Photos by Geoff Henao.
After a long year, Riot Fest finally returned to Humboldt Park last Friday, and with it was an unseasonal chill and rain that attempted to damper the good mood that spread across the crowd. The move to the Northern end of the park was necessary for the festival to grow, adding a couple more stages to the festival grounds. Unfortunately, this also meant trampling through muddier grounds that weren’t covered by baseball field dirt. Nevertheless, the fatigue and callouses that formed on Riot Fest attendees’ feet were more than justified by the amount of talent that performed at the three day event. Here is my recap of Riot Fest 2014: Day 1.
I started Day 1 off by checking out one of my favorite surprise performances from Riot Fest 2013, GWAR. As I mentioned in our “Bands to See” list, GWAR added a new vocalist following Dave Brockie/Oderus Urungus’ death earlier this year. In his place was a platoon of vocalists, including ex-GWAR bassist Mike Bishop. GWAR has quickly become one of my favorite bands to photograph thanks to their elaborate costumes and stage theatrics that include beheading politicians and pop culture icons (Barack Obama was this weekend’s victim) and spraying endless amounts of “blood” on the audience.
Following GWAR’s set, I headed out to the Root Stage to catch Stiff Little Fingers’ set. With my luck, they opened their set with their most popular song, “Suspect Device,” following that up immediately with “Wasted Life.” The crowd mostly consisted of older people, which made sense given the band’s longevity. However, that’s not to say their set was lacking energy; far from it. On a cold September afternoon, Stiff Little Fingers delivered a performance worth braving the mild drizzle for.
Afterwards, I soon made my way out to see NOFX. I’m not the biggest NOFX fan (or of pop-punk, for that matter), but my curiosity and cursory knowledge of the band led me to check them out. The band’s singer and bassist (as well as Fat Wreck Chords founder/owner) Fat Mike is known for his sense of humor and open-mindedness. Sure enough, just as the band was preparing to take the stage, he began to berate and insult Failure, the band playing just before them on the stage directly across the field from them. If you’re a fan of NOFX, especially Punk in Drublic, their Riot Fest set must have been magical for you. For myself, they were just a band to take photos of. Meh.
Unfortunately, I called it a night just after I shot NOFX due to the impending rain and not wanting to risk being sick for the rest of the festival. You can check out my photos of GWAR, Stiff Little Fingers, and NOFX below. We’ll have more from Days 2 and 3 throughout the week!
You can find more of my photos from Riot Fest 2014: Day 1 here.