From September 14th to the 16th, Chicago will once again host Riot Fest, a punk music festival that originated in our fair city eight years ago and has since expanded to Philadelphia, Toronto, Dallas, and Brooklyn. As the flagship location, Chicago’s lineup reigns supreme in quantity and quality, showcasing a wide range of artists that satisfy the musical appetite of at least three generations of fans with varying levels of punk credibility and taste. This is what makes Riot Fest different from, say, Warped Tour.
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The extensive lineup for the 8th Annual Afropunk Festival, a free event held in Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, included acts like Alice Smith, Reggie Watts, the Supasonics, Straight Line Stitch, Purple Ferdinand, Das Racist, Toro Y Moi, Janelle Monáe, TV on the Radio and Erykah Badu with the Cannabanoids as her backing band. Some surprises were in store, like Mos Def’s appearance for one song with Badu and Pharrell’s introduction of Ms. Monáe. But there was also a cancellation from the band Gym Class Heroes (for better or worse, as Monáe’s set was extended to compensate). New this year was a roundup of food trucks parked just outside the gates. A lot of NYC regulars, like Kelvin Natural Slush and Korilla BBQ, were serving up refreshments and meals till dusk. Back again were the local vendors with their crafts, fashion and art, as well as sponsors with samples and games.
In its fourth year, Electric Zoo will again be held over Labor Day Weekend on Randall’s Island. Though I missed it last year (having covered it the first two years run of the festival in 2009 and 2010), the event planners don’t look to have changed much in terms of the setup. There are still four stages and I’m sure the production will be tight for artists like Guetta, A-Trak, Axwell, Tiesto, Benassi and Sasha.
Electric Zoo has several years ahead of the local incarnation of the Electric Daisy Carnival (which took place earlier this summer in the Meadowlands of New Jersey) so there are likely many return fans buying up tickets. But there is no overlap of artists between the EDC and this events, dividing fans.
The Governor’s Ball Music Festival in New York City on Sunday was a professional, well-calibrated affair. Water, bathrooms, concessions, and ATMs were abundant, and artists were punctual to a T. Not only was each set performed according to the precisely timed, non-overlapping schedule, but each act also indulged the diverse crowd by playing their hits.
Ohio’s Nelsonville Music Festival is fast becoming the highlight of my yearly concert-going. Produced by Stuart’s Opera House, the three day festival once again took place at the Historic Village of Robbins Crossing at Hocking College. A relaxed atmosphere, friendly organizers, and comparatively low ticket prices all contribute to the festival’s charm. But music is the main feature and last weekend’s array of acts offered something for fans of every taste.
// Notes from the Road
"Radio 104.5's birthday show featured great bands and might have been the unofficial start of summer festival season in the Northeast.READ the article