Another Riot Fest has come and gone. This year’s festivities built upon the fest’s punk/metal heart by boasting an eclectic array of sounds – folk, synth-pop, cabaret – all of which were firmly rooted in rebellion.
With out a doubt, Ani DiFranco put on one of the best sets of the fest performing to a packed audience on the Rise Stage on Friday. She included fan favorites like “Little Plastic Castle,” “Untouchable Face,” and “32 Flavors” into the show, but some of the most special moments came when revisiting rarities.
“This album is 25 years old and so am I, which is the crazy thing,” said DiFranco with a laugh introducing “Pixie” from the 1998 album, Little Plastic Castle. “Here’s a song from that record that I have not played in 25 years so, I don’t know? What’s it gonna be? It might be what you want to hear. It might not. Here’s hoping.”
From the sounds of fans singing along, it was exactly what they wanted to hear.
Elsewhere on Friday, Olivia Jean, The Breeders, and the always stellar ska punk superstars The Interrupters warmed up the Riot Stage before the Foo Fighters’ headlining show. To close out the Rise Stage, Tegan and Sara shared a career-spanning setlist featuring “Where Does the Good Go,” “Back in Your Head,” “Closer” and more. As always, the sisters created an intimate vibe by sharing stories and joking with fans between songs.
“I wrote this song and it’s called ‘Smoking Weed Alone’ but I don’t smoke weed. I used to when I was a teenager, but as an adult I prefer an organic wine. But, I did try smoking weed on Sara and I’s 40th birthday and I spent the entire time after that repeating the same stories over and over again and then I got the spins and went to bed. So, that was it for me and pot,” Tegan said before dedicating the Crybaby stand-out to fans who were smoking in the crowd.
Saturday began with Pool Kids kicking things off on the Riot Stage with a fun-filled afternoon performance ahead of co-headlining sets from Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service, featuring Rebellious Magazine favorite, Jenny Lewis. Warpaint, Jehnny Beth, and 100 Gecs – who performed to a huge Radical Stage audience full of super-fans – added to the Saturday fun.
On the third and final day of Riot Fest, weather caused gates to be delayed two hours forcing performances by Just Mustard, Hotline TNT, Smoking Popes, and others to be cancelled. When things opened back up, there was a feeling of gratitude in the air as the clouds moved away making way for a beautiful day. The Dresden Dolls – Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione – shared their appreciation for their fans throughout their set, which was directly before a headlining performance from The Cure and featured fun covers of The Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.”
“We’re so, so, so fucking happy to be here. Thank you so much! We’re so grateful to be playing music for all of you. This is a drinking song,” said Palmer introducing “My Alcoholic Friends.”
Cults, Jehnny Beth, and Aquadolls were further highlights of the weekend.
Check out photos from all three days of Riot Fest – which took place in Chicago’s Douglass Park on Sept. 15-17 – below. More information can be found at Riotfest.org.
(Photos by Laurie Fanelli)