You may be used to thinking of XL102’s Chili Cookoff as a haven for past-its-prime dad-rock, and don’t get us wrong–it’s been that in the past. However, this year’s lineup might surprise you with its overall relevance and quality.
You may be used to thinking of XL102’s Chili Cookoff as a haven for past-its-prime dad-rock, and don’t get us wrong–it’s been that in the past. However, this year’s lineup might surprise you with its overall relevance and quality. We could see a change coming when the festival brought us Cage The Elephant in 2012 and both Twenty One Pilots and Matt & Kim last year, but this year’s lineup indicates the influence of a younger generation more than any past year that we can remember.
Perhaps this has to do with their return to their longstanding name, XL102, which they’d abandoned for 10 years, going by “102.1 The X” starting in 2002. Then again, our childhood memories of the original XL102 involve more dad rock than you could shake a stick at, so who knows, really?
But enough pontification. What bands are we talking about? Well OK, you may notice that the overall headliner is Seether, the yarling post-grunge nu-metal superstars who bored you to tears with that “back to the remedy” song a decade or so ago. I suppose they have to throw some kind of bone to the suburban dads, after all, since those are the guys that have money. By the way, isn’t it funny to realize that nu-metal and post-grunge are now the music of suburban dads?
But for those of you who are still with us here in the land of relevant music, there’s plenty to look forward to as well. Most notable is Brooklyn-by-way-of-Minneapolis raconteur-rock band The Hold Steady, who are currently on tour supporting their sixth album, Teeth Dreams. Singer Craig Finn’s got some stories to tell you about a girl named Hallelujah and her little hoodrat friend, and although we know you’ve heard all those stories before, they’re always nice to hear again. Plus you can expect kick-ass new material like the first single from their new album, “I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You,” on which Finn sings about introducing his new girlfriend to his old crazy punk rocker friends, who immediately stir up some trouble.
Then there’s A Day To Remember, who should please all the former Warped Tour attendees among you. Their brand of tough yet melodic hardcore has been a standout on the scene for the past decade or so, and they’re still at it, having released their fifth album, Common Courtesy, late last year. That album’s lead single, “Right Back At It Again,” is catchy as hell and comes complete with an easycore-style breakdown and a ridiculous video. Expect these dudes to put a smile on your face even as they sing about lost love and all that other typical emo stuff.
Panic At The Disco are a tough band to pin down–since their 2004 debut LP, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, on which they came off like a band of electronics-obsessed Fall Out Boy disciples, they’ve switched out a lot of core members and changed their style multiple times. They always keep it interesting, though, and their current incarnation as an R&B/symphonic-pop obsessed post-emo band once again parallels what Fall Out Boy are doing these days. What’s up with that? Anyway, their 2013 single, “Miss Jackson” (which was, against all odds, NOT an Outkast cover), is still a lot of fun, and we assume the rest of their set will be too.
There are a whole bunch of other bands playing this show, including Kongos, The Orwells, and more, but we have to give a shoutout to one of the bands appearing early in the afternoon–long-running RVA pop-punk veterans Fun Size, who will be bringing the songs that delighted the teenage fans that crowded Twisters 15 to 20 years ago to a much bigger outdoor stage. Get there early and check these guys out–as their 2012 single “End Of The Road” proves, they’re still awesome. Plus, it’ll be interesting to see if any of the suburban dads in attendance turn out to remember all the words to “Pickle.” Stranger things have happened.
This year’s XL102 Chili Cookoff takes place on Saturday, April 19, with gates opening at 10:30 AM. Music starts at 11, so again, get there early. Sometimes we lose sight of what this event is really about, but the true meaning of the Chili Cookoff will always be found in eating tons of different varieties of spicy bean/meat/tomato sauce combos (don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of bathrooms for you to run to inbetween sets later). So don’t worry about lunch, don’t worry about dinner, just plan on spending your day at Richmond International Raceway, checking out some actual good bands and eating one of the best foodstuffs ever created by man. Tickets to the Chili Cookoff are $18 in advance, $40 at the door (clearly they want you to buy the advance tickets), and can be ordered HERE.
By the way, I’m expecting this article to result in gratuitous use of the word “hipster” in the comments–don’t let me down, folks!