Concert Review: Riot Fest 2014 (Saturday, September 13 - Paul Weller, Metric, The Flaming Lips, The National, Samhain, Wu-Tang Clan and more)

Concert Review: Riot Fest 2014 (Saturday, September 13 - Paul Weller, Metric, The Flaming Lips, The National, Samhain, Wu-Tang Clan and more)

The sun returned to Humboldt Park Saturday afternoon but muddy conditions continued during sets by Face to Face, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Paul Weller, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Wu-Tang Clan, Metric, The Flaming Lips, The National, Samhain and more on day two at Riot Fest Chicago 2014... 

Conditions were starting to dry out a bit Saturday afternoon in Humboldt Park but temperatures remained cool and mud was nevertheless still an issue on day two of Riot Fest.

Where Friday's schedule was permeated by metal with performances by Mastodon and Slayer, Saturday's leaned decidedly toward punk with several nineties acts capitalizing on nostalgia to varying degrees of success.

Face to Face vocalist Trever Keith made frequent sport of those enjoying the VIP section Saturday afternoon and couldn't seem to comprehend the level of difficulty that comes with the task of moshing in ankle deep mud as he repeatedly begged for a circle pit.

The band's set was polished and entertaining but fairly unenergetic.  Heavy on tracks from their excellent, self-titled 1996 effort - "Blind," "I Won't Lie Down," and "Walk the Walk" amongst them - "Disconnected" got perhaps the best crowd reaction before the band ultimately closed with "A-OK."

Proving that it's possible to capitalize on nostalgia amidst the festival circuit but still sound vital, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones put forth one of the best sets that I've seen so far this weekend.  Vocalist Dicky Barrett remains at the top of his game and the nine members present Saturday afternoon were the epitome of a well-oiled-machine culling from virtually every era of their nearly twenty-five year career.

The hits were present - "The Rascal King" came early, "The Impression That I Get" closed and "Someday I Suppose" landed abouts the middle - but it was some of the deeper cuts that highlighted the show.  "They Will Need Music" from the most recent Bosstones effort The Magic of Youth in 2011 shifted effortlessly from brass to ska and proved a triumphant celebration of the power of song.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones live at Riot Fest 2014 Chicago - Photo by Jim Ryan

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones live at Riot Fest 2014 Chicago - Photo by Jim Ryan

Covers are often king in the festival circuit and no band is better suited to provide them than Me First and The Gimme Gimmes.  Combining the Ramones with the Beach Boys on "Sloop John B," the band got their afternoon started with a punk rock take on Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive."

Taking things down a notch, Paul Weller allowed his five piece backing band to stretch out on a setlist that hit on everything from The Jam to The Style Council and seemingly everywhere in between.  Solo tracks like "Come On/Let's Go" were performed in a bit of a laid back manner that valued the song itself over rocking out and multiple percussionists chipped in to lend a vibe to "Sea Spray."  Ultimately, it was "My Ever Changing Moods" by The Style Council and The Jam's "Town Called Malice" that had the crowd moving most.

Wu-Tang Clan performed sans live backing band opting instead to rap over pre-recorded tracks similarly to how they approached their set last summer at North Coast Music Festival.  That said, it's worth noting that the crowd was way, way into the set, particularly the group's nod in the direction of deceased former member Ol' Dirty Bastard with takes on his hits "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" and "Got Your Money."

Metric would've fared better indoors but there's no denying the vocal prowess and immense stage presence of frontwoman Emily Haines. Ubiquitous summer hits like "Help I'm Alive" brought the new wave influenced rock while "Gold Guns Girls" kicked things up a notch in terms of guitar.  Haines managed to slide in a few bars of Whitney Houston's "So Emotional" before thanking the crowd and exiting stage right.

And that's when things started to get weird.  Don't get me wrong, things always manage to get weird at a Flaming Lips show - there were people onstage dressed as mushrooms and rainbows - but an unexpected power outage midway through the band's first song, "The Abandoned Hospital Ship" really upped the ante... For the simple reason that with The Flaming Lips you never really know if something like that is a scripted part of the show - performance art at it's finest - or an actual random mishap.  That said, fronting a new stage set that's focused more on insane visuals via a unique set of video screens, it's easy to see how they could've literally blown out the power.

Once crews finally got power restored, frontman Wayne Coyne made his way to the mic: "Hello, Chicago!" he said sarcastically.  "I knew it'd work out."  From there, the band moved into the psychedelic pop of 2002's "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Part 1" but already about a half hour into their set following only their second song, it was anyone's guess how the rest of their evening would progress.  Deliberately performed in a paced manner as always - and with The National set to start on the adjacent stage - it was looking like there was no way the band could actually squeeze in their entire show.

But The National came to the rescue... by having apparently not arrived to the venue on time.  Supposedly stuck in traffic somewhere on I-57, The Flaming Lips seemed more than happy to make up for lost time in their absence with a crazy rendition of "Look... The Sun is Rising" a highlight before a cover of The Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" ultimately closed a confetti covered performance.

Glenn Danzig closed up Saturday evening celebrating Halloween alongside his post Misfits project Samhain on the Rebel Stage.

The Cure, Weezer, Cheap Trick, Social Distortion and more perform on Sunday.

(Click HERE for a recap of day one at Riot Fest Chicago 2014 featuring a Henry Rollins moderated panel discussion with members of Pussy Riot and performances by Jane's Addiction, The Offspring, Slayer and more)

- Jim Ryan (@RadioJimRyan)

Never miss a story or interview!  Simply enter your email address and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Leave a comment