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Riot Fest Chicago 2014 Recap

Last weekend I attended Riot Fest in Chicago. I was at Humboldt Park all three days for the Punk Rock and Alternative music filled festival. This was my first time attending Riot Fest and this year was the festival’s 10 year anniversary. It was bigger than it has ever been in past years with 7 stages and over 100 bands over the span of Three days.

To be honest I think this was the best music festival I have been to. It was wild and fun. I’m going to recap my experience at Riot Fest. It was an incredible experience and I plan to go again in the future.


Friday’s rainy weather created mud pits all throughout Humboldt Park that stuck around all up until Sunday night. Friday night was the muddiest of them all. That night everyone exited the festival covered in mud, but the muddy conditions didn’t stop anyone from moshing and having a good time at Riot Fest. It just made things a little more interesting.

I got to see a lot of favorite bands of mine as well as new bands I never listened to before.

Circa Survive

Sadly I didn’t get to watch Circa Survive perform but I was able to hear their set as I was walking around to stages nearby. I kind of regret not checking them out. The crowd was really feeling their performance. Moshes were taking place from beginning to end. I’m a big fan of Circa Survive. I’m a big fan of punk rock in general. If you’re into punk/alternative rock and don’t already listen to this band give them a listen.

The lead singer, Anthony Green, also performed with Saosin on Saturday.

Senses Fail

One of my favorite performances of the day was Senses Fail’s set at the Rock Stage. They were on it throughout their whole set and the crowd was very energetic as well. Senses Fail is a punk band that has been around for quite a long time now. They formed in 2002 and have been making albums since then.

Their latest album Renacer was released last year and it was a very solid album. Mud or rain didn’t stop all the fans who came out to see them perform. They played a lot of songs from their Let it Enfold You album.


Gwar is one of those bands you just have to check out whenever you get the chance to because of the costumes they wear and the antics they pull off during their performances. I was able to catch a glimpse of their performance and the time I was there is basically summed up in the picture above.

They were spraying the crowd with a red liquid. It was a fun time for the few minutes I was there. Their trash metal music tends to be very humorous. Even if you don’t listen to their music check them out if you ever get a chance.

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men performed Friday night under the rain. Of Mice and Men is a heavy metal band who named the band after the novel Of Mice and Men. Of Mice and Men performed songs from their latest album Restoring Force. 

This is a band to check out in the future if you haven’t already. I just recently got in to their music. Their Restoring Force album gained a lot of attention and that encouraged me to check them out. I turned out to really like their music.

Pussy Riot Discussion Panel

Friday night Riot Fest hosted a Pussy Riot discussion panel. Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina were in attendance to discuss their sociopolitical movements through art and music in their homeland of Russia. Greg Graffin of Bad Religion, Tim MicIlrath of Rise Against, Marcelle Karp and Michael A. Petryshyn (Riot Fest Founder) were also in attendance to speak about sociopolitical movements in music and art.

Anyone who is familiar with all the controversy Pussy Riot has generated in Russia with their political movements will know how interesting this discussion panel was.

The Offspring

It looked like a favorite of the night for many was The Offspring. I had never seen The Offspring live before Riot Fest so I went into this not knowing what to expect. Once the music started it got so wild. It got extremely wild. People were moshing left and right.

Besides that The Offspring are really good performers. They performed their Smash album entirely and it was easily one of the best sets over the whole weekend. If you haven’t seen them perform live better do it while you can.

Rise Against

Rise Against closed out the Rock Stage Friday night. They were the band I was most looking forward to seeing that night. Rise Against is one of my favorite bands. I have been listening to their music for a really long time now but I have never seen them perform live so it was great to see them perform finally.

They performed a lot of my favorites like “Give it All”, “Prayer of The Refugee” and “Ready To Fall” just to name a few. I enjoyed their whole set but the rain restricted their performance a bit. I definitely plan on checking them out again in the future.

I unfortunately wasn’t able to check out every performance Friday. I wish I could have but its impossible. Other bands who performed Friday were Jane’s Addiction, NOFX, Slayer, Clutch and several others as well.


Saturday was a much more dry day. It was still very muddy though. I think Saturday was the most packed day out of all three days. It felt like there was a lot more people there on Saturday.

The Orwells

Chicagoland natives, The Orwells, performed early Saturday afternoon. This local indie rock band is one of the most overlooked bands in my opinion. They have performed at Lollapalooza and have even opened up for the Arctic Monkeys several times. They also performed on The Late Show with David Letterman. Check them out if you haven’t.

Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas

I stumbled across this band just hanging around but I ended up really liking their performance and their sound. Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas is a band from Detroit. So not too far away from Chicago. The lead singer, Jessica Hernandez, has an amazing voice. I wouldn’t even know how to describe this group’s type of music. There’s sounds of funk, jazz, alternative, punk. It’s just very energetic and fun. Look them up and you’ll see what I mean.

Wu-Tang Clan

One of the main reasons I decided to go out to Riot Fest this year was to finally see Wu-Tang perform live. It has always been a goal of mine to catch them perform at least once before they all got old. I missed other opportunities in the past but I wasn’t going to let that happen this time. These guys performed Saturday afternoon to a large crowd. It seriously was a very large crowd. It was nearly impossible to move while you were in that crowd.

They performed a lot of their hits and even performed “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” in dedication to the deceased O.D.B. It was a great time. They were the highlight of my Saturday at Riot Fest.

The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips performed after Wu-Tang. Their set was full of glitter, confetti and all things of that sort. They had a very colorful performance. During the performance they experience some technical issues which is always a bummer because everyone pays a lot of money to be these music festivals.

They performed a lot of fan favorites like “Yoshimi Battle The Pink Robots Pt. 1” and they ended with a cover of The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. I think many fans were satisfied with their performance.

The Used

The Used performed Saturday evening and they had a fantastic performance. They were way better than what I was expecting. They also had a super large crowd. The whole Rock Stage was packed. They played a great number of songs from their In Love and Death album. They also played songs from their latest album, Imaginary Enemy. 

They were really good and brought back so many memories as they played old songs I would listen to all the time. I’m actually interested in checking them out again if they come around to Chicago again in the future.

Taking Back Sunday

I ended my Saturday night catching Taking Back Sunday’s performance after The Used. I was expecting a lot from Taking Back Sunday and they didn’t disappoint. From beginning to end their performance was excellent. I was standing next to a guy who knew every single lyric to every song they performed that night. It was awesome.

Adam Lazzara, the lead singer, was tossing the mic up like 30-40 feet in the air and catching it without looking throughout the night. Then when they closed their set with the song “MakeDamnSure” he decided to climb halfway up the stage and hang from it. It was insane but so cool.

Other bands that performed on Saturday were, The National, Social Distortion, Metric, Tokyo Police Club, The Get Up Kids, Descendants, Samhain, Saosin and several others. I believe Saturday hosted the most bands out of all three days.


Sunday was a much more relaxed day for me. I went in to Sunday exhausted from the previous two days but I was still in the “all out” mentality for Weezer when they performed later in the night.

La Dispute

La Dispute performed early Sunday afternoon. For those who don’t know about these guys, they’re a hardcore rock band. It’s a genre that takes a specific person to listen to. Well in my opinion it is. It’s also referred sometimes as screamo rock or progressive rock. I enjoy it a lot though.

This group is from Michigan so they’re not too far away from Chicago. They have been making music for quite some time now. They formed in 2004.


Local rapper, ShowYouSuck, performed Sunday afternoon. People compared his performance to last year’s Chance The Rapper’s performance at lollapalooza because it was so packed at a smaller stage. ShowYouSuck was very energetic at his performance. He truly did take advantage of this great opportunity for him. Fans were also very pleased with him throughout the performance.

Hot Snakes

I’m not to familiar with this band but I caught a glimpse of them Sunday afternoon. I would compare their sound to something similar to Nirvana and bands of that era. They had a smaller crowd but a very active crowd. Their audience was an older crowd as well but I enjoyed their music for the time I was there.

They’re from San Diego and identify their genre as post-hardcore.

Tegan and Sara

Canadian Twin sisters Tegan and Sara also performed Sunday afternoon. I recently started listening to this indie rock group. They’re a cool group to get into. I would recommend listening to them.

They have been making music since 1999 and have 7 studio albums out.


Primus performed Sunday afternoon after Cheap Trick performed. Primus is a long lasting American Rock band. They have 8 studio albums with the first one being released in 1990. Their latest album was released this year and it is titled, Primus and The Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble. 

Their performance consisted performed several songs from their latest album and drummer, Danny Carey, made his Primus debut that day.


The one band I was most excited about seeing Sunday was Weezer. Then when I heard they were going to be performing The Blue Album I got even more excited for their performance. From the beginning the were phenomenal. The crowd was too wild too. Several audience members ended up leaving the crowd because they couldn’t handle the wildness but its Weezer man! You can leave a Weezer set.

They went on an adventure through time and played tracks from several of their albums before beginning on The Blue Album. From The Red Album they performed “Shack” & “Pork and Beans”. “Perfect Situation” & “Beverly Hills” from Make Believe. That led to “Island in the Sun” & “Hash Pipe” from The Green Album. Then finally “El Scorcho” from Pinkerton before finally moving on to The Blue Album.

Weezer is another band I have always wanted to see perform live and I wasn’t gonna miss it this time around. They were great the whole night and it was a perfect way to end my Riot Fest weekend in Humboldt Park.

These are just a few of the bands that stuck to me the most throughout the weekend. There were several other bands that performed throughout the weekend. I wish I could have seen all of them but accomplishing that would be a mission. I’m glad I decided to come out to Riot Fest this year and I plan to go in future years as well. It was a memorable experience. I encourage others who haven’t been to Riot Fest to go check it out in the future. It is very different from other music festivals in Chicago and in a very good way.

 (All Photos are courtesy of Consequence of Sound and Alternative Press)

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