Riot Fest - Day 2 - Live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)

Riot Fest - Day 2

Live in Chicago (2022)

live show

After an exhausting yet exciting Day 1, I made my return this past Saturday to Douglas Park in Chicago for Riot Fest Day 2. Many process improvements were made for myself as I thought how to best pace for another warm and sunny day. As with most festivals, food and porta-potty lines are extremely long. I chose to eat immediately upon entering the festival grounds. Luckily there was time before the first performances of the day. I also chose to shop early from vendors such as Fat Wreck and Smartpunk who brought the goods!

No Trigger started things off early on Saturday performing on the same smaller stage where I previously witnessed the Marky Ramone set. These Massachusetts veterans recently released “Dr. Album” on Red Scare which marks their first full length since the 2012 album “Tycoon” released by No Sleep Records. Fans were treated to the teaser EP “Acid Lord” earlier this year which I was fortunate to review. This release showcased a change in direction for the band. Hundreds of Riot Fest and No Trigger faithful showed up early to check out the set. The set focused heavily on newer material such as “Antifantasy” and “No Tattoos.” The band interacted well with the crowd throughout the energy fueled set, which was quite impressive given the early hour. The ska-infused punk rocker “Brainwashed” seemed to receive the greatest response in terms of crowd response and circle pit action. No Trigger also played classics such as “You Said It” and “Neon National Park.” I have little doubt that the band earned many new fans following this set.

There was almost a solid two hours between the end of the No Trigger set and the beginning of FEAR who were next on my “must see” list for the day. I took this opportunity to do another lap around the festival grounds. At this time, I saw the Nashville, TN band BULLY setting up for their set. This is one of my favorite parts of attending any festival is randomly being in the right spot to see the beginning of a set. I had previously come to known that this was a female fronted Sub Pop band who mixed grunge and indie rock. Color me intrigued! The band wasted no time kicking right into their set with little in-between song banter. Lead vocalist and guitarist Alicia Bognanno had the same energy reminiscent of the late and great Kim Shattuck. BULLY perfectly blended 90s grunge with noise and indie rock which definitely took me back a few decades. They had the crowd in the palm of their hands. This is the type of band that I would like to see in a bar or smaller club.

Next it was back to one of the main stages to check out FEAR. It had been advertised previously that the band was to perform their classic LP “The Record” in full at this event. The large crowd knew they were in for a treat. I had previously seen FEAR in recent years support the Misfits in Chicago so was surprised to see Lee Ving appear on stage without a guitar. After the typical witty on stage banter from Ving, the band ripped into “Have a Beer With Fear.” From there, the band ripped into all the classics. The crowd sang and slam danced along to “Let’s Have A War,” “Beef Bologna,” “I Don’t Care About You,” “New York’s Alright” and beyond. What else can be said about the legendary FEAR. They are certainly not for everyone as they have never been the most politically correct band but they know how to perform. Each song was played with as much conviction as they were back in the early 80’s. The Riot Fest crowd was also treated to the holiday classic “F*ck Christmas” as well as “More Beer.”

Riot Fest really went strong this year with classic American hardcore with bringing back 7 Seconds. Earlier this year, the legendary band returned as a touring unit alongside Circle Jerks. I have seen 7 Seconds over 20 times since 1990. I was excited to finally see them in a festival setting to a crowd of this size and caliber. The setlist was very similar to what was performed on the Circle Jerks tour. The setlist was very heavy on “The Crew” which was recently reissued by Trust Records. The opening chords of “Here’s Your Warning” set the pace for the 7 Seconds hour of power. After this opener, the band went right into “Definite Choice” followed by “Not Just the Boys Fun.” At this point, the circle pit had opened wide up and never stopped. I have never seen more crowd surfing at one of their shows like this. In addition to “The Crew,” the band covered other classics from their catalog. “Tied Up In Rhythm,” “”Still Believe,” and the title track were played from “New Wind.” Though Kevin primarily focuses on lead vocals these days, his Les Paul made an appearance for “Satyagraha,” “I Can Sympathize,” and the title track from their last studio album “Leave A Light On.” The band interacted well with the energetic crowd throughout the set. The trio of “Walk Together, Rock Together,” “Young ’Til I Die,” and their rendition of “99 red Balloons” closed out the set. 7 Seconds has experienced much success since their return to the stage. One can only hope that new material would be forthcoming.

After first seeing them tour last year with Rise Against, I was eager to see the Menzingers in a festival setting. I was able to catch the second half of their performance. For Riot Fest, the band had announced a full album performance of the “On The Impossible Past” record. The band had one of the largest crowds I witnessed all weekend, aside from the main stages. This crowd was ready for this performance and came with their energy and singing voices in tact. The beginning part of the set was the aforementioned album played in full. My biggest memory of this set will simply be the crowd participation and sing-a-long. I truly was not aware how loyal of a fanbase the band had. After the album performance, the band returned with “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” from the “Rented World” album. The Menzingers ended their set with “House On Fire” and “After The Party.” I look forward to additional opportunities to witness this band live.

Following the Menzingers set, I had to hightail back towards the two main stages to catch Bad Religion, who like 7 Seconds, are no strangers to Riot Fest. When it comes to flawless execution of their songs live, few can go toe to toe with Bad Religion. There seems to be very little middle ground when it comes to this band. You are either a fanatical or casual follower. That being said, Greg Graffin and company delivered a set that covered much of their storied career. Early material like “Suffer,” “I Want To Conquer The World,” and “Do What You Want” received a rabid response. Mid-era stapes such as “Recipe For Hate,” “Sorrow” and the very underrated “Infected” were covered. This was your standard Bad Religion set. One main observation was less in-between song banter compared to usual. One of the band’s biggest commercial hits “American Jesus” closed out the set. Bad Religion have indeed perfected their craft though this is not news to most who will read this. I consider them a top 10 “must see” band for all of punk rock and would always recommend for anyone who has yet to see Bad Religion live.

A few weeks prior to Riot Fest, it had been announced that legendary goth rockers Bauhaus had canceled. While not a huge fan, I felt like similar to Rob Zombie in 2016, they would serve as a perfect warm up for the Misfits. Needless to say, I was disappointed. I really had no emotion to the announcement of Gogol Bordello, as before the fest I was only familiar with the track “Start Wearing Purple.” I have heard the stories of their energetic performances. I got in a position for the Misfits where I would still have a clear view of their set. The legend is indeed true. This band knows how to perform! It would be impossible to not pick up on their brand of self-proclaimed “Gypsy Punk.” Lead singer Eugene Hutz takes command of the stage like nothing I have ever seen. He is accompanied by an amazing group of musicians, backup singers, and performers. It is a true rock n roll circus. Those already familiar certainly know of which I speak. Staple tracks such as “Immigrant Punk,” “Wanderlust King,” and “Start Wearing Purple” were performed. Thousands were pogo dancing non-stop during their set. Much of the in-between song banter was centered around the struggle of the Ukraine. Earlier in the day, Eugene brought out a Ukrainian youth dance group to entertain the crowd. The singer also paid homage to what he called the “originators” in 7 Seconds, Bad Religion and the Misfits. He also did a rendition of the Agnostic Front classic “Victim In Pain.” All I can say is that this performance made me a fan and I cannot wait to explore their catalog.

After a very long but energetic day, the thousands in attendance were ready as the lights illuminated on the Misfits side of the stage. Fans knew they were in for a special performance as it had been previously announced that the band would be performing the bands legendary debut full length “Walk Among Us” in full. For those who have been following the reunion shows since 2016, there have been many tracks not yet performed. As expected, the band kicked right into “20 Eyes” as the lead-off track for their headlining set. Glenn addressed the crowd immediately and acknowledged the performance of the album. The album was played straight through. The only anomaly was the placement of “Hatebreeders” after “Night Of The Living Dead” instead of after “Nike A Go Go.” This was one of three tracks the band had not yet played since their reunion run. During the set, Glenn referred to many tracks on the setlist which were not ultimately played live. It seems there may have been alternate setlists which based on crowd response would determine the material performed. “Braineaters” called for additional crowd participation which seemed to please the band very much. It should be noted that all members of the band appeared to be in extremely high spirits. They engaged with each other in between songs much more than during previous performances I have seen. Following “Walk Among Us” the band went into “Death Comes Ripping” which has served previously as the set opener for most of the Reunion shows. The remainder of the set covered the majority of the bands EPs, singles, and compilation albums. The rowdy crowd sang along to every word of the classic singles “Bullet,” “Halloween,” and “Horror Business.” “Some Kind Of Hate” and “Hybrid Moments” were played back to back to an explosive response. “Lass Caress” served as the final track of the setlist. As expected, the band came back for an explosive four song encore which started with “Where Eagles Dare.” This was followed by “Die, Die My Darling” which is another classic track made famous by Metallica to a whole new generation of fans. This was followed by “Come Back” which slowed the crowd pace for the first time during their set. This was the only point in the Misfits performance where the energy dropped, though I can only imagine it served as a break for the band as well. The intensity rose to maximum levels on “We Are 138” which ended the set. This was the largest circle pit I saw all weekend. It should be noted that everyone in the band was in top form. Glenn’s vocals were top notch, especially on more audible songs vocally, such as “Come Back.” He also appeared to have more stamina and endurance compared to previous performances. Jerry Only played the songs effortlessly and provided all the necessary backing vocals. I believe Jerry broke a total of five bass guitars throughout the set! Doyle paraded around the stage as usual, pounding his guitar like a jackhammer. Touring second guitarist Acey Slade did a great job performing and adding power to the backing vocals. Finally, Dave Lombardo has more than proven himself as the perfect selection for drummer. This has been my third time seeing the “Original Misfits” and it was easily the best performance. Do not hesitate if you have the chance to see them before they call it a day. I am curious to see if this lineup will eventually decide to write and release new material.

I have been to a good number of Riot Fest events over the years. This weekend was easily the most fun I have had. I feel the fest organizers have done an amazing job of putting together a well balanced festival. For me personally, if I walk away interested in a band in which I was not previously familiar, then the organizers were successful. Like any major festival, there are certain staple bands of various punk sub-genres who will make a return. This ensures some repeat customers and serves well for younger attendees who may not have yet had the chance. In closing, if ever planning to attend Riot Fest, please remember it is a sprint and not a marathon. Pace yourself and take care of your body. Eat, hydrate and dress appropriately. As always, I am eagerly awaiting what Riot Fest has in store for next year.