Filtering by Tag: Music Festival
The 15th anniversary of Riot Fest continued on Saturday with another packed day. Some of our favorite sets of the evening included The Struts, Rise Against, Andrew W.K. and Bloc Party—check out photos of those bands below!
Riot Fest 2019 kicked off yesterday on Friday the 13th. We caught sets from Caroline Rose, Mat Kerekes, Hot Snakes, The Get Up Kids, Violent Femmes, Dashboard Confessional, Descendents, and The Flaming Lips. Check out the photos below and stay tuned for galleries for Saturday and Sunday.
Riot Fest will return to Chicago’s Douglas Park on Friday, September 13th to celebrate its 15th anniversary. The weekend’s lineup is packed with plenty of Riot Fest alumni playing some of their greatest albums in full, like Blink 182 playing Enema of the State and Ween playing The Mollusk. Alongside these return Riot Fest performers, there are fresh faces on the lineup, like Caroline Rose, No Parents, Ganser and White Reaper.
Tickets start at only $49.98 for a single day, so check out the full lineup below and grab your tickets here.
The second day of Pitchfork Festival started off with the same sweltering heat as day one, but a fair amount of festival goers showed up as gates opened to take in the full day of music. The forecast showed continuous sunny skies all day to accompany the heat, but the fest ended up being suddenly evacuated around 5PM by a storm that came out of nowhere. The festival organizers were able to make the call just before torrential downpour hit the park, and most attendees were able to seek shelter in nearby bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, Kurt Vile and Freddie Gibbs sets were cut during the storm, but the festival did reopen after an about an hour of downtime, continuing the night with good weather. Despite the evacuation, day two still proved to be a great day with plenty of highlights. Read about my favorite Saturday moments below!
Lala Lala, the project of songwriter and musician Lillie West, opened the second day of the festival with the same all-star band roster that had performed the night prior at Metro, which included V.V. Lightbody, KAINA, Sen Morimoto and Nnamdi Ogbonnaya playing alongside West. Despite having the first set of the day, the heat, and the fact that they were coming off playing a late show the night prior, the entire band sounded as flawless and refreshed as ever. The early day crowd listened intently, even during some of the quieter moments of the set, like the performance of “Scary Movie." Lala Lala’s set also included a cover of “Slip Away” by Perfume Genius, who has also previously performed at Pitchfork Festival. Lala Lala has continuously been one of my favorite bands to see play around the city, but this set was my favorite from them to date.
Ric Wilson kicked off the Red Stage for the second day, and his set was hands down my favorite of the day, if not the entire festival. Wilson’s set had literally everything you could want from a festival show; an interactive dance party, guest appearances, and a positive message. The Chicago based artist immediately let the crowd know that he doesn’t tolerate any hate by starting his set with a call and response chant where to told the crowd “no racist, no sexist, no homophobic, and no bullshit” behavior would be tolerated here. The positive vibes continued as Wilson danced across the stage with a beaming smile. A few songs into the set, the first guest appearance came from collaborator and Pitchfork Festival alum, Kweku Collins, who played the festival last year. The energetic performance also featured an appearance from the Lane Tech marching band. And finally, Wilson closed out his set with everyone in the crowd participating in a Soul Train style dance off, which left everyone walking away with a smile on their face to enjoy the rest of the festival.
After taking a break to cool down, I moved over to the shaded Blue Stage to catch an afternoon set from Los Angele’s Jay Som. The singer’s dream pop tunes provided the perfect mid-day, chilled out set for festival goers, acting as a retreat from the chaos of the festival and the blistering heat. Jay Som and her band played through trusted favorites like “Baybee” and “The Bus Song” as the audience echoed the words back to the singer. The festival set also included a couple of new ones from the upcoming album Anak Ko, out later this summer via Polyvinyl Records.
Parquet Courts played next on the Green Stage, and they brought tons of energy along with them. It took mere seconds into the band’s first song of the set for the crowd to get amped up and start moshing, even with everyone being drenched in harsh sunlight. Starting at 4:15pm, Parquet Courts’ set took place during the day’s sweet spot, when more and more people decided to start showing up. The band’s uptempo rock tunes like “Master of My Craft” and “Total Football” were perfect for setting up the tone of the evening ahead. Unfortunately about 15 minutes before Parquet Courts’ set was slated to end, they made an announcement to the crowd that weather conditions might cut them short. After playing the title track of their 2018 album Wide Awake, festival goers were asked to calmly evacuate the site and find shelter. While it might have been cut short, the part of Parquet Courts’ set that we did get to experience was definitely a highlight of Saturday.
Following the evacuation of the festival and the downpour of rain, the park opened back up around 6:30PM for sets from Stereolab and Belle & Sebastian. As both of these bands played their sets, the sun once again shone down on Union Park and all was right— almost giving the feeling that it was a completely different day.
Before long, the sun began to set on Saturday, and it was then time for the legendary Isley Brothers to close out the night. Their spot on the festival lineup seemed a little out of place between more contemporary pop acts HAIM and Robyn, who bookended the weekend as the other headliners. However, when the brothers and their live ensemble made their way onto the stage to “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince playing as their introduction song, it was clear that we were all in for a show. As the band began their set of throwbacks, even the younger audience members who might have been unfamiliar with the group’s music could recognize bits of the songs that have been sampled by other artists. The Isley Brothers instantly had the audience moving along to their soulful music, and onstage, they had extravagantly dressed backup singers and dancers to accompany them.
More photos of Saturday featuring Lala Lala, Ric Wilson, Jay Som, Parquet Courts, Stereolab, Belle and Sebastian, and the Isley Brothers
Stay tuned for more Pitchfork Festival coverage
In the week leading up to Pitchfork Festival, the forecast for Chicago showed a spike in temperatures, which only continued to climb higher as Pitchfork weekend inched closer. With highs of 98 degrees (without the heat index and humidity) and the promise of sunny skies, it was clear that this weekend would be one of the hottest of the summer and not necessarily the most ideal weather to spend all day outside watching live music. A couple of days before the fest’s kick off on Friday, Pitchfork Festival organizers announced that they’d be taking extra measures to keep festival goers safer in the extreme weather conditions; In addition to providing additional cooling buses and a misting station, the fest ordered 18,000 more water bottles to pass out for free to its attendees. While I knew there would be no way to feel comfortable in temperatures that felt like 110 degrees, these extra precautions at least eased my mind a bit going into Friday.
My afternoon on the first day of the fest began with Chicago’s own Grapetooth, who played the Blue Stage at 4PM. Tucked away in a tree-lined, shaded corner of the festival grounds, the Blue Stage remained the most comfortable viewing area of Friday, allowing for festival goers to retreat from the sun and still catch some great music. A relatively new collaboration between Twin Peaks’ Clay Frankel and producer/songwriter Chris Bailoni, Grapetooth became an instant hit with their synth-infused, new wave sound and their rambunctious stage presence. The crowd at Pitchfork welcomed them onstage with a rowdy chant and danced along to their opener “Violent,” despite the heat. The opening tune and a few others of Grapetooth’s singles featured an extended introduction, which added some new intensity to their live set. In the spirit of Chicago and the collaborative nature of the music scene, Grapetooth’s set also featured guest appearances from Lillie West of Lala Lala, OHMME, and more.
After a few songs of Grapetooth, I rushed over to the Green Stage to catch Sky Ferreira’s comeback show, marking her return to Chicago for the first time in years. Due to sound issues and gear malfunctioning in the overbearing heat, Ferreira made her way to the stage about 20 minutes past her scheduled time slot, but she was greeted with an overwhelming sound of applause by her many long-time fans. Unfortunately, the sound issues for Ferreira continued for the entire set, and it was clear that she couldn’t hear herself in the in-ear monitors. Despite the technical difficulties and all, Ferreira’s vocals sounded incredible and fans in the crowd screamed along with her when she performed old favorites like “You're Not the One” and “Everything Is Embarrassing.” Adding to the list of obstacles for the singer, Ferreira was cut short due to time restraints, but not before she made the live debut of new song “Descending.”
Next, it was back to the Blue Stage for Soccer Mommy, the project of Nashville songwriter Sophie Allison. All weekend long on the Blue Stage, the festival had different slam poets warm up the crowds for the next musical act performing. The addition of the poets was a great way to experience a different form of art at the festival, and it definitely worked well with an artist like Soccer Mommy, whose narrative-style lyrics have the same relatable impact as some of the words recited by the poets. Overall, Soccer Mommy’s set provided a chance for everyone to just kickback and enjoy a great performance from Allison and her band, who had incredible chemistry onstage from their extensive touring history. The set included favorites like “Last Girl,” “Cool,” and “Your Dog,” which Allison mentioned they hadn’t been performing lately but they were bringing it back in the spirit of Pitchfork.
The legendary Mavis Staples closed out the Red Stage for the first day, providing an instant mood boost for the entire audience and delivering my personal favorite set of the entire day. With her hearty and soulful vocals, which mixed with her grooving band and backup vocalists, Staples captured the audience’s attention and hearts from the very start of her set. A few songs in, the singer told the crowd that she wanted them to feel good, and judging by the infectious grins on everyone’s faces, it was clear she had succeeded in her mission. Staples gave me goosebumps as she sang in harmony with her live bandmates and when she belted out her roaring vocals, showing off the raw power and control she still has over her voice.
HAIM, the evening’s headliners, were up next on the Green Stage. As the sun set over Union Park, the three sisters [Este, Danielle, and Alana Haim] marched to take their places, as a real-time camera followed them on their walk to the stage. The set began with the siblings taking their places in front of drum sets, building up a suspenseful introduction to what would be their first ever festival headlining slot. Their set opened with “Falling” and “Don’t Save Me” from their debut album Days Are Gone, taking the audience back to the days of 2013—when everyone had that album on repeat. In addition to older material—both from their debut and 2017 sophomore album, HAIM also sprinkled in their new song “Summer Girl” and not one, but two Paula Cole covers: “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” and “I Don't Want To Wait.” HAIM’s festival headline debut allowed longtime fans to relish their older favorites while still experiencing a glimpse of what is to come in the band’s next era.
Friday Gallery from Pitchfork 2019, featuring Grapetooth, Sky Ferreira, Julia Holter, Soccer Mommy, Mavis Staples, and HAIM
Stay tuned for more Pitchfork 2019 Coverage
Content Warning: discussion of sexual assault
While interviewing the organizers of Book Your Own Fest, we ended up discussing our shared love of indie punk band, Camp Cope. Organizers Tia and Tayler Krabbenhoft told me that last summer they got a chance to see Camp Cope live, and afterwards got in a word with drummer, Sarah Thompson. When they relayed their stories of speaking out against abusers in the music scene Thompson replied “you’re pissing off the right people.” Keep this sentiment in mind as you read.
Not many music festivals can say they were begat from a meme. Except for Book Your Own Fest, which just had its inaugural event this past March in Fargo, ND. You can thank Tayler Krabbenhoft, the main organizer of the festival, for the cool name. Or you can thank fellow Fargo music festival, The New Direction Fest (TND), for the conversation that spurred it. Back in January, Krabbenhoft posted a moderately innocuous meme on Facebook poking fun of TND Fest’s dude-heavy lineup, and a former TND volunteer took to commenting “if you don’t like it, book your own fest.” And so Krabbenhoft did exactly that.
“I wanted to prove that with less money, less resources, and less time we could get a lot of diverse acts— genre-wise and people-wise,” Tayler tells me during a break between sets. It’s the final day of Book Your Own Fest and I am sandwiched in Tayler’s tour van along with her sister and bandmate Tia Krabbenhoft, longtime friend and fellow organizer Cydney Berlinger, and a case of Hamms.
Performances at Book Your Own Fest ranged from ambient spoken word to fast punk sets and, poignantly, not a single act on the bill was all-male. But Book Your Own fest almost didn’t happen. The sisters recently received a particularly unsettling threat that made them hesitant to continue for safety reasons. But unfortunately, the sisters seem pretty used to handling this type of thing. Their band, Free Truman, earned a reputation last summer when they publicly called out a man who non-consensually kissed a woman at another local venue. After doing so they were met with outrage and online harassment from various men, and after Tayler’s meme caught wind, she endured another round of online barrages, eventually ending in someone leaking her address. It seems impossible to discuss Book Your Own Fest without also discussing sexism and rape culture. It’s all inextricably linked. “People who… aren’t so much with [Book Your Own Fest], would be like ‘oh they’re just causing drama, they’re just starting things’” continues Tayler. That word, ‘drama’, sparks palpable frustration in the van. Being accused of drama is one of the oldest ways in the book to diminish women’s feelings and write off the importance of their ideas. Is DIY an ethic or a middle school hallway? (P.S does anyone wanna book Drama Fest next? I’ll cover it.) Conflating “drama” with “talking openly about experiences with sexual assault” seems to be all too common of a confusion. Quieter, but still adamant, Tayler reminds us how often it happens (sexual assault that is, not drama) ”Things like this affect more people than you even know… it happens all the time in the music scene.” With all that said, I down a shot of tequila from one of several red plastic cups littering the floor of the van and go back inside, trying to reorient myself.
Book Your Own Fest is held at Red Raven Espresso Parlour. A cafe and venue that Cyndey is a barista at. But inside it’s easy to see why Red Raven would be the logical choice regardless; Adorned with pieces of kitsch decor and various anti-Trump memorabilia, I think it’s safe to assume this is where any DIY kid would scamper off to in a small town. And hey, they even had gender neutral bathrooms (which is honestly ahead of a lot of venues on that curve). Given the high visibility of it all, I assumed there would be more righteousness in the air. That it would feel radically different to see performers on a stage where they weren’t being evaluated as comparisons to men. But perhaps the chip on my shoulder is weightier than that of Tayler’s. I also couldn’t help wondering if some of the fun of Book Your Own Fest comes from a community showing that they could do everything the boys could and more. But there was an extra layer of safety. I felt better taken care of in Red Raven Espresso Parlor than I have in many a house show. I moved in the space, unafraid to take up room. I didn’t feel like that, at any moment, a late twenties man in a leather jacket would use me to start a mosh pit at an uncalled for period of time. And, although Fargo, ND is far from a queer oasis, my tired boyfriend who I bullied into driving me 3+ hours and I were able to curl up in a booth at the cafe with no side eyes. At one point a friend nicknamed ‘Coach’ announces to the Krabbenhofts that the baked potatoes were here. Which encompasses part of the feeling of being at Book Your Own Fest. Tayler and Tia had been cooking all week so that there would be homemade food at the fest. And, evidently, they ordered baked potatoes as well. There’s nothing quite like home-cooked food that says “I want you to be here”.” The warmth of the atmosphere suggests the fest has happened before and will happen again. Not to mention that the schedule ran on time (for the most part). At one point the vocalist of Lincoln, NE band Histrionic said “I suck. No I don’t suck” as they tuned between songs. “I know if I say that you’ll all be like ‘no you don’t!’ Whatever.” During Free Truman’s own set, Tia’s drumstick briefly went flying, which was only met with cheers. There was room for mistakes at Book Your Own Fest, and there was room for support.
Book Your Own Fest is special, it’s one of the first of its kind. But it also isn’t exactly hard to find non-men, and queer folks, and black and brown folks making music. So if this is who’s making music, shouldn’t festivals generally reflect that? However, I have a strong feeling that anyone condemning an ask for a more inclusive lineup are the same people who are on social media asking if anyone “knows any good female-fronted bands.” In case you were curious, TND Fest did eventually book more “diverse” acts. Seven to be precise. That would be seven acts that aren’t all male out of twenty one. A whopping one third. Take that, sexism! To clarify, Tayler did not just sit around making memes at the ready. She actually met with a TND organizer to have a conversation regarding the lack of… women. The organizer apparently had the audacity to ask her “is this not enough for you?” No. It isn’t. Book Your Own Fest is the result of years of tokenization. Of being a band comprised of two latinx women who are used as check mark in the diversity box. Don’t throw us a bone and expect us to treat it like a feast. Book Your Own Fest is the feast. It’s the lineup that made me drive over three hours to a city I barely knew existed. All because I wanted to bear witness to something that seems impossible for music scenes, whether they be DIY or industry giants, to understand: a lineup with many acts that aren’t cis white dudes. The whole night, something nags me. Where are you looking in which there are not any non-male bands? Where are you looking in which no POC bands exist? Or is your milktoast lineup the result of not looking at all because it’s far easier to pretend you’re not part of the problem and offer up flimsy excuses? Defending lazy lineups by way of sending threats to young women?…Perhaps the lady doth protest too much.
It is a potent time to be an artist with an opinion, particularly a non-male artist with an opinion. Book Your Own Fest feels like a call to action in this sense. Music doesn’t have to look like that. Book Your Own Fest exudes a you-can-do-it-too attitude. And it only takes one. That first time you see someone who looks like you doing something you love, it changes you. Free Truman themselves wouldn’t have existed if it weren’t for seeing Cydney’s former band, Uncle Grandpa, play a show when they were younger. And now Free Truman is providing that same affirming mirror, both as a band and with Book Your Own Fest. Earlier Tayler told me, “It’s literally life changing to see someone who looks like you playing music.” I hope someone in the audience feels that same way.
The music industry is so often viewed as a boys game, and if you want to gain entry it’s advised that you play like a boy. But the Krabbenhofts developed their own strategy. Book Your Own Fest thrived without a single all-male act on the bill. It thrived with a differently natured community. Which begs the question, if three young women in a small town can put together an inclusive two day festival in under three months, why can all professional bookers and promoters scrounge up for us is an opener?