Bad Copy

Show Review

Riot Fest 2019: Day 2: Slayer, Rise Against, Wu-Tang Clan, Avail, & More

These sugary pop punk songs are rotting out our collective punk teeth

Photo: Mat Stokes

Walking across Douglas Park, I looked up just in time to see Officer Bradford’s ass plastered on the giant screens that were on either side of Riot Fest’s main stages, Riot and Roots. The masked individual onstage said something in his stupid fucking “New Jersey” accent and the band went into “Stick ‘Em Up.” Masked Intruder has stuck with their criminal shtick for the better part of a decade now, but the real crime is being is being subjected to these sugary songs rotting out our collective punk teeth.

Walking into the Press Area, I was greeted with the news that today they had some alcoholic seltzers ala White Claw but not White Claw. They were Bon & Viv’s Black Cherry and Rosemary and they were disgusting. But after a few, my senses started going numb and I started to enjoy them. They were definitely better than beer. I doubled fisted my bubbly alcohol and headed out for the far Rebel Stage for Drakulas, who were weirdly wonderful to watch.

Surfer Blood was my next stop over at the Rise Stage. I got a few of their dreamy pop songs in before loading up on drinks for the reason I wanted to go to Riot Fest in the first place, Avail. Like the Cobra Skulls the year before, Riot Fest made yet another “I’ll never see this band play live” dream come true. Between the very Virginian hype man squirting the crowd with a super soaker, watching Tim Barry sing over something other than an acoustic guitar, and everyone in the crowd being extra hyped, I kind of wished I was quicker at trying to buy the Riot Fest club show tickets, because this would have been amazing to see at the Bottom Lounge instead of a huge outdoor festival.

I did end up leaving Avail a little early to run over to catch a little bit of Cursive. Tim Kasher’s mic went out mid-song but he rode it out hunched over using cellist Megan Siebe’s working mic. Plus there was a giant neon stuffed monkey onstage, named Borsky, who eventually was tossed into the crowd of people to be surfed about.

I made my way back to the Press Area to conduct a few more BAD LIBS, drink a few more seltzers, and listen to some Testament and Anthrax from our little sliver of crowd-free heaven. But eventually I had to gear back up and make my way out for Rise Against. This is when I realized I don’t really know any Rise Against songs post-Revolutions Per Minute, and they have moved way way past their days on Fat. Although I did check their set list after the fact and they actually played “Heaven Knows.” But I didn’t stick around to find that out first hand.

However, I did fight my way through the crowd to the Radicals Stage for Wu-Tang Clan. Riot Fest got Wu-Tang to replace the bigoted pieces of shit in Die Antwoord, a rap group who I swore were already known to be big ol’ turds prior to the homophobic video that recently surfaced, but what do I know? I couldn’t give a fuck less about those idiots. Anyway, Wu-Tang was about ten minutes late to come out and I was about to pack it up and leave, when a video started playing on the screen behind the stage. It was a trailer for the Hulu original series Wu-Tang: An American Saga, which I thought was pretty lame. But hey, I guess you got to advertise your shit somehow. Wu-Tang had a lot of original members onstage when they came out and announced that ‘surprise!’ they would be playing 36 Chambers in its entirety AND they had Old Dirty Bastard’s son AKA Young Dirty Bastard with them to do his parts. It was pretty neat.

Eventually though I tried to make my way to Andrew WK over on the Rebel Stage. But the way the Radical Stage is set up in proximity the row of bars and merch tents, it was like a fish trying to swim upstream. Eventually I just gave up, and followed the hoard of walking dead back the other way, getting spat out somewhere near the Cobra Lounge bar basically behind the stage Wu-Tang was currently on. Whatever, I made my way back to Press.

Slayer was the last band to play on Saturday. It was billed as their “last Chicago/Milwaukee” show so I guess go fuck yourself Milwaukee. Chicago or bust baby! I didn’t feel like watching them from actual Milwaukee, or at least that’s what it seemed like from the size of the crowd, so we opted to sit in the press area and hear them from there. I topped the night out at thirteen seltzers, and when they played finally played “Raining Blood” deep in their set, we took that as our cue to leave. We absolutely did not beat the crowd though, as we fought our way out through the pitch black Douglas Park. Seriously Riot Fest, invest in some fucking lights out there.

Day Two of Riot Fest was over. I was already fucking exhausted and opted to go home instead of the annual Pop Punk Pizza Party at The Burlington. Luckily, my girlfriend had some Jet’s Pizza waiting for me at home and we chowed down while watching Mad Men on Netflix, so I’ll take that as a win.

ICYMI: Check out our DAY 1 coverage now!

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