Riot Fest 2014 Reflections

Ramblings, Reflections, and Tiny Confessions

(Concise Music Journalism this Is Not…)

Back in MY day, music festivals TOURED, dammit. None of this all day-weekend 80 hundred bands kinda thing. I went to the first four Lollapalooza tours from 1991-1994, a period spanning high school into college. I stayed in Kalamazoo in the summer of 1995 for theatre stuff, and then didn’t Metallica headline at one point? I mean, no offense to Metallica (I dig ’em), but Metallica? Whatever. I’ve not gone back to Lolla even though it sits in my own backyard.

I would’ve last year. For The Cure of course. Alas, I was unavoidabley out of town, and that post-Lolla Monday, I sulked on my hotel bed in Stratford, Ontario while my husband and his parents went swimming. I watched the video of the entire set on my phone. I wished I’d been there, despite all the…people.

So when Riot Fest announced The Cure as a headliner, it was a no brainer that I’d go. If I missed them AGAIN for this their second summer in a row in Chicago, then I’d officially suck and have to turn in my Cure card. I bit the bullet and got a 3-day pass (thank you, honey!) as they hadn’t announced each day’s line-ups (that’s how they get ya!) and I didn’t want to stress over single-day ticket stuff. No VIP thing for me (I was tempted by the better bathrooms and lounges…) For the last September of my 30s, I thought I’d “slum it with the kids” and just deal with the mess. Didn’t imagine how messy it was going to be. But we were all in this together: the “babies” (literal babies and teen-and-20-somethings both) and the more vintage of us. And really, there was something for everyone based on age and styles. I had an awesome time, and now that my bones are like Oh, you’re not going to be standing in mud all day? and they don’t hate me so much, I get back into the groove of my week and take some time to reflect on my adventure.


The early weather forecasts for this first Riot day had called for cloudy and 72. Yeah, not so much. Ever the Boy Scout, I packed my satchel with essentials including a travel poncho, sanitizer, earplugs (!), water bottle, sunscreen (for later in the weekend…), my ticket folded into a plastic bag, and Cold-Eze to fight the cold I picked up on Monday after my dentist appointment. I was actually feeling better by the weekend, but ya know, keeping myself in check. Properly layered with my outer jacket good for any light to moderate rain. I made it to Ashland after work and took the bus down to North. Was going to take the North bus, but kept waiting and waiting and, eff it I’ll walk. I joined up with others doing to same thing and talked with Javier and Kristie (??) along the way. We parted ways at the gate. Hope they had fun.

Okay, so here we. My goal was for a 5:00 arrival, and I made it with time to spare. My first band of the weekend was The Hotelier over at the smaller Revolt Stage. Found a tree on the edges of the healthy crowd to hold off the rain that was somewhere between a mist and a light drizzle. Good opening act for me! They describe themselves as a anti-pop anarcho punk band, but they still have some catchy pop sensibilities. In the best, accessible way if I’m making sense. I preferred when the vocals were melodic and clear over when they got screamy. The inner sanctum of the crowd was way into them, and they had their fans who knew the words and communally thrashed their heads. My favorite was the dude in the pink plastic hat thing. Looking forward to listening to more of their recordings.

After a little time to peruse the spiky jewelry and t-shirts with cool stuff on them that I’d never buy or wear and getting better acquainted with the lay of the land, I was back at the Revolt Stage for From Indian Lakes. They brought a more chill Northern California vibe. A slightly cleaner sound, though I felt like the bass levels were way up in general on this stage. Listening to them as I type, and I dig how they can switch from Fleet Foxes mellow (but not as wispy if that makes sense) to punk rock heavy without missing a beat. Again, I look forward to listening to more of their stuff.

Good starting at this smaller stage. Got me acclimated to the festival, the crowds, the people watching opportunities, and I didn’t feel like the world was pressing in on my organs. That would be later. From there, I made my way to the main Riot Stage and saw my friend Anna. Cool! I helped lead her to the left side of the sound booth where her friend Trish said to meet her. The weather was getting worse–colder and rainier. But I was good. Anna not as much. Trish arrived, and we were there in time for Gogol Bordello. They obviously have a large fan base, and I know they’ve been around, but they’re new to me. A Gypsy punk band with a Ukrainian lead singer (Eugene Hütz from Everything Is Illuminated!) The music is exactly what you’d expect, and it was awesome! One song intro sounded very traditional, and I said to Anna, this is the part of the show where Ernie’s mother starts dancing a traditional Romanian peasant dance. Loved every second! So now I’m sold, and I’ll listen to them more. During the show, the rain fell harder, but Trish had an umbrella even though they were on the No-no list. Since were further back, I didn’t feel so bad. From my angle, I loved watching the Pokeman and lit-up Mario on sticks bouncing in the crowd. The girls were done and over it for the evening after GB. So as the crowd moved out, I moved up and got a pretty sweet spot for Jane’s Addiction.

The rain continued, but never so torrential that I was like I hate my life. My poncho never did make it out of my bag, though it probably should have. My layers and Makers Mark baseball cap kept me decently dry, but I asked a lot of them. Got to talking to folks waiting with me. A few of my vintage who also remembered seeing Jane’s headline the first Lollapalooza tour. Tim and Desiree. And nutty Jean from Pensacola, Florida who flew up here primarily for Jane’s. She wasn’t letting anything rain on HER parade, yo. She loved how everyone in Chicago was so nice to her and made her feel like a part of the city. Glad we’re doing our part to be hospitable.

So Jane’s: effin rad. A handful of bands were set to play an entire album in its entirety. Jane’s played all of Nothing’s Shocking from “Up the Beach” to “Pigs in Zen,” and including of course “Jane Says” (when they brought out the kettle drum), “Mountain Song,” and “Standing in the Shower…Thinking.” I hadn’t listened to it straight through in a while so I had fun listening and remembering. Perry Ferrel was crazy and cooky as ever and I loved him for it. Dave Navaro was tank- topped and rocker-hot as usual. Perry would just start monologuing about whatever, including how he could take a bubble bath on stage with all the rain water. A few times, a bass note would hit and it felt like the who city shook, like something was off with the sound booth (guess bass is a tricky wicket). Glad I had my earplugs. Looked like Dave yelled at one of the stage guys about it after the second time it happened. Perry did make his way into the crowd on my side. I was just out of reach, but I was so close. Jean freaked out, and was very explicit about the brick she shit. Ha! I grabbed a couple photos that turned out decent enough. Pretty awesome! The closed with a couple songs of Ritual de lo Habitual which is the album I got into them with, really based on my age and time of life and all that. “Been Caught Stealing,” where at the first Lolla, Perry introed the song by asking the crowd, “Do you like my pants? Well, why don’t you steal ’em?!” The closed with “Stop!” which is one of my faves. No “Classic Girl” unfortunately. In fact they stopped a few minutes early, I think cos of the rain. Looked like the fire marshall was on stage there. Perry was afraid we’d all catch pneumonia. With all that rain (among other rules…), there were of course no bonfires behind me like on the hill at Lolla where when I looked back during Jane’s, I counted at least 14 of them. Listening to Shocking as I type. I only have Ritual on cassette with the censored cover. Of all my old faves, that one never made the digital transition. Not even a CD from the South Bend library. I should fix that. Jean and I walked part of the way to the gate together. We gave each other a big wet hug before parting ways. I hope she had a fun rest of her weekend!

Getting home. Best way really was the North Ave bus to the Red Line. I waited in line to get on one of the extra long CTA buses, and managed to snag the last seat across from the back door because the couple sitting there kept smiling at folks so no one sat next to them. I didn’t even notice their moves and saw the empty seat. Getting out of the way plus getting off my muddy (!) feet were my motives. Very friendly folks. Didn’t catch their names. But the guy, a cute buzz cut Latino was jovial and conversational. He asked a number of questions including what art form I’d perform on (he named a plaza) in Madrid, and how many wash cloths I could stack on my erect penis (we got a little more in depth about the varietals involved, but I’ll spare you all that as perhaps I’ve already gotten a little TMI here, ha.) We all talked about our experience so far, comparing notes and commiserating/celebrating the rain and mud.

When my new friends got off at the Blue Line, another couple sat next to me. A New York couple where the fella was very tattooed and I think ear gauged. We got to talking, and then they asked me the best way to get back to Lincoln Park. I started to suggest they take the Red Line one stop up to Fullerton, but then I didn’t know which part of LP they needed to go. Further up to the Halsted and Diversey area. Since the Red Line station is right at Halsted, they I think asked if they could walk, and I said Yeah, that it was only a half mile up. BUT. As I rode up the train toward Fullerton, I realized I had them walking up from Fullerton and not North, which adds another mile to their walk. Ugh! I felt SO bad. Like Mortified at my dingbattedness. My brain did not reboot from the earlier part of the conversation. So yeah, I should’ve had them come with me to the train and then they could walk from there. Here I was trying to be nice and helpful and welcoming to our fair city and I totally bombed. I was like They hate me! I am cursed! If they see me the rest of the weekend they’re going to kick my ass. I knew where they were staying and even thought of calling the hotel to leave a message apologizing. But that would’ve been weird, eh? So, I Tweeted my apology along with sending it through the more traditional Through the Universe route. My Tweet was randomly re-tweeted by a couple folks with not very many followers. Not sure if they were trying to help or laughing at me. I deserve both I guess. At least my new friends who probably hate me got to pass such Chicago cultural institutions such as Steppenwolf and Kingston Mines. So there’s that. Again, SORRY! I obsessed about it some, but as I started thinking about how I’d write about it (here and through more creative means), I calmed down. The power of turning ridiculousness into art. 🙂

Saturday Wait, Sunday Always Comes to Late (Click “more” for the rest! Scroll Down for The Cure.)

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A little Robert for You.

Cure & Smith, Robert

Until next time when I post about various exciting goings on, I share this amazing photo of Robert Smith from The Disintegration era.  The album was part of’s Unlucky in Love list of albums for an anti-Valentine’s Day.  While I’m quite happy with my Valentine, the thoughts about this album and many of the others are lovely.  Especially the ones about the Best Cure Album Ever.


A Night Like This is Just Like Heaven

That's some history there, my friends.

Yeah I took that. How cool is that?! 13th row + zoom lens = Joy. 🙂 The fact that these days camera policies are more relaxed, being allowed to have a camera was quite the novelty. I didn’t go too crazy as I didn’t want the night to be all about the photos. But still WAY cool! Check out the complete set HERE.

Thanks to the fabulous work of Craig over at Chain of Flowers, I don’t have to obsess over keeping track of the set list. Especially when I totally blanked on the name of “Us or Them,” and angry number from the last album. Craig gets live reports! He’s kept quite the extensive archive. Check it out, and also check out the affiliated COF News Blog. Any real Cure fan checks this daily. 🙂 No, seriously. Here’s the complete set list from the Cleveland, Ohio show, June 18, 2008:

Tape (intro), Open, Fascination Street, A Night Like This, The End of the World, Lovesong, Want, Pictures of You, Lullaby, The Perfect Boy, From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea, Kyoto Song, Hot Hot Hot, The Only One, Charlotte Sometimes, Torture, Sleep When I’m Dead, Push, Inbetween Days, Just Like Heaven, Primary, Us or Them, Never Enough, Wrong Number, One Hundred Years, End

1st encore: At Night, M, Play For Today, A Forest
2nd encore: Three Imaginary Boys, Fire In Cairo, Boys Don’t Cry, Jumping Someone Else’s Train, Grinding Halt, 10:15 Saturday Night, Killing An Arab

That’s 3 hours! Not for the weak. It was hot and sweaty and fabulous and Ernie would’ve had a miserable time except for when they played a select few songs. Still a good mix of pop hits and hardcore fan faves, as well as three new songs off the new album (out in September). I’m bummed that they didn’t play the current single, “Freakshow.” I’ve been bouncing around that to several times a day. I’m also bummed that they didn’t play “The Blood,” one of my all time faves that I STILL haven’t seen live, even though they’ve played it 7 times this tour (yes, COF has kept track), and now that my show’s over, I’m comparing notes, especially for the Chicago show I would’ve been to if it weren’t for that whole Australia think. I’ve been avoiding that thus far. They’ve also played “The Big Hand” a handful of times. Holy cripity! That’s like a B-side (though many feel it shoulda made the Wish album cut.)

But enough of my nitpicking non-appreciative fan stuff. 😛 The show was AMAZING!!! My neck is still sore from dancing and bopping around. For the most part I had room to move. At first, I there was an empty seat on my right, but a few songs in, this girl made her way in. Not sure if she was a late single ticket holder or someone who snuck in from a not as groovy seat. The couples on either side of me would sometimes leave to get drinks. Silly. I just don’t get that. I played all instruments in my air band. I rocked.

So cool to have Porl back. Yay! His rocking out the piano solo on “Just Like Heaven” on his guitar was amazing. (No keyboards now in case ya didn’t know). I love Simon’s bass line on “Torture” and Jason’s drumming on “Push” was worthy of Greek gods. Yep. Robert doesn’t dance around a lot, but I did catch a shot him with his arms all up in the air. “Pictures of You” made me think of friends. “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea” is always brilliant live. I don’t think I’ve ever seen “Kyoto Song” live. I need to make a little tally of all the songs I’ve seen live (with the help of COF of course) cos I’m nerdy like that. I loved the 3IB encore even though there were some fans who would’ve probably preferred the Faith encore. Idunno, I think I was in the mood for the cleaner groovier stuff. For a second, I thought they were going to segue into “Another Journey By Train,” the b-side to “Jumping.” A slight heart palpitation, but then they moved into “Grinding Halt” which had fists flying in the air. Yum!

I have my blue t-shirt and my tour book. *Love* I wore my “High” crab necklace.

I stalked the tour bus area for a while and met Shawn, a frequent COF commenter. Now, I am definitely a Cure nerd, but Shawn was rattling of names of remixes like they were his children. 🙂 I say that in the most celebratory way! Even I know so much. So we chatted, then joined another group on the other side of the bus area. But no luck. It was late and cold and my devotion was being slightly tested, but I hung out with peeps until we got a tip off that they might be heading back to the hotel soon. They were staying at the Ritz. Another guy I met, Howard, had met them outside the hotel earlier in the day. Damn! Had I done a little more research and gotten into town a little earlier…. Ah well. By 3 AM, we all decided to bail. The South Dakota girls weren’t coming back we figured. Howard decided to head out, and Heather and her son gave me a ride back to my hotel–the Comfort Inn right across the street from the stadium. No concert traffic for me! So, A for effort, right. Just being in the band’s presence so close (though not as close as those killer 2nd row tix on the Detroit Dream Tour stop in 2000) and being surrounded by their music live was all I could ask for. It really was a religious experience. I feel closer to any sort of higher power at a Cure show than I ever did in Church. I assume that each Cure show I go to is the last (unless, like I had tix for another show on the tour). Since who knows when or if they’ll be back. Still, we legions of Cure freaks wonder if they’ll tour again when the album actually comes out. Hmm….


So, I never remember that April is National Poetry Month. I used to write much more than I do now. I like to think that I’ve carried a poetic voice into my prose and dramatic writing, though.I’m glad it is, because while at Barnes & Noble the other day, there was a poetry display table which included a book of essays on Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass: The Sesquicentennial Essays from 2005. Score for me and my final paper for Jake’s class. I’ll definitely be able to use it!

Some writers do a sort of NaNoWriMo in April by writing a poem a day for the month. That’s a cool idea, and maybe something to think about for next year. For this year, I thought about posting a high school poem a day or something, but I really need to save them for my high school poetry solo show. It’s a project that’s been on the back burner for about 10 years or so. Seriously. It’ll stay on one of the burners until it’s done. I do have a title:

Big Black Room

Dig the font? It’s “Batik Regular”. It’s rather inspiring, I think.

The pre-show mix CD will be all or mostly Cure. Big surprise, right? The biggest challenge of the piece will be deciding the balance between fiction and non-fiction. How much do I embrace the narrators of the poems, especially the more character oriented ones? Am I 15, 16, 17? Am I 33, 34, 35 (or however old I am when I finish the damn thing?) Is it even cool for a 35-year-old to dramatically share teen angst suicide poems? How much “real” stuff do I reflect with each poem? What’s the, like, story of it all?

I know the opening poem. It’ll be one of my faves, “Shut Up!” which I wrote one morning while half paying attention in Spanish 2 class (sorry, Ray!) Ray’s was my teacher, by the way, for those of you who aren’t Ray. Anyway. I was tired and everyone was annoying me. The words, I realize, are slightly more-than-inspired by The Cure’s “Babble,” a B-side to “Fascination Street.” It was also published. But as I eventually learned, not really. I entered it into a World of Poetry Foundation “contest” and was awarded an Honorable Mention. I think that’s what it was called. I couldn’t find it with a quick search. Anyway, all “winners” were invited to include it in their anthology, which we had to pay for. I eventually realized that I was sucked into the world of vanity presses. I still have my book. It’s HUGE. Seriously. Crazily heavy thing that I can’t seem to get rid of. That book is my albatross. Heh.

I look forward to sitting down and really figuring out all the projects I can work on. This show will continue to stay with me. And I’ll tell you all about it right here. But please, do other things with your life while waiting for it. I wouldn’t want to deprive you of fulfillment.

While I’m here, I thought I’d mention that I heard Ron Padgett on A Prairie Home Companion this morning. He read from his latest poetry book, How to be Perfect. I may have to pick it up. That can be my way of supporting poetry for April. Yay.

It’s a beautiful day in the SB. Vienna Teng plays, and I’m feeling the call of my front porch. Be well.

Cure Bound!!!

In case there’s anyone out there who does not know already, The Cure is my ultimate favorite band in the universe and beyond. When they announced their North American tour for this past fall, my friend Nikki and I snatched up Main Floor tix for the Chicago show. But then they postponed the tour for spring. My worst fear came to fruition when the new Chicago date would not work for me. At all. Will be slightly out of town then.
BUT with the new schedule, they added more US dates. This morning, I hopped into the Cleveland pre-sale and snatched up a single ticket. Yeah, I’m going by myself. As much as I’d love to go with Nikki, she didn’t want to go to both, as she has to save money for stalking Duran Duran 🙂 . My best friend, Chris, WILL be going to the Chicago show (we ended up getting different sets of tix based on limits). So, I’m like, I’ll go myself to Cleveland if I have to.
I can’t not go. Not an option. It’s been four years, and who the hell knows when the NEXT time will be. We’re still not sure when the next ALBUM will be out. Latest I heard was early June….
Ticketmaster kept spitting out Lower Level, which woulda been find and all. But with a little patience, I landed a 13th row ticket! 13th row for their 13th album. Left side, I think Porl’s side. I’m SOOO excited! Their music has been so integral to my being for almost 20 years (I was a pre-Disintegration era convert). Cure fans get obsessive. I’ll proudly own up to it.
This will be my 6th Cure show. 1992, 1996, 2000 (twice, including 2nd row in Detroit!), and 2004. Could’ve gone in 1989, but I was stupid and didn’t take my other friend, Chris, up on the offer.
Some day I may post deeper thoughts on various songs, albums, etc. Would be a cool personal project.
Currently listening to Mixed Up in celebration. I realized I never got around to ripping it into my iTunes. Crazy!