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Punk’s calling on the runways to Riot Fest

CBGB courtesy

CBGB, courtesy of

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Featuring the Replacements, Pixies, Guided by Voices, Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, Blondie, Danzig and others

When: Gates open at 2:30 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Humboldt Park, 1400 N. Sacramento

Tickets: $59-$124.99


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Updated: September 13, 2013 11:48AM

From spikes to studs to tartan plaid, the fall/winter fashion runways were rife with punk-inspired looks that would make Sid Vicious or Joey Ramone snarl with glee. ¶ CBGB, the iconic New York club that helped define punk and catapulted the careers of musicians like Patti Smith, the Ramones and Blondie, and Chicago’s legendary Wax Trax Records, its importance spanning punk, new wave and industrial music, have both long closed, but punk is more alive now than ever. ¶ Some would argue it never died. »

On the combat boot heels of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s wildly successful “Punk: Chaos to Couture” exhibit comes Riot Fest, a three-day music festival kicking off Friday in Humboldt Park. The festival’s core is punk, and the lineup reads like a punk lover’s heaven: the Replacements, Blondie, (Black) Flag, X and more.

Heather West, publicist for Riot Fest, says the current fascination with punk, from the catwalk to the Met exhibition, is nothing but positive and hopes it will attract a younger generation to the genre.

“While punk is getting more attention in the mainstream, it has always been something interesting to us since we were teenagers,” West says. “There’s a huge punk scene here in Chicago and in the suburbs. You can go to a million shows all over the city and see great punk shows.”

Christina Tillman, a Chicago filmmaker and producer, is working on a documentary with her husband, Joe Losurdo, on the story of Wax Trax Records — the store, label and owners Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher. They got the idea while finishing the punk documentary “You Weren’t There — The History of Chicago Punk.”

“Wax Trax has such a great story and really needed its own documentary,” Tillman says. “The store was such an important gathering place in the early days of the Chicago punk scene, and the label became America’s preeminent industrial music label of the 1980s and 1990s.”

At the CBGB Festival in New York next month — where the much-anticipated “CBGB: The Movie” debuts, the husband and wife team will show their newest punk-centric project, “Sacrificial Youth,” a hard-core punk take on “Jesus Christ Superstar” and follow-up to “You Weren’t There.”

The allure of punk, the counterculture movement that started in the ’70s and combined music, fashion and attitude, shows no signs of dimming.

Vogue called it the year of punk. Designers from Versace to Saint Laurent and retailers from Forever 21 to Urban Outfitters followed suit and toughened up their fall/winter collections with metal accents, motorcycle jackets, vinyl leggings, graphic T-shirts, chains, studs, spiky boots and tartan plaid.

One might say Vivienne Westwood, the former Sex Pistols stylist and designer — known as the queen of punk — represents the “chaos to couture” in the Met’s exhibit name. The former teacher, whose provocative designs occasionally would mock British royalty, was initially dismissed by the fashion industry. Today, she designs couture gowns worn by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Sarah Jessica Parker.

The Met exhibit examined punk and its relationship with fashion at greater depth, showcasing the works of designers like Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Marc Jacobs and Westwood as well as the musicians that inspired their creations.

In 2005, CBGB founder Hilly Kristal was forced to close the music venue he ran for 33 years over a lost property lease. The club’s last show was on Oct. 31, 2006 and Patti Smith performed. There was talk of opening a subsequent club in Las Vegas, but Kristal died one year after it closed. Next month’s film release documents the former club’s story, and the cast includes Malin Akerman as Debbie Harry, Joel David Moore as Joey Ramone, Mickey Sumner as Patti Smith and Alan Rickman as Kristal.

Kristin Larson is a local freelance writer.

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