Toyota Park Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois swept aside the soccer fans in favor of over 70,000 Rock and Metalheads this past weekend at the Second Annual Chicago Open Air Festival. Split across 2 stages were some of the biggest names in Heavy Metal supported by never ending gourmet food, craft beers and spirits.
Day One kicked off with Code Orange, White Chapel, and Vimic lead by the beats of Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison. One of favorites Crobot took the stage and clearly they haven’t skipped a beat with the recent loss of brothers Jake and Paul Figueroa. Brandon Yeagley set the bar high for the lead vocalists to follow with his unending energy and classic moves. Their 8 song set featured “Welcome to Fat City”, “Nowhere to Hide” along with a cover of Audioslave’s “Cochise”.
Career rockers Anthrax, lead by vocalist Joey Belladonna and the high-flying guitar wizard Scott Ian, was the can’t miss gig of the day. Classic hits “Caught in a Mosh” and “Madhouse” were offset with covers of Joe Jackson’s “Got the Time”, Trust’s “Antisocial”, and a tribute to the night’s headliner with a snippet of KISS’ “Parasite”.
As Beladonna and gang closed out their set on the Monster Energy Main Stage, the air began to tingle as Dillinger Escape Plan took on the Blackcraft Spirits Stage. Based out of Morris Plains,NJ, the band is currently on what they call “their farewell tour”. Guitarist Ben Weinman was his usual jumping, thrashing, out of control self, but this time vocalist Greg Puciato joined the fray heaving a monitor across the stage.
Jumping back to the Monster Energy Stage, Dave Mustaine and the Megadeth crew were taking their performance turn. Opening with “Hangar 18”, their 10 song set proved why they earned the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance.
Umea Sweden’s Meshuggah kept the pace on full throttle as they took the stage for their 7 song set. Opening with “Clockworks” from the album ‘Violent Sheep of Reason’, they showed why Megadeath chose to bring them out on tour. The addition of Scar Symmetry guitarist Per Nilsson for their summer tour was a perfect fit in this journalist’s opinion.
I was less than impressed with Rob Zombie as it seemed he spent more time ranting about politics, Area 51 and throwing plastic aliens to race in the crowd than actually performing some music. John 5 stole the show with his mastery of the axe and what in my humble opinion was the best guitar solo of the day. When he was moving and grooving, Zombie blew through hits like “Dragula”, “Superbeast”, “Living Dead Girl” before finally finishing off with a cover of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”
A rare festival appearance by glam rockers KISS closed the first night of musical festivities. Opening with “Deuce”, the band brought their entire book of theatrics during their 18 song set. The crowd was dowsed with unending flames, fireworks, confetti, levitation’s and even a flying Paul Stanley during “Psycho Circus”.
All in all, Day 1 of Chicago Open Air proved to be a more than ample jumping off point for the weekend of festivities.