, “White Light, White Heat, White Trash”, the fans in the crowd got to take a trip back in time to 1996 when the album was released. With the little extra time the band had at the end of their set, they gave the crowd an extra treat by playing one of their famous covers “Ring of fire” by Johnny Cash. If only our second last headliner of the night was so generous as to show up on time, give an awesome show, and still have time for an encore. Sadly this wasn’t the case.
I love The Smiths, don’t get me wrong. I love Morrissey’s voice, and his odd, but moving topics of the song, but when he showed up a good half hour late to his own show, then told the crowd it was his “privilege” to be there, it gave somewhat of a bad first impression. The first 30 minutes of his set that he wasn’t there for was spent watching old classic rock videos such as Alice Cooper’s “Elected”. At first, it seemed as though maybe he was trying to make a political statement, but the videos got gradually weirder, and my feet got gradually achier, and the crowd seemed to get gradually more antsy, we just wanted him to start. From my understanding, Morrissey was notorious for not showing up to his own shows, or canceling shows due to rude crowd members, and as people around me began yelling obscenities towards the stage I was nervous that maybe that was happening. But the good people in the crowd didn’t give up hope. I, as well as many others, continued to cheer for him after every video, chanting his name in some fruitless hope that he would perform soon. When he finally did come out at 8:45pm he started strong with his hit “Suedehead” and the crowd was instantly forgiving. Unlike other artists throughout the weekend who made direct statements about Politics, Morrissey made more subtle hints about his opinions that were open for interpretation. From showing a police brutality video to saying “gracias” after every song to having part of “Speedway” sung in Spanish to showcasing a photo of the Duke and Duchess on screen with the caption “United Kingdumb”, it was obvious he had some pretty strong views about racism and immigration policies. I had later read that he had been putting a stop to all food vendors selling any sort of meat product after 8pm for his show, which I truly admire him for now that I know, and my bitterness of waiting an extra half hour for him to come out is nothing but water under the bridge.
Those who didn’t take the abolishment of meat for the night so well left his set early to go watch famous 90’s rapper NAS perform (just kidding). Nas had an amazing show, playing some good classics like “The World is Yours”, and giving his fans an amazing end to the night as the last headliner.
Although I was exhausted by the end of the day, and sick of stepping on water bottles littered around the pitch black grass that would trip me every few minutes, I was super pumped for day 3.