|Ferris Wheel | Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III|
Reverend Horton Heat
|Reverend Horton Heat | Photo Credit: Tara Griffin|
|Japanther | Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III|
|White Mystery | Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III|
The Jesus and Mary Chain
|The Jesus and Mary Chain | Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III|
Elvis Costello & The Imposters
|Elvis Costello | Photo Credit: Tara Griffin|
|Gogol Bordello | Photo Credit: Eric Kolkey|
Iggy and The Stooges
|Iggy and The Stooges | Photo Credit: Eric Kolkey|
The opening chords of "Raw Power" let everyone in attendance know right off the bat that The Stooges hadn't lost a thing to Father Time. Mr. Pop, clad in nothing but his six-pack and skinny jeans, tore across the stage and through his lyrics, showing up every other band's attempt at energy. Mid-way through, the first three rows seemed to crowd surf at once, propelling the rest of the Riot Stage crowd 20 feet forward. When the hell spawn squeal of James Williamson's lead guitar kicked in on "Search and Destroy," even my goosebumps got goosebumps. Call it cliche, I contend it pure truth. The Stooges channeled 43 years worth of angst and brutality into every note, pushing the stage, the sound system and the crowd towards breaking point. The result was an immensely cathartic squalor; one that ended with Iggy gyrating in a ball onstage, howling like a man condemned. Even The Stooges can't maintain that pace for an hour, so they deftly shifted gears into the ominous plod of "Gimme Danger." The madness level ratcheted back up when Iggy invited a pack of fans onstage to dance through an unhinged rendition of "Shake Appeal," though the gimmick didn't come close to matching the mayhem when he pulled that trick at Lolla a few years ago and half of Grant Park stormed the stage. Steve Mackay's sax sounded appropriately filthy, especially on "Fun House." His presence helped dispel any notion that The Stooges were just going to make noise for an hour, grounding a few songs and giving the rest of the band another layer to play off of.
The highlights of the set came during The Stooge's encore. "Penetration," from the 1973 masterpiece Raw Power, panzered over the crowd; a gnarled beast of a tune that hissed and bent with devilish precision. When Pop dove into the monotone groan of "No Fun," the group's entire set was put into perspective, and I thought of Andrew W.K. again. The Stooges are, without the schlock and the gimmick, everything he strives to be. They're records gave a voice and an outlet to a disenfranchised, bitter generation. Gave their disdain and their aggression a focus. They rocked hard, and still do, but beneath the brazen sexuality and confrontational barbarism, there's poetry and creativity and a lot of fucking fun. Not merely hollow chest thumping and keg stands. I wrote about Andrew W.K. being basically a Cro-Magnon Peter Pan, and against truly timeless figures like The Stooges, his charade is all the more obvious.
Iggy and company ended their encore with a pair of unexpected tunes: a subdued jaunt through "The Passenger," and the hilariously base "Cock In My Pocket." Seeing the group perform an Iggy Pop solo number was unexpected, but despite the crowd's enthusiasm the band didn't deliver it with much punch. Not their wheelhouse. They made up for it on the second number, using up ever last drop of adrenaline before exiting the stage to a hard-earned explosion of adoration.
It'll be hard for Riot Fest to top the lineup they unleashed on Humboldt Park Sunday night, but they've got the formula. Drop a legend and some old school masters in to play with newer bands, pack the park with sideshows, and mix in a couple non-punk acts to taste. The result: a dish best served outdoors.
|Riot Fest wrestlers | Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III|
Best Sight: Taking in the whole park from atop the Ferris Wheel.
Best Sound: White Mystery drowning out the between acts music to start their set early.
Best Odor: Funnel cake. Didn't even eat any, but getting a whiff was perfect.
Best Feel: Sitting on the metal bleacher next to the wrestling ring, eating my above mention bacon sausage and watching two spandex-clad wrestlers kick the crap out of each other.