Riot Fest 2021 Day 2: Amigo the Devil, Meg Myers, Radkey, Fishbone, Living Colour, Sublime with Rome, The Smashing Pumpkins + Metro Clip from the JBTV Vault
Photography by Bobby Talamine and Wesley Nott
Writing by Fiza Javid
It smells like Riot Fest season, Chicago, and after missing you at the start of the new decade, this need to rock out boiling inside us has turned all the way up to 11.
We first caught Amigo the Devil, later at the press area, but first on stage. Seeing a Amigo the Devil himself, with a name like that, as I am completely new to his music, I expected an all out metal band. I was pleasantly surprised to find the man wielding his acoustic guitar like a sword, doing a Jimmy Buffet cover of "Pina Coladas" and still very metal titles to original songs like "Another Man's Grave" and "I Hope Your Husband Dies"
This perspective is what makes Amigo the Devil truly the most original artist of today's rock age thus far. He is defying all expectations on the polished acoustic guitar player and the sound expected from a title like "I Hope Your Husband Dies". The crowds heads were swaying back and forth in peace. He truly is a comical, self proclaimed "fat Dave Grohl" with the accent and all to follow, but honestly Amigo, you don't need to be in Grohl's shadow, you are a dark-minded force of your own.
The funniest moment is that he momentarily tried to have a heavy rock riff, halted it, and said "Eh.....we can try things, right?"
Keep experimenting, we loved you.
It's impossible for me to describe Meg Myers without noting that I was speechless too.
JBTV alumni Meg Myers came out with a Wonder Woman style backdrop, a hypnotic one piece, braids and a ukulele. The ukulele matched her outfit, and I must say, I have never seen any performer make any song with a ukulele sound so piercing. Her vocals are so ephemeral and hypnotic. It borders on erotic, but settles on melancholic. I have dug everywhere for the song she opened with, and I cannot find it anywhere. However, the lyrics will stay with me for eternity, and its rare an artist can invoke that kind of encoded memory into a fan unless they have one in a million talent...and she did that with a ukulele and a mic!
The lyrics were "I'm sensitive, I'm double-edged. Feeling more than I intend....See your spirit set me free" if anyone wants to comment below and help me figure it out. Meg also gave major Alanis Morissette vibes with her vocals, but honestly this song gives Alanis a run for her money (I love you too Alanis). She also did her hit song "Sorry" which beautifully echoed throughout the festival.
JBTV Alumni Radkey opened with "Evil Doer" and their solos and rock energy is exactly what Riot Fest fans needed. This is their second Riot Fest, and hearing them do "Dark Black Makeup" and "Underground" was such a thrill.
I had the pleasure to meet them in the press area, and they are truly wholesome, but don't let their kindness fool you into thinking they can't go all out on stage. The crowd gave them the love back and I wanted so badly to stage dive to their closing song "Romance Dawn."
Went off to Fishbone, where the rest of the day felt like major throwbacks.
While we all baked in the sun. Chicago being this hot in September is a pleasant surprise, minus the impending climate crisis of course. Fishbone started a little late, but they are groovy, energetic and timeless band that time doesn't even matter. They could have played the rest of the day and I would have been delighted. They played through "“The Reality Of My Surroundings” to commemorate its 30th anniversary, and I could not believe the reality of my surrounding this impeccable moment. From the horns to the drums and the guitar, where do we begin? The costumes? I realized that with music like theirs, they invented a time machine. They threw us right back into the 80s.
On the way to Living Colour I caught Pinegrove, who was in the middle of mentioning Democratic Socialism, with a relaxing voice midst all the chaos. He was singing "Orange" and beyond their liberal socialist views, which the band does not shy away from expressing, I appreciated this meditative musicianship coupled with the free speech. Whether you agree with them or not, they are good.
Next up was Living Colour. They got right into it as they shouted "CHICAGOLAND!"
The crowd adored them, particularly when they performed "Type Lyrics." From "Cult of Personality" to "Ignorance is Bliss" coupled with the neon suit, it was a pure show. Feeling the riffs reverberate through the crowd was pure rock therapy, making me think they should change their names from living colour to living sound.Cult of personality . Living colour, they are "The best in the world"
During their performance I had the chance to catch up with Matthew Churney, a notorious Chicago fan known for his dance moves in the crowd, his shoulder and knee pads, and his message. This man has been a professional fan for decades and you will find him dancing everywhere. He is proof that even fans can make a major statement.
I had a chance to record some of his PSA for the festival-goers.
If you truly want to know what the 90s vibe was all about, you need to know the difference between a "mook" and a "midriff." The "midriff" is the branding style popularized by Britney Spears, to describe the bordering child but sexy character she played on stage, while the "mook" is akin to Chaplin's "tramp," a jobless symbol of trying to get by. What made the "mook" unique was that he was a shrug wearing pot smoker, jobless, on his parent's couch (like Devon Sawa's character in his film Idle Hands), but their trademark was that being "obnoxious" was their brand. Think Blink-182. Heres the catch though...none of these were insults. If you were a 90s kids like me, you embraced both styles.
This was the vibe i was looking for as I came to see Sublime with Rome, and it was exactly what this 90s kids could have hoped for. The crowd sang along to "Smoke Two Joints" to "Pawn Shop," all the way to the radio hits like "Santeria" and "What I've Got."
If you really want to know what made Sublime so special, look no further than the fans. The crowd broke into what I call "mellow mosh pits" created by now stoned adults, and there was even a fan who flew all the way from Chile for this momentous occasion. He pulled out a permanent marker and gave all the audience members surrounding him a temporary tattoo, including myself.
My favorite line from Rome Ramirez was "Let's listen to stupid live music together," while original member Eric Wilson said, "It's not stupid it's political." This is a fact that tends to go over everyone's heads due to their "get high" vibes" but the song "April 29, 1992" is precisely what Riot Fest needed to reflect on. The song refers to the date of the Los Angeles Riots, and the comments for the song on YouTube during the George Floyd Protests were "who is here after hitting the streets." This song has become a historical time piece and people rarely know it!
That wasn't the craziest party...there were 10 year olds crowdsurfing, and Rome had to stop and say "Protect the children over there! You guys are the best."
Motion City Soundtrack "My Favorite Accident" and a crowd favorite "Everything is Alright," but they were more than alright! The sea of crowd surfing coupled with their cult following, they have continued to stand the test of time. They also performed with Radkey at Concord Music Hall. They ended their set with "The Future Freaks Me Out" and who could blame them. While the future seems freaky right now, they know how to make it exactly the opposite of that. They are truly a group of gems.
Notable mentioned are definitely JBTV alumni Lawrence Arms and Coheed & Cambria. During Coheed and Cambria's set it started pouring rain, and lightning was striking all around the festival. It was almost as though they rocked so hard that the devil was being summoned. The lightning only added to their incredible showmanship.
Still, the night belonged to JBTV Alumni The Smashing Pumpkins.
From an Orchestral open, Billy Corgan, who owns Chicago music fans hearts, at this point, came out like Emperor Palpatine, if Palpatine owned a tea shop and drew hearts on his face. They have come a long way since their 90s JBTV Metro performance during Siamese Dream, with "The Colour of Love," "Tonight, Tonight," "Today," "Eye" with Meg Myers, "1979," a live debut of "Ramona", what a spectacular show for them at home.
Billy Corgan is legendary for Chicago and considering all the incredible 90s artists who have passed on, seeing him on stage is a remarkable relief for rock music. No matter the opinions that exist, The Smashing Pumpkins always know how to put on a show. Fans from the audience flew in from Portland, Oregon, among other places around the country for this very moment, and JBTV couldn't be more proud of you guys.
I'll close this blog up with a clip from our 90s Metro show of The Smashing Pumpkins.
Until tomorrow, keep on rockin'!
Fiza Javid - JBTV Music Television