Riot Fest 2021 Day 3: Run the Jewels, Joywave, Vic Mensa, Rise Against, Gogol Bordello, and Dropkick Murphys
Photography by Bobby Talamine and Wesley Nott
Writing by Fiza Javid
Oh the joy of roaming the grounds, surrounded by walking human billboards for rock bands. What a great way to discover music.
Riot Fest entered Saturday and slipped into a pure Rage Fest, filled with star-studded performances from an incredible array of genres within the rock and rap atmosphere. The exploration of European influence brought out the ethnic roots in everyone, and I've never seen more shirt waving and "titanic dance scene" stomping in my life.
The glory it be to the people and me.
The day didn't start off that way. Before the drunken shenanigans of Gogol Bordello, Joywave hit the stage with a setlist of indie vibes, and they never disappoint. They opened with "Obsession" and "It's a Trip!" but I have to say the "Dangerous" cover by JBTV Alumni Big Data was also a real treat. Daniel Armbruster is so naturally cool, and even if they played a five hour set, it would be a wave of joy. They ended with "Destruction" and they truly live up to their name.
Les SavyFav truly took it up a notch and became a major Les Crowdfav. Tim Harrington stripped down to his skivvies from his Chicago shirt, holding a small bouquet of colorful fake flowers, covered in glitter and wearing a headband....the showmanship was off the charts. His song "The Sweat Descends" became figurative and literal in this moment.
It was one of those moments when all you can do is stare and revel in the experience that is being created, and the way Tim interacted with the audience definitely differed from the common "play through our songs and leave" perspective typically carried by rock bands. This band borders on Tenacious D theatrics, but the Art Punk sound adds an element never before felt before.
While yesterday's review covered nostalgia, by no means should we ever wish to truly enter a time machine and experience music back then. During the 90s, Chicago was notorious for having weed legalization protests at music festivals, so to see the first Riot Fest where crowds can enjoy the sale of THC gummies, I was amazed. This got me reflecting on the shifting atmosphere of the crowd, which was more laid back and enjoying the music, rather than having an all out mosh pit every chance they got.
It would be great to see a study on how the sale of THC has affected the entire vibe of the crowd. Still, even for a rock festival, it was nice to see everyone so mellowed out with big smiles on their face.
JBTV had a photo session with Ganser and Vic Mensa in the press area, and it was great to catch their music along with these moments. Both being excellent examples of Chicago artistry and the diverse range of music from this city, Ganser's post-punk vibes to Vic Mensa's spoken word rap style, it communicates so much about the perspectives that Chicago has to offer. Ganser did songs like "Avoidance" and "Marsh" and they were solid.
I had not seen Vic Mensa perform since he began in 2009 with Kids These Days, and he continues to do big things these days.
Back then, his bandmate Lane Beckstrom was in my Guitar class at Lane Tech, and we couldn't have been more proud to see Lane on Conan with Vic. I would see pictures of Vic everywhere back them with a ton of my classmates on MySpace and Facebook, and no one knew what the future would bring.
His former bandmates formed Marrow. Vic went on to work with Kanye West and Chance the Rapper, making a name in the Chicago scene.
These were my late high-school, early college days, where Kid's These Days performed at UIC's Spark in the Park Fest in 2012, and since it had been so long and I did not give myself a chance to listen to his music, I was worried fame might have made him lose his touch. I must say, I was floored. He is far from out of touch, and that is precisely why he is still in style. His spoken word, his message, his charisma, and his vocal performance as a rapper hasn't aged a day. In fact it's gotten significantly better. Even with all the success I think he's vastly underrated.
I adore Kanye west, appreciate Drake and also Chance the Rapper (particularly because Taylor Bennet is a 6x JBTV Alumni), but Vic? While he's a Chicago staple, and the crowd showed out, his success is only getting started. He performed at Lollapalooza recently with JBTV alumni Grandson for the Suicide Squad soundtrack, and his career is only going to go up. His songs "U Mad" to his 93Punx song "Fistfight!" he is not only a renegade rapper but a renegade punk rocker. I am a hands down fan now and for good.
It was impossible to cover everyone, but more notable mentions were Rise Against, who put on a spectacular show with all their hits. They performed on a set of box TVs and rocked out. This also includes Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Rancid, The Bollweavies, and Mayday Parade.
Gogol Bordello's set always wreaks of alcoholism, and that's the point. His Gypsy-Romani influence is an absolute hoot and a holler. With the intensive violin solos, dynamic range of instruments and musicianship. The crowd was drunk and happy to "Alcohol" and "Start Wearing Purple."
By all the crazy lines for food, Mayday Parade who quickly got drowned out by Rise against, and it was a terrible idea to make them go on at the same time.
Dropkick Murphys was absolutely groundbreaking. They With their openers "The State of Massachussetts" to "Worker's Song" and their smash hit "I'm Shipping Up to Boston", it is enough to make the entire audience want to embrace Celtic music for a lifetime. Throughout their set they had beautiful backdrops of lyrics along with landscapes of Ireland, and it was a traveling music lover's dream. They make you want to head off to Temple Bar in Dublin for a pint, smash the glass and start dancing.
Run the Jewels ran the entire night. EI-P and Killer Mike commanded the stage like legends, through their tracks "Legend Has It" to "Stay Gold" they echoed through the crowd with their glorious light backdrop, the finger-gun and fist floating set pieces, couples with the experience of their music, it was pure ecstasy.
Their beats were in tact, and they closed their set with "Lie, Cheat, Steal" and "Close Your Eyes" before coming out for an encore, which was the biggest treat. "Pulling the Pin" and "Run the Jewels" definitely made me wishing they could have stayed much longer, because they made it an absolute blast.
Until tomorrow - Fiza Javid - JBTV Music Television