The 88-degree weather in September caused a frenzy with fashion choices on the first day of Riot Fest in Chicago. While some opted to pair too-short shorts with fishnet stockings, others strolled in denim vests, leaving the T-shirts at home.
The unlikely heat and the scorching sun brought in a wave of sleepiness, and many fans were spread across Douglas Park under shade trees. But by the time the evening rolled in, attendees swapped those spots to score front row for their favorite artists.
Here’s a look at some of Friday’s performances.
Views from the front row: Minutes before Action Bronson hit the Rise Stage, there was a guy seen flipping through the pages of his most recent book, F*ck, That’s Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well.
The sighting of the bright orange cookbook, as well as the heavy waft of weed that clouded the air, set the precedent for the Queens cook-turned-rapper’s one-hour set, which embraced all things he lives for: comfort food, good ganja and chill vibes. Performing select songs from his latest Blue Chips 7000, Bronson kept his cool. From time to time, he’d belt into the mic, emphasize his love for making music and do a little happy dance. – F. Amanda Tugade
Views from the front row: “I’m gonna shit myself,” screamed a fangirl. As Vic Mensa pounced on stage, she clutched her backpack tightly and tried to hold back the tears.
On the cusp of his new album The Autobiography, Vic Mensa’s performance was personal. “There’s a lot of hate in the world right now, and I don’t want to say some corny shit, but music brings us together,” the 24-year-old South Side Chicago native said, before he divulging into “We Could Be Free.”
Other notes like “Memories on 47th St.,” “Down for Some Ignorance” and “Wings” fleshed out pieces of Mensa’s past – parts he has held on to as a way to recover, remember and move forward. The young rapper from Hyde Park was not shy to use his platform to invoke sentiments of racism, politics and violence, and those moving in pain or with fear is the cause of hate. His performance aimed to heal – “really, for the whole city and for anyone who knows the feeling of loss.” – F. Amanda Tugade
Views from the front row: Radicals Stage’s security guy isn’t fucking around – for good reason, though. A Day to Remember packed some heat – literally – with a few displays of pyrotechnics, which were super close to the photo pit.
(Bonus: Eventually, I made my way to the back row, and some guy tried to bring me into a mosh pit. I was not having it.)
For nostalgia’s sake, the five-piece from Ocala, Fla. tackled Homesick. From “Downfall to Us All” to “If It Means A Lot to You” to an acoustic version of “Have Faith in Me” – where frontman Jeremy McKinnon asked all the girls in the crowd to sit on their boyfriends’ shoulders – A Day to Remember came in with heart, often thanking the die-hards who stayed to watch them instead of making their way to Riot Stage for headliner Nine Inch Nails. – F. Amanda Tugade
Chicago-native Al Jourgensen paced the stage during the scorching heat, waving a black and red flag wildly as depictions of Donald Trump and copulating animals flashed on the screen.
Older fans jumped up and down to favorites such as “New World Order” and “Just One Fix” while the younger generations seemed to be more fixated on the trippy, tongue in cheek images.
The legends of industrial also played “Antifa,” a track from their upcoming album which clearly showed that they definitely haven’t lost their edge after 36 years. – Jennifer Roger
Nine Inch Nails had one of the loudest, most energetic entrances of the first day of the festival. As other sets wrapped up, droves of people headed toward the Riot Stage for the main act of the night.
In true NIN fashion, their performance was heavy and theatrical with plumes of smoke surrounding the stage and a stellar light show that captivated the crowd.
The hour and a half performance opened with a good amount of fan favorites that got everyone hype, along with a tribute to the late David Bowie and a shout out to their personal influences, New Order and Ministry. But the midpoint of the set segued into a more down tempo vibe that left most people restless.
Die-hards continued to stay at the front, relishing in their extensive catalogue of some deeper cuts, but it was a bit overwhelming for more casual fans. – Jennifer Roger
All photos by F. Amanda Tugade