Riot Fest. The festival of everything punk, rock, and roll, black, nostalgia and beer. Beginning in 2005, the festival started in Chicago as a multi-venue fest and has since spread to the cities of Denver and Toronto. This year in Chicago, the festival was held September 16th-18th in Douglas Park.
Besides the carnival theme, the Ferris wheel, the kick-ass bands and great food, one of the coolest parts of the festival was people watching. Everyone came dressed to impress, or simply dressed to dance, adorned with their own personal spins on the rock and roll outfit.
Black leather, chains, punky boots, dark denim, and spiked hair to match created some of the most spotted outfits of the festival. Other honorable mentions were outfits straight from 90’s, band T-shirts, overalls, and more black. At Riot Fest, you walk into a rock and roll world and get to meet some colorful souls who are ready to rock with you. And, trust us when we say that there were a lot of people. It was PACKED. You better have had a plan of action if you were trying to get across the grounds from the Roots Stage to the Storyheart Stage.
The lineup this year included The Flaming Lips, Ween, Jimmy Eat World, Morrissey, Death Cab For Cutie, the Descendents, The Original Misfits, Rob Zombie, Nas, and a whole lot more. The group of girls screaming their hearts out to All Time Low and the hundreds singing along to Motion City Soundtrack put me into a daze of nostalgia, smiling as I remembered my punk inspired self of the past. Riot Fest gave us a stellar lineup, beautiful weather, and a ton of stages to choose from. Titled Rebel, Rise, Rock, Roots, Riot, and Storyheart, each stage was an experience in itself. The VIP area was beautiful. A separate corner of the festival, there were food tents, vendors, and tons of seating. I highly recommend getting VIP tickets to Riot Fest if you’re someone who likes more space and more food and drink options.
Since the photos and the lineup speak for themselves, we decided to check out some of the crowd’s favorite moments of Riot Fest.
“I’ve been coming since 2007. I’ve been able to rock out with my favorite bands. Riot Fest has never disappointed me. I better see you here next year!” –Johnny, a man in a leather vest with “Trump Sucks” printed on the back in duct tape
“I went to four different thrift stores around the city yesterday trying to find this pair of 90’s pants to watch the show in…” –Emily, in the front row before Morrissey
“RIOT FEST SUCKS!”– A guy in a Van Halen T-Shirt
“This is Fall Out Boy, right?” – Drunk guy laying on the ground during Death Cab For Cutie
“I will hold my turkey leg in the air, and I will rock!” –Bald guy with a shirt that said “Too Cool 4 Skool” who threw his turkey leg on the ground after saying that
“Watch out, you’re walking through the spell I’m casting on the Ferris wheel!”- A guy in a cape holding his hands up towards the sky
“You guys, feel my goosebumps. This is fucking magical…” –Sam, during “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie
“Man, the Descendents man! They were my world back in high school. They got me through a lot. I get to see them perform today.”- Mark, a cool guy in glasses
“Guys, there’s lots of emotions up here. We really appreciate you… this is our second to last show. This song is for anyone who’s ever felt that life has fucked them over. We’re here with you.”- Justin Pierre of Motion City Soundtrack, before performing L.G. FUAD
A cool thing about Riot Fest is that the overall mission of the festival supports more than just the music it shares and the money it makes. It reads, “We rally musicians and fans to awaken passions, amplifies dreams, and enhance under-served communities fostering creative development, supporting charitable organizations, and through civic endeavors.” Rock on.
If you’ve never been to Riot Fest, we strongly recommend checking it out. Even the photographers in the pit were singing along with the bands. It’s a community festival which celebrates all of us, lets us relive those punk filled glory days, and lets our inner emo souls shine. Because of its multiple stages, there’s a huge opportunity to check out bands you’ve never heard before. One of the bands, a band rocking out in complete Spanish, had one of the rowdiest crowds I had ever seen. Mosh, jump up and down, let out your crazy side, lay in the grass. Do whatever you want to do. The rest of us don’t mind. Just be you. Just be there.
“Riot Fest is my favorite festival in Chicago.” –Sammy, 36
“One word. Ween.” –Thomas, 55
“I’m not too sure why I’m here, actually. I dig it, though.” –Steven, 21
“My favorite part so far…The Flaming Lips, probably. This chick’s skirt was blowing completely up in the wind for a good 30 seconds. Nobody really seemed to mind. That was my favorite part.” –Jason, 23
“I’m here from Canada. This stuff is unreal. I’ll be back next year for sure.” –Josh, photographer for Music Festival News
“Fuck Donald Trump!” “Yeah. Fuck him.” –A motorcyclist couple, Sandy, and Kevin
“I’m here to rock. Let’s start a riot. Let’s fuck some shit up. Watch out for me in the mosh pit, I’m pretty amped up.” –A huge guy in a cutoff, Gerald
“Step right up! Don’t be lazy! Watch the freaks, see the crazies! Friends or foes, come all to the show! Into Riot Fest we go…”