Unlike summer music festivals that attract brightly dressed fans and costumed attendees, Riot Fest is a less elaborate affair—though not any less spirited. Beards, black t-shirts and way too many strollers filled Humboldt Park on Friday night for the punk festival’s opening day.
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GWAR upheld its reputation as a shocking live act, performing one of the most memorable sets of the night, complete with a gory onstage crucifixion. The crowd was stocked with triumphant, headbanging faces covered in blood (fake, of course).
On the festival’s side stage, the gimmick-ridden Masked Intruders plowed through a 30-minute set. This new band has been playing tiny venues and pizza parlors, but it managed to attract a sizable crowd. The group’s solid pop-punk anthems had the crowd jumping around, while a fake cop—hired by the band to mess with the fans and then crowd surf—ended up in his tighty whities.
Sublime with Rome slowed the night down with a set that leaned on the group’s classic hits. At its conclusion, festival goers divided themselves between the opposite ends of the park. A lot of guys in Misfits shirts, traditional punks and metal heads piled in front of the Rise Stage to see aging icon Danzig, while a more diverse lot scurried to the Riot Stage for Fall Out Boy.
Glenn Danzig’s vocals sounded tired, but the he still played his heart out. The weariness became contagious as the set wore on, as the older folks in attendance—who were probably listening to Danzig when he fronted the Misfits—began to occupy the curb.
Fall Out Boy got the crowd moving with both its music and an array of seizure-inducing lights. The band played a mix of new tracks and familiar anthems as excited teenagers chanted the lyrics and danced with their friends. Those in the back didn’t get to make eye contact with heartthrobs Patrick Stump or Pete Wentz, but they did get to run off with the black beach balls that floated around the crowd.