Chicago’s Riot Fest

Day 1:

Once upon a time, Riot Fest Chicago turned into a swamp and alligators and babies covered in mud were found in mosh pits. Just kidding. If there was one word to describe this day it’d be miserable. The line up was sick as could be. But the mud – if I never see mud again in my life it’ll be too soon.

For those of you who are not familiar, Riot Fest is a punk/alternative festival themed as a carnival with games, rides, Ferris wheels, and a freak show. As for the lineup, I started my day off with Plague Vendor, a small alternative punk band from California with a sound of ‘punk-y-surf-rock’ and a lead singer who really likes to touch his dick. From there we went to Gwar and despite their loss of their lead singer earlier this year, they still put on a great performance.

Riot fest started something new this year and held a panel. Henry Rollins of Black Flag conducted one with Pussy Riot about misogyny in today’s society and current events in the world, namely Russia. It was really amazing to hear a man of his status talk openly about feminism and especially interesting to hear Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina of Pussy Riot share their stories of how oppressing the Russian government is.




After the panel we saw Mastodon, one of my personal favorites. There’s something so energizing about their sound and hearing everyone sing along to ‘High Road’ that makes me remember what music is all about. Slayer was one of three headliners that night and, if you’ve seen Slayer, there are no words to describe their performance. I stayed for about half of their set because, even being from the very same hometown as them, I had never seen Rise Against live. Needless to say, they were phenomenal. Tim had lost his voice a bit between the show Riot Fest hosted the night prior as well as speaking at the Pussy Riot panel. But he still nailed the performance. By the time the day was over if you weren’t covered in mud you clearly did not have enough fun.

Day 2:

And on the second day, God gave us Canadians. City in Color was the first band I saw that day (because watching Macaulay Culkin cover Velvet Underground songs with his band, The Pizza Underground, and replacing words with ‘pizza’ was tempting, but not worth waking up at 9am for), and let me tell you, I have never seen more dry humping at any other concert. Although Dallas Green’s voice is quite intoxicating, he is no Johnny Craig (judge me). From there we moved to Die Antwoord, where I got second hand high and danced my ass off. I strongly suggest giving them a listen if you haven’t already. Wu-Tang Clan was up next, and they ‘ain’t nothing to fuck with’. They definitely know how to keep a crowd going. From there I saw The Decedents perform their entire Milo Goes to College album as well as a few more songs to complete their set and I loved every minute. The final act for the night was Taking Back Sunday, and if you bet the only song 75% of that crowd knew was ‘Make Damn Sure’, you would be right.




Day 3:

I got to the fest just in time to see Silverstein perform, then went over to the Hellzapoppin, the sideshow at Riot Fest. It was full of nail beds, deep throating – also known as sword swallowing, pervert – and ended with a contortion act. After the sideshow, I checked out Dropkick Murphys and they brought back some lovely summer memories of Ireland. I might’ve drunkenly attempted to Irish step-dance, but if you don’t make yourself look like a complete moron at least once while there, you didn’t do it right. From there I let out some post-teenage angst to New Found Glory. Now, those of you who know the line-up are probably thinking, “I bet she saw Weezer!” No, I did not. But I did see part of Primus’ set, which put me in a mental state I still can’t describe. And finally, I completely ignored The Cure and went to see Bring Me the Horizon, which all about ten other people went to see. I’ll leave you with this: If you can make it to a Riot Fest event in your life: do it. Seriously, it’s filled with some of the best crowds you can be around, along with some of the best lineups you can find this side of the Atlantic.



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