Rage your heart out as Riot Fest returns for more metal, moshing and noshing in Chicago’s Douglas Park. Founded in 2005, punk rock’s favorite festival not only includes one of fullest lineups of the summer Blink 182, Incubus, Interpol, Young the Giant and Father John Misty, to name a few — it also lists a Ferris wheel, sideshows and delicious eats worthy of one of the most decadent foodie cities in the country. Need another reason to say goodbye to summer from the Windy City? Riot Fest is all ages and kids under five are free. Rock on.
Sept. 14 – 16
Douglas Park, Chicago
WHERE TO STAY
Douglas Park is on the west side of Chicago, but the city’s excellent and extremely easy to use transit system means you can stay anywhere. From longstanding hipster fave Wicker Park to Wrigleyville, home to baseball and plenty of bars, Chicago really is a city of neighborhoods. Browse them all on Riot Fest’s handy hotel finder and go from there.
Alternative, punk, rock, metal and hip-hop reign king here, so expect plenty of tattoos, piercings and mohawks. The bark is worse than the bite — Chicago has a reputation for being friendly.
CLAIM TO FESTIVAL FAME
Riot Fest was only founded in 2005, but it quickly earned a reputation for booking one of festival season’s most eclectic bills. It was once named the “Best Fest in the U.S., and its extras — from carnival rides to sideshows — make it a people-watching paradise.
SKIP IF …
Punk rock is not your genre. While there are definitely mellower artists on the lineup like Beck, Blondie and Digable Planets, this one is much more of a rager than other summer fests. Opt out if you don’t like music that makes your ears bleed.
“It’s Time to Party,” Andrew W.K.
“Roll It, Light It,” Cypress Hill
“All the Small Things,” Blink-182
“Heart of Glass,” Blondie
“Cars,” Gary Numan
WHAT TO WEAR
Break out your most righteous (and authentic) vintage rock t-shirts and best all-black ensembles. While breezy days in Sept. are a relief after the brutally hot months of July and Aug., you might catch a chill at night. Pack your beat-up leather jacket just in case.
Chicago’s food scene might be the very best in the country, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Try the deep-dish pizza or a loaded Chicago hot dog and wash it down with a Southbound Greyhound (Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka and soda) from Deep Eddy Vodka’s Dive In Tour trailer in VIP. Deep Eddy Vodka is also presenting a “Punk Rock & Paintbrushes” art exhibition featuring original works of art by Riot Fest artists open to all festival goers!
With old faves like Elvis Costello, Jerry Lee Lewis and Blondie headlining, nostalgia is king this year at Riot Fest. For old times’ sake, let Blink-182 spirit you back to high school, Liz Phair and Cat Power remind you how good righteous rage can feel and Cypress Hill chill you out. And of course, make sure to catch forever punk party-starters Andrew W.K. and GWAR.
TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME
Tucked in between the sweltering summer and frozen winter months, Sept. is one of the best times to explore Chicago. Take advantage of perfect temps by wandering down Miracle Mile, gawking at the city from one of its many skyscrapers, catching a baseball game at Wrigley Park, taking selfies in front of Millennium Park’s Cloud Gate sculpture (aka “The Bean”) and dining al fresco as you eat your way through the city.
RIOT FEST IS FOR YOU IF …
You live for a good mosh pit as well as a great nosh. Riot Fest is all about the rage, which makes it a favorite among metal and punk rock lovers. This year, the ever-eclectic lineup is even more wide-ranging (Jerry Lee Lewis!), and host city Chicago guarantees it’s a festival the whole family will enjoy. Headbang to your heart’s content.