I’ve gone back and forth between the daily schedules and Riot Fest map, trying to figure out a strategy for the weekend. If you’re looking for me at the show, my path will likely look like this:
1:30 – Blood People (Rebel Stage)
Riot Fest has a knack for identifying Chicago bands on the verge and giving them time in the spotlight. I’ve been in love with this band for a while, and as the second band to take the stage for the entire weekend, I expect Blood People to turn some heads.
2:10 – Liz Phair (Roots Stage)
I expected her performance to fall somewhere in the 4pm range, so this was a surprise. Her pop experiments fell flat, but none of that could undo the legacy of her enduring indie rock masterpiece, “Exile In Guyville.” “Stratford-on-Guy,” “Divorce Song” and “6’1″” still sound fresh. Beyond that, what’s not to love about “Supernova?”
3:15 – The Aquabats (Rise Stage)
This won’t be the last masked-and-costumed band I throw in with this weekend.
3:40 – Archie Powell & the Exports (Rebel Stage)
Local heroes whose music has all the comfort of a dive bar, to the point where I imagine them all smelling like Hamm’s.
4:30 – Sum 41 (Rise Stage)
Don’t know if I can commit to a full set, but I’d be happy to hear “Still Waiting.”
5:15 – Digable Planets (Radicals Stage)
Digable delivers their breakthrough debut, “Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space).” Miss at your own peril.
7:30 – Face to Face (Rebel Stage)
I’ll always remember Face to Face as of the most gloriously chaotic punk bands I saw play Metro in the 90s. Trever Keith is a frontman’s frontman.
8:15 – Cypress Hill (Radicals Stage)
I love album plays, and Cypress is set to play their landmark “Black Sunday” album. I have a contact high just thinking about the Radicals Stage on Friday.
True to any festival (or Riot Fest), there are schedule conflicts that make me insane. Saturday presents the worst of those issues for me.
12:30 – Beach Bunny (Roots Stage)
Another day, another great Chicago band early in the line-up. I love singer Lili Trifilio’s voice.
1:00 – Total Chaos (Rebel Stage)
Old school, and hardcore AF.
1:55 – The Frights (Roots Stage)
2:30 – Piebald (Radicals Stage)
The reunited Piebald will shoot us right back to the early aughts when they bust out “American Hearts.”
3:35 – Gary Numan (Roots Stage)
I no longer talk to my friend who confused Gary Numan with Randy Newman. I’m enlisting in the Tubeway Army for the full set.
5:00 – Wolfmother (Radicals Stage)
Come for the hair, stay for the Sabbath-style riffery.
6:35 – Elvis Costello & the Imposters (Riot Stage)
Sorry, Killing Joke. Costello is the can’t-miss. If he plays “You Belong to Me” and/or “Tokyo Storm Warning,” I’ll die.
And here’s where it gets tricky for me…
7:30 – GWAR (Rebel Stage)
7:45 – Jerry Lee Lewis (Radicals Stage)
8:00 – The Jesus Lizard (Rise Stage)
So here’s how this plays out: Jerry Lee Lewis is a literal architect of rock and roll, a man whose songs will live forever. Unfortunately, at the age of 82, the grim reality is we may not have many more chances to see The Killer. The Jesus Lizard’s appearance is a rare and wonderful opportunity to see a band I dare say is one of the greatest live acts ever. And GWAR is freaking GWAR. My strategy is to watch the first 10 of GWAR, then head to the nearby Radicals Stage for Jerry Lee. I’m assuming Jerry Lee won’t be delivering a full set, so I’ll make it over to see the Jesus Lizard by 8:15. I really hope the Jesus Lizard doesn’t put “Glamorous” too early in their set.
9:00 – Andrew W.K. (Rebel Stage)
I’ve seen Beck and Andrew W.K. plenty of times, so this was kind of a draw. I’m going with AWK, simply because that seems like the kind of note I’ll want to end the day on.
1:25 – Beach Rats (Rise Stage)
One of the first real signs of driving tempo on Sunday, this sorta-supergroup (ex-Minor Threat, Bad Religion, Lifetime, Bouncing Souls) doesn’t have a lot of recorded music to their credit, but what does exist is a blast.
2:15 – JD McPherson (Roots Stage)
Too bad JD couldn’t play in front of Jerry Lee Lewis the previous night. The rootsy rockabilly star is an ideal choice as the midday sun peaks and water consumption transitions to beer.
3:00 – Spitalfield (Radicals Stage)
15 years after the Chicago band released “Remember Right Now,” they’re going to roll through the whole damn thing in a full album play.
3:50 – Johnny Marr (Roots Stage)
Every year, fans hold out hope that somehow Riot Fest can make a Smiths reunion happen. We got Morrissey. Now we have Marr. The guitarist’s recent “Call the Comet” is at once familiar and worth repeat listens. “Hi Hello” is as good as anything he’s done in recent years.
4:40 – Suicidal Tendencies (Riot Stage)
The self-titled album, in its entirety? Grab a Pepsi and meet me at the Riot Stage.
5:30 – Superchunk (Radicals Stage)
Lots of conflicts in this time slot (Blondie vs. Underoath vs. Superchunk vs. Dillinger Four). Blondie scratches the nostalgia itch, Dillinger Four is a good time, and Underoath’s post-hardcore ratchets the mood up, but I’m going with the always-dependable Superchunk.
6:50 – Alkaline Trio (Riot Stage)
I mean, c’mon.
7:45 – Incubus (Rise Stage)
I’ll watch the first few songs, then…
8:30 – Bad Religion (Radicals Stage)
They’re playing “Suffer,” which is pretty much the type of album Riot Fest was built on.