FESTIVAL REVIEW: Chicago Open Air 2019

The rain. It’s been a thing this festival season, hasn’t it? But even with that said, Chicago Open Air Presents, which hasn’t seen a line up since 2017, pushed on through for their long awaiting festival fans who came to rock – rain or shine! And I’ll tell you: even with the rain, loyal fans pushed through those gates once those doors opened and ran towards that one main stage at the Seat Geek Stadium like it was the most anticipated event of their year. It was sad to see early bands like Vein and Code Orange get canceled by rain and the later start, but the safety of the fans has to come first.  It was awesome to see the stage relive its previous year’s glory with the sound of pure rock that could only come from some of the heaviest hitting metal/rock bands around. And the music did fly high above those storm clouds when Beartooth hit the stage that first day. Well-known Swedish bands like Meshuggah and a very artistic and melodic metal performance by Ghost was next, followed by long-awaited headliners System of A Down. SOAD had everyone, myself included, singing along to classics like ‘Aerials’, ‘B.Y.O.B’ amongst their thirty song setlist, and I’m pretty sure that by when they closed out with ‘Toxicity’ we were all out of breath and losing our vocal cords. Eh, it was worth it.

The second and final day of COA 2019 started off with a few weather shenanigans yet again, but lucky for us, no bands suffered the sword so it was all good. The mainstage was greeted by the sound of the young men from Alien Weaponry, who did a killer job at making sure that we heard them, even over those Chicago winds. The sound of metal got the energies rising and mosh pits going with the sounds of The Black Dahlia Murder. Energies and moods were elevated during the Fever333 set. These guys definitely bring a “fever” to their audience with their death-defying jumps from side stage, drum kits, or anywhere else they feel the need to jump from and not to mention their politically charged message that one could easily think it reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine’s energy and message throughout the 90s. But make sure that if you challenge frontman Jason Butler during his performance, be prepared to get talked back to! This came as no surprise, as we all watched a fan interrupt Butler during his audience one to one sharing his views on what is going in our current societal climate. Hey, he’s got the mic!

 

After the buzz of Fever333, came the mysterious wonder and craft of In This Moment. Powerhouse Maria Brink never disappoints in her vocal and dramatic performances. France’s Gojira greeted and amazed us next with a pyrotechnical show that had us all praising the element of fire, which let’s face it, you can never go wrong with fire and metal. Following Gojira’s performance, we all rocked out to classic rock band: The Cult, who got us all excited with an amazing performance of sheer technical guitar work and classic musicianship. Then, as the sun finally descended, and we all gathered around for the final and long-awaited headlining performance from Tool. Tool, as always puts on a visually stimulating set that started off with a spectacular live performance of “Enema.” And, since the buzz about the new songs ‘Descending’ and ‘Invincible’ being debuted live has been floating around, fans were more than happy at the end of the night and even more excited than ever to buy the next Tool album this August. Tool, and frontman Maynard have always been a leading example for generations whether we are musicians or not, that if you want to be a band that delivers in all areas, that is how you do it. They ended their set off strong with a live performance of ‘Stinkfist’ and sent everyone home with a more than satisfactory experience of the weekend that was almost taken by the Chicago wind and rain.

Storm: 0 | Chicago Open Air Presents: 1 on the Scoreboard. Rock on Chicago.

WORDS AND PHOTOS BY ISABEL UZCATEGUI