Photos by Amanda Tugade
If I am being honest, there wasn’t really anyone at Riot Fest that I was dying to see.
That being said, when you are open to stopping, looking and listening to the bands that step on stage, then you will have a better understanding of what music really is – an appreciation of artistry and sound.
So, I dedicated the last day of Riot Fest would be about photographing its fans. I spotted two girls crying during the set of The Wonder Years. Lead singer Dan Campbell belted every word into the microphone, stood on top of the speakers and stretched his arms out, savoring every last moment of the Chicago crowd. Countless pairs of eyes were on Campbell and bandmates Matt Brasch, Nick Steinborn, Casey Cavaliere, Mike Kennedy, and Josh Martin.
The six-piece pop punk band came to play, and their home, for now, was the Rise Stage.
Post-hardcore, pop punk, emo, screamo – if you were a teenager between 2004-2008, those words meant something to you.
You downloaded songs off Limewire, and your playlist consisted of The Audition, Taking Back Sunday, Hawthorne Heights, and Fall Out Boy. Tight skinny jeans that left no room for you to breathe in, arms decorated with colorful bracelets, black eyeliner and straight hair a part of your uniform.
This is where Underoath comes into play.
The band – who recently reunited and is currently on tour – drew many to relive 2004’s They’re Only Chasing Safety, released through Tooth & Nail Records.
Lead singer Spencer Chamberlain paved the way for audience members to mimic his screams. Often, he would yell into the mic and pace back and forth onstage. His movements were so certain that this, this moment, this was the revival for Underoath.
While Juliette Lewis and The Licks and Andrew W.K. brought out a set of rockers who just wanted to let loose, head bang, and throw their middle fingers in the air, Rob Zombie attracted a crowd of heavy metalheads who didn’t dare to take their eyes off of him. His followers are completely devoted to him, especially as the stage catered to Zombie’s style that marries horror and his sick, twisted sense of humor.
While Riot Fest may have evolved in its 11 year’s of existence, at its core it is still a punk rock festival. You don’t name your festival after a core punk belief for nothing. And on Sunday, the lineup seemed to be the festival getting back to its roots. Swingin’ Utters, The Falcon, The Wonder Years, Tiger Army, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and Bad Religion had all played the festival in some fashion over its 11-year history. Some veteran punk bands put on stellar sets, but it was some first-timers that may have inexplicably sold the show.
If you were to engineer a prototypical Riot Fest band, chances are you would end up with Leftöver Crack. The New York-based punk stalwarts have been described in some different ways throughout their illustrious career; skacore, crust punk, punk metal…the subgenres are endless. For a band that had been inactive for a long time and discusses police brutality, the group could draw a crowd. Their setlist was a non-stop thrash session equal parts punk, heavy metal, and even a little bit of ska thrown in, with lead singer Scott Sturgeon aka Stza Crack vocals being so piercing they could cut through the crowd. And a special shout out should be given to Kate Coysh, who vocal performance may have given Stza a run for his money.
While much of Sunday’s attention was reserved for the Misfits – blink and chances you would have seen someone rocking a Misfits skull t-shirt – their headline spot may have been taken by the and that went on before them. Don’t get me wrong, seeing Glenn, Jerry, and Doyle back together reaffirmed that my three Misfits albums I owned in high school were not a wasted investment, however, something about their set was a bit underwhelming. It may have been high expectations or Glenn Danzig’s odd bodysuit; the horror punks were a bit upstaged by by the band that went on before them, the Deftones. The group, led by the transfixing performance by lead singer Chino Moreno, had an eclectic setlist that contained new bangers from their recent album Gore and some classics from the group.
Sunday capped off a whirlwind of a weekend, with punks both old and new finding sets that were perfect to their sensibilities.