For the past three concert seasons, I have spent my time leading up to each fall just counting down the days until Riot Fest would finally show its face. I have been going to shows for years, but Riot Fest manages to compile daily lineups that are often only dreamed of. What’s even more impressive than the annual assortment of bands is the team behind the whole thing. With only a few moments of downtime between seasons, the staff spends the better portion of the year arranging, promoting, and pulling strings to see that the three day spectacular held in Denver and Toronto each year are the best music and culture festivals known to lovers of live performance.
The 2015 lineup was pretty incomparable– headliners and notable acts such as Modest Mouse, No Doubt, Snoop Dogg, and Billy Idol slew the stage. This year may have just been a bit more memorable. Brand New, Glassjaw, Deftones, Death Cab For Cutie, Morrissey, and The Original Misfits were just a small handful of life-changing artists to reunite or make a rare appearance– one of the more awesome aspects the festival is known for.
I spent the weekend in Chicago in early celebration of my birthday and managed to dig my hands into a few of these sets. My day began early on Friday as I meandered through the uncharacteristically sunny, warm, and grass paths at the notoriously sludgy and chilly Douglas Park on the city’s southwest side. The skyline peaked clearly over the trees as I caught a glimpse of the high energy and mathematical metal group known as Dillinger Escape Plan. These guys brought the iconic Riot Fest attitude to the stage without hesitation. Mean mugs, raised fists, and guitar throws. Need I say more?
One of my favorite things about Riot Fest 2016 in Chicago was the abundance of homemade Morrissey propaganda. Notorious for his animal rights and vegan activism, Morrissey doesn’t have the most reliable track record when it comes to festival appearances. This fan shows his concern for Moz. Thanks for the advice, friend.
Holy White Hounds caught me by surprise on one of the smaller stages placed near the festival entrance. The Rebel Stage was perhaps the most understated platforms, hosting international acts with raw and gut-wrenching energy.
Holy White Hounds looked as if inspired by a scene in That 70s Show. Their old school rock and roll facial expressions and psychedelic guitar solos offered an endearing throwback with a modern atmosphere and comedic impressions of current celebrities and politicians.
The crowd stayed relatively small at the Rebel Stage throughout all three days, but those who attended never lost interest. The Recel Stage is the kind of place where bands find new devotees and form lifelong relationships with their fans. It was about as intimate as you could get at an outside gig without swallowing someone else’s hair.
Stay tuned for Part II of the Riot Fest Chicago 2016 recap!