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Riot Fest Day 1: George Clinton rocks at 82, Tegan and Sara fall in love with Chicago

Riot Fest Day 1: George Clinton rocks at 82, Tegan and Sara fall in love with Chicago

Riot Fest 2023 got off to a sunny start on Friday, which could be the only rays crowds will see this weekend if the forecast holds true for Saturday and Sunday.

But that day, the park was full of life with a dose of warm energy matching the sunlight. In many ways, Chicago’s music festival season saves one of its best for last, with the indie-spirited, community-flavored Riot Fest serving as a big goodbye to the season.

Acts ramped up and were ready to kick off early in the day with the Riot, Rebel, Roots, Radical and Rise stages ready to present a full platter of sounds for Day 1.

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Here’s a look at some of Friday’s highlights:

tegan and sara

The duo opened with “You Wouldn’t Like Me,” a hit from their 2004 album “So Jealous” that had the crowd dancing. “I Can’t Grow Up” from 2022’s “Crybaby” followed.

After an energetic performance of “Where Does the Good Go,” Tegan further endeared the duo to the crowd by telling the story of how she took an architectural boat tour and is contemplating staying in Chicago for six months straight. after falling. love with the city.

However, the duo, known for their pranks with fans, should have focused more on their music, as another between-song story a few minutes later seemed to bore many of the audience. Once they were back playing music, the duo continued to deliver their pop songs without deviating much from what’s on their albums. Despite this, the crowd seemed happy with it and knew what they were coming for. —Bob Chiarito

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Tegan and Sara perform on Day 1 of Riot Fest at Douglass Park on the Southwest Side.

The breeders

This year there are seven album performances scheduled at Riot Fest, one of the most anticipated is The Breeders performing “Last Splash” to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the album that defined the ’90s.

“We’re here to play an album that came out in 1993 from start to finish, even the slow songs that are too weird to play live,” Kim Deal said to start.

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Sure enough, things “got weird” on the droning “Roi” in which bassist Josephine Wiggs and drummer Jim MacPherson swapped places; Then, Kim’s twin, Kelley Deal, had her moment to shine, taking lead vocals on “I Just Wanna Get Along.”

Following the order of the songs on the album, the hit “Cannonball” came in second place in the performance, before which Kim Deal shouted “Viva México” into the microphone to commemorate Mexican Independence Day on Saturday.

The song’s distorted vocal effects were a total throwback moment as older Riot fans pulled out their phones to capture the memory. -Selena Fragassi


The Breeders perform on Day 1 of Riot Fest at Douglass Park on the Southwest Side.

ani difranco

Folk rocker Ani DiFranco, who thanked her fans for sticking with her “through the decades,” pulled half of her songs from her 1996 album “Dilate” and 1998 “Little Plastic Castle,” which celebrates her 25th anniversary.

DiFranco, who at one point referred to herself as the “patron saint of bisexuality,” thrilled her fans, many of whom come from the LGBTQ+ community, with three songs from “Little Plastic Castle”: “Pixie,” the title song, and “Two Girls.”

While he also played three songs from his seminal album, “Dilate,” including “Shameless,” probably the rockiest song of his set; “Napoleon” and “Untouchable Face”; She also mixed “Do or Die” and “Simultaneamente” from her 2021 “Revolutionary Love,” her most recent release. Performing those sounds, which have a more funk feel, DiFranco really shined and showed off a sultry, almost jazzy voice. —Bob Chiarito


Ani DiFranco performs on Friday on Day 1 of Riot Fest at Douglass Park.

The switches

The band, rounded out by singer Aimee Interrupter and touring member Billy Kottage on keyboards and trombone, showed off the magic behind their longevity in a high-energy set full of anthems that had more than a few in the crowd doing skank dances.

The band revisited good oldies like “Take Back The Power” and songs from their latest album “In The Wild,” released in April. There was also a cover of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” that worked surprisingly well as a windy ska track before the group ended with a toast to fans who would “come to events like Riot Fest and support live music.” .-Selena Fragassi


The Interrupters will perform on Friday at Day 1 of Riot Fest in Douglass Park. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Parliament-Funkadelic with George Clinton

George Clinton, at 82, was probably the driver of the large crowd of festival-goers who showed up for the noon set on the Rise Stage.

Clinton has been teasing his farewell for a while now, and the man certainly deserves to retire in the same blaze of glory with which he first made his entrance.

Parliament-Funkadelic introduced him to House of Pain’s “Jump Around” and reminded the crowd: “Focus your attention this hour on the man who’s been doing it for almost 70 years. …He has had many names over the years, but to us he is simply our big brother.”

P-Funk provided a united front to deliver the level of musicality that Clinton masters, with noisemakers, shakers, and an incredible horn and rhythm section that at times seemed like a second line. It was still a great celebration of an incredible life. -Selena Fragassi

George Clinton performs with Parliament-Funkadelic on the first day of Riot Fest in Douglass Park on the Southwest Side.

George Clinton performs with Parliament-Funkadelic on the first day of Riot Fest in Douglass on Friday.

Olivia Jean

After a heavy dose of Chicana punk rock from Fea and electricity from alternative rockers, the Aquadolls started the day, Olivia Jean took over the Riot Stage with her three-piece backing band for a performance that was built on raw determination and starting precision.

Hailing from Nashville, where he’s part of the Third Man Records empire, Jean infused his set with the same style of retro analog rock the label is known for, and a bit of gothic flair, at various points in the 30-minute performance, leaning towards surf rock signatures, bluesy guitar licks, garage rock venom and even some sludgy riffs on tracks from his three solo albums since splitting from the Black Belles. Her latest work, “Raving Ghost,” was released in May.

Riot Fest was Jean’s time to shine, and she did it beautifully on her own terms, without the need for guest stars. -Selena Fragassi

Olivia Jean performs on the first day of Riot Fest at Douglass Park on the Southwest Side.

Olivia Jean performs on Friday at Day 1 of Riot Fest at Douglass Park.



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