Words + Photos by Bobby Talamine
From the soggy confines of the Hollywood Casino Ampitheatre in Tinley Park, another edition of the annual 101WKQX PIQNIQ occurred on Saturday, June 15th. The day started with steady rain for all the acts appearing on the second stage, which forced me to miss The Strumbellas, The Glorious Sons, Shaed, and opener Friday Pilots Club.
With nowhere to stay covered for the opening acts, I didn't even attempt to go in the venue to start reviewing and shooting the show. Safe to say, soggy, wet consistent rain and expensive camera gear are not a good combination.
Although, I did venture to the second stage for the headliner Blue October, a cool alternative American rock band from Houston Texas. The band didn’t seem to mind the rain that was now a consistent drizzle, which at least made it tolerable to shoot something from the second stage. Blue October even seemed to enjoy the gloomy weather, playing with excitement and verve to make the performance that more special. Lead singer Justin Furstenfeld is a charismatic performer, and worked the sloppy and wet stage from left to right. not caring about the rain and chilly weather. A nice way to get the 101WKQX PIQNIQ off the ground for me.
By now we had the protection of the pavilion for the main acts, starting with AJR, a band made up of three brothers from Manhattan. The kids sure did like them, knowing the lyrics to every song, with their infectious mix of Indie Pop, a bit of white boy dubstep, and some doo wop. Which when all thrown into the kitchen sink, makes this photographer think of high school glee club, and this is the final assignment of the year.
Harsh as that sounds, the kids dug them (LOTS). Maybe I'm out of the loop or something. Nevertheless, they were quite the performers, and they made most of their 30 minute ish set.
Now we're back to business with heavy guitar and showmanship, with Tom Morello starting his set unannounced from the GA floor pit, enticing the crowd with his riffs of heavy metal / punk hybrid- inspired sounds. Morello relished in his verve for political activism, brandished with his trusty guitar that stated "Arm the Homeless," and wearing a hat that states "MADIBA"- referring to Nelson Mandela.
Outside of Morello's obviously renowned guitar playing, his way of enticing audiences to reach out, rise up, and not take crap from anyone never gets old. An all too brief set, clocking in under 45 minutes, with a surprise appearance from Tim Mcllrath of Rise Against handling some of the vocal duties for the Rage and Audioslave songs. Midway through the set, Morello did his rendition of Springsteen's "Ghost of Tom Joad," making the song more relevant, and downright gloomier than Sprinsgsteen's version. To start the show with audience accompaniment, and end with audience accompaniment from the stage, it just goes to show Tom Morello is a man of the people.
Up next, Catfish and the Bottlemen from Wales, who the day before played at Bonnaroo, and made it in time for PIQNIQ.
They were full on from the first note, with a neon sign all vertical and lit up right behind the boys, a design from their recent album release The Balance, with lead vocalist/ guitarist Van McCann wailing away from the get go, swinging his microphone with stand all over the place, a sweaty mess even after the first song. The boys of Catfish were unrelenting from then on, all downhill song after song, showing once again how badass these guys are, and how cool to say that we at JBTV had them play on our intimate stage back in the day.
A band that's unmistakable in sound and fury and might, and oh so convincing.
The mellower (but still cool) vibes of Irvine California's Young the Giant were next onstage. The crowd at PIQNIQ totally dug their music and moved to the beats provided from these dudes. All over the venue I looked and everyone was dancing and swaying in their seats to Young the Giant, with Sameer Gadhia providing the necessary lead vocals and stage presence needed to elevate and captivate the masses. Young the Giant- a band that commands your attention, commands you to listen. This adage was apparent by the performance the band gave at PIQNIQ.
Now on to the headliner. From Denver Colorado, The Lumineers were dressed like they were right out of a tavern from 1867, with the only thing missing from the set was tumbleweeds.
A very popular band, with a mix of folk rock and Americana that's hard to ignore. Wesley Schultz lead the way with upper register vocals, the occasional foot stomp, and big bodied guitar sounds intact.
Jeremiah Fraites provided the steady backbeat, Lauren Jacobson the violin, Byron Isaacs the vintage/cool bass, and Brandon Miller the guitar/ Mandolin and some percussion. This band truly lives in a bevy of influences that defy their age, and make music that is cinematic in scope, with a soulfulness that comes off sincere and definitely not fake by any measure.
So all n' all, a nice cross section of past and current indie/alternative music to spend a Saturday in Tinley Park.
Until PIQNIQ 2020....