ATP! Live Review: Riot Fest 2014 - Chicago, IL
They may not exactly be the most prominent band in the mainstream right now, but that isn’t to say they aren’t still relevant. Highly venerated (and talented) frontman Anthony Green proved he’s certainly still got it with a somewhat boisterous (and frankly insane) performance, leaving the audience stunned. The multitude of craziness included (but was not in any way limited to) rubbing a load of mud in members of the crowd’s faces, something which they definitely weren’t complaining about.
We saw these guys way back when, in the quaint little college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan. They set the scene in a tiny little skate shop in the basement, and back then they were so full of their promise, their potential and their personalities. Sadly, their Riot Fest set doesn’t leave much room to reminisce. In a far cry from the energetic endeavor we were once treated to, in this instance, the band unfortunately leave us feeling deflated. We could blame the weather, but we suspect it had more to do with an apathy which seems all too common these days in certain circles, leading to music which can’t necessarily be faulted, but can only really be described as bland. Sorry guys!
‘Riot Fest Speaks’
Okay, okay… this isn’t a band, but level with us. This concept takes on an importance all of its own, and it’s next level stuff like this which really sets this festival apart from its counterparts. Featuring two of the members of the now notorious Pussy Riot (hailing from the orthodox, misogynistic Russian imprisonment that they famously faced) as well as Riot Fest’s founder, and members of both Bad Religion and Rise Against, this panel took the form of a crucial discussion touching on so many different aspects. Those in attendance were reminded of the power of punk, the fortune of their birth in free nations, and of course, the plight of the ostracized. Whilst the acoustics may have been challenging what with the huge turnout and the pouring rain, it was worth every ear strained to hear what they had to say. We can only hope this sets a standard of promoting further protection of women’s and LGBT rights, and of course, equality as a whole.
The Pizza Underground
Throw your expectations about the brainchild of Macaulay Caulkin and his pals out the window because honestly, your preconceptions are never going to live up to whatever the hell it is that they actually are. In a word: HILARIOUS. With one woman’s sole job being "Pizza Box Player," they’re every bit as ‘random’ as they might sound. Song lyrics are unsurprisingly LITERALLY all about pizza (of the cheese and many other varieties, if you’re wondering) and the harmonies (yes, they harmonise) are interspersed by odd little dances and what can only be described as ‘hipsteresque’ monologues. Sure, it may be contrived, but by the time they’re ‘branching out’ to sing about cats, you’ve fallen hook, line and sinker.
These guys may have had little dips over the years in terms of their artistic brilliance, but these moments are nowhere in sight when it comes to tonight’s performance. Admittedly, the crowd isn’t entirely sure how to take them – the somewhat unexpected ramblings of frontman Bert McCracken can almost certainly be attributed as to the reason why – but nevertheless, they still pack an incredibly on-point punch.
Taking Back Sunday
Taking Back Sunday can never be bad, can they? Everyone’s teenage faves returned once more to prove that emo circa 2005 (ish) just really never gets old. By the end of their gloriously long set, there isn’t a single person not singing along with a smile on their face. There are even those with a little tear in their eye. Not us. Honestly! Alright, maybe us. It’s called ‘emotional’ music for a reason.
Finally… finally La Dispute have lived up to our musical hopes and dreams for them. Whilst this may seem a little melodramatic, it’s a statement born out of love. Past encounters just haven’t felt quite on the mark, and yet we’ve always known they were capable of so much more. Perhaps it’s the way that on record, every song speaks to us, literally, weaving it’s own little tale. There’s an audience connection today, however, quite unlike any other - almost like a spell that cannot be broken. Perfection.
Tegan & Sara
Wow, talk about a huge crowd! These two twins achieved quite a feat this sunny Sunday and managed to pack out the entire field relatively early on, getting the dance vibe well and truly going. With their infectious brand of alt-pop resonating all around, the girls powered through an impressive and contagious set - which most definitely justified the high turnout to the max.
New Found Glory
Everyone’s favorite pop-punkers never fail to get people going, and this was Sunday evening was no exception. Whilst the difficult task of choosing someone to watch was perhaps the greatest challenge ever, those who went with New Found Glory pretty much lucked out. Playing a ‘greatest hits’ style set comprising both new and old; they catered to the entire audience in only the best of ways. By the time vocalist Jordan was belting out the old “Though you swear that you are true…” the audience had the whole ‘call and response’ thing down, and as such were able to scream their now well-rehearsed part perfectly.
These guys are classics, and as such, they didn’t disappoint. There’s no question about it – Robert Smith and co. may basically be old as shit these days, but there ain’t many who can bring a better game to the table (so pipe down if you’ve any illusion otherwise). Complete with a ridiculously ridiculous light show, huge crowd of middle aged people peppered with punks, and timeless favorites including "Friday I’m In Love" and "Just Like Heaven," this is a band to tick off everyone’s bucket list, and we’re just glad we did whilst we had the chance.
Words by Claire Louise Sheridan