Chicago’s go-to punk, rock, and alternative music festival, Riot Fest, is fast approaching. What started in 2005 as a multi-venue weekend has expanded to include 5 stages of diverse musical stylings in beautiful Humboldt Park. Riot Fest balances out Chicago’s festival season with music and reunions not brought to you by Pitchfork, Lollapalooza, or North Coast. The festival will forcibly occupy the park from September 13th to the 15th.

And, if music at a music festival isn’t your thing, it’s also a carnival with rides, freak shows, and a ferris wheel.


Dessa | Friday 4:15-4:45, Roots Stage | Official

Dessa, of the hip hop collective DOOMTREE, makes her Riot Fest debut on Friday. In June, her Parts of Speech album was released on both CD and vinyl, and the rapper is currently touring in support of the album, which also includes Midpoint Music Fest and Pygmalion. Hailing from the Minnesota hip hop scene, Dessa is praised for her witticism, soulful vocals, and range as a recording artist. She is a courageous in her delivery and confident in her skills, which should make for an impressive set.

Andrew W.K. | Friday 5:45-6:30, Rise Stage | Official

Grab a beer, or an energy drink, or whatever it take to get your adrenaline pumping, because Andrew W.K. takes the stage early into Fridays schedule. I know, I know… he’s not from the Midwest, but damn do I love his party spirit. A few years back, I attended Warped Tour for Mr. W.K. and was absolutely impressed by his 5-minute air guitar solo and air freshener giveaways to the crowd. Dude knows how to party hard.

Fall Out Boy | Friday 9:45-11:00, Riot Stage | Official

I couldn’t help but include Wilmette favorites, Fall Out Boy. Love them or hate them, FOB has made quite a name for themselves in the emo, pop punk scene. After a three year hiatus, they’re back on tour with a new album, a headlining spot at Riot Fest, and a fan-base as strong as ever. For whatever reason, people have highly polar opinions of Fall Out Boy, but you’ve got to admit they have staying power.

(…and that you thought that one song they did was really catchy.)

Violent Femmes | Saturday 8:45-9:45, Roots Stage | Official

Until about 1980, the only thing that made Milwaukee famous was Schlitz Beer, then burst onto the music scene Violent Femmes, with their infectious brand of acoustic alternative rock about sex, drugs and big hands. Most of you know the rest of the story (and can google it, if not), the band has put out 8 studio albums in their career and are now reuniting yet again this year for the first time… since the last one (2009). As amazing as ever, if you’re not catching Violent Femmes this year, you’re missing out; they’re still strutting their stuff.

Maps & Atlases | Sunday 12:15-12:45, Roots Stage | Official

In case you thought indie rock wasn’t properly represented at Riot Fest, enter Maps & Atlases. These Chicago natives are kicking off Sunday’s festivities at the Roots Stage with their math rock sensibilities. After two days of riotous punk tunes, the musical stylings of Maps & Atlases ala Beware and Be Grateful (2012) will get you excited for the final day of the festival without the elbows and bruises. Characterized by African-influenced beats, bright harmonies, and fuzzy complex guitar, we can only hope their performance is as fun as their album.

Pet Symmetry | Sunday 12:30-1:00, Rebel Stage | Official

Pet Symmetry is another project of Evan Weiss (Into It. Over It., Their / They’re / There) along with Erik Czaja and Marcus Nuccio. The band’s recent 7″ release has gotten wonderful reviews. Pet Symmetry’s power pop stylings are a perfect fit into the Riot Fest line-up. Weiss has proven himself time and time again to be a strong lyricist, and the music of Pet Symmetry proves no different.

Twin Peaks | Sunday 4:30-5:00, Rebel Stage | Official

Chicago-based Twin Peaks have made more than a splash since their 2012 “self-recorded, self-released” album and following “self-booked” tour. A SXSW performance followed, as well as recognition from both NME and Pitchfork. From their hummable guitar melodies to their catchy-as-hell vocals, this music is a perfect soundtrack to adolescence. If you’re looking for garage rock done right by 19-year-olds, Twin Peaks has you covered.

The Replacements | Sunday 9:15-10:30, Riot Stage | Official

Capping off this fantastic weekend of music is Minnesota’s iconic alternative rock group, The Replacements – reuniting for all three Riot Fest’s (Toronto, Chicago, & Denver) after more than two decades apart. If the live footage of their set in Toronto is any indication of what we’re in for this Sunday, then it’s going to be a treat. Band leader, Paul Westerberg has reassembled the band with fellow original member Tommy Stinson, plus drummer Josh Freese and guitarist David Minehan. Don’t leave Riot Fest without seeing this amazing reunion show.

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