RIOT FEST SUCKS, this tagline seeps into everything that RIOT FEST is and aims to be. Started in 2005 RIOT FEST is the festival that hates that it’s a festival; it’s the embodiment of the counter culture that spawned this rambunctious alternative punk bastard of an event. The original festival was a multi-venue hodgepodge of the best the punk, indie and metal scene had to offer with its debut artist including Dead Kennedys, The Misfits, and The Bouncing Souls. And so, it continued for 7 years, dozens of artist and venues later the festival” finally took the plunge to hook an outdoor 3 day venue for their artist. And now I ask you to step into the belly of the beast with and explore what this rag tag group of punks and outsiders can do when you give them a home to rock their fans to the core.

RIOT FEST 2012, the move to Humboldt Park is what really allowed this festival to grow into the monstrous, headbanging, mosh pitting mayhem that it has become. However Humboldt Park is not RIOT FEST forever home; making the move in 2015 to Douglas Park the current home of the festival and an equally sprawling and interesting venue for music lovers to experience. A robust and historic park in Chicago’s west side Douglas Park offers music goers and scenic and serene escape from the city…well aside the eardrum serenading music that’s going to be playing.

RIOT FEST always host artist you’d be remised not to listen to; Rise Against, Iggy And The Stooges, The Offspring, Elvis Costello, A Day To Remember, Coheed and Cambria….need I continue. It also offered a home for up and coming artist that would dominate the alt scene for years to come; Seattle based indie rockers Minus the Bear graced RIOT FEST with a sound described as "Pele-esque guitar-taps and electronics with sophisticated time signature composition” there really is only one festival that truly gives the weird and original a home and I’m going to bring you to it.

Humans of all creeds I invite you to experience a city and festival that’s got all the weird you can handle and a festival you might lose your mind at, RIOT FEST 2018. I truly don’t need to give a background on the headliners this year provided your permanent address isn’t under a large rock, but just to give you a taste let’s take a stroll through the headliners. 

Beck, true to its origin RIOT FEST brings in talented artist from all genres; Beck himself is a man of many styles. His musical portfolio is classified very broadly as  folk, funk, soul, hip hop, electronic, alternative rock, country, and psychedelia. With 13 albums and 5 Grammys under his belt no one can dismiss the impact his music has had on the world… Well maybe Kayne has something to say, but he’s not invited.

Incubus, originating from California Incubus stole the alt metal scene with their 1999 album Make Yourself which spawned several hits, including the band's highest charting song "Drive." 23 million album sales later they are here to tear up Chicago and your eardrums, with our full consent.

Alkaline Trio, lets here it for the local boys who tore up the punk scene. Originally from McHenry Illinois Alkaline Trio is here and they don’t care if you are because they are the face of modern punk and they know their real fans will be out in droves. Born out of a cathartic need the band described their music to the Chicago Tribune as “It’s punk music, but with the same purpose like blues. You sing about it, so you don’t have to think about it anymore.” In the early 2000’s they were sharing the spotlight with bands that draw a lot of comparisons such as Blink 182, Greenday, and The Offspring many of them RIOT FEST alumni as well. The biggest difference is that Alkaline Trio never was in it for the commercial success. Where others sold out they doubled down rallying their loyal fan base behind there often depressing and angsty lyrics that has soothed the souls of many upset and troubled youth. Dan Ozzi said it best when he said Alkaline Trio “lyrics combine the macabre imagery of the Misfits with the clever turns of phrases of Jawbreaker." This vivid imagery and clever lyricism is why they are my artist to see at RIOT FEST this year.

Atmosphere & Cypress Hill let’s not forget this festival is about bringing all genres and people together. Staying true to that Atmosphere & Cypress Hill are the two big hitters is the rap and hip-hop sound for this year’s festival. These rappers will leave you feeling insane in the membrane, trying to find balance. If you don’t get that last sentence it’s time to give these artists the time they deserve and revel in the many hits and albums they have graced us with.

I know you’re thinking, it’s time to buy a ticket. The lineup continues and on and if you had the attention span I’d continue to throw bands and facts and stories at you. Instead I will leave you with some parting thoughts. Besides the bands the venue and the friends to be made RIOT FEST offers a plethora of alternate activities to enjoy. After parties and shows adorn every evening outside the friendly confines of the park. Local food vendors provide all the Latin and Chicago inspired dishes you could ever dream of. And your local breweries and Pina Colada vendors are here to get you all the booze you can handle.

RIOT FEST SUCKS and I’ll say it again with more pride. This festival has been the underdog for underdogs to rally around and the last 13 years have created a space for collaboration, creativity, debauchery, all out raging and of course blissful musical experiences. I’ll see you there.

Coverage by Dave McCallum

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