Riot Fest 2022 Day Three: Nine Inch Nails, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sleater-Kinney, Coolio, Night Spice, The Linda Lindas & More
Photography by Bobby Talamine
Writing and Editing by Fiza Javid
Sunday, September 18, 2022 - Douglass Park
My mind is so blown by the experience of day three that my head is rolling, on the floor. Nine Inch Nails. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sleater-Kinney, Coolio, Linda Lindas, Night Spice. What a hypnotic festival experience.
The anticipation for NIN was running deep. They were supposed to headline Riot Fest 2021 but were forced to cancel due to Covid-19. It was worth having an incredible Slipknot experience last year, however, we were long overdue for this performance.
Trent was truly effortless in addressing it. "It has been crazy, covid and all, but here we are," but more to that later.
We began our day with the Synthwave sounds of Night Spice. Hailing from Miami, Illinois, it was the groove that Chicago was truly missing, kind of like the last hurrah of summer. Their comic value, dad bods, and of course, their music. Particularly their songs "Plums" and "Damn, that Hot Synth," truly inspired a jolt within the audience. Their music almost sounds like satire, but don't let the comedy fool you. Beyond the showmanship, their musical quality was smooth. Hell, they even sell their own hot sauce. Do you know any other band doing that?
Next we were off to the Linda Lindas. They are always a blast, and they have so much fun on stage. They opened with "Growing Up" which made everyone want to jump around. Their covers included "Tonite" by the Go-Gos, and "Rebel Girl" by Bikini Kill, but it was their debut song "Vote!" which truly got the message across. They always manage to share an important message while injecting a fun punk vibe to it.
Other notable mentions include: Mom Jeans, Zola Jesus, and Alice Glass, Lunachicks and Polica.
Lunachicks busted out with incredible energy to date. With their songs "Badass Chicks" and "Less Teeth More Tits" along with their neon hair, in your face persona and hard, fast riffs, they are rock madness. They opened with the "Gonna Fly Now" theme from Rocky, and it almost felt like they could be the yang to the ying of the energy brought by Night Spice, but all feminine energy. Its always good to have loud riffs and angry, nearly satirical grooves in the punk world, and the Lunachicks are on the top of that list.
Zola Jesus shifted the energy from punk to theatrical. This front woman Nika Danilova is a pure actress, and almost like a super hero film character with her persona, but the industrial, almost sludgy sound she echoed was deep and dark. She is carving out a new era for the goth world, and may have displayed the most underrated vocals of the entire three days. They are pure talent.
"ITS FREAKING COOLIO!!" I overheard as I entered the crowd for Coolio, just as he was about to begin. Who doesn't want to listen to "Gangsta's Paradise," as the presence of this man is as iconic as it was in the 90s. I'll be honest, I wondered if for nostalgia's sake that he would sing the Kenan & Kel theme song, but that would be unnecessary, unless you were a huge fan like I was. Still, he was out of this world with "Fantastic Voyage," "C U When I Get There," and "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New). Let's be real, no one EXPECTS a Coolio experience at a predominantly punk themed festival, but Gen Z is all about nostalgia waves. They needed a dose of Coolio in their lives, and it was solid.
The biggest yet simultaneously underrated band of the Seattle music scene will hands down be Sleater-Kinney, who I was damn near going to get a heart attack for. Their song "Real Man" was recently featured in Hulu's "Pam & Tommy" which not many know was actually released in the early 90s. A 90s Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker are the dynamic duo made in heaven.
Their musicality in "Jumpers" should be right up there with the Beatles, considering their vocal range, lyrical poetry and stage presence. I feel transported right into Olympia (no she is not from Portland) when they play and they truly show how the best of the best comes from the pacific northwest. Carrie and Corin jumped around, blasted riffs like no one was watching. The only thing it missed was an appearance from Fred Armison, which many believed would happen, but did not. This is fine, because we got to hear "Entertain" and "Modern Girl." If you haven't had a chance to fan girl over them like I have, it's never too late.
Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Watching them is like MDMA in musical form. Who can make a group of headbangers feel like they are zoned out in a club in two seconds but them? Sure we were all looking forward to singing along to "Maps" but Karen proves again and again the essence of being a true artist isn't just about playing through the songs and praying people keep showing up. She also showed how any genre can be rock and roll is you give your audience enough venting energy. We screamed as she spit out water into the crowd, put the mic in her mouth, attempted to destroy it, and still managed to sing like a total goddess.
When the melody to "Heads Will Roll" kicked in, the audience looked truly lost in another planet. People were dancing, jumping and screaming along to their hearts desire. "Spitting off the Edge of the World," "Wolf," and "Soft Shock" were also roaring in person. Its truly magic when an artist creates a particularly unique experience live as compared to their recording, and I pray they come back to Chicago to give us more.
Trent Reznor does not age. Nine Inch Nails never disappoints and their cult following will reign on for decades more. They put on a spectacular light show, and the edge had everyone in awe. They opened with "Somewhat Damaged" and "Wish" and we knew we were locked in. Only at a NIN show can you surround yourself with a crowd of people shouting "I Wanna F*ck you Like an Animal" and not be scared. We were left speechless.
Their set list included "God Break Down the Door," "Sanctified," "The Perfect Drug," "Head like a Hole," and many more hits. For anyone dreaming of this moment like I was, this was a dream. Watching Reznor throw his guitar, and the way they allow their music to speak for itself, was everything. They are on fire vocally, their drumming, and the overall experience of them was the perfect chapter end to Riot Fest 2022, as very few bands herald this kind of power, and they will continue to be part of the soundtrack of our lives.
Until next year Riot Fest, thank you for giving us and the rock world another unforgettable festival experience for the memory banks.
Fiza Javid - JBTV Music Television