Had underdog punk legends the Replacements played Humboldt Park by themselves -- without the festival's dozens of other highly capable acts -- Riot Fest's 2013 edition would have still gone down in alt-rock history. Last month, frontman Paul Westerberg and company played their first show in 22 years at Toronto's Riot Fest stop and Sunday night was another precious chance to see one of alternative's most beloved and influential bands. Reunion hoopla aside, the Replacements' set could have held its own as arguably the weekend's tightest on songcraft and execution alone. Joined by replacement members (no pun intended) Josh Freese (drums) and David Minehan (guitar), Westerberg and original bassist Tommy Stinson, the band's 2013 incarnation proved a high-functioning unit from the set-opening fury of "Takin' A Ride."
There were novelty songs ("Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out"), songs not played at last month's premiere reunion gig ("I Don't Know"), and of course, the juicy essentials ("Alex Chilton," "Bastards of Young"). Onstage, the only thing more irreverent than Westerberg's baggy red shorts was a giant light up middle finger; in other words, the Replacements came as advertised. Watch "On the Bus":
Throughout the festival's three days, indie and punk legacy acts like Pete Hook (playing an assortment of Joy Division and New Order covers), Dinosaur Jr., Violent Femmes, Guided By Voices, and the Pixies (playing tracks from their first new EP in 22 years) rocked hard, grey hairs and all, though when all was said and done, this was the Replacements' time to shine.
Fall Out Boy Q&A: Talking Career, Ramones and Chicago
Older punks might scoff (or worse) at Fall Out Boy's lengthy string of hit albums and singles, but the newly reunited Chicago natives earnestly brought past and present together in their Friday night headlining set. Amongst cuts from their comeback album "Save Rock and Roll," Fall Out Boy welcomed Naked Raygun vocalist Jeff Pezzati onstage for a cover of the seminal Chicago band's 1986 cut "New Dreams." Watch:
And aside from a punk elder statesman, Fall Out Boy presented another guest the kids were a bit more familiar with -- the Stanley Cup. The National Hockey League's ultimate prize was won earlier this year by the hometown Chicago Blackhawks and made a surprise appearance with Pete Wentz and company. The Riot Fest crowd showed plenty of support all weekend (Blackhawks gear shockingly rivaled the amount of beer-themed t-shirts) and the response to the Cup was rightfully frenzied.
The trio that held pop-punk' "TRL" crown before Fall Out Boy -- Blink-182-- headlined Saturday night with a set that also reflected the weekend's old-meets-new vibe. Tracks from last year's underrated "Dogs Eating Dogs" EP proved earned their spot in the Mark, Tom, and Travis show, though of course, their adolescent (and adulthood) anthems were the big ticket. A hit parade that included "What's My Age Again?," "Rock Show," "First Date," "All The Small Things," "I Miss You," and gets punctuated by pre-"Enema of the State" diehard favorites like "Carousel" and "Dammit" made for another stellar headlining set.
And on a smaller scale, there were plenty more highlights for anyone who enjoyed a Warped Tour in the past ten years: Yellowcard, celebrating the 10th anniversary of their breakout LP "Ocean Avenue" closed with its title track, Brand New and Taking Back Sunday traded sets and continued the ongoing debate for Long Island emo superiority, and a torrid set from Bad Religion confirmed there's a good chance they'll still be rocking hard to "American Jesus" and "21st Century Digital Boy" in another 20 years.
Riot Fest's buzz band quota of course lags behind that of a Pitchfork Fest or Coachella, but in terms of fan passion and devotion, it's got nothing to be ashamed of. A group like Chicago's Lawrence Arms, used to playing small scale bars and clubs in most other cities and without a full length album since 2006 (though frontman Brendan Kelly confirmed one is on the way) can command a sprawling, mosh-heavy crowd at a main stage. And though hip-hop was not exactly a main flavor, a Chuck D speech in the final five minutes of a Public Enemy set -- like Saturday night's -- is enough motivation to fight the proverbial power no matter what music scene one identifies with.
Here's the setlist from the Replacements' headlining set:
Takin' a Ride
I'm In Trouble
My Favorite Thing
I Don't Know
Color Me Impressed
Tommy Got His Tonsils Out
Achin’ to Be
I Will Dare
Love You Till Friday
Maybellene (Chuck Berry cover)
Merry Go Round
Borstal Breakout (Sham 69 cover)
Left of the Dial
Kiss Me on the Bus
Waitress in the Sky
Can’t Hardly Wait
Bastards of Young
Hold My Life