10 Things I Learned at Riot Fest Chicago

Categories: Last Night

Melissa Fossum
My flight landed in Phoenix late Monday night, and I'm still adjusting. It hasn't fully sunk in yet that I just saw The Replacements and The Pixies back to back. The Broadways reunion really happened. Debbie Harry is super adorable in person. My feet are still throbbing, and I'm pretty sure that lingering sick feeling is dehydration, but this wonderful music festival wrapped up only a few days ago.

My six-day trip to Chicago was comprised mostly of the festival and catching up with some old friends, both locals and Phoenicians who took a moment to figure out the L-train system. Like most out-of-state music festival trips, it was a learning experience.

10. Malort isn't that bad.
Apparently Malort is a big thing in Chicago. It's a liquor made out of wormwood that's only available in the Windy City. One of the first things my friends asked upon my arrival is if I'd like to try it. They warned that a lot of people didn't like it, but people say the same thing about Everclear. Plus, I'm a try everything twice type of gal, so why not?

To my unrefined palate, it tasted like a shot of just about any other strong liquor. All I tasted was alcohol and a little burning. It had a strange after taste, but nothing I'd describe as disgusting. That weird taste is wormwood, the same ingredient in absinthe. And no, I did not hallucinate, but I also only had one shot.

Melissa Fossum
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9. Most people could care less about my favorite bands.
That was the best Glassjaw set I've seen yet, but Pennywise drew a larger crowd. I thought the Rancid vs. Public Enemy conflict was no contest, but lots of people still watched Rancid. Most of all, Sublime With Rome actually has a following. I had no reservations about leaving AFI to see The Broadways, which put me in a much smaller crowd.

8. Trying to leave a crowd apparently makes you an asshole.
AFI is a good transition point here, because some people have no desire to move, even if they're past the soundboard and see a line of photographers approaching. If someone is walking away from the stage with a big camera in their hand, chances are they're trying to get out of the crowd. That does not warrant shoving, spitting, or spilling your drink on them--all of which happened to me or someone I know at Riot Fest. I'm still shocked that a man shoved me hard enough to knock me off balance during Saves the Day.

7. Chicago rain is much different than Phoenix rain.
In the Valley of the Sun, rain is a big deal, even if it only lasts for an hour or so. Rain was in the forecast for Sunday, and us desert-dwelling folks are accustomed to wearing jeans and a hoodie when it gets cold. The kicker is, none of those things work well in the rain or the mud. It rained most of the day, leaving me with shoes full of mud and fearing for the life of my camera. But when the rain cleared up, it was beautiful.

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My heart ached that I didn't get to see a Replacements reunion, especially in my old neck of the woods, with all my old friends. I saw them in 1989 at UW-Milwaukee. They were fantastic. I saw many pics of Riotfest. One comment I made on a friend's FB wall of a video of Flag was "why the hell are people just standing there?" Who the hell just stands there still, at a Flag show, hearing classic Black Flag songs, by classic punk musicians?" Especially just coming off seeing Black Flag at Club Red over the Summer, and knowing the history of this band and their energy filled shows over the last 3 decades! Well you answered the question. All those people were there waiting to see Blink 182. Listen kiddos if it wasn't for Black Flag, there would be no Blink 182.  Get a History lesson or get out twerps! lol.  By me saying this in no way compares the two bands. However pop-punk followed hardcore punk in some twisted way. Thanks for the story.  Chicago is a great town. Lots of cool bars and restaurants, museums, and music!  I am not sure they could top this one though. The REPLACEMENTS!

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