Douglas Park // Chicago, IL // September 14-16, 2018
Day 2: sunshine, dog costumes, and a full moon.
The perfect weather continued on Saturday, and as the weekend hit its hump day, the bands hit the audience harder and faster. American rockers Twin Peaks gave their hometown a fantastic show, complete with dog costumes, crowd surfing, and lots of dancing. The band, whose name does not come from the iconic TV show but rather the trash chain restaurant, has an avid following in Chicago and have played Pitchfork and other Chicago festivals in the past. Their Americana sound and laid-back vibes brought a bit of beach rock to the Midwest.
Riot Fest is one of the best festivals in the country because it brings acts from the best musical decades. Not just relying on new and trendy artists, Riot Fest has booked literal icons over the past few years. This year, Elvis Costello and the Imposters played an unforgettable set for one of the biggest crowds of the day. Earlier this summer, Costello announced he was undergoing treatment for cancer and had to cancel several of his European shows, but he walked onstage in Chicago with a smile on his face and a guitar high in the air. “I’m doing great by the way,” he smirked before starting “Pump It Up”. The crowd was composed of teenagers and people old enough be their grandparents, and it was a true moment of universal love of good music.
Real talk: As a photographer and writer, I have been to a lot of shows. Hundreds. Sometimes, shows stick out as unique or memorable, but I can count the number of truly perfect shows on both hands. On Saturday night, I added another band to that very select group: The Jesus Lizard. First of all, the band graciously allowed all photographers to stay in the pit for the full set (which almost never happens; we only get 3 songs). Second, lead singer and ass-flashing, crowd-surfing, hat-stealing frontman David Yow did more in one hour than most musicians do in an entire tour. Within 30 seconds of being onstage, Yow jumped off the stage and was flying over the crowd, throwing himself farther and farther back until his microphone cord was taut. He screamed into fans’ faces, spit in the air, and gave everyone (photographers included) a full moon four songs in, pulling his pants down slowly and deliberately. I could have stayed in that photo pit for hours. The Jesus Lizard have been making music on and off since 1987, but they are still as insane and depraved as they were when jamming with Nirvana.
Riot Fest, Day 2