Riot Fest

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Riot Fest
Genre Punk rock, rock, alternative rock
Dates September 13–15, 2013 (Chicago)
Location(s) Chicago
Years active 2005–current

Riot Fest is a punk, rock and alternative music festival formed in Chicago in 2005. The festival proposes a diverse lineup consisting of buzzed-about reunions, one-offs, special guest appearances and popular punk mainstays. It was expanded in 2011 for Riot Fest East in Philadelphia.[1] Incarnations of Riot Fest have also been held in Brooklyn, Toronto, Denver and Dallas. Despite the multi-city expansion Chicago has remained the festival's flagship event with nearly three times as many bands as the others.

Musical styles[edit]

The majority of bands that play Riot Fest fall somewhere on the punk spectrum with punk rock, new wave and hardcore punk being the most heavily represented genres. Emo, alternative rock, pop punk, ska and metalcore have also had a strong presence at Riot Fest. The occasionally novelty hip hop, psychobilly, thrash metal, post-hardcore and indie pop bands have also appeared at Riot Fest.

Riot Fest has a strong emphasis booking local Chicago bands such as Naked Raygun, The Lawrence Arms, Rise Against, Alkaline Trio, Fall Out Boy, Screeching Weasel, Flatfoot 56, The Tossers and Slapstick on a regular basis.


Riot Fest began in Chicago in 2005, started by music fanatics with a yen for DIY shows and low ticket prices catering to fans of underground music. Riot Fest spent seven years as a multi-venue festival, utilizing the Metro, Subterranean, Double Door, Cobra Lounge and the Congress Theater to present bands over a three-day weekend, such as Social Distortion, Danzig, Cock Sparrer, Weezer, Alkaline Trio, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Bad Brains, Dead Milkmen, Fun., The Lawrence Arms, Bad Religion, Murder City Devils, Butthole Surfers, Suicide Machines, and more.

Punk, rock, indie rock, alternative, psychobilly, metal, skate punk and ska are celebrated at Riot Fest, and the organizer, Riot Mike, has demonstrated a knack for reuniting influential bands like Naked Raygun, Screeching Weasel, WAX, Blue Meanies, Articles of Faith, Plow United, Jesus and Mary Chain, Chiodos, and The Replacements.


In 2012, Riot Fest moved to Chicago’s Humboldt Park and expanded to become Riot Fest & Carnival, with rides, games, wrestling, food vendors and three stages. Iggy And The Stooges, Rise Against, Elvis Costello & The Imposters, The Offspring, Descendents, A Day to Remember, Coheed and Cambria, Dropkick Murphys, Gogol Bordello, NOFX, Andrew W.K., Alkaline Trio, Hot Water Music, Slapstick, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Gaslight Anthem, Awolnation, Minus the Bear, Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees, The Promise Ring, Chiodos, Gwar, August Burns Red, Less Than Jake, Built To Spill, Frank Turner, Cursive, Reverend Horton Heat, The Addicts, Fishbone and many more performed from September 14–16 (with the kickoff at Congress Theater).[2][3]

2012 also saw the festival expand through North America with events staged in Brooklyn (September 8), Toronto (September 9), and Dallas (September 22).[4]


Riot Fest and Carnival was held September 13–15 in Humboldt Park, Chicago. Lineup included:

Friday, September 13: 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 14: 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, The Dear Hunter, Surfer Blood, The Interrupters, Empires, New Beat Fund, Radkey, Mephiskapheles, Kitten, Environmental Encroachment

Sunday, September 15: 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

The Fest was also staged in Toronto (August 24–25), and Denver (September 21–22).[5]


Riot Fest and Carnival was held September 12–14 in Humboldt Park, Chicago. Lineup included:

Friday: Jane's Addiction, Rise Against, Slayer, The Offspring, NOFX, Gogol Bordello, Of Mice & Men, Mastodon, The Murder City Devils, Failure, Circa Survive, Clutch, GWAR, Stiff Little Fingers, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, We Came as Romans, Senses Fail, All, Title Fight, Emarosa, Pity Sex, From Indian Lakes, The Hotelier, Radkey, Pianos Become the Teeth, Red City Radio, Baby Baby, Wounds, Plague Vendor, Somos, ¡Vamos!

Saturday: The National, The Flaming Lips, Wu-Tang Clan, Samhain, Descendents, Metric, Taking Back Sunday, Die Antwoord, City and Colour, Paul Weller, The Used, The Afghan Whigs, Cock Sparrer, Dashboard Confessional, Television, Saosin, Say Anything, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Tokyo Police Club, The Dandy Warhols, The Get Up Kids, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Streetlight Manifesto, Buzzcocks, Face to Face, Wavves, The Orwells, Rx Bandits, Samiam, 7 Seconds, Anti-Flag, FrnkIero And The Cellabration, Citizen, The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, Lemuria, The Pizza Underground, Nostalghia, Skaters, The Unlikely Candidates, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, The Bots, Broncho, The American Scene, Restorations, The Picturebooks, Rose's Pawn Shop, The Crombies, Ex Friends, Daniel Wade, Buffalo Rodeo

Sunday: The Cure, Weezer, Social Distortion, Primus, Tegan and Sara, Cheap Trick, Patti Smith, Bring Me the Horizon, Dropkick Murphys, Naked Raygun, Superchunk, Billy Bragg, The Hold Steady, Blue Meanies, Lucero, New Found Glory, Mudhoney, Hot Snakes, Motion City Soundtrack, Andrew W.K., The Bouncing Souls, Kurt Vile & the Violators, Mineral, La Dispute, Only Crime, The Menzingers, The Front Bottoms, Silverstein, The Whigs, In the Valley Below, Modern Baseball, I Am the Avalanche, Laura Stevenson, Cerebral Ballzy, Pup, Dads, ShowYouSuck, Lucki Eck$, My Gold Mask, Tiny Moving Parts, Team Spirit, Survay Says!, Chumped, Archie Powell & the Exports, Netherfriends, Mutts, The Grizzled Mighty

Friday also hosted the inaugural "Riot Fest Speaks" panel, moderated by Henry Rollins and featuring Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina, Bad Religion vocalist and UCLA professor Greg Graffin, Rise Against vocalist Tim McIlrath, writer/activist Marcelle Karp, and Riot Fest founder Michael Petryshyn.

For the 10th anniversary, Riot Fest featured 10 bands performing 10 classic albums live:

Additionally, Senses Fail performed Let It Enfold You and Andrew W.K. performed I Get Wet during their respective sets.


Riot Fest and Carnival will be held September 11th - 13th in Humboldt Park, Chicago.


Two instances of Riot Fest have been canceled over the course of the festival's run.

The first came in 2009 in the form of Riot Fest West, originally set to happen in November 2009 and postponed in September. The fest initially vowed to make up the dates in Spring 2010 but the replacement fest did not materialize.[6]

The second cancellation came three years later in 2012 when Riot Fest East in Philadelphia was again postponed, this time one week before the show's planned July 19th start date. Though a reschedule was initially promised a follow up never emerged. [7]


  1. ^ Perpetua, Matthew (June 20, 2011). "X, Dead Milkmen and the Descendents to Headline Riot Fest in Philly". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Concert review: Riot Fest at Humboldt Park". Chicago Tribune. 17 September 2012. 
  4. ^ "Riot Fest expands into Dallas, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Toronto". 12 June 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "Riot Fest Announces Two More Locations; Launch VIP Contest Prize Package". 22 May 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  6. ^ White, Lisa (September 3, 2009). "Riot Fest West Postponed Until Spring 2010". Gapers Block. Retrieved January 9, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Riot Fest East (Philly) postponed". Brooklyn Vegan. July 12, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2015.