Photos & Recap: QOTSA, Gogol Bordello take charge on Riot Fest Chicago 2017 Day 2

Gogol Bordello - Riot Fest 2017

Gogol Bordello

More great music and more great performances. Day 2 of Riot Fest 2017 was a feast for the senses. The weather was in full cooperation (okay, it was slightly hot) and, on the heels of a fulfilling Friday jam-packed with a plethora of sights and sounds, festies were more than ready to take it all in. The auditory spread offered ticket-holders an abundance of choice and Gogol Bordello and headliners Queens of the Stone Age both proved to be among the day’s most worthy acts.

Those familiar with gypsy punk rockers Gogol Bordello know they have a tendency to come in swinging. And that’s just what they did on Saturday night as frontman Eugene Hutz and company kicked things off with a fired up performance of the band’s brand new track “Break into Your Higher Self.” This was one of a handful of Seekers and Finders tunes including “Walking on the Burning Coal,” “Saboteur Blues” and “Love Gangsters,” expertly weaved into a performance that started at an “11” and stayed there until the moment the group’s hour-long set came to a close.

Hutz cracked open a celebratory bottle of wine during an inspired rendition of “My Companjera,” that featured solid companion vocals from Gogol newcomer Ashley Tobias. Needless to say, legacy fan favorite “Alcohol” (from the 2007’s Super Taranta!) made for a fitting mid-set followup. There were a number of standout moments throughout the band’s sundown set, from the rousing rendition of “Wonderlust King,” complete with some noble crowd-surfers, to the intense “Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher),” which saw longtime member Pedro Erazo front and center leading the charge. “Not a Crime” proved a hit with devotees, as did set closer “Start Wearing Purple,” which gave the group’s wiry violinist Sergey Ryabtsev a much-deserved moment to shine.

Gogol Bordello - Riot Fest 2017

Gogol Bordello

Earlier in the day, local group Turnspit opened the Heather Owen Stage, bringing their brand of melodic punk to Riot Fest’s dedicated early risers. Later on, Potty Mouth’s fuzzy riffs and catchy melodies set the stage for The Regrettes’ satisfying display of pop punk. Fishbone, whose blue-plaid-suited lead singer Angelo Moore may have just earned the award for Saturday’s best dressed, served up some welcome ska while across the park Peaches took home the trophy for Riot Fest’s most scantily clad, serving up a raw set laden with string bikinis, bondage and not much else. Hardcore punk & thrash metal supergroup Dead Cross performed a short show for fans at the Roots Stage, many of whom subsequently shuffled over to Bad Brains for a healthy dose of grungy punk riffs and bass-heavy reggae.

Glenn Danzig returned to Riot Fest again this year, this time to perform his album Danzig III: How the Gods Kill. There was power strumming, fist pumping and bellowing, throughout the set, culminating with a crowd-interactive rendition of the beloved “Mother,” prior to the Misfits mastermind wrapping things up oh-so-appropriately. “Don’t let nobody f*ck with you,” said the singer with a mic drop. Mike D got things kicking over at the Radicals Stage with a DJ set featuring renditions of Beastie Boys hits “So What’cha Want,” “Intergalactic” and more ahead of Wu-Tang Clan, who’s chill vibe was underscored by champagne sprays and hilarious full-crowd chants like “Wu-Tang is for the children.”

Wu-Tang Clan - Riot Fest 2017

Wu-Tang Clan

At approximately 8:45 p.m., Josh Homme and his Queens of the Stone Age bandmates promptly stepped onto the Riot Stage for their brooding and tonal Day 2 headlining set. Under stark white lighting, the group got things rolling with a rendition of “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire.” “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” had the masses singing along, all the way through the momentary “Mother” tease (a nod to Danzig), which Homme concluded with a sinister snicker and some signature thrashing.

Queens of the Stone Age - Riot Fest 2017

Queens of the Stone Age

The fast-paced Villains lead single “The Way You Used To Do” hit audiences head-on, one of a scattering of new tracks heard over the course of the night. Other highlights included the one-two punch of “No One Knows” complete with seizure-inducing strobe lights and a hard-hitting drum solo from Jon Theodore, and the slower tempo track “Make It Wit Chu,” which saw the lights turn a moody pink.

Riot Fest Day 3 begins at noon today. Check out our coverage of Friday here and Sunday here.

(Photos by Laurie Fanelli)