Looking Ahead • Riot Fest


It’s the middle of September, and you know what that means. It's time to once again don your spiky vests, your studded belts, your boots and your braces. The punk rockers and hip hoppers of the Midwest are about to descend on our fair city. Riot Fest is back, kiddies. Hope you're as excited as I am.

The music technically kicks off Thursday night, with a few pre-fest shows you may be interested in seeing. The Queers (sadly not playing the fest itself) have a sold out show with the Ataris at Cobra Lounge. The other two shows that night (The Orwells and Tobacco) are still open, so get your RSVP’S in!

We’re back in Douglas Park, at the intersection of Ogden and Sacramento. This year will be lacking in the Henry Rollins camp, as there are no Riot Fest Speaks! panels on the schedule. We'll still be treated to all the carnival-style and local food we could want, as well as a host of vendors selling all kinds of stuff to up your cred. The lineup is damn good this year, yet again, seeing the return of some old friends and a smattering of new ones. Let's get into it.

Day 1

I’m starting off early, which may be a mistake, but there's so many great acts, I have to catch as many as I can. Kickoff for me is at 12:35, and I'll be seeing Tobacco (aka Thomas Fec) on the Riot Stage. Psych-rockers Black Moth Super Rainbow are letting their singer loose to do his own thing this summer. I'm looking forward to seeing some onstage magic through his pre-digital synths and tape machines.

I imagine I’ll need a breather here, probably roam the grounds and get my bearings. Last time I went to Riot Fest was in Humboldt Park. I lived across the street and hosted a touring ska-punk band, that weekend was goddamn magical. This will be my first year at the new spot, it'll be interesting to see the difference.

After Tobacco is Liars. Same stage as before. Formed in Australia, now housed in Brooklyn, Liars has seen a few lineup changes over the years. They're labeled as dance punk and I've never seen them, but I bet this will be my cardio portion for the early afternoon. I'll end up heading out a little early before the end of their set to catch Saul Williams, the Amethyst Rock Star himself, on the Rise Stage.  I'm super stoked to finally see man perform live. His experimental sound has influenced so many other artists.

It tears me up, but I have to go with Action Bronson over the Buzzcocks this year. I'll fall in love with someone I shouldn't have fallen in love with next time. Afterwards I'll take in the soothing light sounds of Death From Above, Ministry, and Vic Mensa. Nine Inch Nails closes the night, after which we can all go home and cry a bit.

12:35-1:20pm - Tobacco - Riot Stage

Liars: 2:15 at the Riot Stage

Saul Williams: 2:45 at the Rise Stage

Buzzcocks: 3:55 at the Riot Stage

Action Bronson: 4:05 at the Rise Stage

Death From Above: 5:00 at the Roots Stage

Ministry: 6:05 at the Riot Stage

Vic Mensa: 7:25 at the Rise Stage

Nine Inch Nails: 8:30 at the Riot Stage


Capn Jazz & Rapperchicks @ The Bottom Lounge - 17+, 10pm

GBH & Special Guest @ Cobra Lounge - 21+, 10pm

New Found Glory, Bayside & Radar State @ Concord Music Hall - 17+, 10pm

Day 2

We're back! Wipe the crust out your eyes and jiggle all necessary body parts. Anything broken? No? What time is it? Are you up early enough to see Turnspit at 1pm on the Heather Owen Stage? Come on, a little melodic pop punk is good for a hangover. Catch me in the pit during La Armada a little later.. Fun fact, this stage was named in honor of an avid local pup protector. She runs a rescue corporation and works every day to help make Chicago a no-kill city. On Saturday, we mosh for animal advocacy.

If that's not your thing, Fishbone will be warming up and cutting some rugs on the Radicals Stage at 1:45. It's back to a local act after that. Saturday’s looking pretty Chicago-centric and I like it. Knuckle Puck kicks off on the Rise Stage at 2:30, which is kinda sad because Peaches is performing at nearly the same time (2:35 on the Riot Stage). There's something here for everyone! Someone get me footage of her set, please?

The rest of the day is manic and makes me want to pull my hair out. We can go from Shabazz Palaces to Fidlar, but do we leave their set early to see Bad Brains? They overlap with the Big Fiend himself; is it alright to leave Danzig to see the Lawrence Arms? Gotta see the hometown fellas, it's been a while. Waitaminute, Mike D went solo? And lastly, Riot Fest, this one's for you: I find it reprehensible that I am forced to choose between the end of a Wu-Tang set and the beginning of a Queens of the Stone Age set! THAT DOG WON'T HUNT.

But I'll be at Queens, so if you see a crying white man spastically dancing and shouting at the top of their lungs it's probably me. A few others as well, probably.

1:00-1:30pm - Turnspit - Heather Owen Stage

2:00-2:30pm - La Armada - Heather Owen Stage

1:45-2:45pm - Fishbone - Radicals Stage

2:30-3:30pm - Knuckle Puck - Rise Stage

2:35-3:20pm - Peaches - Riot Stage

3:15-4:00pm - Shabazz Palaces - Radicals Stage

4:15-5:15pm - Fidlar - Riot Stage

4:40-5:40pm - Bad Brains - Radicals Stage

5:30-6:30pm - The Lawrence Arms - Rise Stage

8:00-9:00pm - Wu-Tang Clan - Radicals Stage

8:45-10:00pm - Queens of the Stone Age - Riot Stage


SOLD OUT Buzzcocks & Slaves (UK) @ Cobra Lounge

SOLD OUT Dinosaur Jr. & Built to Spill @ Bottom Lounge

Day 3

It’s the last day! On Sunday I’ll be matching my morning hot coffee with Hot Water Music at 1:25 on the Roots Stage. In sharp contrast to Hot Water Music’s clime and locale comes Dessa, one of the coldest MCs from one of our nation’s most frigid states. For something even more entirely different, head back over to the Roots Stage for the bulldogs from Boston, the sultans of Ska, with a little bit of punk. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones keep on trucking with a brand new cover song and a three-decade catalog of rump-shaking rock. See you at the end of the set for a blunt session?

For the next hour I’m double booked with Cap'n Jazz and the Menzingers playing overlapping sets. I’ll have some time afterwards to breathe and take in either food or some other earthly amusement. Speaking of earthly amusements, get your TV on the Radio at 6:00 on the Rise Stage. Listen for their lush horn arrangements swirling through the evening sky. Another in a long line of rough contrasts comes GWAR, from intergalactic parts unknown. Beware of their mighty cuttlefish and space-age military prowess. Following GWAR on the Rise Stage is one of the baddest gyals to ever touch a stage, M.I.A. She hasn't dropped anything recently, but she boasts a badass list of hits. Finally, the last set of the weekend. It’ll almost be a relief when it’s over, with a twinge of sadness. Light your chesterfield to combat the depression. Raise your fist to apathy, Jawbreaker.

1:25-2:10pm - Hot Water Music - Roots Stage

2:00-2:30pm - Dessa - Rise Stage

3:20-4:20pm - The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Roots Stage

4:15-5:00pm - The Menzingers - Radicals Stage

4:25-5:25pm - Cap'n Jazz - Riot Stage

6:00-7:00pm - TV on the Radio - Rise Stage

7:15-8:00pm - GWAR - Heather Owen Stage

7:40-8:40pm - M.I.A. - Rise Stage

8:45-10:00pm - Jawbreaker - Riot Stage


SOLD OUT Hot Water Music & Airstream Futures @ Cobra Lounge

Gogol Bordello & Lucky Chops @ Concord Music Hall

Taking Back Sunday & Sleep on It @ Bottom Lounge

Don't forget to give those after shows a look, you'll get a much more intimate setting to see your favorites. I'm looking real hard at the Rapperchicks and Cap'n Jazz show on Friday. Regardless of what you do or who you do it with at Riot Fest, remember something: though Douglas Park is open to us this weekend, it belongs to the people and families of its neighborhood. Be respectful, don't fuck with other people's shit, and have a great couple of days! See you out there!