Following an amazing Day 1 of Riot Fest, Day 2 had a very high bar to exceed if it was going to live up to the hype I built up for it. Sure enough, the 12 hours I spent on the Riot Fest grounds this past Saturday consisted of the best highlights of my weekend. Every band I saw on Saturday (Mephiskapheles, X, Glassjaw, The Lawrence Arms, Rancid, and blink-182) were all bands I was seeing live for the first time with the majority of them being very influential on my younger self.
The day began just after noon with Mephiskapheles’ set. As I mentioned in our Riot Fest preview, Mephiskapheles is a third-wave ska band with a Satanist gimmick complete with Satanist iconography and lyrical allusions to demonology. However, whether or not you agree with their gimmick, their catchy third-wave sound can’t be denied. The horn section plays some of the tightest horn lines I’ve heard in ska, a thumping electric upright bass, and vocalist Andre A. Worrell’s gravelly voice carrying over the crowd full of curious onlookers and circles of rude boys and rude girls skanking up a dirt cloud on the Humboldt Park baseball diamond the stage was situated on.
Afterwards, I decided to catch X due to the long downtime in my schedule. To be honest, I don’t know much about X outside of them being a ’77 punk rock band. In a nutshell, 1977 was when the first major wave of punk rock bands began making moves to overtake the music scene. That’s my little history lesson for the day.
Glassjaw was my next stop for the day. The post-hardcore band has always been on my list of bands to check out for the past decade, yet Saturday proved to be my first live experience with the band. As the first note began, the crowd erupted into a frenetic rush of moshing, screaming, and crowd surfing. A funny thing I noticed from vocalist Daryl Palumbo’s performance was how he kept his eyes closed for the bulk of their set.
The Lawrence Arms followed an hour after Glassjaw’s set ended. After years of following the band, it was good to see them live. The Chicago-based band amassed a huge crowd full of late-20s/early-30s punks singing along to every one of Brendan Kelly’s raspy words and Chris McCaughan’s sleepy vocals. While I’m admittedly a bigger fan of The Falcon than The Larry Arms, it was still amazing to sing along to older songs from the band’s catalog alongside the smattering of older and younger punks in the crowd.
I made the long trek between the Rise and Roots stages to make it in time for the influential punk rock band, Rancid. As I had prayed for in our preview, Rancid ended up playing a majority of songs from …And Out Come the Wolves. There were a few snoozers in the set from their post-Life Won’t Wait albums, but hearing “Time Bomb,” “Maxwell Murder,” “Roots Radicals,” “The 11th Hour,” “Journey to the End of the East Bay,” “The War’s End,” “Nihilism,” “Radio,” “Old Friend,” “Olympia, WA,” “Ruby Soho,” “St. Mary,” and even the Matt Freeman-led “Gunshot” was amazing. You could also separate new fans from the old based off of their ability to sing along to the more obscure songs from Let’s Go! Side note: Riot Fest 2013 had the largest volume of Operation Ivy shirts I’ve ever seen in a public space. If only Op Ivy played… There’s always next year. Side note 2: Security eschewed the “3 song” photographer rule, essentially handicapping myself and my fellow photographers from taking more varied photos of the band. Sorry, Lars and Matt, but I had to focus on Tim.
Finally, after 13 years of pining, I saw my junior high and early high school idols, blink-182 live. Just like Rancid’s set, the photo policy was broken as we were only allowed one song to shoot photos of the band. However, that didn’t rain down on the Geoff parade as I was able to carve a spot in the audience alongside Ruby Hornet homie and HOY photographer, Roger Tino Morales, to revel in the experience. While their set favored songs from their newer albums, blink-182 and Neighborhoods, they still played some personal favorites from Dude Ranch and Cheshire Cat, as well as some of the fan staples from Enema of the State and Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. Applause goes out to the 6′ tall kid who stood in the middle of the crowd playing along on his acoustic guitar; that was both the stupidest and more awesome thing I saw that night.
My photos from Riot Fest Day 2 are below. As always, you can see the full set on my Flickr.