Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”
On this date in history, 9/19/2021, our Riot Fest marriage weekend provided us with a final day of rocking awesomeness. Aside from the actual wedding, my wife had made it crystal clear that Body Count was the primary objective of the entire festival. Judging from her reaction to their show, the wedding may have come in second to Ice T’s band’s performance, but we will get to that reaction in due time.
I don’t know if I have mentioned that Ilene possesses a super power when it comes to finding her way to the front row in nearly any concert situation, and Riot Fest was no exception. She determined that we should check out the band Health, who played prior to Body Count and then slide into the prime real estate when the crowd dispersed after Health’s set. Her plan worked beautifully, but not without a price…we had to endure Health (and a mercilessly brutal hot Chicago summer day), but Body Count finally hit the stage and the real fun began.
Their opening song was a scorching cover of Raining Blood/Postmortem by Slayer, and the intensity never faltered for a moment as Ice-T and lead guitarist Ernie C led the band through a blistering set including No Lives Matter, Talk Shit, Get Shot, There Goes The Neighborhood, and the ever-controversial Cop Killer. Bassist Vincent Price assisted on some super intense lead vocals, but Ice-T was firmly in command of the rapport between the band and audience. He was clearly enjoying playfully insulting the half of the crowd (not our side, thankfully!) who were not raging and moshing hard enough, but he got the results he was looking for.
Later in the set he brought his adorable daughter on stage, claiming she was the youngest Body Count fan in attendance! Something I haven’t addressed yet was the disappointment of several acts canceling their appearances, and the Riot Fest organizers’ admirable substitutions.
Nine Inch Nails were replaced by Slipknot, Faith No More by Rise Against, The Pixies by The Flaming Lips, and Mr. Bungle by Anthrax. As luck would have it, Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian was to have performed with Mr. Bungle, so his main band was an inspired substitute for the other Mike Patton fronted group.
Anthrax were in dependably fine form, playing their deep cache of thrash metal classics (including Got The Time, Antisocial, Indians, Madhouse, Efilnikufesin, and Caught In A Mosh and being accompanied throughout their hour set by a seismic circle pit that filled the air with a tsunami of dust. Before their final song, Ian instructed everyone to join Anthrax and go watch Devo. We had already planned to check out the legendary Devo, but it was still pretty surreal to hear that level of support from Anthrax.
This was my first time seeing Devo, and they were just impossibly fun, quirky, and unique. They changed outfits twice and utilized the big screens framing the stage with some truly odd multimedia displays. I was thrilled to witness Jocko Homo, Whip It, Peek-a-boo, Girl You Want, Uncontrollable Urge, Secret Agent Man, and their deconstructed/reconstruction of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones. By the time they finished up with Freedom Of Choice, Devo had amassed a gigantic crowd.
The last performance we caught on our final day was The Flaming Lips, and we just saw the first song. Singer Wayne Coyne performed Race For The Prize in his trademark plastic bubble from the stage after making a speech concerning COVID-19 safety. Reasoning that we were going to see Slipknot back home in Indiana on October 1st (and having a long drive ahead of us), we walked away as Coyne and the Lips launched into Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Pt. 1. I really love The Flamming Lips and wish we would have possessed the extra stamina to make it through their set, but it was time to go.
On our way out to catch the train, we heard a band called The Ghost Inside, and they sounded really good. I need to give them a proper listen one of these days. That is my report from Riot Fest 2021. I got married, I got rocked, and I gained a treasure trove of wonderful concert memories!
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