Concert Review: Riot Fest Chicago Day 3. The Stooges rock the Windy City.
I had a great time in Chicago. Visited some old friends, ate some great food and topped it off by going to Riot Fest Day 3 in Chicago’s Humboldt Park to check out Jesus & Mary Chain and Iggy & The Stooges.
These are 2 of my favorite bands that I’d never had a chance to see live, until now.
Before I get to the show, props to the festival itself. It was spacious, people weren’t pushy, and the weather was perfect. Add in some cool carnival rides, reasonably priced concessions and I can’t say anything negative about the experience. Except…I had to sit through Gogol Bordello. Seriously. I don’t want to hear one polka song, let alone one that drones on for over an hour!
When the Jesus And Mary Chain took the stage that afternoon, they kicked it off with ‘Snakedriver’, their killer song off the ‘The Crow’ soundtrack. It sounded great, replete with wonderful feedback squalls from William Reid. His brother, vocalist Jim Reid sounded pitch perfect, his sullen reptilian tone intact.
Some criticized JAMC’s indifference to the crowd, but that’s always been their style. They’ve always rocked more on the inside than the outside, and they sounded great.
Highlights included ‘Head On’, ‘Teenage Lust’, ‘Between Planets’ and ‘Sidewalking’.
I loved that the set list drew from ‘Automatic‘ and ‘Honey’s Dead‘, two of my favorites, but it was odd to hear little off their landmark début ‘PsychoCandy‘ and their post-punk classic ‘Darklands’.
But they had their set cut short. I’m not sure what happened, but that’s why we got robbed of ‘Just Like Honey‘. They ended the set with ‘Reverence‘ which allowed Will Reid to sneak in the riff from The Stooge’s ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog‘ into the song. A nice homage to the coming attraction.
After that I heard a little of Elvis Costello’s set. Never was a huge fan, but he was in good form. Bonus points for having a theremin player onstage. Always spices things up.
But everyone was waiting for the Stooges, and when they took the stage it was like a bomb went off. Well a bomb named Iggy Pop. At 65 this guy has more energy than any hipster band in recent memory. They just don’t make’em like that anymore.
He stormed the stage with “Raw Power”, followed by the assault that is “Search And Destroy”. Ably complemented by guitarist James Williamson, bassist Mike Watt, drummer Toby Dammit, and saxophonist Steve Mackay they kept up a blistering intensity the entire set.
Iggy’s gift is his childlike restlessness, still gleefully inappropriate after all these years: “Anybody want to look at my dick“? Uh, no, but thanks for asking!
He invited fans to bum-rush the show, which they did during ‘Shake Appeal’. He later complimented the audience: “I see you out there and I like what I see”. Rare is the frontman who is both nihilistic and feel good sunshine. Pop is a force of nature.
More goodness followed, ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ and the lewd ‘Penetration’. One big gaping omission though, was the lack of ‘Fun House’ material, which is my favorite Stooges album (They only played ‘1970‘). Why? My guess is James Williamson wasn’t into playing songs he didn’t have a part in. But McKay was well featured on ‘Funhouse’ so it seemed odd. Oh well.
A big highlight was during the encore, when they performed ‘The Passenger‘, his iconic solo anthem. It was the perfect song to encapsulate my experience. This passenger went from Austin TX to Chicago, and hearing Iggy Pop blow it up at Riot Fest was a beautiful moment. For a band who played ‘No Fun‘, they proved they were anything but.