Amigo The Devil
Day 2 of Riot Fest got off to a twisted start with darkminded singer-songwriter Amigo The Devil, who was the antithesis of what most might expect from the genre.
The artist, born Danny Kiranos, brought out a heavy bag of murder ballads and revenge songs paired with expressive facial twitches that made you wonder if you should maybe avoid eye contact as he rolled through the set.
From the lurid step-by-step detail of how he’d exact vengance on a person who harmed a child in “Better Ways To Fry A Fish” to the Jim Jones-inspired song “Hungover In Jonestown,” Kiranos’ set was mired in the macabre and a good bit of cabaret theater that made him an early favorite of the day.
Jokingly describing himself as the “fat Dave Grohl,” Kiranos’ comparison was fitting in at least the same way he is able to command a crowd — and does it solo on top of it. “We just set up the drums for fun,” he mused, pointing out that he in fact does not have a band in the project.
Though Kiranos does move well between acoustic and electric guitars and the banjo, it would be interesting to seem him with a full backing lineup to really amplify the shock and awe he delivers. A cover of “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” was a bizarre best bet but it’s his original material — told in incredible narrative style – that makes him our true crime-obsessed generation’s new Johnny Cash.
Meg Myers performs on Day 2 of Riot Fest in Douglass Park on Friday afternoon.Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times
Meg Myers’ afternoon set came to an abrupt ending as she had to cut things short right in the middle of her superb take on Kate Bush’s perennial hit “Running Up That Hill” as she went into overtime. Though, anyone watching the ingenue would have wondered where the time went as her performance was nothing short of a hypnotic thrill — which may or may not have been a side effect of being blinded by her holographic jumpsuit.
Tracks like the breathy “Desire” to the staunch pop anthem “Any Way You Wanna Love” were well-placed in her performance, further edifying her as a lost relic of the evocative ’90s alt rock realm while keeping up with the best of modern pop songwriters.
She gave flashbacks of Tori Amos’ best in key-heavy tracks while also channeling the aggro poetry of artists like Liz Phair and making it all completely her own. Standouts included bringing out collaborator Morgxn for their emotive duet “I Hope You Cry” as well as padding her set with a drummer and electric guitarist whose sonic wails were the gravy on her song plate.
Myers stumbled on some new material, restarting a song or two while blaming it on her “unique ears.”
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NOTE: There are plenty of COVID-19 safety protocols in place for the festival including hand sanitizing and handwashing stations throughout the park, and an onsite COVID vaccination station (courtesy of St. Anthony Hospital; Pfizer and J&J vaccines only). In addition, all attendees must show proof of a full vax or negative COVID test results (the latter within 48 hours of entry date) accompanied by a valid, government-issued photo ID to gain entry each day.