Taking place yet again in Douglass Park in Chicago this year is the 2nd most popular Chicago festival, Riot Fest. Had the pleasure of attending last year and was overwhelmed with how enjoyable it was. Here we are a year later, brand new lineup, just as exciting as last years. The squad at Riot Fest spares no expense when it comes to making a diverse lineup every year. There is something here for just about everyone that is thinking about going.
Now we can’t get into every single band on the poster, but definitely a lot to highlight. To start, Foo Fighters and The Cure being the solo headliners on Friday and Sunday is hard to compete with. Saturday comes at us with three modern legends in Queens Of The Stone Age, Death Cab For Cutie, and The Postal Service. Looking closer we have two huge yet vastly different names in Turnstile and The Mars Volta, who will both be nothing but stellar.
Though we do not know the split day lineups, we can expect most of the punk and hardcore bands to play on the same day. Some of the most notable names under that genre umbrella are The Breeders, The Interrupters, Pennywise, Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand, Braid, Drain, Snapcase, The Exploited, High Vis, and Earth Crisis. That list alone is enough to get people lacing up their Doc’s and hairspray on their mohawks.
Some other personal highlights are 100 gecs, AFI, Sleep Token, ICP, Silverstein, Code Orange, L.S. Dunes, White Reaper, Enter Shikari, Oso Oso, Nothing, Screaming Females, Just Friends, Bearings, The AquaDolls, Fleshwater.fm, and The Bobby Lees. That’s quite a diverse range of artists to check out over the course of a beautiful Chicago weekend. Last year was especially busy, we can only anticipate that this year will be as well.
We have some tips and tricks for those thinking of going this year. For starters, September weather in Chicago could go many ways, so be prepared for really nice cool weather and scorching heat all within a couple hours of each other.
Bring a lightweight backpack to carry your essentials, sunscreen, water bottle, ear plugs, cash, phone charger, and any other small things you may need.
The festival grounds themselves are quite large with a ton of stages. Be prepared to get your steps in every day, but do not forget to plan out breaks when you feel you need them. Make frequent trips to the free water bottle filling station to stay hydrated and if you are going with a group and need to split up due to watching different artists or whatever the case may be, always have a place and time to meet up at the end of the night.
Now, with the grounds being as large as they are, it’s not just bands playing, there are so many different things to do. I spent a lot of time at the half-pipe and pinball arcade just to get out of the sun for awhile. There is a ton of vendors and organizations to buy merch from or just hang out with. For those daring enough, there are some carnival rides and for those looking for a little fun, there are some carnival games too that you may or may not win a cheap stuffed animal from.
There is no shortage of food options either. Generally, they are all in the same area, aside from a few stragglers around. Last year I got a few different things throughout the weekend, pizza, Chinese food, smoothies, Polish food, and of course the classic Billy Goat Tavern burgers.
Last thing to mention is crowd size and traveling around Chicago. At any point during the day there will be upwards of 40,000 people on the festival grounds. As you can imagine, it makes getting in and out of the festival somewhat of a challenge. The line to get in will be super long, and the traffic on the way out is gnarly. Parking is very very limited. My group stayed downtown and like most other people at the fest, took the pink-line to and from each night. That seems like the best course of action, the train is going to be crammed though, so be prepared to get cozy with strangers.
Overall, we highly recommend attending Riot Fest if you can, they have good reputation with attendees and can almost ensure you have a good time at the event. We have information linked below for any questions.