A Day in the Sun at Riot Fest

Written by Mickayla Whitt

Graphic by Emily Lantzy

          Fifteen years ago, Riot Fest began in Chicago. This year, I had the pleasure of going for one day and experienced what Riot Fest is really all about. 

          When walking into Riot Fest, you may question if it’s really a music festival. The carnival-esque rides, a wrestling section, and food stands resemble what you would see at a fair. But once you explore, you’ll see various stages spread across the park.

           I started my day early with the New Jersey band Can’t Swim. Despite it being noon, they brought in a crowd full of people mosh pitting and singing the lyrics to their song “My Queen” at the top of their lungs.

          I made my way across the park to the other stages and got to check out Yours Truly. The female-fronted pop punk band from Australia recently released an EP titled Afterglow, which started the day with new music. They closed with their well-known song “High Hopes,” which had everyone in the crowd dancing and enjoying the first band on the Riot stage.

          The next band I had the pleasure of seeing was the duo I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME. They opened with a song called “Nobody Likes The Opening Band,” which earned a few laughs from those who had never heard of them. Fans of the band excitedly watch the group play their hits, and even a new song. The duo engaged with the crowd by having them snapping and clapping as well as singing background sounds for the chorus of select songs.

          After a few hours of waiting, Neck Deep came on. Before their set, a representative from the suicide prevention charity Hope for the Day came out, earning lots of cheers as he spoke about the importance of breaking the mental health stigma. With a large crowd and people happily gripping onto the barricade, the Welsh band played for an hour. The crowdsurfers began almost instantly while the band opened with “Motion Sickness” from their newest album. Even those who had never heard of the band knew the song they covered, “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia, which had everyone of all ages singing.

          After Neck Deep, I rushed over to the rebel stage to catch the rest of Hot Mulligan’s set. A crowd full of crowdsurfers and people mosh pitting brought high energy, especially when they closed with their well-known song “How Do You Know It’s Not Armadillo Shells?”

          Throughout the rest of the day, I had some time to kill until seeing Blink-182. I grabbed some food, watched some of Dashboard Confessional and Descendants’ sets, and patiently waited to see Blink.

          When the time came for Blink-182 to start, it seemed like everyone at the festival was there. Despite not being close to the stage, I still had the time of my life. They played Enema of State in its entirety, which meant I got to hear “Aliens Exist” as well as some of their best hits from that album. Despite being a band for nearly 30 years, they still brought the highest energy I’ve seen at a concert in a while. People of all ages sang the lyrics to “What’s My Age Again?” while enjoying a close to the night.

          Despite only doing one day of the three day festival, Riot Fest was definitely one of the best festivals I have ever gotten to attend. With people from all over the country and Chicago locals, there was a sense of community and sharing the same love for the same music.

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