Two weeks after having to quell doubts it could even happen, Riot Fest placed on a well-attended, hitch-free exhibiting in Chicago’s Douglas Park. The months main as much as its 14th run assaulted it with quite a few obstacles typical the 2018 competition market — canceled headliners, delayed schedules, a ticketing hack — but the previous three days punk, steel, hip-hop and different alt-adjacent sounds let followers and organizers breathe a collective sigh aid. Riot Fest did certainly occur, and as soon as it bought going, it was exhausting to inform something had gone awry.
It was, nonetheless, powerful to overlook the absence Blink-182. Back on Sept. 6, the seminal pop-punk band canceled its Riot Fest headlining gig (and the remainder a small tour) upon studying drummer Travis Barker, recovering from blood clots in his arms, had not been medically cleared to carry out. At this level, the ultimate wave performers was nonetheless unannounced, and Blink’s cancellation meant two the fest’s three evenings had been with out headliners. Also including to the grim hypothesis was the truth that single-day schedules remained unannounced. But in got here the reinforcements Taking Back Sunday, Run the Jewels and Weezer — the latter two becoming a member of Beck to fill the vacant headline slots. A Blink set would have been monumental for quite a few causes: Their final album was a career-reviving No. 1, they’ve been hinting at new music for over a 12 months, and followers would’ve gotten to see guitarist Matt Skiba (who changed Tom DeLonge in 2015) play with each his distinguished bands in the identical weekend (Alkaline Trio tore by way of a hometown efficiency Sunday night time which may as effectively have been a headliner).
With Blink out fee, Weezer paid its respects Friday night time by masking arguably their greatest hit. “Say it ain’t so, I can’t go,” sang Rivers Cuomo in a trustworthy “All the Small Things” run-through, proper earlier than cleverly kicking into his band’s personal “Say It Ain’t So.” This pairing was bookended by Weezer’s now well-known cowl Toto’s “Africa” — aka, the second-biggest various radio track in America — adopted by a set-closing cowl Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.” They additionally coated “Take on Me,” “Happy Together” and a snippet Green Day’s “Longview,” deftly navigating the karaoke-bar-style goiness that competition crowds lap up.
Through arguably extra suited to a Lollapalooza stage (or, inside metropolis limits, even Pitchfork Festival), Beck capped Saturday’s lineup extra circle-pit-friendly sounds with model and charisma, dispensing greater than 20 years alt radio hits. After the likes “Loser,” “Girl” and “Dreams” had been by way of, Beck completed with a jamboree Weezer-whimsy proportions. Roughly two-thirds the best way by way of “Where It’s At,” he introduced out electro pioneer Gary Numan (who’d carried out earlier that day) for a spot-on take the Numan basic “Cars,” adopted by bits Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” and Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight,” earlier than returning to at least one final “Where It’s At” refrain.
While Elvis Costello’s look was as soon as unsure (a most cancers scare compelled him to cancel a number of gigs this summer time), the dwelling legend did certainly carry out, trying not in the least rusty jamming alongside the Imposters. In one his first reveals again, Costello handled followers to a set full of '70s and '80s requirements early Saturday night. "I'm doing nice, thanks,” he introduced upon taking the stage, earlier than leaping into “Pump It Up.”
And then there was Jerry Lee Lewis. The 82-year-old “Great Balls Fire” singer is one the final '50s rock ’n’ roll icons nonetheless kicking, and he rewarded Riot Fest for having the heart to e book him for a Saturday night time set (alongside Interpol and the Jesus Lizard) with a massively entertaining efficiency. Lewis doesn’t carry out a lot as of late, and when he does, it’s usually to casinos and tame theater crowds. This night time, he bought to lookup from his child grand and see an precise circle pit — followers working round, genuinely shedding their minds to “Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On.”
It’s unlikely many different festivals Riot Fest’s dimension may pull f a Jerry Lee Lewis set, identical to it was type preposterous they managed to tug Jawbreaker out retirement and make them a headliner final 12 months. Despite the hiccups in its rollout, Riot Fest 2018 was vigorous, well-attended (crowd sizes roughly the identical as earlier Douglas Park runs) and deserving a lot good will towards subsequent 12 months.