Sunday morning was the time to get shit done. By noon I had done my laundry, done my grocery shopping, worked an hour of my part-time online job, and met the Riot Fest Press Crew at Quesadilla so I could drop of Kendra’s birthday present. I am the ultimate adult and unstoppable! I rewarded myself by immediately double-fisting the gross Adult Seltzers as soon as I walked into the Press Tent and then went out to the Rebel Stage to watch Philadelphia’s (by way of Seattle) Ramona.
I made my way over to the Rise Stage for Save Ferris since Monique was such a joy to talk to during the BAD LIBS sesh a few days earlier, and was immediately welcomed with her talking to the crowd. “Who wants to see what a clit looks like? You do? Get up here! No, no, no, I’m just kidding. Stay there.” I stayed for a couple of songs before I finally ran into Minneapolis sweethearts Tim Andrews and Kristin Kaley. We grabbed a couple of drinks and headed back to the Rebel Stage for local Chicago super shredders Kali Masi then over to the Roots stage for White Reaper. I don’t know why Sunday is always the busiest fest day for me.
We took a quick breather at the press tent before having to get back to the Radicals Stage for the Village People. The circle pit during “Macho Man” was in full effect. I couldn’t stick around too long to see the “YMCA Wall of Death” but judging by Mat Stokes and his broken sunglasses, I’d say it went well. I made my way to Less Than Jake for yet another ska band set like it was 1996 before doubling back for my personal favorite awkward Chicagoans, Sincere Engineer.
Against Me! was on the Riot Stage, playing both Reinventing Axl Rose and Transgender Dysphoria Blues in full. I think I made it in time for “We Laugh at Danger” and left after my favorite Against Me! song, “Walking is Still Honest.” We had some BAD LIBS scheduled in the press area where we could still hear Against Me! I only zoned out for a moment during “Osama Bin Laden as the Crucified Christ” and “Back Me Out.” Total professional.
I really wanted to see the B-52’s and apparently so did every other person in Douglas Park that day. The crowd was massive, and made it absolutely impossible to cross over to the Rebel Stage for the end of Dave Hause or Teenage Bottlerocket. It was worse than Wu-Tang the night before. We finally gave up, and resigned to watching “Love Shack” and “Rock Lobster” from the side of the stage. We eventually went back to the Press Area just in time to watch a gaggle of confused “Guests” leave our tiny section of the Press Tent and offer us a ton of food. I chowed down on a gently used turkey leg and untouched but cold hot dog, while Kendra nashed at the remnants of a bucket of cold fries. It was probably at least $40 worth of food and I was starving because, like an idiot with a death wish, I had forgotten to eat again.
I was sunburned and exhausted and decided to spend the rest of my Riot Fest in the Press Area listening to Patti Smith, The Raconteurs, and Bikini Kill. Unfortunately, Kendra reminded me of The Ergs! who were playing on the other side of Douglas Park at the Rebel Stage, which I grumbled about and made my way to. I made it through a couple of songs, and that’s when I started sweating. A lot. Like, enough to make me worry about my health, which as a standard guy, I never do. I had to get out of there. I went back to the Press Area for an actual water, and the lovely bartender offered to dump some of the melted ice water on me to cool me down. (Editor’s Note: The Ergs! were fucking fantastic. They were the only full set I watched all weekend. I could not pull myself away. – Kendra)
So I was sitting there soaking wet forcing down as much water as I could with The Raconteurs as my soundtrack to potential heat stroke. I never listened to “Jack White’s other band,” and they weren’t bad. They had a bluesy rock sound not totally unlike the actual White Stripes, but fuller and sort of better. Was I delirious? Maybe. In stark contrast to The Raconteurs, Bikini Kill finished off the night. Bikini Kill was another band that recently re-united in 2019, playing some of their first shows in 20 plus years earlier in the year. We finished off the night with a round of BAD LIBS with the press and artist tent bar staff and Dave, who was one of the people in charge of the press area. After that, I was done. I had to go. I said my goodbyes and headed for the exit gates of Douglas Park one last time.
That was Riot Fest 2019. After 15 years Riot Fest has it down pretty good. The last three years have all been a tiresome blast and I honestly can’t think of a better outdoor music festival out there. I finished the weekend with thirty-three drinks AKA about $300 in festival dollars AKA a 3-Day VIP ticket with fees! I’ve got to get paid somehow. I also walked twenty-six miles, so I got in a pretty good workout to boot! This will probably be my last Riot Fest for a few years, as I’m heading back home to San Diego next year, so I guess thanks for the memories Riot Fest. I’ll miss the Press Tent friends most of all. Keep on trucking.
TOTAL STEPS TAKEN AT RIOT FEST:
Kevin – 26 miles
Kendra – 23 miles
Mat – 29 miles
TOTAL DRINKS CONSUMED AT RIOT FEST:
Kevin – 33 drinks
Kendra – Due to jet lag, exhaustion, and a health issue I drank only water (and half of one Bon & Viv) all weekend. I consumed 36 bottles of water in the two days of the festival which I attended.
Mat – I don’t remember an exact number, but something in the area of 24.