Riot Fest 2008 part one

With fall comes the changing of the leaves, the beginnings of crappy weather, the kids go back to school, and if you live in Chicago it also means the return of Riot Fest. The annual punk rock festival rears its spiked head about this time every year and for me it’s usually the one show i look most forward to every year. This year the fest was split up over three days and hosted at a variety of venues both big and small, with the big, all day show at Congress Theater being the big finish. Due to my unfortunate work schedule that week, I was unable to attend the Friday night show as originally planned, so this year I only attended the all day Sunday affair. Luckily for me all the bands I cared most about were participating that day.

It should be noted that this year aside from the main stage in the theater, another smaller stage was set up out in the main lobby and there were bands playing on it all day. All the bands I wanted to see were playing the main stage so between that and the lack of good lighting and room at the small stage, I did not shoot any of the bands playing it, though I did go out there from time to time to see what was going on.


Black President


Black President


Black President

Unfortunately due to some last minute problems, two bands i really wanted to see, TSOL and Municipal Waste, had to cancel which led to a shift in the lineup. i arrived in what I thought was just enough time to unpack my gear and see Valient Thorr, but as it turned out I was now a bit early and Black President were playing as I walked in. They were very loud and aggressive and something about them made me think about the Cro Mags, though they didn’t exactly sound like them. I think it was more in the look than the sound as Black President were a lot less one-dimensional than the Cro Mags were.


Valient Thorr


Valient Thorr


Valient Thorr


Valient Thorr


Valient Thorr

Next up was the band I was most excited to see that day, Valient Thorr. These Southern Rock super heroes can command a stage like no other. They play like they are on a stage in front of a million people whether there’s one person or one thousand people in the crowd. The band played flawlessly, full of energy while the singer flailed around the stage trying to send his energy off into the crowd, more than half of whom didn’t know what to make of this band. By part way through the set it was obvious the crowd were really warmnig up to them as a lot of them were starting to really move around. This in turn made the band even more energetic and they easilly stole the show. I seriously could have gone home right after that and been fully satisfied but there was much more ahead of me, including some more really good bands.


Mustard Plug


Mustard Plug

Mustard Plug had the unfortunate task of following. I hate ska, thus be default this band was of absolute zero interest to me. After snapping a couple photos for the sake of telling the story, I went to take a walk. I was told that while I was out wandering around the venue, they played a Fugazi cover. Luckily I missed that travesty or it may have been just the thing that could have been a buzzkill from my Valient Thorr induced euphoria.


D.O.A.


D.O.A.


D.O.A.

D.O.A. were next and I was stoked about seeing them yet again. They came racing out of the gate full speed with a few old songs before starting to mix in some newer material with the classics. It’s amazing that not only does the new material fit in well (Joey’s songwriting style has been pretty consistent over the past 30 years), but that three decades later and striped down to a 3-piece, D.O.A. still kick a lot of ass. It was a pretty flawless performance and the crowd were loving it, there were people jumping around everywhere, many of whom weren’t even born the first time I ever saw D.O.A. play! It was nice to see some old timers get their deserved crowd respect.


Horrorpops


Horrorpops


Horrorpops

Horrorpops was another band I was happy to be seeing again after they caught my interest at Warped Tour. Their guitar player, who also does time in Nekromantix, is quite a charasmatic player. They played their gothabilly/psychobilly style music to a bit of a smaller audience than was hanging around for the last couple of bands, but those who were there seemed to be enjoying what they were witnessing. In between songs the singer would occasionally entertain the crowd with general banter.

Check back tomorrow for part two!