A Kiss Party on Day 1 at Chicago Open Air

By on August 8, 2017

All Photos By and Copyrighted By Travis Failey

Friday, July 14:

Friday marked the start of the 2nd annual Chicago Open Air festival at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. It was a beautiful day, breezy, partly cloudy, and if I say so  myself, the temperatures were so much better than they were in Florida in April, during the World’s Loudest Month.  Toyota Park hosted two stages: the Monster Stage and the Blackcraft stage.  Chicago Open Air was produced by Danny Wimmer Presents, Live Nation and Toyota Park.

 The organizers managed to put together the perfect schedule, managing to avoid the dreaded overlap of band sets.  Fans had plenty of time to get to where they needed to be during the weekend, and the VIP pass not only got you special seating (in the shade), but also a special viewing area on the floor, a tented VIP area, with shaded picnic tables, food and drink vendors, and even provided the fans with a short cut between the two stages. Great food options, cold beer and other libations were provided, and lockers that had phone chargers inside were available for the stuff you didn’t want to lug around all day.

 The acoustics in Toyota Park sounded great, the music was a little louder than I am used to.  Speaking of loud music, I noticed the presence of a lot of kids aged ten and under.  I would say that only half of them had noise cancellation headphones on. I’m not a doctor, but I think that all kids should have ear protection when attending a live show. As adults, we can make decisions about whether or not to protect our ear drums, but the kids are at their parent’s mercy. But on a positive note, it was great seeing our metal family inducting its new members!

 Early performances on Friday included: Failure Anthem, Hell or Highwater, Code Orange, and Whitechapel.

 

Crobot, out in support of their latest release, Welcome to Fat City, saw the biggest crowd of the early day, and got the crowd going with “Skull of Geronimo.”  Brandon Yeagley, Crobot’s lead singer, couldn’t stand still, and in my opinion, sounds a little like Myles Kennedy.

After “La Mano de Lucifer”  and “The Legend of the Spaceborne Killer,”  Yeagley dedicated “Cochise” to the late Chris Cornell.  I had an opportunity to meet Brandon back stage and you couldn’t ask to meet a nicer guy.  No ego here.  Just a talented guy, with a wolverine beard who likes the “funky chicken.”

 After Crobot, most of the main stage crowd rushed over to see some of the new kids on the Deathcore block as Suicide Silence and ex-Silpknot drummer, Joey Jordison, and his new band, Vimic took turns on the Blackcraft Whiskey stage. Both bands have solid front men in Eddie Hermida and Kalen Chase and are great at what they do, if you like what they do.

 

The first surprise of the weekend was the performance of Ronnie Radke and Falling In Reverse. All I have ever heard about the band and specifically Radke is that he’s a complete asshole. Whether this is the case or not, what was evident was his control of the stage, and his powerful sound.  I was also surprised at the poppy hooks and catchy chorus’ throughout the 8 song set that included “I’m Not a Vampire””Superhero” and the closer “Just Like You.”

Falling In Reverse’s performance not only made me check out their catalogue, but will lead me to catch them next time they come around. In fact, Falling In Reverse recently won Best Live Band at the 2017 Alternative Press Music Awards.

 

Anthrax saw the biggest crowd yet, and got the crowd primed by playing Maiden’s “Number of the Beast” prior to hitting the stage. Drummer Charlie Benante climbed aboard his massive kit as the opening notes of the title track from “Among the Living” played over the p.a.

The massive mosh pits that Anthrax are known for got started early in the set as Anthrax started with the apropos, “Caught in a Mosh.”  It was a straight forward Anthrax festival set that lets vocalist Joey Belladonna engage with the crowd and also inspires them to join in by playing their covers of “Got the Time” and “Anti-Social.”

 

Anthrax surprised some fans as they played the Kiss cover “Parasite” in honor of them being on the same bill as their childhood heroes and influences. Anthrax had the following to say after the show: “Had a total blast at Chicago Open Air, Rock Fest and Rock USA over the weekend. That marks the 215th #ForAllKings show since 2016 and is the final show until October. Anthrax will have a much deserved break. A huge thanks to everyone who came out to Breathe Lightning with us!!!”

 

The second band to play from metal’s “The Big Four,” Megadeth, kept the metal moving, and opened with the classic “Hangar 18” from Rust in Peace. The set included the staples “Sweating Bullets” “Symphony of Destruction” and of course “Peace Sells” but Megadeth also threw in a curve ball by playing “Mechanix ” from Killing is my Business which confused some of the crowd as it is the basis for Metallica’s “The Four Horseman.”

 Prior to Rob Zombie hitting the Monster Energy Main Stage,  Swedish metal band Meshuggah led by  vocalist Jens Kidman, screamed the crowd into submission with songs from their 2016 release The Violent Sleep of Reason.

 

After recovering from the brutal Meshuggah, the side stage crowd reverted back to main stage for the final two bands of Friday night in Rob Zombie and Kiss.

 

Rob Zombie got the crowd fired up for Kiss on the Monster stage. Zombie opened his set with “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown,” and treated the crowd with a couple of covers, Ramones’,  “Blitzkrieg,” and Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out.”  Zombie stated, “We don’t have a lot of time, so I’m not gonna f–k around. ” Well he didn’t.

Zombie played all the fan favorites, including “Living Dead Girl,” “Superbeast,” “Thunder Kiss ’65” and “More Human than Human.” Zombie also brought out some new stage props with an inflated alien race from the stage to the soundboard. One thing is for certain, you can never accuse Rob Zombie of not putting on a show.

 

KISS ended the night’s festivities in support of its Kissworld Tour 2017.  Kiss was 20 minutes late, the first late start of the day but it was understandable as the stage crew had a massive set to take down from Zombie and another to put up, (both bands played on the Monster Mainstage.)

 

 As the moon shined over Toyota Park, the park was approximately 95% full, and you could have cut the excitement in the air with a knife.  The KISS army brigade came out in droves: fans were sporting Kiss tattoos, t-shirts, face paint, even little kids were drafted! Kiss also brought all their props to this show and opened with “Deuce,” followed by “Shout it out Loud” and then “Lick it Up.”

 

Gene pulled double duty by breathing fire during “Firehouse” and then spitting blood and getting lifted in the air during ” God of Thunder.” Guitarist Tommy Thayer also treated the crowd to his version of “Shock Me,” which included blasts of pyro out of his guitar. Paul Stanley also  flew across the stadium on a hanging metal ring and performed on a small stage near the distant sound board during “Psycho  Circus.”

 

Anthrax’s Charlie Benante watched KISS from the photo pit, and his daughter, Mia, came on stage with Paul during one point in the show.  KISS’ encore included “Cold Gin” and “Detroit Rock City,” “God Gave Rock and Roll to II” played as the crowd emptied out of the venue. For some tonight, it was their first time seeing KISS, and the band treated them to the same memorable performance that KISS has been putting on since its inception on the seventies.

Saturday’s lineup card provided a whole different spectrum of artists and sounds. Checkout Day 2 of our coverage from Chicago Open Air here: https://www.rocketsports-ent.com/fire-and-ice-open-air/

More Pictures from Day 1:

 

 

 

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