Riot Fest 2019
Douglas Park // Chicago, IL // Day 2: September 14, 2019
Saturday screamed metal!
Day 2 of Riot Fest was full of guitar solos, headbanging, and gallons upon gallons of fake blood. My day started with one of my favorite Riot Fest staples, GWAR. The gross-out kings of heavy metal were in top form, although they absolutely need to be called out for a very transphobic opening to their show. In fact, I had originally posted one of these photos on Instagram and was rightfully called out for it, so I will not be including these shots in my review. It’s a shame too, because the rest of their set was classically funny.
One of my favorite sets of the day was the long-awaited reunion of Avail, a punk rock band from Virginia who hadn’t played live in over 12 years. Lead singer Tim Barry is an incredible solo artist, mostly playing folk punk, and when I heard he was going to be at Riot Fest, I knew I had to see him. They had one of the most fervent crowds of the weekend, and within seconds of their opening song, the crowd was moshing and surfing to the front.
PVRIS gave a welcome indie rock performance amidst the day of metal, with lead singer Lynn Gunn reaching the back of the park with her melodic, powerful vocals. Wu-Tang Clan put on one of the best sets of the weekend, with all five original members coming onstage during the first song (a rarity!). Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s son rapped his lyrics and filled his father’s shoes perfectly. This is why I love Riot Fest: you can see Slayer and Wu-Tang Clan at the same festival. It was truly an honor to see such an iconic rap group up close and personal.
The biggest show of the weekend, however, belonged to Slayer. After over 35 years of world tours and a dozen albums, the band played their final Chicago show ever to a crowd of thousands of screaming, headbanging fans. Having never seen Slayer before, I didn’t know what to expect. I can definitely say it was a show I won’t forget. Fire shot from the stage every 30 seconds, guitarist Gary Holt laid down an epic solo, and singer Tom Araya roared at the crowd. Slayer went out with an explosion of cheers and gratitude from their fans.