As I sat in my bed on Sunday naked, eating mashed potatoes, I was debating if I could hustle to Douglas Park and make it there in fifteen minutes. No Small Children was playing on the Rebel Stage at 12:15PM, and as much as I wanted to see them play after talking to them the day before, I knew there was no way in hell I could muster the strength to get there in time. I put on some pants and settled for watching a few of their videos on Youtube, sad I slept so long as I watched the very awesome video for “Big Steps” (which apparently was in season one of Netflix’s ‘Santa Clarita Diet’).
I did make it to the third day of Riot Fest in time to catch (a Strongbow cider and) Calpurnia, Finn Wolfhard’s (the kid from Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’) band. I’m not going to talk shit on a 15 year old’s band, but maybe don’t act like you’re playing the world’s greatest guitar solo when in fact you play rhythm guitar and it’s the other guitarist shredding away. But hey, that’s just me. You do you, Wolf Finnhard.
We were wandering the grounds looking for the mythical air conditioned port-a-potties, when we wondered past FEAR playing on the Rise stage. We did our best guttural “I love LIVIN’ IN THE CITY!” before moving along to go and try and find Mat at the Rebel Stage watching Super Whatevr. We sat on the ground in the shade and drew on each other with Crayola markers like the adults we are. Then I made my way back to watch Bullet For My Valentine. desperately grasping at my high school emo-metal phase. They were just as terrible as I remembered.
I found myself back at the Rebel Stage waiting for The Bouncing Souls to take the stage. I like The Bouncing Souls, but the few times I had seen them in the past always left something to be desired. Singer Greg Attonito would usually just kind of stand there, microphone in one hand, microphone cord in the other, and just seemingly kind of phone in his performance. But this performance at Riot Fest was by far the best I have ever see them. Greg was the complete opposite of stationary, moving all around the stage, and even jumping into the crowd several times, crowd surfing among the fans. It was great to see and made me kind of sad I didn’t have a ticket to see them at the Cobra Lounge later that night.
I walked by Suicidal Tendencies playing “Institutionalized” on my way into the press area for a drink. Then, I passed them again on my way to go see Clutch. I’ve always been a casual fan of Clutch, and while I don’t think I knew a single song they played, they sounded fucking great. Next stop was back to the Rebel Stage for some Dillinger Four action. Paddy and the crew came out complaining about the sun being directly in their eyes. “I wrote a lot of songs about hating God, but today, I guess you win.” They stopped every couple of songs for some additional Paddy vs. The Sun rants, with guitarist Bill Morrisette chiming in. “Look, we are all in our forties and honestly, an hour set is a long time for out of shape old dudes like us.” Eventually a handful of people tossed some sunglasses on the stage as the band called it quits after about 50 minutes.
We ran into Hot Sauce Kyle in the crowd for Alkaline Trio and decided that spot was good enough to watch the only member of Blink-182 in attendance at Riot Fest. And holy fuck am I so glad he was there. Kyle’s commentary as Alk3 played was amazing. He protested Dan songs. He called out Skiba for dressing like the kind of person who asks Whole Foods employees where the asparagus is located. When he left to get beers and came back to not only a Dan song, but a NEW Dan song, he lost his shit. We all took a knee in solidarity. It was the most fun I had watching a band all weekend. We discussed it with each other – you can totally make fun of shit that you enjoy that is also fucking ridiculous. Was Alkaline Trio’s three gigantic backdrop flags a little over the top? Yes. Did I enjoy Alkaline Trio’s set? Absolutely, yes!
Blink-182 might have canceled, but a few others stepped up to take their place. Among them was Run the Jewels, who I was most excited to see. They recently came through Chicago with Lorde back in March. But I wasn’t spending $70 to see them from some grassy area four miles away, even if the queen Lorde was with them (honestly, I fucking should have though). I haven’t seen a lot of Hip-Hop artists live before and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when a band basically just has a DJ on stage, but fuck man, Run the jewels was great. Seeing El-P and Killer Mike trade rhymes while the stage speakers blasted the beat with a ton of bass, I couldn’t help but move. ‘Dancing’ is a strong word, but I was moving a little more than the standard bob my head or tap my foot to the beat. It was also great to see another group outside of the punk scene take the time to talk about “not touching fucking women who don’t want to be touched” and “be respectable to those around you.” I was a little disappointed they didn’t play “A Christmas Fucking Miracle,” but I guess I can settle for “Thursday in the Danger Room.”
And that was that. Another Riot Fest in the books for Bad Copy. It took just as long as we partied to recover, the pit fall of being in my mid-thirties. We missed our Skee Ball league game on Tuesday. I was in bed by 10PM until Thursday. I couldn’t look at a drink without wanting to puke until Friday. But in the end, it was all worth it. I saw a handful of bands I really wanted to see, a handful of ones I didn’t, and made a bunch of new friends and weird fucking memories to last me until I’m old and senile.
“You see kids, back in my thirties, I made a band from space fill out a Mad Libs sheet while I wore a Hawaiian shirt and held a child’s tape recorder.”
“Ok grandpa, it’s time for your pill and bed.”
TOTAL STEPS TAKEN AT RIOT FEST:
Kevin – 55,458 AKA 24.6 miles
Kendra – 25.82 miles
Mat – 58,094 steps AKA ~28 miles
TOTAL DRINKS CONSUMED AT RIOT FEST:
Kevin – I lost fucking count but I spent easily $80 on discounted press drinks so probably around 30 or so AKA 4,830 calories.
Kendra – I spent $100 @ $2/drink (until Chel just started taking our drink money, throwing it in the tip jar, and handing over more cans that I could carry). We were also informed that Bad Copy drank the Press Tent bar out of Strongbow ciders. My blood is probably still half cider. Get at us, Strongbow. You need us like we need you.
Mat – I’m going to go with a lot. I don’t remember an exact number, but there are multiple accounts that I had a distinct look that I was no longer present by Sunday. Thanks, Strongbow!