Thursday, September 26, 2013

Riot Fest Chicago Day 1: Goin' Down Swinging

Last week, I had the honor and privilege of attending Riotfest 2013 in the fair city of Chicago, Illinois.  To say the trip was blogworthy would be an understatement. I meant to do this blog last week but every year, like clockwork, I get allergies starting the final week of August and it lasts until the end of September.  This is why I look completely stoned in my 9th-11th grade yearbook photos.  I'm not as pretty and chipper (and apparently punctual) as I normally am during this time, and for that I apologize.  Now, onto my Riotfest experience. 

The trip was off to a fast start, as my friend Andrew and his lovely mother was kind enough to pick up my friend Danny and I at my house, and drive us to the airport for our flight. Things got off on a bad foot when I jokingly asked Danny if he had his Riotfest ticket as we were waiting to get picked up.  Danny then put his hands to his head like Psyduck (had to get a pokemon reference in somehow) and told me he did not, in fact, have his tickets with him, and left them 15 minutes away in Riverside.  This was kinda funny to me but still a pain in the ass, and Danny had to make the call of shame to Andrew to tell him the bad news.  As Danny rushed back home to get the tickets, Andrew and his mom picked me up and we basically made fun of Danny for being an idiot the whole ride.  We ended up getting Danny, gave him a slow clap as he entered the car, and drove off to the airport.  

The plane ride was boring.  Nothing fun happened.

We end up making it to Chicago in no time, and after dropping our valuables off at Andrew's friends' apartment, we were off to start the weekend right.  We went to some bar called the Wild Rover or Wild River or Mild Quiver or something like that, and joined what turned out to be a flag football team commiserating after a tough loss that night.  Apparently, this flag football team was sponsored by the bar and they get drink deals after games or something like that, so needless to say Andrew asked his friends on the team if we could get in on the action, and for some odd reason they agreed.  While at this bar, I think it was Wild River, we started chatting up our waitress and when one of us asked her where she was from she told us "oh just a small town in Rhode Island, you won't know it", we all kind of freaked out and hated the fact that Rhode Island is so damn small that there was a chance that we had mutual friends.  Honestly, I was shocked that we didn't know any of the same people.  I'm almost doubting that this girl was really from Rhode Island, because it just doesn't seem possible.  

Another character from Wild Rover I met was my new lawyer named Joe.  Joe, I think I gave you my business card for the blog, and if you're reading this now, I hope you know it was fun and that you are definitely still my lawyer for years to come.  Basically, after talking to Joe about life in general, and learning that he is in law school, I may or may not have drunkenly (yet seriously) hired myself a lawyer when he gets his degree.  The trip was successful already and I hadn't been in Chicago for more than 4 hours.  After enjoying some adult beverages and some appetizers, and paying 50% of what we should have paid due to this absurd flag football discount, we were off to some other place.  We wrapped up Thursday night by going to some weird park where for some reason a frisbee was tossed around for a bit, and then went to Devil Dawgs.  Every now and then, I have to give a shameless plug via Breakfast at Jimothy's.  Normally it is only reserved for talented friends and people who I think really, really deserve it, so I'm not bullshitting you all when I give props to a place/person.  When you visit Chicago, you need to go to Devil Dawgs by DePaul's campus.  This place is wonderful.  I went there about 4 years ago and remembered it, and convinced my friends and new lawyer to go back there this night.  Two cheese dogs and fries later, I can honestly say that it was still awesome as always.  Granted, I have never had Devil Dawgs sober or in the day light, but this place certainly has the Breakfast at Jimothy's stamp of approval.  

Looks weird in the day time.
Riotfest didn't start until 4 on Friday, so we got to sleep in for a bit which I think was much needed for all three of us.  To kill some time before hand, we decided to hang out by Wrigley Field and check out that happenin' scene.  This led to Andrew showing Danny and I the greatest bar I have ever step foot in.  Seriously, I didn't think it was possible that a bar could overtake #1 in my heart over Danny's Place in Providence, but Slugger's in Chicago might have done the impossible.  Slugger's stands out because in addition to a bar on the first floor, there is an upstairs that has batting cages.  Batting cages.  If you're wondering if it's awesome to hit some baseballs while drinking, the answer is yes.  It was amazing.  This is what Dave & Buster's should be like.  In addition to batting cages, there was skee ball, Guitar Hero, pop-a-shot basketball, some stupid Hurricane simulator machine that kinda blew (ha!) and the real gem, bubble hockey.  Bubble hockey is such a rare sight these days.  I love that game.  I have to play it whenever I have an opportunity.  You could put one of those bad boys in a funeral home, or, worse, Whole Foods, and I will have to play.  So underrated.  

I need me one of these.

After having the best afternoon ever at Slugger's, we went to the Cubs Proshop where Danny purchased the ugliest/best Cubs shirt ever, seen here:

Honestly, how awful is that shirt?  They should make prisoners wear that instead of orang jumpsuits.  That would decrease crime across the nation.  Anyways, after Danny made the best purchase of the trip, we toured Wrigley Field which was pretty cool.  It was kind of weird though, one part of the tour that they didn't show us was all the World Series trophies the Cubs have won over the years.  I feel kind of jipped.  


We arrived at Riotfest in time to catch all of Yellowcard's set.  I think this was a very fitting band to see first.  It really represented the core age group at the festival.  I knew about 3 songs that they played, and the crowd went real bonkers when they closed their set with 'Ocean Avenue'.  It scared me how I could remember most of the words to that song and not important things that I learned in college psychology classes.  The general mood of the festival was really the rekindling of teen angst.  It really catered to those people who miss the glory days of their favorite bands who they no longer listen to because their newer albums don't compare to their earlier stuff that they liked.  Of the 3 days of the festival, this was my least favorite in terms of bands playing, but we did get to catch punk legends Bad Religion who put on a pretty intense set, and they even played the two songs I knew by them, which were featured on Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2.  

At one point, everyone got split up from each other.  This was when we all realized how awful the cell phone reception was at Humboldt Park.  I'm guessing it was because there were thousands upon thousands of angsty kids now in their 20's, but the signal really was bad.  This was one of those times where I honestly don't know how people survived without cell phones.  Doesn't make sense.  So I basically wandered about searching for Dan in his hideous Cubs shirt.  I really thought that it would be impossible to miss him in that shirt, but panic was starting to sink in as both the sun and my cell phone battery got lower and lower.  Eventually, I found Danny over the band merch table, and we decided to go get some beers and check out GWAR instead of Joan Jett.  For those of you who don't know GWAR, they are a band of guys who dress up in these outrageous costumes and are known for stage antics like squirting the crowd with a 'blood canon' and killing monsters on stage with swords and axes and stuff.  It was pretty entertaining, but somewhat unsettling at the same time.  My jaw really dropped when the lead singer ended up killing 'Super Zombie Jesus' and beheaded him, with blood squirting out of his neck.  It made the Kill Bill movies look PG.  After listening to songs about genocide, murder, and other cheery topics, we decided to go check out Sublime With Rome.  In a word, they were awesome.  Sublime is one of those bands where you just don't know what they really could've achieved had their singer not overdosed way too young.  Their new singer, Rome, is an awesome fill in, however, and they were a great band to see live.  They played all the crowd pleasers and there was a lot of sing a longs happening during their set.  

GWAR just killing it. Not sure if that was meant figuratively. 
The headliner on Friday was Fall Out Boy.  Never was crazy about Fall Out Boy to be honest.  Looking back on it, I remember preppy girls in middle school/early high school absolutely loving them, and the beginning of 'Dance, Dance' because it is so damn catchy.  Anyways, back to Riotfest, Fall Out Boy was in their hometown and playing a lot of new stuff apparently, which annoyed some people, but they sounded pretty good I guess.  Things got kind of scary when they had to stop their set for a bit to tell all those crazy mosh pit kids to play nice and pick up people who fall and stuff.  There was one girl who had to be carried out in a stretcher, which is not good because 1. she got hurt and 2. she got hurt while seeing Fall Out Boy.  Talk about salt in the wound.  Sugar, you're going down, indeed.  

We wrapped up the night by going to some other Chicago bars after the painful experience of finding a cab after a festival, which is never fun.  At one point Danny gave his number to a girl while still wearing his Cubs shirt out in public, and tucked in, which was a real good way to start closing the night.  After some more bar hopping, which included meeting a bouncer who joked around with us about Danny's shirt, and a guy hitting on me and knocking over a drink on me which was pretty awkward in numerous ways, we decided to call it a night and end Day 1 of Riotfest 2013. 

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