Seeing as how this was Riot Fest Pre-Show #1 and I was hyped up for such a wonderful weekend I decided to get to the Double Door pretty early. This was the first time I've ever been to the Double Door and I must say that it is a really nice music venue. The way the venue is set up makes it a very nice place to see a show and sound was pretty good. The first thing I checked out was the merchandise and then the bars; both were at satisfactory levels, spare for the bar being a bit pricey. I noticed that there was quite a bit of cameras all over the place getting set up to film the show; I guess Riot Fest wants to make the most out of the next three days by catching it on film.
Up first was Shot Baker; I've seen them live twice before, once opening for the Bomb and once opening for the Mopes so I knew what to expect. I must say that they've made me into an official fan from seeing them those last two times. They also handed out a free CD sampler back when I first saw them, so that also helped. Anyways, they were the first band to kick off Riot Fest weekend and they didn’t disappoint one bit. Their sound reminds me of a more straightforward punk version of Avail. They definitely have a Chicago pop-punk influence in their songs too as songs like “Falling Apart” and “Point of No Return” are just so infectiously catchy. The highlight of their set was when they covered the Vindictives' “Glad to Be,” which appears on a 7” split tribute to the Vindictives that they just released. They closed with “Sorry Illinois,” which was another highlight of their set. All in all, I see a lot of potential in Shot Baker to achieve great things.
Next up was the Tossers. Now, I've seen the Tossers once before opening for Rancid and I didn't mind them. Personally I'm not a huge fan but I have nothing against them either. It may not be fair to compare them to all the other modern Irish punk bands out there, but for me it’s kind of hard not to because I do prefer Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly over them. Despite my bias, I will admit that they are a really fun live band. While I may never go out and buy their albums, I have no problem enjoying their live show. After a few drinks anyone should be able to have a great time watching them play live, I will give them credit for that. They looked like they were having a good time, the crowd looked like it was having a good time, and I was having a good time so that’s all that mattered to me.
Now what I wasn't expecting was the Blue Meanies to play next. They were setting up a whole bunch of mics on stage and I was thinking "why are they doing that now, won’t they just be in the way for the Bollweevils?" At that point I was completely clueless, so when the Blue Meanies came out on stage and started off with their cover of Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades” I yelled “holy shit!" and promptly made my way to the very front of the stage where I proceeded to rock my socks off. I must say that for a band that hasn't done a show in two years, they sounded spot on. Everyone in that band just unleashed everything that they had; it was almost as if they were out touring the world constantly since their last show here in Chicago back in 2004. But apparently the time away did affect them, as they only played a very short set. But for that amount of time I was in Blue Meanies heaven and nothing would bring me down. When they finished their set I shook Billy Spunke's hand and he informed me that yesterday was the first time the band all officially practiced together, which shocked me because they sounded fantastic.
Here’s the set list, not necessarily in order:
- Ace of Spades (opener)
- Acceleration 5000
- Send Help
- When We Were Queens
- Camaro Man
- Mamma Getting High on Chardonnay
- I'm a Have Not
- Grandma Shampoo
- Smash the Magnavox (closer)
Sorry to disappoint some of you people, but I did not stick around all that long for the Bollweevils. I have nothing against them and I think they’re an OK band but my main reason for going was to see the Blue Meanies and I had my wish fulfilled. Plus, I had lots of fun seeing Shot Baker and the Tossers. I did watch the Bollweevils for the first ten minutes, but I was pretty intoxicated by this point and decided it was best for me to go since I also was attending Pre-Show #2 the next night, and somehow I would have to save enough energy from that show for Riot Fest itself the next day. So to conclude, I had a wonderful time at this show and I want to thank the people who run Riot Fest for giving Chicago such a great three-day weekend. I can’t wait to see what becomes of all that footage that they were filming for this show.