Ice-T and Body Count, Devo, Flaming Lips, K. Flay and Blackstarkids close Riot Fest


After a stretch where performers were forced off the road amid a pandemic in America, an interesting trend began to emerge on the festival stage as live music began to return this summer. Young artists who emerged just before or during the pandemic, cultivating massive audiences online through YouTube, Twitch and streaming services – but who were denied the opportunity to road test their creations in the studio for nearly a year and a half – suddenly were able to book what would become some of their first concerts.

Artists would spend years perfecting their sound and developing a stage personality, moving from small venues and clubs to theaters and opening up niches before appearing on the stage at a festival. But at Lollapalooza this year, the amorphous do-it-yourself mashup specialist presented their very first festival in Chicago, a huge coming out night. Last weekend at Riot Fest, the Kansas City Blackstarkids trio performed for the seventh time in their career.

“These are our first shows. So it’s not even like a readjustment, it’s just like an adjustment. This is something that we were so excited to do. It’s just a rewarding feeling for me, ”Ty said. “Honestly being the exact opposite of the concert experience has been crazy. Because we’ve all been to concerts most of our lives and it’s fun. But being able to actually play was something totally different, ”added Deiondre. “It was just a bit long in coming – making these albums and not being able to release them in front of the world on stage,” Gabe added. “I also think the tours have just helped our mental health. Because you don’t like your music when you keep making albums. So when you go back to a song and play it live, it’s like, ‘It was a big time in our lives!’ “

The young group absorbs elements of hip-hop, pop and indie rock, creating a sound impossible to classify. They go one step further by incorporating a wide range of references to television, film and other pop cultures. Performing as a five-piece band on stage Sunday at Riot Fest, Blackstarkids incorporated a Chicago-specific label from a Chief Keef mixtape into their live set, catering to the local crowd.

After a series of mixtapes, the group prepares the release of their first full album Puppies forever October 15 via Dirty Hit ahead of tour dates this fall alongside Glass Animals and beabadoobee.

“Really, looking at everything, everything seeps in. And then you start listening to your own music and forming your own tastes and that’s where you find A Tribe Called Quest, which is the biggest influence on us as a band. But also Beastie Boys, Toro Y Moi, Blood Orange, Tyler, the Creator and Odd Future, ”explained Ty, who expressed his disappointment with the absence of the Riot Fest sets earlier in the weekend of Smashing Pumpkins and Lupe Fiasco. “But pop culture as a whole. We grew up in the 2000s and we took everything: TV shows, movies, everything. We were just kids consuming all the media back then. Zoey 101. Cartoon network. As for the movies, Scott Pilgrim vs the world, Bad girls. Diary of a weakling child, these movies and books. Lots of things, ”he said, as Gabe checked the name further. iCarly and Malcolm in the middle.

For young artists in the age of streaming, it has become incredibly difficult to monetize recorded music. Touring became the most important source of income, a nightly opportunity to sell branded goods directly to an engaged fan base.

By only now hosting their first live sets, Blackstarkids are citing their label to keep them afloat with live performances off the table amid COVID.

“The way these streaming services pay, you can’t live on it. They pay you pennies, ”Ty said. “Shout out at Dirty Hit. Fortunately, they took care of us throughout the pandemic and made sure we were straight. But, before that, there really wasn’t any money coming in. The only way to make money is through shows and merchandise – and you really sell most of your stuff at shows anyway.

This week, Blackstarkids will release their latest single “ACAB”. Opening with an incisive guitar riff, the catchy new track makes a statement.

“It was inspired by pretty much everything that happened,” Ty explained. “All of our lives growing up we have known the relationship between the black community in particular and the police. But just seeing how the country reacted to the death of George Floyd, and the protests that we had in our town that we have witnessed, seeing the interactions of the police with the people of our town – that was just kinda our reaction to what we saw and experienced as a result of this.

“All stand up for Illinois’ new national anthem,” said the always-quoted Ice-T Sunday in Chicago’s Douglass Park on stage at Riot Fest, featuring the controversial 1992 single Body Count “Cop Killer.”

Well ahead of its time, Ice-T’s lyrics have always channeled the socially conscious sensibility of the best punk rock, highlighting the relationship between the police and the black community decades before it made headlines. , with Body Count’s unique fusion of hard rock and rap, proving to be equally influential.

Body Count kicked off their set by giving Slayer’s “Raining Blood” a spin on its own, with guitarist co-founder Ernie C ripping through the thrash metal classic from the start.

Onstage at Riot Fest, Ice-T was wily, entertaining, and precise throughout Body Count’s hour on the Riot Stage.

“You have to wait for some pop,” rapper Sunday joked, “setting the stage for“ Drive By. ”“ But it’s Body Count… We’re going to play songs for the pit! ”

The mosh pit raged as the band made their way through tracks like “No Lives Matter” from their 2017 album. Thirst for blood, with Ice-T’s daughter and five-year-old wife Coco Austin briefly appearing on stage before “Talk Sh-t, Get Shot.”

“Riot Fest, how are you feeling today? My name is K.Flay and I am very happy to be here with you on this beautiful Sunday!

Born in the suburbs of Chicago, the singer, rapper and rocker walked 60 minutes of music on the Roots stage on her return to the festival, a thrilling bassline to “Good Girl” as K. Flay spun her a dervish. turner across the stage. just during “FML”.

In the middle of his set, K. Flay played an old commercial for the ’90s ABC Friday night TV programming block TGIF, one that featured the vocal styles of Full house star John Stamos, one more in a long tradition of Stamos references by Riot Fest, who already featured a butter sculpture of the actor in 2013 followed by an art installation inspired by Stamos years later.

A highlight on Sunday at Riot Fest was the return to the Devo Synth-Pop New Wave Heroes Festival.

The group began with “Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man)” and “Peek-a-Boo”, rolling out their biggest hits soon after, donning their red energy domes before “Girl U Want” and their iconic yellow jumpsuits before their unique interpretation of the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”.

“Here’s one we’re working on…”, reflected frontman Mark Mothersbaugh in a fun, funny version of “Whip It”.

After a set that opened with frontman Wayne Coyne expressing disappointment at the lack of vaccination in his home state of Oklahoma, the Flaming Lips deftly went through an hour-long set on the Roots stage, a late addition to Riot Fest replacing Pixies.

“Scream!” Coyne said, wearing a mask on stage as he incited the audience.

Spending the majority of his time on stage in his patented plastic bubble, Coyne seemed mesmerized by the rise of a harvest moon in the southern sky, with the fall season officially set to start on Wednesday.

“Now it’s barely happening, but there’s a beautiful fall moon about to rise there,” Coyne said on the festival stage on Sunday. “I can’t imagine a nicer night to attend a festival as beautiful as Riot Fest. Riot Festival changes the meaning of the word “riot”. When we say ‘riot’ we mean ‘beautiful’, ”the singer said as the band entered their 90s biggest hit“ She Don’t Use Jelly ”.

On Sunday at Riot Fest, the Flaming Lips featured dueling percussionists alongside new multi-instrumentalist Micah Nelson, son of Willie.

For his part, playing the insane frontman of an acid-fueled circus show during uncertain times, Coyne was the epitome of positivity as the group forced fans to think with a synthesized rendition of “Do You. Realize ?? “

“When you go back out into the world, try to remind yourself that we’re not going anywhere if we think, ‘I’m right and fuck you,'” he said. “Thank you for showing the world that the Riot Festival has always been the coolest and greatest punk rock festival there has ever been. Thank you for taking care of each other. “

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