Acts We’re Most Excited to See and Avoid at 2014 Chicago Riot Fest

Now that the 2014 Chicago Riot Fest line-up is out, it’s time to meticulously go through the list and declare outloud to no one in particular which bands we’re most excited about seeing (which all but cosmically guarantees that the about-to-be mentioned bands will be scheduled to play at the same time on different stages, thereby forcing us to make a musical Sophie’s Choice) and which bands we can do without. Here goes:

Acts We’re Most Excited to See

The Orwells – In a contentious category of hometown heroes, The Orwells (eventhough they’re technically from Elmhurst) take the TipsyCake. Not convinced? Obviously you didn’t see their performance on Letterman. Let’s watch!
And eventhough Mario Cuomo didn’t sing the 2nd verse, that song still rips. You can listen to full studio version here.

Tegan & Sara – We (specifically, me) don’t give a crud what you think. Tegan & Sara are the best! The only reason we (me) didn’t put them first is because our (my) tool co-workers didn’t want us (me) to embarrass them and this hotel. We wouldn’t have made it through law school if it wasn’t for The Con. We went to their show a couple years ago and it was like a Thursday evening in Andersonville. Should be interesting to see them play to a totally different crowd.

The Hotelier – When we found out that there was a band called The Hotelier, we immediately were intrigued. How could we not be? We work at a hotel! The entire cast of True Blood undoubtedly feels the same way about Vampire Weekend. The fact that The Hotelier totally rip sealed the deal in our love affair, although we were slightly disappointed that, despite being from Worcester, MA, they don’t sound like Dennis Leary.

The National – Of all the singers that will take the stage at Humboldt Park this September, none will be as pleasurable to impersonate as Matt Berninger (barely inching out Glenn Danzig). And we’ve heard what the Riot Fest regulars have said about The National being undeserving of the headlining spot this year. However, contrary to their expressed disappointment, The National has some ragers. Obviously, those scum-talking self-crowned Riot elitist that dismiss The National haven’t heard some of their burningest barn-burners like Abel or Mr. November.

Hot Snakes – For those of you that missed R.F.T.C. last year, we hate you, and hope you get nipple cancer and lactate tumors until you die. Of all John Reis’s acts, Hot Snakes is definitely in our top 5. They’re just the perfect mixture of punk, garage rock, noise and hard drugs. All things that make live shows great.

Murder City Devils – This may be trite, but as hospitality workers, we profoundly relate to Spencer Moody’s lyrics that relate touring musicians that relate to truckers that relate to pirates. It’s something about having a profession that demands service 24-hours a day. Unlike your cushy desk jobs, where the office closes at 5:30pm (4pm on Fridays), Holiday Jones never closes. We’re always here working for you. Like a smuggler, like a trucker, drinking when we should be sleeping, sleeping when we should be waking up. Never hungover. Either wide awake or way…too…druuuuuunk.

NoFX – We see NoFX every year when they play the House of Blues. We even went to see them both nights in a row 2-years ago. Yes, they’re a group of compulsive alcoholics, and they will screw up every song they attempt to play, but for a band as deeply in a haze as NoFX, they are acutely self-aware. They know their best years are behind them, and they know that for every new batch of a dozen songs they put out every other year, only about 1.5 of them are good. But their setlist always reflects that. With a heavy dose of classic, White Trash to So Long hits, peppered with a dusting of more recent top-shelfers like Cokie and Seeing Double. This time through Chicago, they’re trimming the ever bulging fat and giving their nostalgia-yearning, middle aged fans exactly what they want: 1994’s Punk in Drublic, from start to finish. We can’t wait to see who sings Kim Shattuck’s verse on Lori Meyers.

Wu-Tang Clan – We don’t know what Wu-Tang is doing on the Riot Fest bill this year, and they probably don’t know either. They just know that there’s a big pile of money waiting for them in a park somewhere in west Chicago. They also probably know that if you divide their 50-minute set by the 9-MCs in the group, minus the time that its just the DJ spinning, each MC only needs to rhyme for approximately 4.3-minutes to get paid. Still the greatest hip-hop act of all time.

The Menzingers – We’re aware of what kind of risks we’re running by including the Menzingers on this list. Reader’s may not approve. For one, of all the acts on this list, the Menzingers have been a band for the least amount of time. Second, they’re from Scranton, PA. A decidedly non-rocking town. But, they still have the best songs, and their last two records are perfect. Also, unlike most bands, the Menzingers do not have one single goodlooking member. They’re all 5s or less. It’s difficult to prove it, but it is

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widely believed by everyone at Holiday Jones that this is related to, if not entirely the reason for, them rocking so hard.

GWAR – We saw GWAR last year, and it was really more vaudeville stand-up comedy than fist-pumping metal.

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We think that’s a good thing. Riot Fest takes itself a little too seriously sometimes. We were all brokenhearted after the passing of Oderus Urungus, and sort of figured that it marked the end of GWAR. But apparently, that wasn’t the case. GWAR licked their wounds, wiped off their synthetic rubber armor and are now back to insincerely rocking.

Acts We’re Most Excited to Avoid

GWAR – What is this, GWAR? Are you a band or a professional sports franchise where the players change, but the uniforms stay the same? You’re all 50. Isn’t it time to throw in the towel? You’re not only embarrassing yourselves, but your kids and grand kids as well. How many more of your members need to die before you hang up your Army of Darkness extras costumes and get real jobs.

Danzig – As we write this, we’re starting to realize there are a lot of repeats from last year. One act we do not need to see again is Glenn Danzig. It’s not (entirely) because of this photo: glenn-danzig-kitty-litterAnd it’s not because he’s old. We like old Danzig. We just hate the way he butchers his old songs. He can’t really sing anymore and his guitarist adds these irritating ringing harmonics to every riff. What compounds the lackluster performance is how they reminds us of the shredding masterpieces they parody. Double bass, single 5-string guitar masterpieces like this:

Pussy Riot – Mad respect for the standing up for free speech and the right to rock. We think that’s all great. We also LOVE the name. Easily one of the best band names of all time. And we really really want to like your music. We love punk music and Doctor Zhivago. But you’re just so bad at it. And not bad in a fun G.G. Allin sort of way. You’re bad on all levels. You’re like if Jan Terri did punk covers of Tokio Hotel songs in Russian. Your music is so bad, it’s actually confusing. Like it could just be a performance art piece that doesn’t stop at challenging staunch Russian imperialism of personal freedoms, but mocks the concept of music itself. Frankly, we’re totally into deconstructing the idea of music and songs, but you’re doing it in a profoundly unlistenable way. We know you’ve gotten dozens of American celebrities to rally to your defense, but we guarantee you none of them have ever listened to one of your songs all the way through.

Pizza Underground – When you break it down, it’s strange that we don’t love this band. Afterall, we love pizza, we love the Velvet Underground, and we love Uncle Buck. We think the shortcomings of Pizza Underground come from their half-hearted delivery. It’s just way too regal. Like have you seen this video?

Good parody is about convincing people that you believe in the not-real concept you’re presenting, like Kanye West does. One guitar, hand-claps, and a single-file line of microphones convince us that you lost interest in the joke before we even got a chance to hear it.

Don’t agree with us? You think we’re wrong? Stop acting like such a poltroon and book a room, then when you show up to check-in, you can tell us to our face.