Riot Fest 2009 Day One

Riot Fest 2009 Day One

Fall in Chicago means two things; winter is coming soon and the return of the annual Riot Fest. The former I loathe while the latter is something I look forward too every year and it is the only thing that takes the sting out summer being over, and my aging yet another year. This year’s Riot Fest is the most ambitious yet, spanning over five days and many venues. The first night started off at a venue that is all too familiar to old time punk rockers, the Metro.


The House that Gloria Vanderbilt


The House that Gloria Vanderbilt


The House that Gloria Vanderbilt

When I got inside The House That Gloria Vanderbilt was nearly done with their set. The first thing I noticed was they had like ten people on stage playing various instruments and since they were set up in front of everyone’s equipment playing after them, they were packed on that stage like sardines. They were an experimental rock band and what little I heard was really interesting and I’d like to check them out again sometime and hopefully catch their entire set.


The Bomb


The Bomb


The Bomb


The Bomb

The Bomb soon followed. For those who aren’t familiar it is the band that Jeff Pezzati has been in since Naked Raygun called it quits and is still in along with the reformed Naked Raygun. They played a half hour or so of crunchy yet melodic punk rock and of the few times I’ve seen them, this was one of their best performances that I’ve witnessed. Their set seemed to fly by and they played some older tunes as well as a couple off their upcoming record on No Idea Records.


Butthole Surfers

Right before the Butthole Surfers were about to take the stage, all the photographers were informed by security that we had to leave the barricade area. I asked why and was told that the Butthole Surfers’ stage manager ordered it. I was pretty upset about this but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at this action from a band who once sued their own friend in order to get their back catalog back in an act of pure greed. So I apologize for the poor photos that I had to shoot from far away.


Butthole Surfers

When the band took the stage, I noticed that this was the classic lineup with two drummers and all original members! I was excited because this could only mean that they’d likely be doing all the great old songs and none of that crap from the 1990s. At least that is what I hoped, and it turns out my hopes came true!


Butthole Surfers

They opened with “Something” from the first EP! They then went into BBQ Pope and from their proceeded to play nearly all the songs you would ever want to hear from their legendary early catalog (I’m talking about from the beginning through all the records they did on Touch and Go). They had films going in the background just like the old days and really the only thing missing was Gibby coming out covered in clothes pins. The playing was pretty spot-on too and songs like “Cherub”, “Cowboy Bob”, “Creep in the Cellar”, and “Tornadoes” brought a huge smile to my face and when they played, “Jimi” a chill down my spine for how intense and creepy it sounded live. The two drummer combo was amazing and powerful and Gibby did all the crazy vocal manipulations you’d expect from that old material they were playing. It was in fact the best Butthole Surfers performance I’ve ever seen (the other two times being 19 and 20 years ago) and the time seemed to fly by in their near 90 minute set!


Butthole Surfers

The only glaring omissions from the set for me was “Comb”, “Moving to Florida”, and “Sweat Loaf”, aside from that I loved nearly every song they played. They only played one post-1990 song which got a big pop from only a small section of the crowd, otherwise everyone seemed to be quite happy with the classic material being presented. They closed the show with “The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey’s Grave” which was one hell of a way to finish.


Butthole Surfers

Riot Fest got off to one hell of a strong start, and it only looks better as the rest of it approaches, stay tuned for coverage from the rest of the shows.






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