Riot Fest had three different shows, in three different locations this year with completely unique lineups at each one. Chicago was graced with headliners such as Fall Out Boy, Blink 182 and the anticipated reunion of The Replacements. Between bands, time was occupied by carnival-esque rides, games and a butter John Stamos (more on that later) to tie the whole festival together.
Friday began with me jumping out of a cab in the middle of a street and sprinting 5 blocks to the concert after being stuck in traffic which risked me having to miss Yellowcard. After a 12-hour drive from New Jersey, I was going to see every band I wanted to even if it killed me. Chicago natives, Fall Out Boy, played a high-energy set filled with a mix of old and new material. I was however a little upset they didn’t play “Chicago Is So Two Years Ago.” Is that a cliche that I wanted to hear that in Chicago?
I know Chicago is called the Windy City but we weren’t expecting the cold front that greeted us our arrival. Having to bring a hoodie to a show, let alone an all day festival, is unpleasant. Once the sun went down, even the hoodie couldn’t stop the shivering. Going deep in the crowd for body heat from thousands of strangers was the only thing to save you.
Public Enemy’s performance was accompanied by the crowd having a break dancing circle instead of a mosh pit. The crowd for Blink 182 Saturday night was monstrous. The immense sea of people spread all the way past a carnival ride (which I don’t think was ever supposed to be reached by a crowd.) Concert goers were climbing on the baseball cage surrounding the ride just to get a glimpse of the trio.
Walking up Sunday it seemed that Mother Nature had no cares about Riot Fest because the rain began early morning on the gray and cold Chicago day. A surprising set time on Sunday was Brand New being placed in the 6 o’clock time slot with more than 5 hours left of the festival. Singer, Jesse Lacey, looked the best I have ever seen him. The last time I saw Brand New, he was performing lying on the ground with a towel over his head at Bamboozle in 2012. This time we got the whole performance before he started breaking guitars and the drum set. But it was still a performance that made my trip worth it.
The Riot Fest Twitter account had been talking up a butter sculpture of John Stamos that would be in attendance. The blue and white stripped tent that housed this attraction was the toughest thing to find at the festival. After talking to numerous workers who thought I was crazy talking about this heartthrob that was made out of a dairy product, we finally found the glorious sculpture on our own. And boy, that man is even attractive in the form of food.
An important make or break aspect of a music festival are the refreshments. Lucky for us, Riot Fest was jam packed with local Chicago food vendors to help make our taste buds dance. I was blessed to devourer The Tenderizer sandwich from Cheesie’s food truck that left me head over heels in love. Beverage prices were $7 for most beer and $2 for a bottle of water which is unseen at any music festival I’ve attended. My bank account really appreciated the small gesture of not trying to make us going into debt just to stay nourished throughout the day.