Riot Fest was started a few years back in the grand spirit of the old school one-off festivals of lore. It was intended to be special from the get-go and they have done a reasonable job of sandwiching themselves into a busy summer of Lollapalooza, Chicago Open Air, and many other destination festival shows. Having a mix of alternative rock, metal, Hip-Hop, indie rock, and more has helped carve out its own niche, and between special performances, varied food and beer options, late-night after parties, and basically the cool factor Chicago offers as one of the best cities in America, it’s no wonder fans flocked to the event from all over the world.
However, just like every fest comes with challenges, the sprawling show with dozens of bands on 5 stages is almost an overload. Although it’s cool if you can be all things to all people, it’s a little too spread out for some we polled, and coupled with the air quality in an unusually warm September, it sent our intrepid Photography/correspondent Omar Cordy to the ER tent more than once with an asthma attack. Fortunately, he was okay, and outside of that, it seemed like a safe affair with no major incidents we heard of.
In terms of talent or eclecticism, which honestly IS Chicago in music and everything else, you couldn’t beat this lineup in 2017. Friday night featured the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Buzzcocks New Order, Death From Above, X, Invsn, Vic Mensa, Dirty Heads, Action Bronso, A Day To Remember, Mayday Parade (performing A Lesson In Romantics), The Story So Far, Nothing More, and Chon as just a sample of all the bands that played.
Day two brought more the main event type sets such as Queens Of The Stone Age, Gogol Bordello, Fidlar, GBH, Peaches, At The Drive In, Danzig (performing Danzig III: How The Gods Kill), Dead Cross, Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, The Lawrence Arms (performing Oh! Calcutta!), Bayside (performing The Walking Wounded), Knuckle Puck, The Smith Street Band, Wu-Tang Clan (performing Enter The 36 Chambers), Mike D of the Beastie Boys (DJ Set), Bad Brains, Streetlight Manifesto, Lucky Chops, The Regrettes, Potty Mouth and others.
Like the last leg of a marathon, Sunday was an endurance test you had to pass. Topping the bill on the final day was saw the likes of Jawbreaker, Dinosaur Jr. (performing You’re Living All Over Me), Cap’n Jazz, That Dog. (performing Retreat From The Sun), Beach Slang, Prophets Of Rage, Pennywise, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (performing Let’s Face It), Hot Water Music, M.I.A, TV On The Radio, Built To Spill (performing Keep It Like A Secret), The Orwells, Paramore, Best Coast, Minus The Bear, The Menzingers, Say Anything, Andrew W.K., GWAR, Mad Caddies, The Flatliners, The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black, Culture Abuse, and more.
Riot Fest, overall you rule, and we’ll see you next time.