Riot Fest Chicago Day 2: Blink-182, Public Enemy, Violent Femmes

Riot Fest Day Two Humboldt Park, Chicago Saturday, September 14 The Fall Out Boy craziness of the festival's first day carried over to Blink-182's set on Day 2. For about 15 minutes before the band took the stage, fans chanted the lyrics to songs like "What's My Age Again," "All the Small Things" and Blink's adaptation of George Carlin's seven dirty words.

Things also got a little violent--Chicago police report that at least eight people were injured at the festival.

I could only stick around for Blink-182 long enough to photograph their set. "Feeling This," their opener, was an energetic start that delighted the crowd; I also heard "What's my Age Again" and "The Rock Show," both of which reminded me of Blink's glory days. The band performed a few new songs--as for how much of the set were classics, I'm not sure.

I left after the fourth song or so to book it to Against Me!'s after show--which was most excellent.

Against Me! played an hour and fifteen minute set at the Cobra Lounge and performed a few new songs, including "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" and "True Trans Soul Rebel." The band played a few old songs, including a more refined version of "Walking is Still Honest" and "Sink Florida Sink," which made for a great way to close out the band's first set.

Back at Riot Fest, Blink-182 fans kind of put a damper on things. This was most noticeable during FLAG's set, as moody teenagers complained about the seminal punk band--which is a shame, because most of these folks could have probably spent their time better watching Rancid or Taking Back Sunday.

Public Enemy was a highlight of Saturday's set. Flavor Flav was entertaining to watch, as he dedicated the group's performance to Trayvon Martin and had the crowd at his mercy by having fans parrot back his name and a few yeah-boys. Public Enemy performed most of its hits, including energetic renditions of "Bring the Noise" and "Fight The Power."

The Violent Femmes were arguably the best band to play Saturday. The lyrics of "Good Feeling" sums it up pretty well--the band opened with "Blister in the Sun," and fans didn't just clap, they sang harmonies. The band performed its self-titled album in full, prompting fans to do silly, exaggerated dances to songs like "Please Do Not Go."

They also added a few extra songs, squeezing "I Held Her in my Arms," "Black Girls," and "American Music" into the end of the set.

The Blondie/Lawrence Arms conflict was a tough call for me personally, but I checked out both sets. Debbie Harry took the stage in a witch outfit and showed some sass during opening song "One Way Or Another." The band still sounds great--hopefully they'll make their way back to Phoenix soon and won't cancel their show.

On the Rise Stage, Lawrence Arms bassist Brendan Kelly marveled at the size of the crowd and spotted two people wearing horse masks. Laughing, he said they should have sex with each other. The band mixed up its set from Friday's after show, adding songs like "Necrotism," "Recovering the Opposable Thumb," and "Lose Your Illusion" in an Oh Calcutta-heavy set.

Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Chicago Riot Fest, Day Two Personal Bias: I nicknamed The Lawrence Arms/Blondie conflict Sophie's Choice. Overheard in the Crowd: "I want to get a flask with a wizard on it so I can call it J. Flascis." Also worth mentioning: Guided by Voices and Glassjaw both put on great sets.

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Melissa Fossum
Contact: Melissa Fossum