Photography by Bobby Talamine
Writing and Editing by Fiza Javid
Saturday, September 17, 2022 - Douglass Park
Welcome back to day two of Riot Fest, where the drinks were flowing, the music was roaring and everyone got an incredible mix of music to truly bask in.
I must say, they changed the set up a bit that deserves praise. It used to be that four stages were in four different corners, but Riot Fest decided to change it up a bit. Now the Roots and the Radicals stage are directly next to each other, with the scheduled lined up to make each act go one after another. What a real treat for the fans who don't want to compromise their schedules. The theatrical feeling of watching one band end and another one ready to go at the drop of a hat. I truly believe other festivals need to take notes here, and now those camping out won't go in vain.
That being said, there was more room to enjoy some mind blowing music.
First up there was Mannequin Pussy, and their presence is never like a mannequin. They set off the day where the riot aspect of the festival becomes a vibe. They played "Control," "Piss Drinker," and "Meatslave" and that gritty aspect is what truly makes rock n roll come to life, no matter the genre. Mannequin Pussy's Marisa Dabice has such a natural energy for indie punk rock, and her showmanship sets her above the rest.
It is always incredible to be able to rock out to one incredible woman, not that gender is what stands out, it's their true musical talent, but as a woman it is so cathartic to go from one to another. To be able to go from Mannequin Pussy to Bully? What a treat.
Listening to the audience before Bully began, it was clear there was also a real appreciation for seeing women rock out. Let's be real, the genre was genuinely dominated by men for far too long, and while women were on the scene, the image and expectation was still there. The need to exert overt feminine qualities and sexuality. However, women have finally had the ability to showcase their music and talent beyond the expectations of behavior. Bully is the essence of that. Some fans have dubbed her the "female Kurt Cobain" but that would take away the fact that she is on a league of her own, beyond the labels of masculine and feminine. Her raw vocals during "Trying" and Trash" were out of this world, and the crowd truly goes bonkers for her.
Joy Formidable. Freaking joy to watch Joy Formidable. With songs like "CSTS" and "Gotta Feed My Dog." They truly bring the rock with an original Welsh attitude that never disappoints. The crowd adored Matt Thomas with his gong, and the music was effortless.
It was great to look around and appreciate not just the artists but the effort that fans make to dress up and show out. I imagine the day jobs these individuals must go to, but they always manage to put wear their rock music love on their sleeves. It was great to capture them along with the appreciation of the music.
SURFBORT. Holy shit. I read somewhere online that Blondie named this band as a favorite, and that is certainly thanks to the front-woman, Dani Miller, who was hands down the most badass front-woman I've seen in years. During "Dicks in Space" and "Pretty Little Fucker" she truly engaged with the audience like no other. Hear fearlessness as a performer and the fact that she isn't afraid to really get in the face and feel the energy of her fans, is all we can ever ask from an artist. The real connection created with the music, and hers is completely electric, and all punk rock. She is truly carving out punk rock for Brooklyn, and she let Chicago know like no other. I mean, how often can you tell what I mean from pictures alone? Send her to the moon, because she deserves to be seen and heard more.
I felt like a proud mom watching Yungblud, because the way in which he matches to give all his energy, and not afraid to be electrically feminine, is truly out of this world. We last caught him at JBTV in his Lolla debut, and that was long before he was shot to stardom. He did it truly with his energy alone, and the only other artist I could compare his particulat animated stage prescence to is Gerard Way. But Yungblud does it for Gen Z, and he does it for the messages in his song and his truly devotion to artistry. His songs are timeless. From the debut of his new song "Mad" to his MGK cover of "I Think I'm OKAY", along with "loner," 'fleabag," "parents," and "The Funeral," it's hard to tell if it is his fanbase or him that is beat on ecstatic energy. The way he emotes through his songs, there is no way in hell Dom is ever faking it. I mean he truly puts the "Dom" in his performance, that is for sure. I could talk about him for hours.
The fans definitely love his sex appeal, along with his ability to stand alongside all the female rockers in the line up and come across like he is definitely learning from them too. He praises the balance between feminine and masculine energy in his music, and he is truly doing it for the fans. He just keeps on giving and we'll always be there for it.
Last but NEVER the least, Bad Religion and Gogol Bordello.
Bad Religion and the true essence of punk rock, considering their natural ability to cover a wide range of social topics but really show how badass they are at doing it. They are venting in musical form. They played "Fuck You," "Suffer," "We're Only Going to Die," "American Jesus" and just a powerful set list that I honestly would have paid top dollar for.
Finally, Gogol Bordello. It always feels like that lower deck scene in Titanic, but their Romani grit is the essence of it all. We will always show up for "Start Wearing Purple," "Immigrant Punk," "Wanderlust King" and honestly all their songs. Their music has a way of just making you want to grab a bottle of whisky and become best friends with the person next to you.
Needless to say, with all the incredible punk acts, we all went home immensely happy.
Until tomorrow, rock on!
Fiza Javid - JBTV Music Television