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Riot Fest 2011 promises ‘largest lineup ever’ at venues all over city

Singer Exene CervenkX concert  Wednesday October 5 2011 Bottom Lounge. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Singer Exene Cervenka of X, in concert Wednesday October 5, 2011 at the Bottom Lounge. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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◆ Through Sunday at various venues

◆ Passes, entire festival, $145; Congress only, $135; individual tickets also available


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Updated: November 16, 2011 10:11AM

Riot Fest, Chicago’s annual multi-venue punk party, opened with a sunny, SoCal streak — Orange County’s Social Distortion was back in town Thursday — and continues into the weekend. X, the architects of L.A. punk, performed their debut album “Los Angeles” to kick off the festival Wednesday.

Barreling through nine songs in 25 minutes, the band’s original lineup — bassist-singer John Doe, singer Exene Cervenka, guitarist Billy Zoom and drummer D.J. Bonebrake — quickly dispatched that pioneering platter and then kept going.

“All right, so there’s that record,” Doe said as the chords from “The World’s a Mess, It’s in My Kiss” faded away. “Now we’re gonna do a bunch of other stuff, and we’re gonna have a good time.”

He didn’t say much before or after that, just heaved into his bass looking and barking like Buck Owens’ evil twin. For the album run, the cool-creepy Riff Raff/Columbia dynamic between Doe and Cervenka was particularly tight during “Johnny Hit and Run Pauline” and the wincing wails of “Nausea.” Through the whole set, of course, the coiffed Zoom pumped the neck of his guitar and grinned his trademark, unsettling mannequin grin.

Riot Fest 2011 — sponsored this year by an energy drink, and lousy with logos and “partnerships” — continues through the weekend with its “largest lineup ever,” including notables from the history of punk as well as the festival’s trademark special reunion events.

Among the acts:

All and the Descendents: The Descendents carved out the pop-punk genre early on with Ramones power chords and punk aggression; when they went on hiatus late in the ’80s, the band kept going as the ironically named All with new singer Scott Rey­­nolds. Then in the ’90s, vocal duties changed again as Chad Price stepped in. The sound didn’t differ much, but fans love to quibble.

† All with Scott Reynolds (opening: Down by Law, Chinese Telephones, Holy Mess), 9 p.m. Friday, Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake. Sold out!

† The Descendents (opening: Suicide Machines, Leftöver Crack, Strike Anywhere, the Flatliners and more), 2:30 p.m. Saturday, the Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee.

Glenn Danzig: Misfits founder Glenn Danzig will reunite with members from his post-Misfits band, Samhain, for one set, then with guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein (Paul Caiafa) from the Misfits for several Misfits songs, and that’s in addition to Danzig’s own set — all in one night. Opening: Youth of Today.

† 7 p.m. Friday, the Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee.

Helmet: These professional gents are often another study in punk family history. Helmet has toured and recorded with several lineups, and the last album, “Seeing Eye Dog” (2010), featured yet another new crew. But, hey, they’re heavier and harder. Opening: Bitter Wigs, Admiral of Black, Electric Hawk.

† 9:30 p.m. Friday, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee.

The Smoking Popes: What local pop-punk gathering would be complete without Chicago’s own Smoking Popes? The Morrissey-blessed quartet is once again a going concern after years off, supporting a new album, the high school drama of “This Is Only a Test.” Opening: Scotland Yard Gospel Choir. This is a free show!

† 9 p.m. Saturday, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee.

Weezer: Yes, Weezer. In addition to the considerable hand-wringing over whether Rivers Cuomo & Co. are punk enough to play Riot Fest, there also was a decision to make: Which of the first two albums should they play? Yes, they’re still touring while performing either the “Blue Album” debut or the “Pinkerton” follow-up. A WXRT-sponsored poll last month picked, no surprise, “The Blue Album.” Two Chicago notables are also on the bill: Urge Overkill, the ’90s darlings back with a new album, and White Mystery, a young duo of garage-rock carrot-tops not to be missed.

† 5:30 p.m. Sunday, the Congress, 2135 N. Milwaukee.

Secret shows: Riot Fest drops a few secret shows where anything could happen, anyone could show up. Great shows in the past have come from D.O.A., Naked Raygun and more.

† 11:30 p.m. Friday, Cobra Lounge, 235 N. Ashland.

† 11:30 p.m. Saturday, AAA Warehouse, 2105 W. Caton.

† 10:30 p.m. Sunday, AAA Warehouse, 2105 W. Caton.

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