The folks at Riot Fest aimed their bazooka of cash at Jawbreaker and convinced them to reunite. Naturally, I wasn't going to miss it.
Gotta document who else I saw while there, some good, mostly bad. Riot Fest is a "punk rock" festival, with a lot of throwback bands, but it's pretty heavy on the shitty corporate punk of the 90s. I spent a lot of time avoiding terrible bands and their fans.
Nonetheless, there were some highlights. The image below is the printed schedule I was carrying around in my back pocket during the weekend, checking it constantly to decide who to see next.
Saul Williams -- came out and lectured us (no music) for 30 minutes. It was good.
X - seen only from a distance since they were playing on one of the two massive main stages. They dutifully played all the hits. Seen several times before, and I'll just remember those shows instead.
Buzzcocks - ditto as with X above; it's just Pete Shelley with a backup band, and a little painful to watch. Actually Steve Diggle may have been up there, but I was waaaay too far back to make him out, and the camera just sat on Pete, so time to move on ...
Chon - I relaxed in the grass near this more remote stage, and was treated to the jam band noodling of this presumably stinky quartet.
Ministry - played newer stuff I guess, because I didn't recognize a thing until they closed with "So What". And once they were finally playing something I knew, the animated dude next to me ruined it by offering me a joint to buy and then getting pissy when I declined.
New Order - only caught a little bit of their set, kind of dreary like Buzzcocks, being so remote and all the camera attention on one guy.
Nine Inch Nails -- I really tried to get closer to the stage (huge main stage) for this one, not so much to see the band (seen 'em in 1990) but to get a feel for how to get closer to the stage for future bands. Dear God there were a lot of people to plow through. This festival was huge. I weaved through people for a while and still never really got close. Noted.
Peaches -- got there in time to catch the tail end of her set. Ha, tail end. She is freaking awesome. I have regretted missing her perform in Atlanta like 15 years ago, and happily she's still killing it. Very obscene, femme friendly, extremely fun. (Weeks later, Sharon and I would make sure to see her at the East Atlanta festival, and she was just as good.)
Shabazz Palaces -- I liked their recorded material enough to want to see them, but I guess it didn't translate to stage. At least not for me, and I'll admit I didn't wait for long.
Bad Brains -- yes, no shit, Bad Brains. They're basically ancient by now, and HR is possibly not much longer on this earth, but they still did a great job. They played all the hits, and the crowd was super appreciative. Dude from Lamb Of God showed up halfway through the set to close it out in true hardcore style. This is probably on Youtube.
Danzig -- worst thing ever. I can not understand why people like this guy. No, it's not funny. See also: Donald J. Trump.
The Regrettes -- indeed, I have regrets.
Gogol Bordello -- playing main stage, so I couldn't really get close without some effort, which I felt no need to do since I'd already seen them twice years ago. They are great, for sure, but it just seems like schtick now. I'm so jaded!
WuTang Clan -- KILLED IT. They were playing one of the side stages, thankfully, which made it a lot easier to get close, and daaamn that was a lot of fun. I'm not going to pretend to know their material, but I've certainly know of them since the early days. I staked out a good spot near the side of the stage, and just before they started, a gaggle of fratty bros careened in and were generally being assholes. Meh, this is their world not mine. But those bros did know their Wu-Tang, singing along with every bit, knowing every word. OK then! At some point one of these very amped-up but very-stoned meatheads decided I was cool and kept giving me fist bumps and offering me weed. Actually a couple people did. Great show.
Also, to open that show, the WTC invited a couple dozen community activists from Chicago to come up and be recognized for their heroic efforts in reducing the rampant violence that has been plaguing Chicago. The centerpiece was a 10 minute spoken word play / speech / performance by a group of teenagers; it was absolutely incredible, and for the life of me Google won't tell me what the name of the troupe was.
After that, I watched Queens Of The Stone Age from an impossible distance, for about 5 minutes, and then I was outta there.
That Dog -- arrived in time to catch the last 15 minutes of so of these ladies.
The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black -- one of my must-see bands, and they delivered! Frontwoman Kembra Pfahler is the sister of Jawbreaker drummer Adam Pfahler, and I'd seen them before in the 1990s, so I knew what to expect -- a rock and roll freak show. Insane makeup, huge wigs, heavy guitars and drums, theremin played well by a very pretty gay dude, and lots of goofy banter. Normally they play only NYC and LA, so this was a rare opportunity for sure. A great show!
The Orwells -- recommended by a friend, and also by some dude at the festival wearing a tshirt that said "who the fuck are the Orwells" in huge letters, so I dutifully stopped and asked him that question. They're from Chicago and they were definitely good. Front man has a lot of snarl and swagger and steals the show, but the band behind him is great too and stands on their own. Which we got to see when the frontman stomped off near the end of their set to go climb the stage rigging ...
Versus -- another must-see band for me. This band is why I drove to Raleigh NC several years ago, and that show was fantastic. This one was more muted, probably because they were just another band in a rather expensive music festival, one that wasn't really geared to their style (indie pop, Merge, etc.) They had the smallest audience I saw of the entire weekend, and their set was necessarily limited to 30 minutes. Still, I love the sound of this band so much.
Dinosaur Jr -- played You're Living All Over Me in entirety, and I gotta say it was great. It just creeps me out a little when bands are asked to play an old album all the way through -- it seems insulting to ask them to do that. In between songs, they did an instrumental minute of Husker Du's Diane (think bass chords) in tribute to Grant Hart, who had passed away a couple days prior, but I'm not sure that anyone in the crowd recognized the tune.
GWAR -- new vocalist, replacing Oderus, R.I.P. They played the smallest stage but to a massive crowd. The usual spectacle, although they seem to have upgraded their red liquid delivery technology.
Jawbreaker -- the whole reason I was here, saved for the very end. I worked my way up to within decent range of the stage very early, during the prior band's set, which means I had to listen to the awfulness that is the Prophets Of Rage and their pandering cover tunes. But it ended soon enough. Happily, Jawbreaker opened with the one song that eeeeverybody knows and that I haaaaate (1, 2, 3, 4, who's punk blah blah blah), which was awesome because it got that shit out of the way so I could enjoy the show without living with the cloud of that thing hanging over me. Haha, I know. Anyway, the show was completely surreal, seeing them on a colossal stage with not only a bazillion people in the audience, but with literally hundreds cramming the backstage around them (on three sides). Everyone was there to be part of it, watching these three guys pour their hearts out once again. They played a couple very early songs (Kiss The Bottle and Want), nothing off Unfun I don't think, a bunch off 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, a bunch off Dear You, and closed with Bivouac. Blake's voice survived.
Looking at the schedule, I did see lot of the other bands, but apparently they were all utterly forgettable.