The ninth annual Punk extravaganza known as Riot Fest brought a wide variety of legendary musical acts, food vendors, merchants, and carnival style fun to Chicago's Humboldt Park. The fest started as a smaller multi-venue weekend in Chicago, as an alternative, inexpensive offering for Puck rockers. As the popularity of the festival has grown, Riot Fest moved to the outdoor location and expanded to three days. While ticket prices have risen over the years, the festival has also raised the bar on Puck-oriented music festivals. With a growing reputation as a unique music festival experience, Riot Fest has expanded to other cities such as Philadelphia, Toronto, and Denver.
With a lineup of dozens of artists and almost as many genres of music, this year's Chicago Riot Fest served as host to The Replacements and Danzig reunions, added Hip-Hop to the mix with a highly popular Public Enemy show, spoken word artist Saul Williams, Metal groups Andrew W.K, GWAR, Devil Wears Prada, Hatebreed, and Glassjaw, oddballs Peelander-Z, Pop Punk headliners like Blink 182 and Fall Out Boy, and of course a variety of Punk acts old and new, such as Kitten, White Mystery, Radkey, Selecter, TSOL, Screeching Weasel, (Black) Flag, Rocket From the Crypt, Against Me!, Suicidal Tendencies, and the legendary Blondie.
There were numerous highlights each day. Before this summer's fest even began, Riot Fest became a popular twitter feed for their snarky, inappropriate, hilarious tweets. Riot Fest fans voted a sculpted bust of actor John Stamos to be carved out of a giant slab of butter. GWAR fans eagerly anticipated the band's fake blood dousing (and most photographers did not). Chuck D and Flava Flav encouraged concertgoers to unite towards goals like education and peace over violence and cultural disparities. Pennywise front man Jim Lindberg commented the vast crowd reminded him of England's massive Reading music festival. He even grabbed a press photographer’s camera to snap a photo of the crowd. Blondie's Debbie Harry oozed sass and sex appeal, and sounded wonderful. Against Me! delivered a high energy show, and a once uber-masculine Punk scene openly welcomed the transgender singer. A few acts seemed rather unenthused to be performing the festival, including Joan Jett and The Pixies. Conversely, Andrew W.K. Devil Wears Prada, Rancid, and A Fire Inside, and AFI brought their A-game to the festival stages. Even known curmudgeon Glen Danzig seemed to enjoy the night, despite banning press and photographers from his set.
As a festival hosting tens of thousands of attendees in a neighborhood once known for its high crime rates, Riot Fest promoters and fans should pat themselves on the back for the overall safety and success of the festival. Only six injuries requiring emergency medical attention were reported (opposed to Lollapalooza’s hundreds of drug, alcohol, and mosh pit mishaps and OD’s more typical to EDM/Rave style concerts). While Fall Out Boy’s singer did take a moment to tell fans to ease up on crushing each other close to the stage, and dozens on Blink 182 crowd surfers toppled over safety barricades, most fans calmly danced in place and were both polite and attentive while milling about the grounds. Riot Fest once again proved the DIY tribal spirit of Punk Rock, as well as the music itself, is still alive and well in the 21st Century.
The entire 2013 Chicago Riot Fest lineup:
Friday, September 13th: Fall Out Boy, Sublime with Rome, Danzig with Doyle, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Bad Religion, Atmosphere, Yellowcard, Screeching Weasel, Andrew W.K., Gwar, Hatebreed, Smoking Popes, Dessa, Saul Williams, The Flatliners, Masked Intruder, Flatfoot 56, Environmental Encroachment
Saturday, September 14th: Blink-182, Violent Femmes, Rancid, Blondie, Public Enemy, FLAG, Guided by Voices, Taking Back Sunday, Dinosaur Jr., X, DeVotchKa, Pennywise, Best Coast, The Lawrence Arms, Glassjaw, The Devil Wears Prada, The Selecter, T.S.O.L., Stars, Say Anything, The Dear Hunter, Surfer Blood, The Interrupters, Empires, New Beat Fund, Radkey, Mephiskapheles, Kitten, Environmental Encroachment
Sunday, September 15th: The Replacements, Pixies, AFI, Brand New, All Time Low, Pierce the Veil, Rocket from the Crypt, The Dismemberment Plan, The Broadways, Against Me!, Bob Mould, The Lillingtons, Suicidal Tendencies, Quicksand, Bad Books, Mission of Burma, Saves the Day, Bayside, Peter Hook and The Light, Reggie and the Full Effect, The Wonder Years, Maps & Atlases, Chuck Ragan, Memphis May Fire, Peelander-Z, Touché Amoré, Off with Their Heads, Deal's Gone Bad, Twin Peaks, White Mystery, Direct Hit!, Pet Symmetry, Hostage Calm, Environmental Encroachment
Click here to view a slideshow of the many fans and faces of Riot Fest: People of Riot Fest 2013.