Riot Fest 2021 Day 4: The Flaming Lips, Devo, Slipknot, Machine Gun Kelly, Devo, Facs, Body Count, Anthrax, and K. flay
Photography by Bobby Talamine and Wesley Nott
Writing by Fiza Javid
Riot Fest Day 4 hit a tipping point of festival madness, and the party atmosphere was completely set in stone. With all caution was thrown at the wind, each performance proved that it was the final day to show out before life would resume as normal again.
Body Count's Ice T called the crowd a bunch of pu**ies for not moshing too hard, and the Metal fest was kicked into gear. Their set was immense and watching Ice T effortlessly rock the crowd into a frenzy was beyond unexpected.
What was remarkable was how quickly the mood could go from rage to a joyous 80s upbeat and colorful atmosphere.
On my way to watching Facs, I won the grand prize at Weedmaps and collected a free bandana. I had some deep fried oreos, and took in the fact that people travelled from around the country to be here.
Facs did not give a single fack, if I must be the one to say it. Facs began, with a striking red backdrop. They are a truly original band and are hands down one of Chicago's best bands. Their song "Teenage Hive" was a genuine jam, and they took indie-rock vibes up a notch with their abstract sound and performance.
K. Flay was another effortless joy to behold. She opened her set with "Good Girl" sporting a white wife beater and black shorts, and simply commanded the stage. For performing a song like "Good Girl" her air was purely badass. The crowd was genuinely wanting more when she got to her hit "Blood in the Cut" and finale "My Name Isn't Katherine" and honestly I felt her set was too short.
Then the real rock n roll came in the form of Anthrax. Anthrax began with a "Welcome to the 1970s amphitheater" spokesman, when a timer started ticking and then built up to kick drums and major head banging. 40 years of hair metal, devil horns and teasing the crowds. One guy stood still in the crowd with a suit as a circle pit surrounded him. Flying V guitar and power vocals, and the entire set flew by like the wind. They were the perfect buildup for what was to come, but honestly they could have headlined.
I couldn't talk enough about how groundbreaking Devo was. They opened with a video skit with their manager Red Rooter on an ellyptical in the 70s saying "Are we not men?" It was a Devo dolls commercial, and he continued, "We even got you jumpsuits!
It jumped into him in the future stating "Now we are about as popular as the Delta variant" then imparted some advice, "You look through your glasses, the rest of the world looks at them. Now my biggest regret, Devo," as he continues on his elliptical.
The video was straight out of 80s Germany Kraftwerk, which was definitely their influence. The keyboardist came running out jogging in place and they did "Don't shoot, I'm a Man."
Wearing all black suits, and their sound made me feel like the Berlin Wall hadn't fallen yet. The lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh wore signature glasses and middle part grey hair, but no way was their energy old. Audience members donned the red cone hat. When they finally reached "Whip It" they whipped some of the hats into the crowd.
Next was a transition into another skit about the solar system, and how we are all specks... and then there is "Devo." They costume changed into yellow spacesuits, black belts and it said Devo on them. The keyboardist was now the bassist. The guitarist making robotic movements on stage. They performed until "Mongoloid" until they ripped off their spacesuits and put on monkey masks. They truly converted the audience from dazed confusion to crowdsurfing, to a new-wave loving extravaganza. We all chanted "Are We Not Men?" By the end of it all.
Flaming lips had a very colorful and spacey vibe which was the perfect follow up to Devo, but at the Root's stage. They opened up with "Race for the Prize" and the immediate colorful backstop and showmanship was incredible. From parading around in a bubble suit, perfect choice in the COVID paranoid atmosphere, they also had an inflatable "Fuck Yeah, Riot Fest" balloon. Their props and performance was off the charts, and by the time we made it to "Do You Realize" we realized how much we didn't want this to end. The choice to not make them headline allowed the crowd to truly marvel in their performance without a concern of a curfew.
One of the headliners of the night was Machine Gun Kelly, who immediately struck some controversy with his words. He took a shot at Slipknot's Corey Taylor when he stated "I am so glad I'm not a 50 year old wearing a mask."
MGK was responding to Corey Taylor's statement in January about how certain artists are borrowing their artistry rather than being original, and when it comes to MGK's career, he wasn't wrong. In fact, that kind of constructive criticism is what MGK needs if he wants to be an original artist that doesn't build off of beef and controversy, or being in Pete Davidson's shadow.
MGK, I hate to break it to you, but Slipknot had the main stage for a reason, and deserved loved not flack. They made it there through pure originality and hardship, not by picking fights, not that Corey Taylor would care. Beyond MGK's classless statements, he put on a good show, and drew in a great crowd who lives for this kind of beef. He did originals like "kiss kiss" and covered "Misery Business" by Paramore. By the time he got around to his hit "Bloody Valentine" he was climbing the side of the stage. He delivered exactly what was expected of him.
His music wasn't fully recognized until his infamous beef with Eminem (which was probably a marketing tactic from their label, who knows), and until he started dating Megan Fox. Fans in the audience commented about it almost seems like he wears her like a bracelet, but I've always adored her for her bluntness and intelligence as well as her free agency, so I know she would think any fan's concern of his intentions is a crock of doodle. They are a power couple through and through, and his music has been the best it's ever been. He has taken dramatic risks with his career, is a phenomenal actor, and as long as Eminem worshippers like myself remain past the Rap Devil spiel, I will continue to look forward to the prospect of seeing him live again, while praying that he humbles up a bit. His songs are good enough, but his statements will set him back a ton.
Slipknot put on a life changing performance, and it was honestly one of the greatest performances Riot Fest has ever seen. JBTV was not able to photograph them, but I can describe it. From the TV SCREENS ON THEIR DRUM KITS, to a Goblin man scaring the crowd while holding a fire torch during "Duality." They played all their newer songs, but their second half was all for the love of the first album. I've never seen a crowd scream "People = Shit" or the lyrics of "Surfacing" in my life, and people were so lost in the moment...it was everything.
The night also belonged to their late drummer Joey Jordison, who died peacefully in his sleep on July 26, 2021. He was a legendary drummer known for drumming while hanging upside down and not missing a single beat. The crowd chanted his name to call for an encore. This was truly not the same without him, but all the drumming was still perfect during this set.
From head-banging until their necks were sore, and crowd surfing from all ages, Slipknot not only has the music, but the true cult-like connection that will forever go down in music history as necessary words to the masses. They are one of the last bands to ever truly speak from unconscious pain, and that alone is pure music therapy.
I could not begin to touch on everything, but then this will be a dissertation. This Riot Fest was notorious and unforgettable.
Until next year!
Fiza Javid - JBTV Music Television
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