Riot Fest 2005 day one

Riot Fest 2005 day one

Friday was the start of the two-day Riot Fest here in Chicago. For those unaware, it was a two day huge punk “festival” at the Congress Theatre. There were more bands on the bill than I could keep track of and a lot of big name punk bands from the old days in some form or another, many times missing rather key members thanks to them either quitting, not being interested, or dying. While my opinions of bands without their original lead singers isn’t a secret, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the whole thing and in one case (on the second night), it was a chance to be in the same room as some of my biggest punk rock heroes of all time.

The Unmutuals
The Unmutuals

There was more bands on the bill than I cared to sit through, and since I hadn’t heard of most of the opening bands, I opted to show up close to the time of the bands I wanted to see, which also coincided with Senor Citizen’s work schedule. I took the train down to the city to meet up with Senor Citizen at his office. It was a pretty good walk from Union Station to where his office was, but the weather was beautiful and it made for a nice walk. We hopped the el and got to the club. After giving our names at the door and getting our credentials, we walked in only for me to be accosted by security. It turned out the chain on my wallet was somehow deemed a deadly weapon, or a national hazard and they told me I couldn’t bring it in. After trying to explain to them that I’d be happy to put it in my backpack with my camera and not wear it, they still wouldn’t let me in with it even after telling them that if they saw me wearing it after I walked in, they are free to kick me out. They made me put it in a box where I figured some little kid was gonna claim it as his after the show and it would be lost forever. That chain was purchased in CA 10 years ago and has been with me ever since, I was pretty attached to it. I relented, gave them the chain and went inside pissed off that a guy with a “Staff” pass couldn’t have been given an exception, especially when he is old and not some kid. Ah well.

The Unmutuals
The Unmutuals

When we got there, The Unmutuals were playing. I don’t know a thing about them, and to be honest, I started drinking right away and I don’t really remember much of what they sounded like. I snapped a few pix then head out to the lobby area to talk to some people that Senor and I knew. They weren’t bad, but the problem is since I had never heard of them and there was so many distractions, it was hard to give anyone a fair chance if I had no personal attachment to the band already.

Street Brats
Street Brats

Street Brats
Street Brats

Next up were the Street Brats and the kids really seemed to be digging their style of melodic street punk. They really had that vibe of being showmen up on stage. They were alright but once they started doing some cover songs we headed back out for more hanging out with various friends in attendance and met some fine new folks too. The older people in the crowd were all cool and there was a good vibe amongst them, the younger kids were a mixed bag, some cool, some just assholes. There was some kid who kept plowing into people as he was walking toward the pit. It was just fucking rude and had I gotten a good look at him to be able to pick him out of the pit, I would have smacked some sense into the little shit. I guess he figured (along with some other clueless shits) that since they are at the big punk show, they need to be hard asses. They just came off as stupid and annoying. I’m telling you, they really ought to teach a class of punk rock show ethics to these kids as they haven’t a clue, along with Slam Dancing 101, where you learn the fundamentals of the circle pit and the counter-clockwise circle and how it is not a game of bumper cars! If you are under 30, it should be a law that you at least watch the slam dancing segment in Another State of Mind to at least get some idea of how its supposed to work and how not to piss off the people around you.

angry samoans
Angry Samoans

angry samoans
Angry Samoans

angry samoans
Angry Samoans

angry samoans
Angry Samoans

After the Street Brats came the Angry Samoans. Metal Mike and their drummer, Bill, were the only original members. They blasted through pretty much every song you can think of along with covers of The Subhumans’, “Slave to My Dick” and AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell”. They put on a good show and I have to say hearing “Hot Cars” and “Inside My Brain” was a real treat. At one point, Metal Mike switched to drums and the drummer started singing, only to switch back a couple songs later mid-song without missing a beat.

Lawrence Arms
Lawrence Arms

Lawrence Arms
Lawrence Arms

In what I deemed the first of many questionable booking decisions, The Lawrence Arms played next. Why they would play after a classic old band like Angry Samoans is a mystery that was pondered by many in the crowd, or at least those that were older punks. Sure, the Angry Samoans aren’t on the same level as Dead Kennedys in the way of drawing power or record sales, but they are still a band that was admired and known by many. The Lawrence Arms didn’t do much for me really, but they were decent enough and they did seem to have their share of fans in the audience.

The Dickies
The Dickies

The Dickies
The Dickies

The Dickies
The Dickies

The Dickies
The Dickies

Next up were really the band I was most looking forward to, The Dickies. The Dickies never fail to deliver the goods live, even after all these years. Every time I have seen them, they kicked ass and left me smiling and this was no different. They played all the hits and a recent song or two, all played to precision. Leonard had the staple stage-props with him and when they were done, we all wanted more. Some of the aforementioned “tough kids” didn’t seem to realize the comedy on stage when Stan and Leonard were ripping on each other for voting for Bush. It was obvious to anyone with two brain cells that they were trying to be funny (and were) but it seemed lost on those morons. Leonard’s comments on how Fat Mike is his boss and lamenting on just how the hell that can happen (“oh I remember now, Heroin” was his statement) was funny but also a little sad since it is true. The band easily stole the show, they were the best band of the night by far.

Suicide machines
Suicide Machines

Suicide Machines
Suicide Machines

In the second questionable booking decision, Suicide Machines followed The Dickies much to the dismay of a lot of the older folks in the crowd. Maybe its just me but it seems like it would have been a no-brainer to have The Dickies play before the headliner but someone had other ideas I guess. They played one song and then had equipment problems that robbed them of most of their set. When they finally got it straightened out, they got to play a couple more songs and then they were out of time. This did end up making for a nice intermission of sorts that gave me ample opportunity to grab a snack and a drink and chat with some folks. One of the folks we met was a woman who was their with her daughter and she was shilling some website that she was into that had something to do with being against Scientology. I didn’t quite get what she was saying half the time but if is exposing just how ridiculous that cult started by the science fiction writer is, I’m all for it and I’ll be happy to post the picture of her and Senor Citizen as she sported the bumper sticker on her ass…

Senor Citizen and the sticker ass lady
Down with Scientology!

I may not have understood everything she was trying to tell me, but she seemed like a cool lady and the fact she was there because she took her daughter to the big punk show scores points in my book.

Dead Kennedys
Dead Kennedys

Dead Kennedys
Dead Kennedys

Dead Kennedys
Dead Kennedys

This only left the Dead Kennedys. As I was sitting in front of the barricade preparing my camera to shoot photos, some kid hopped over the barrier and climbed on stage. He walked up to the mic and started shouting into it things like “the DK’s aren’t shit without Jello, fuck these guys, they suck, they are bullshit, etc.” None of the security guards were paying attention since the band was still setting up. The kid got about 2 full minutes of mic time before someone finally escorted him out. I guess they must have been preoccupied talking about how many wallet chains they confiscated to not have noticed a mohawk-clad kid climbing over a barricade and onto the stage.

Dead Kennedys
Dead Kennedys

Dead Kennedys
Dead Kennedys

The Dead Kennedys finally started their set with their new (and third) lead singer. For the first couple of songs, some people in the crowd were booing and throwing full beers at them. Those beers were like five bucks each, so they must have been really pissed off to be pretty much throwing five dollar bills at the band! I was getting showered by the flying beers passing over my head. The band played on and made some comments between songs that if they didn’t like what they were hearing, they could always leave. They must have taken their advice since the beer showers stopped after another song.

Dead Kennedys
Dead Kennedys

Dead Kennedys
Dead Kennedys

The band played all the songs you’d expect and want to hear. Musically they were as tight and as good as they ever were back in their heyday. The one downside for me and others that I spoke to was their new singer didn’t have the “it factor” or the charisma to really pull it of. It wasn’t that the guy sucked, he did a decent job and those are really some tough shoes to fill, but there was something about him that didn’t grab me. I never saw the DK’s with Brandon Cruz singing so I don’t know first hand how that came across, but Senor Citizen swears that they were a lot better and Brandon had that missing charisma that this fellow didn’t. I enjoyed hearing the songs regardless, even though it just didn’t feel the same. The crowd warmed up to them after a few songs too and I saw the kids climbing all over each other and going nuts for the big “hits” like Holiday in Cambodia” especially. Once the beers stopped flying and the kids were reacting, the band seemed to be enjoying themselves too. With such an enigmatic original lead singer and such a strong legacy, it can’t be easy for those guys to get up there and have people shouting at you, but those guys didn’t let it phase them and they never lost their cool, they just kept playing their songs and they really did play them well. Its nice to know that some 20 years later, those guys can still go.

Overall the first day of Riot Fest wasn’t bad and was a pretty fun way to spend the evening. Meeting people and seeing some old timers and scenesters was every bit as fun an entertaining as the bands on stage (sometimes more) and overall there was a pretty fun atmosphere there. The show wasn’t without its problems and overbearing security, maybe if they hope to do this every year they can learn from the mistakes of this one and it will make for a better show next year. I was surprised by the low turnout. The Congress Theatre is a really big place, but I would have thought the big name old time bands would have been a much bigger draw than what was there. I don’t know if it was lack of promotion, the price tag, or what?

Shortly before the DK’s were finished playing, I went back to the security area where they took my wallet chain and I asked the guy manning it if he would let me get it now so I can get it back before some kid takes it. He obliged, probably thinking that I was leaving, and I put it in my bag and went back in to catch the rest of the DK’s set. After the show was over, the Senor and I stopped by Liar’s Club to say hi to Mike and Herb from Rights of the Accused and then head home as we had a second day ahead of us…

To be continued!

Lots more pictures after the jump!

Dead Kennedys
Dead Kennedys

Dead Kennedys
Dead Kennedys

Dead Kennedys
Dead Kennedys

Dead Kennedys
Dead Kennedys

Dead Kennedys
Dead Kennedys

The Dickies
Dead Kennedys

The Dickies
The Dickies

The Dickies
The Dickies

The Dickies
The Dickies

The Dickies
The Dickies

The Dickies
The Dickies

The Dickies
The Dickies

angry samoans
Angry Samoans

angry samoans
Angry Samoans

angry samoans
Angry Samoans

angry samoans
Angry Samoans

angry samoans
Angry Samoans

Even more pictures will be on the Spontaneous Combustion site in the near future.






10 comments

  • Holy crap, I’ve talked to that Scientology lady before too! She was at a show I went to in April and introduced herself to my friends and I, said she was there because her daughter wanted to come, asked us what school we went to, then went on a 30 minute anti-scientology rant!

    I felt the same way you did about the Dead Kennedys. Though I missed the first four or five songs because I was outside buying those really cheap records, I did catch most of the their set. They weren’t bad, but you pretty much summed it up. It just can’t really compare.

    So you didn’t hear the Street Brats bitcher “Surrendor” or play “Stand By Me” and consequently cut into the Angry Samoans time slot? Ugh, they were one of the worst bands I’ve ever seen. And unfortunatly I’m going to have to see them again on Tuesday night with the Briefs.

    Can’t wait for the pictures and report from day 2. PS – I think that’s me in the Suicide Machines show right next to Jay’s head.

  • Man you are so right about the fucking kids in the pit these days. My gf and I went and saw Jello with The Melvins the other night and it was all flying elbows and knees. These people have no idea there are other human beings around them, and in many cases seem to be actively into the idea of slugging someone. I’m a big fan of you’re idea of making these little shits watch Another State Of Mind. In general I like all ages shows a lot more than 21+ because the kids have a lot of fun instead of just standing there looking cool and not trying to spill their beers, but in this case I could have done without it.

    If Jello and The Melvins come back to Chicago, you should definitely go. It was a real thrill seeing him onstage doing his thing (esp since I never got to see the DKs back in the day), and they ripped through five or six DK classics that fucking smoked. I havent seen and won’t go see the new “Dead Kennedys” but I can’t help but feel this was closer to the real thing than what you saw. Glad it wasn’t awful though. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on “The Germs” and “The Misfits”

  • Last night (10/8) I went to see The Briefs at The Studio, and between bands my wife and I were standing outside. This grungy, punky kid came up and started talking to us, and it wasn’t long before talk turned to Riot Fest. He said he had been there Friday night, but he got kicked out because while the Dead Kennedys were setting up, he had jumped on stage and saying that they sucked on the microphone. I said, “oh my god, I read about that on the Internet,” referring, of course, to this blog. It was pretty funny that I just happened to meet the kid a few nights later.

    When the Briefs finally played, I saw him get kicked out of The Studio. Twice. Don’t know why, though.

    As for your apologies to MOTO and Hotlips for getting to Day Two late, don’t sweat it. I’m the bassist of MOTO, and it was a long fucking day and I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to get there that early. Most of the local bands who played that afternoon were total garbage.

  • Lisa, you can shove your ‘sad’ comment up your arse lady, these guys rock my world ……..
    from another Lisa across the pond : )

  • You got better pics than I did that was an awesome show but my friends were to pussy to into the mosh pit so I had to go a lone

  • Fuck you assholes kissing all over mister “fuck rockstars but when I become one I’ll sue you” Jello old pussy man Biafra’s cock. That guy stopped being punk the day he quit the DK’s. They are the real shit. D.H. Peligro shit’s turds cooler than Jello. You fucking posers go enjoy the cum you suck from that rockstars cock ’cause I don’t want you at my shows.

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