While the conditions in Douglas Park aren’t quite as disgusting as they were in Humboldt Park last year, there’s an abundance of thick, smelly mud at Riot Fest. Before the gates opened on Saturday morning, organizers spread mulch on some of the festival’s more heavily trafficked areas, but the wood chips were submerged in the muck by the end of the day. With no rain in the forecast, perhaps the ground will dry up on Sunday. One thing is for sure: Many pairs of ruined shoes will be tossed into dumpsters on Monday morning.
RECOMMENDED: See more photos from Riot Fest Chicago
But we didn’t hear many complaints from attendees who trudged through the mess to catch early afternoon sets from local post-punk trio Meat Wave, ‘70s goth rockers the Damned and costumed metal act GWAR. Later on Saturday, Thurston Moore was joined onstage by drummer Steve Shelley—staging a miniature Sonic Youth reunion over the course of a surprisingly restrained set.
As the evening wore on, reunited post-hardcore act Drive Like Jehu played to a small audience while country legend Merle Haggard brought fiddles and pedal steel to the main stage. The crowd on the east side of the park swelled before System of a Down’s headlining performance, inciting a mosh pit that shut down the photo pit (hence our lack of shots) and forced the band to stop its set a few times to ensure the safety of those in attendance. Things were a bit more subdued on the other stages, where Taking Back Sunday turned in emo ballads and a shirtless Iggy Pop powered through an intense set of unbridled rock.
Take a look at the people and performers in attendance on day two of Riot Fest.