RECAP: 2017 Riot Fest, Day Three
After a stacked Saturday lineup, the final day of Riot Fest in Chicago had a lot of momentum to close out the weekend. Luckily, Sunday’s lineup was also jam packed with great artists, both new and old, and culminated in a Riot Fest moment to remember.
A group of emerging artists made the early sets on Sunday show promise for Riot Fests to come. Rhode Island punks Downtown Boys had a great set that sucked you in if you were wandering around the grounds within earshot. The band’s sound is unique, invoking a saxophone and lyrics in a blend of English and Spanish. It felt very authentically punk, which, even at a punk festival, can feel a bit rare sometimes. Definitely an interesting act to watch for the future.
Another group that captivated early on was Real Friends. The Tinley Park, IL natives had a relatively large hometown crowd to work with, and even without the home field advantage, would have drawn a sizable audience regardless. The band got the crowd moving in the near 90 degree heat with songs off of their latest, “The Home Inside My Head”, and showcased why the album (and the band in general) has been so successful.
Later in the day, it was a strong showing for pop punk veterans Say Anything, who brought out a mix of hits, as well as cuts from their most recent album “I Don’t Think It Is”. The set was bittersweet in a way, as it was announced that the Riot Fest set would be drummer Reed Murray’s last show with the band. That being said, the band gave an emphatic performance to send their drummer out in style.
Shortly after that, one of many huge crowds assembled at the Riot Stage, as The Mighty Mighty Bosstones turned Riot Fest into a huge ska party. It wasn’t necessarily all light hearted fun and games though, as the band put a message to their music. Dicky Barrett addressed the crowd, talking about his lyrics, saying that he didn’t expect the message of his songs to last more than five years, but the same problems still exist today. Their message of treating everyone with respect went over huge with the crowd, just before the band launched into the back half of their set.
Later in the night, attention turned to the Radicals Stage, where the current touring duo of Best Coast and Paramore would play back to back. Things started out with Best Coast, coming out to the tune of Korn’s “Blind”, before playing on frontwoman Bethany Cosentino. Within the course of the hour, Best Coast had fans hooked with their chilled out blend of surf rock and pop. The band served as more than mere openers for Paramore, however, keeping fans bouncing through the more up-tempo numbers in their set and swaying along with singles like “California Nights”.
Paramore, however, chose to keep their hour-long set completely upbeat, even with a record full of lyrics that are to the contrary. The band didn’t waste much time with stage banter, utilizing most of their time on stage to deliver material largely consisting of their latest record, “After Laughter”. While at this point, the band has a large catalog of hits to delve into, the band spent a majority of their set mixing in singles from 2007’s “Riot” with the new record. A fitting anniversary for one record, and the showcase for another. Paramore’s set on Sunday night was nothing short of an hour-long singalong.
The hallmark of the festival, however, was the headlining slot from Jawbreaker, marking the group’s first major performance in over 20 years. The band’s discovery from fans (and many of the bands playing Riot Fest, who filled the sides of the stage) came largely after their initial breakup, so seeing the band live was a must-attend event. The buildup for the reunion show has hinted at more Jawbreaker shows in the future, and hopefully that’s the case, because the 20 year absence didn’t seem to falter the band at all. It was a moment to close out the night, and the festival, on an incredibly high note.