After all the hype that the punk music community and I have been creating for Riot Fest, the weekend finally came. Now, as much as I wanted to go all three days, I only attended the last day, Sunday. Both Friday and Saturday were both absolutely gorgeous days here in Chicago, but Sunday was a different story. I woke up Sunday morning to a constant downpour of rain, and I was hoping that it was going to be little sprinklings of rain throughout the day, but my hopes and prayers were not answered. On Sunday, the rain for the most part was torrential, leaving me and the other 43,000 Riot Fest attendees soaked to the bone. Now, it may sound like I’m complaining about the weather, but I’m not in the slightest. The rain actually added quite a bit to the festival, and in my opinion, it made everything more fun and exciting.
I arrived at Humboldt Park 25 minutes before the gates opened and as soon as the gates were opened at 11AM, the energy levels suddenly skyrocketed. Once I go into the festival, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself considering the first band I wanted to see wasn’t supposed to start until 12:15. So, I walked around the park and got a feel for where everything was (including what mud puddles that I needed to avoid at all costs). Then at 12:15, I headed over to the roots stage and watched Maps and Atlases set! I wasn’t too familiar with their music, I just gave them a brief listen on Spotify because I needed some time to kill, but they were really good! They were a typical indie rock band, but they played a great set and they were fun to watch. Immediately following Maps and Atlases, I booked it to the other side of the festival to catch the end of Hostage Calm. I only saw the last two-and-a-half songs of their set, but they were killing it. The crowd was super pumped up and really into the band.
About a forty-five minutes after Hostage Calm finished, one of my favorite bands of all time, The Wonder Years came on. I was so stoked to see The Wonder Years, they’ve been one of my favorite bands for years and it was my first time seeing them live. They absolutely tore the non-existent roof off the place. They played so loud and so hard, and the crowd was going absolutely insane. The lead singer of The Wonder Years, Dan “Soupy” Campbell, was such a treat to watch. I have never seen anyone look so happy and smile so much on stage while performing. He truly was living in the moment and loving every second of it. The Wonder Years played an eleven song set, filled with a great mix of old fan favorites like “Logan Square” and “Washington Square Park”, and even several new songs off their newest album The Greatest Generation. The band closed out their solid set with a crowd pleaser, and one of The Wonder Year’s most popular songs, “Came Out Swinging.
After The Wonder Years finished, I ran over to one of the other stages to catch some of Bayside’s set. I’m not super familiar with Bayside, but I know five or six songs by them, and the part of their set that I watched was amazing. I didn’t get to see their whole set, but I have to say, they are one of the best live bands I’ve ever heard. The band as a whole sounded so tight and hearing their songs live was absolutely insane. The crowd was super rowdy and crazy, which only fueled the band to put more into their performance. My timing getting to their performance couldn’t of been better – as soon as I approached the stage, they started playing one of my favorite songs, “Already Gone,” which was even better live than the recorded version, so it was rad to be able to see them perform it.
After Bayside, I chilled out for a bit. I had been doing a lot of running around, so I decided to take a breather and get some warm food into my freezing and soaking wet body. At this point in the day, the rain was getting worse, obviously making me less motivated to do anything, but it’s not like I could bail out anywhere for shelter so I got some Redbull pumping through my veins to keep my energy and spirits high. I ran over to the rise stage and caught almost all of Best Coast’s set, and they were fantastic! They were the most mellow of all the bands I saw, but it was a nice contrast compared to all the other bands I saw.
Post Best Coast, I hung around some more and waited to catch the beginning of Brand New’s set before booking it over to All Time Low. Brand New is one of those bands that doesn’t tour often, and I’ve always wanted to see them and the 4 songs of theirs that I heard was better than anything I could have ever imagined. I’m hopelessly in love with all of their albums, but nothing compares to hearing them live, its a completely different experience and one that is beyond worth having if you get the chance. After catching a few of their songs, I ran over to see All Time Low, a band that I’ve seen quite a few times (last night being my 8th) and they never fail to disappoint me. All Time Low is one of those bands that just gets better and better every time I see them, meaning that Riot Fest was by far the best performance I’ve ever seen them give. First off, the band was obviously beyond stoked to be playing at a festival that so many of their friends and heroes were playing at. Second, the crowd for their set was massive and out of control. It was probably the roughest All Time Low crowd that I’ve ever been in, but it was worth it. As usual, they played a solid mix of new and old songs. It was great to hear them play songs like “Coffee Shop Soundtrack,” “Stella,” and “Heroes” because it had been awhile since I had heard them live. Their set was filled with vulgar jokes and stupid banter that didn’t really make any sense, but you kind of have to love them for that because they’re pretty hilarious. The band played their new single, “A Love Like War,” and Vic Fuentes of Pierce the Veil came out and sang his part on the song, which was so rad. The crowd went absolutely mental during that song. Then, All Time Low ended their set with their classic closer, “Dear Maria, Count Me In.”
At this point, it was about 7:30, and Pierce the Veil was set to come on the stage I was at around 8:30, so I decided to stay put. The crowd at the stage I was at only grew over that hour, and at 8:28, the crowd started chanting for Pierce the Veil to come out, and so the guys ran out on stage and opened with their song “Bulls in the Bronx,” which is their newest single and one of my all time favorite songs by them. They continued to play a high energy set (as always), and about half way through the set, Vic Fuentes the lead singer, broke things down a bit and played “I’m Low on Gas, and You Need A Jacket” acoustic, which was something he hadn’t done since their spring tour. The band then played a few more songs and closed it out with their songs “Caraphernelia” and “King for A Day.”
All in all, day 3 of Riot Fest was a total success. Although I didn’t get to see all the bands I wanted to, none of the bands I saw disappointed me at all. In fact, all the bands I saw exceeded my expectations. I hope the line up next year is just as great as this year’s, because I would love to go back next year!
Side note: All of the bands I saw aren’t necessarily shown in the photos above.
All pictures shown above were taken by myself