It’s here again. The lineup gets better every year and this year’s layout features two extra stages in order to pack in even more amazing acts. Riot Fest Chicago will feature over 100 performers, carnival rides, attractions, and even a panel discussion with activists/rockers Pussy Riot. If we’re lucky, maybe Butter Stamos will make an appearance once again.
Riot Fest is known for bringing in high profile acts from a wide range of popular music genres. This year is no different. Some of the notable stars this year include Jane’s Addiction, Slayer, The Flaming Lips, Wu-Tang Clan, Television, Patti Smith, Weezer, The Cure and many more.
Since most of you are probably already planning on seeing most if not all of those acts, we figured we’d take a moment to spotlight some of the lesser known locals that will be playing this weekend. Here are a few of our favorite Midwesterner acts playing the festival, broken down by day.
Vamos! | The Radicals Stage 3:30-4pm
So there may not be too many locals kicking off the first day of Riot Fest but Vamos! brings enough energy to compensate for that. These guys get better every time I see them. Their latest EP Midwaste is a complete balls to the wall garage punk classic. It’s also free to download on bandcamp. They’re absolutely worth getting to Humboldt Park early for. Knowing them, they’ll pack as many riffs, howls, and beer into their half hour set as they can.
Daniel Wade | The Radicals Stage 12:45-1:15pm
Bringing some classic power-pop to the Riot Fest Radicals stage is Daniel Wade. His songs are upbeat, full of energy, and catchy as hell. Definitely a Chicago singer/songwriter to keep your eye on.
The Orwells | Riot Stage 1:05-1:50pm
If you haven’t heard of The Orwells yet then you probably just don’t listen to music. They’re everywhere lately. Between an already infamous performance on David Letterman, and a brief stint as the support act for the Artic Monkeys US tour, the band has been catapulted into the spotlight almost instantaneously. Their latest release Disgraceland has been receiving rave reviews since it’s release last June and their Riot Fest set is sure to reinforce that praise.
Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas | Rev Stage 4-4:30pm
This song oozes soul, as does the rest of Jessica Hernandez’s catalog. Hailing from Detroit, birthplace of the MC5, Jack White, and Iggy Pop, the Delta’s brings that classic garage rock swagger that the motor city is known for. On top of that, Jessica has a set of pipes that demand your attention from the first word she utters. This should be a damn fun set, don’t miss it Saturday afternoon!
The Afghan Whigs | Roots Stage 4:45 – 5:30pm
Coming out of Cincinnati, Ohio in the mid ’80s, The Afghan Whigs redefinied the grunge sound up until their 2001 breakup. After a temporary reunion in 2006, they are back once again with a new album, Do To The Beast, and a slough of tour dates. They returned to the classic grunge record label Sub Pop with this latest release and it has the same intensity of their early-late ’90s albums. They may have settled into a slightly more accessible mainstream rock sound than their early material but that just means more people who will finally check out this incredible band.
Mutts | The Radicals Stage 12:30-1pm
Mutts, like many of the bands gracing the Radicals Stage, are a Chicago music staple. Led by frontman Mike Maimone and his fierce vocals, the trio’s music simply drips rock. Their most recent album, April 2013’s Object Permanence, showcases the outfit’s songwriting (definitely check out “Prizefighter“), while “maintaining the band’s untamed spirit of experimentation”. On top of their impressive discography, their live set is as soulful as it is punk rock.
Netherfriends | The Radicals Stage 2:30-3pm
Netherfriends is the musical endeavor of Shawn Rosenblatt. The incredibly prolific songwriter uses multiple loop stations and slough of instruments to produce incredible pop songs. His music blurs the lines between indie, folk, psych, hip-hop, and electronic music in a brilliant way. His latest release P3ACE is available on bandcamp and as a limited edition cassette (only 33 made).
Before this release he spent quite some time writing and recording a song for every U.S. state. 50 Songs 50 States actually has 51 tracks on it, showing just how industrious Shawn is about his music. Don’t miss this incredible performance on Saturday afternoon!
My Gold Mask | The Radicals Stage 5:30-6pm
My Gold Mask is really a beautiful combination of synth pop and goth rock that make listening to them at dusk sound so appetizing. In a live setting, I imagine the glossy instrumentation swirling with Greta’s haunting vocals, creating an atmosphere that’ll feel other-worldly. Since 2009, My Gold Mask has been crafting their signature dark rock, and continue to evolve their sound in anticipation of an upcoming full-length. Check out the all-too-danceable “Dissipate” below, released this past June, and prepare to enjoy it in public.
Blue Meanies | Rock Stage 6-6:45pm
These guys take me back. They came out of Carbondale, Illinois and met at SIU (which is generally the only reason to be in Carbondale, Illinois). They managed to put out 5 full length albums and a couple of EPs in their 11 or 12 years active. Their sound fused ska and punk rock better than most other acts who attempted to bridge the two genres. If you’re in brass sections and energetic punk rock, you will not want to miss one of Chicago’s best ’90s acts.
Cheap Trick | Rebel Stage 6:40-7:40pm
Who can resist the Midwestern charm of Cheap Trick? They hail from Rockford and still find the time to play in Chicago any chance they get. I mean, who hasn’t belted out “Surrender” at the top of your lungs in a crowded bar from time to time? The best part is the band has been confirmed as the tenth full album performance for this year’s fest! That means you’ll be hearing their classic album Heaven Tonight played in it’s entirety (that’s the one with “Surrender” on it). We’re already taking bets on how many necks Rick Nielsen’s guitar will have. I’m thinking at least 10.
Archie Powell & The Exports | The Radicals Stage 7:30-8pm
We’ve loved Archie and The Exports for years now, and we couldn’t be happier to see them headlining The Radicals stage Sunday night. They have a way with garage rock that makes you want to jump up and down with a cold beer in your hand. It’s a little punk, a little indie, but 100% catchy. These guys deserve every bit of attention they’ve gotten and are some of the hardest working musicians in Chicago. Don’t miss their set, you’ll still have plenty of time to run over to see Weezer and The Cure if you plan it right!
Head over to the Chicago Reader for the full schedule and set times for the entire Riot Fest Weekend!