WKQX Piqniq 2017 highlights

Piqniq, WKQX’s annual music festival, rocked Tinley Park on Saturday (or so I thought it would.)

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this event. The lineup was solid; it was the venue that I wasn’t sold on. The Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre is not typically my first choice for concerts, so I almost exclusively go there for Warped Tour.

Because I have gotten so used to the that environment — massive crowds of sweaty bodies, booths and vendors lining the perimeters, multiple stages with overlapping sets to accommodate up to 90 bands — I was not prepared to be so underwhelmed by the Piqniq environment.

For starters, the crowd at Warped Tour is more predictable. At Piqniq, however, people of all ages were there. This is not a downfall, it was just unexpected. WKQX is a rock station, so I imagined it would be a slightly older crowd. I also expected more people.

Yes, there was an enormous crowd, but it did not feel as though I was surrounded by people at all times. This was most apparent not during the shows, but in the lines to get food. I was able to overpay for a bottle of water ($7.50) and nachos ($8) in under five minutes.

All of these riveting details aside, the performances were great. My boyfriend, Peter, and I arrived late, missing Lucky Boys Confusion. Just a few weeks back, however, we met them at NXNC, an event for Springfest at our college. It would have been significantly cooler to see them opening up Piqniq on the Saint Xavier University Stage, but we can settle for an old, small church slightly off campus.

Besides, how many people in that crowd can say they ate pizza in a loft with LBC?

By the time we made it, Warpaint and Joywave were performing. Truthfully, I wasn’t paying attention to either, instead opting to lay down in the parking lot and wait for K.Flay’s set.

The wait was longer than expected, but it was worth it. Not only did the genre-defying artist give a killer performance, the ominous skies had cleared up and the festival’s energy was picking up with each song.

Performing songs from 2014’s “Life as a Dog” and 2017’s “Every Where Is Some Where,” K.Flay gave fans and new listeners a taste of what she is all about: unique, alternative/pop/hip-hop/indie jams. The standouts from this set were her latest single, “FML,” and her hit single, “Blood in the Cut.”

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K.Flay performing on the SXU Stage. Photo courtesy of Peter Medlin.

K.Flay’s set had certainly picked up the mood, and maybe it was because of this, or because I had just ran into my best friend, or because it had warmed up, but I was ecstatic for Sum 41.

The main reason I wanted to go to Piqniq was to see Sum 41 again. I was (and still am) confused as to why they were chosen to close the smaller stage, which was set up in a parking lot. They are arguably the most popular band on the lineup, though I would have settled for Jimmy Eat World closing the main stage. Instead, The 1975 closed out the show.

I’ll get back to that later, though. Sum 41’s set was all killer, no filler. Their performance was my favorite of the day, and the crowd seemed to share this sentiment. Everyone went crazy throughout the entire set, jumping up and down, screaming the lyrics, joining the mosh pits, even when they performed songs from their latest album, “13 Voices.”

While this was the perfect comeback album, we all know that people want to hear the angsty pop punk hits from the late 1990s and early 2000s. Surrounded by smashed cans of cheap beer and the smell of every type of smoke you could imagine, I was taken back to when I had last seen them, ironically in the same litter-filled parking lot.

Sum 41 was great; nothing more needs to be said. If you have been to one of their shows, you’ll know what I mean. The band has a way of working the crowd, riling them up and letting them rock out. By the time they closed with “Fat Lip,” I was exhausted.

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Sum 41 closing the SXU Stage. Photo courtesy of Peter Medlin.

Peter and I made our way over to the amphitheatre, finding a spot on the lawn to watch the rest of the bands. Highly Suspect and Stabbing Westward performed, the latter making several remarks that made me wonder if they were an older band that was trying to be hip and controversial.

This seems to be the case, making the wait for Bleachers even more agonizing. While I am admittedly not as into Bleachers as I should be, my boyfriend is obsessed with them.

Their set also started late, but again, it was worth it. They performed songs from their debut album “Strange Desire” (“I Wanna Get Better,” most notably), as well as the latest singles (“Don’t Take The Money,” “Everybody Lost Somebody”)  from their upcoming album, “Gone Now.” Most of the crowd was dancing, save for the group of teenage girls in front of us.

One of my biggest pet peeves at shows is when people act as though they are the only ones there. It is one thing to get lost in the music and just lose control; it is another to stand directly in front of people, facing away from the stage, to eat the pizza that your mom just brought to you.

I do not want to turn this into a rant, but if you are going to a festival just to see one band, wait until their set time to show up. Having to listen to these girls drone on about how hot Matt Healy is was a buzzkill.

I’m getting off track again — Bleachers was phenomenal. Each song they performed had the crowd dancing and singing, making me wonder why I have never gotten into their music. The alternative-pop band falls in line with what I usually listen to.

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Crowd watching Bleachers perform. Photo courtesy of Peter Medlin.

Following Bleachers was a staple for fans of rock music, Jimmy Eat World. This was my first time seeing them, and I was not let down. Though they have been making music since 1994, their sound has stayed consistent. They are one of few emo bands from the early 2000s to continue finding success in recent years without changing their sound, and their crowd demonstrated this.

From the barricade to the back of the lawn, fans of all ages were singing along. It was clear that everyone was having a great time, even if they only recognized the 2001 hit, “The Middle,” which they closed with.

As far as I am concerned, Jimmy Eat World closed Piqniq. Peter and I had left after their set, deciding to forgo The 1975’s performance. I will admit that I am a fan of some of their music (some meaning half of each of their 20-or-more-song albums), but it is known that they do not put on a good show.

Whether the band is too stoned or too drunk, or a combination of both, I have been told not to bother going to one of their concerts. And so, because it was late and starting to get cold, we decided to end the night on a high note and headed out after an impressive set from Jimmy Eat World.

All in all, I ended up having a good time at Piqniq. It was better than I anticipated, but I kept comparing it to Warped Tour, so it was different from how I imagined it would be.

Did you go to the WKQX Piqniq? Who was your favorite act? Your least favorite?

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