Riot Fest: A Decade of Mayhem

The annual end to Chicago’s long and packed festival season, Riot Fest enters it’s tenth year at what might be the height of it’s popularity with a lineup to match, albeit among new surroundings. This year’s behemoth was booted from Humboldt Park after last year’s romp in the mud apparently outweighed hosting again this year for park district organizers and instead moves south to Douglas Park. With acts like Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and Damian Marley performing alongside No Doubt, System of a Down and Iggy Pop in North Lawndale of all places, the weekend is poised to be one to remember for sure. We’re going to give you a quick guide to try and help navigate the insane labyrinth that is the Riot Fest 2015 lineup.

Photo by Jeff Callen


Alright, you’re fresh, it’s day one. Work’s over, the weekend is in motion, what better way to really get in the spirit of Riot Fest in a hurry than by diving in head first around 3:15 to see Bayside. Now, assuming you have a job that doesn’t let out just after lunch, take that “early 5” and slide down to Douglas Park to see the one and only Psalm One and her Rapper Chicks perform as a sort of homecoming from a quick tour run that squad has been on. From there, a quick stop to Atreyu at the Rebel Stage will keep your rock juices going long enough to make it back to some hip-hop with Alex Wiley picking up where Lucki Eck$ left off last year with a 6:30 set at the Radicals Stage which should be his first hometown performance since his tiff with Closed Sessions that seems to still have some legs left on it. Anyway, get out of that thorny situation and catch one of the city’s best acts in White Mystery who hold it down for the hometown at 7:00 at the Revolt Stage. I’d definitely recommend hitting Slightly Stoopid for some chill time before Post Malone serves as an intro to the biggest decision of the day: No Doubt or Ice Cube? Too much Compton-pushing lately, I’m tryna catch that Gwen Stefani reunion regardless, sorry Cube.

Photo by Andrew Wynykowski  


So, I’ve heard of GWAR a lot and haven’t had the chance to see this crazy furry nightmare but it seems like a hell of a way to spend a Saturday afternoon in North Lawndale so fuck it, let’s get to the fest at 1:30 and check that out. After that is a band named Babes In Toyland. I haven’t actually heard their music, probably too rock-nichey for me, but hell, I definitely watched the movie a bunch of times growing up so, they get the nod in the 3:25 spot. After that is Pennywise which you probably already knew was the move if you grew up playing skateboarding video games between the years of ‘94 and 2006. Mayday Parade plays next on the Roots Stage at 4:45. My only real involvement with them was that my girlfriend during my sophomore of high school year tried to play me some of their songs, but they sounded like all the rest of the leather necklace-wearing, long-bang dudes at the time so I think I tuned out. They are playing at 4:45. After that go get funky with Bootsie Collins, and then prepare for the big decision of the day. The end of the day plays out like a choose-your-own-adventure novel. Beginning around 7:30 you have the choice between Billy Idol or The Academy Is…, careful though because your choice may just dictate the rest of your Saturday. Each choice is draped in nostalgia depending on your age bracket and chances are if Billy Idol is your move, you’ll soon be following those 80s feels to Iggy Pop to close things out. Should you go with The Academy Is… though, Taking Back Sunday is going to look really appetizing to close out those post-adolescent, pre-millenial memories. Or you go to System of a Down. 

Photo by Timothy Hiatt


We’re hip-hop heads at heart for the most part, so of course we’re getting to the fest early Sunday to catch the homies from up north in Minneapolis, collective Doomtree, who take the stage at 1:30. After that, true to character, we’re staying put to stake out the auspiciously-named “Rock” stage to see rap legends De La Soul hit at 3:00 and then maybe popping over to the Rebel stage for some 90s ska nostalgia with Less Than Jake. After that the move is to return to the, well, the Rock stage to see Alabama rapper Yelawolf who never disappoints in energetic live shows, if you want to see his rock doppelganger, catch Andrew W.K. back at Rebel at 5:05. Rodrigo y Gabriela play the Rise stage at 5:50 and if you’ve never seen these two essentially make love via guitar for forty minutes, it’s absolutely entrancing, or light that joint that’s been burning a hole in your pocket at head to Cypress Hill at 6:00 back at the, sigh, Rock stage. Seriously though, that had to be either terrible planning on the name or a really thinly veiled bad joke, who knows. Anyway go check out reggae legend Jimmy Cliff and then go to the Rock stage once again, for a rap show. No, THE rap show as Snoop Dogg runs through his classic Doggystyle album. To finish things off, I’d say Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley wouldn’t be a bad place to kick back, double down on that Cypress Hill j and celebrate the fact you made it all the way to the end of the third day of all that craziness. But Modest Mouse isn’t bad either… Anyway enjoy the three days, keep it locked to These Days for updates and check out our custom schedule and make your own at