Why Riot Fest Is Still Chicago’s Best Music Festival


It was touch and go there for a while, but Riot Fest did return this year, and it was another great one.

The daily schedules were not announced until about a week before the fest was to start due to a number of factors, including Blink 182’s late cancellation.

About a year ago, I posted here that Riot Fest is Chicago’s best music festival, and it remains so. 

My reasons for asserting that is basically the music is just better. Riot Fest highlights actual musicians playing and singing music that they have written, unlike some of the other fests in town.

This year was no different, with great sets from Elvis Costello, Blondie, and Johnny Marr, and a bucket list appearance (at least for me) by Mr. Jerry Lee Lewis, still tickling the ivories with the best of them.

The location at Douglas Park is a perfect setting. Plus, Riot Fest is a bargain.  You could buy a three-day ticket this year for less than $100. I am already looking forward to next year.

Riot Fest 2016 Day-By-Day Review

Once again, Fall begins to roll around in Chicago, and so does the annual Riot Fest. This year, there were significant improvements compared to past years: there was not as much stress about where the festival was going to be held – finally finding its place in Douglas Park following the (justified) drama of having to leave Humbold Park last year.

Overall, for a punk rock festival, the crowds stayed relatively calm, save for some organized and contained mosh pits during some of the sets, proving once again that Riot Fest is one of today’s most genuine music festivals. We danced, we raged, we moshed, we had the time of our lives. This year, members of UIC Radio got to experience some amazing sets at the festival, from melancholy indie rock to classic punk reunions to experimental hip hop and beyond, we saw the best of the best. Long live Riot Fest.


(Check out our reviews and image gallery below!)

Continue reading “Riot Fest 2016 Day-By-Day Review”

The Joy Formidable Interview – Riot Fest Chicago 2015

The Joy Formidable Interview - Riot Fest Chicago 2015

The Joy Formidable rocked out Chicago this year at Riot Fest Chicago. After taking a 12 month break working on their upcoming album, and project Aruthrol, promoting Welsh artists and music. By way of North Wales, Rhydian Dafydd, Rhiannon ” Rity” Bryan, and Matthew Thomas took to the Riot Stage with a vengeance! Continue reading “The Joy Formidable Interview – Riot Fest Chicago 2015”

Every Time I Die – Riot Fest Chicago 2015

Every Time I Die Riot Fest 2015

When metalcore band Every Time I Die stormed on to the Rebel Stage at Riot Fest Chicago this past weekend, it was clear… they came to rock!! ETID holds a reputation for their intense energy in both sound and performance. It wouldn’t be a ETID show without the mosh and surf. And of course watching a member of the band trash the stage during the finale was fun to watch! Their Superheaven & Muck UK Tour kicks off in November. Later to make a stop back in the states, in late November, in Philly.  Every Time I Die’s show was definitely one amongst my favorites. Look forward to the next time they are back in town.

Every Time I Die Riot Fest 2015


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Interview with Ground Up – Riot Fest Chicago 2015

Philly’s own, Hip Hop Trio, Ground Up, came through to Riot Fest Chicago and turnt up Friday afternoon on the Radicals Stage. They just recently performed at the Made In America Festival. Not only did I get the chance to bare witness, but I also got the chance to sit down and have an interview with them. I swear it was like me just asking the homies a few questions! They were so chill! Their performance and music is dope! Get the low down on Ground Up and check the interview below.

Ground Up Riot Fest Chicago 2015

B Roc – You guys just performed recently at the Made In America Festival, held in your hometown Philly. What are you feelings about that?

Malakai – Made In America was definitely one out of three of the top shows we have done. It was sweet! It always feels good to perform on stage in our hometown… it was awesome.

Bij Lincs – Made In America was dope. And we love Chicago and Riot Fest is dope! Usually when we stop in Chicago the weather is much colder. So it’s cool to be here now. It’s summer time, so all the festivals are going on… and we don’t mind being outside… feels good!

Ground Up Let's Ride

B Roc – What do you hope your fans get from your music?

Bij Lincs – I think we relate to a lot of the same things that people, our fans, or anyone can relate to. We all went to college, we have all had our struggles, and at the end of the day… we are all the same! It’s just we do music. And music is a form of expression, a form of release. So maybe they can also find the same… it’s therapeutic.

Malakai – Getting our music out to the fans is important to us. I just want them to have an awesome time man! It’s all about having a good time!

Azar – I hope that they feel as inspired as we do, when we listen to good music. We want y’all to have fun!

Ground Up Riot Fest Chicago 2015

B Roc – Do you have any shows lined up in the near future?

Azar – Yeah! We have our fall tour, Seventeen Eleven Tour. And we will be making our way back to Chicago in Novemeber. We also have our album that drops October 2nd, and we’re excited about it. The album is about how Ground Up all got started, how we first meet, and we are celebrating that.

Malakai – And Marty Grimes will be coming along with us on tour… it’s gonna be dope!

B Roc – Are there any artists that are currently doing their thing that you would like to collab with?

Malakai & Azar –  We work with Hip Hop artists, Rock artists, Singers… we diversify ourselves, and we’re definitely open when it comes to collaborations. We’re open to working with anyone who wants to work with us!

Bij Lincs – We have a new single featuring Marty Grimes, and the video for it will be dropping soon. Shout out to Marty.

B Roc – Do you have any ventures going on outside of music?

Azar – Yeah! We have our clothing line, Seventeen Eleven, MDCCXI,  in roman numerals. Clothing is like our second passion, so we decided to chanel our energy in to that.

Bij Lincs –  Ground Up is more than just myself Malakai and Azar… Ground Up is literally over 20 people! Having a clothing line gives us another avenue to reach our audience… to reach the people. It gives them the opportunity to express themselves as well. And we are passionate about our music, our fashion, and all things Ground Up.

Malakai – It’s important that we have, what we have, in order to break bread with and show love to our Ground Up family. We are all in this together… wouldn’t have it any other way.

B Roc – What’s something you have to do before you leave Chicago? Can’t leave Chicago without….?

Azar & Malakai & Bij Lincs – DEEP DISH PIZZA!!! Shout out to Lou Malnati’s, we love the food here! Can’t leave with out shopping and picking up some gear. Shout out to RSVP Gallery… definitely a Chicago staple, shout out to Kanye!

@TheRealGroundUp @RiotFest

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Ground Up B Roc Riot Fest 2015

Yelawolf – Riot Fest Chicago 2015

Yelawolf Riot Fest Chicago 2015

Now, I’m no southern gal… but even this city girl knows just where to go if she ever wants to GET SLUM!! Proud Tennessee native, THE HEART OF DIXIEShady Records artist Yelawolf hit the Rock Stage at Riot Fest Chicago on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Joined by guitarist Mike Harnett and DJ Klever. Together the trio puts on a bad ass show that gives you the perfect blend of Hip Hop, Country, and good ol Rock n Roll. I got the chance to see Yelawolf perform at the House Of Blues, back in 2012, for The Slumerica Tour. When it comes to putting on a performance, Yela leaves his heart and soul on the stage. He is currently promoting his latest album Love Story. Check his performance and the videos below.


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Photography by Daniel Boczarski

Jazz Cartier – Riot Fest Chicago 2015

Jazz Cartier Riot Fest 2015

Jazz Cartier, Hip Hop artist and Toronto, Canada native, made a memorable  introduction on the Hip Hop scene earlier this year with his hit singles “Set Fire” and “Dead or Alive” that made waves. His mixtape Marauding In Paradise is a banger and he is currently on tour. And amongst the stops Cartier recently made his way to Chicago.

Jazz Cartier riot fest 2015

Cartier hit the Rock Stage at Riot Fest Chicago Sunday, September 13th, with a fire performance that may have left the stage in flames!!… figuratively speaking of course.  Out of the three day festival and carnival, Sunday was the driest…  alleviated of rain, but raining the entire weekend.

Jazz Cartier Riot Fest 2015

That didn’t stop Jazz from tossing water on to the crowd, making his own rain. Followed by a glorious leap from the stage to crowd surf. The crowd also broke out in to a mosh pit, moshing and yelling lyrics word for word! Jazz Cartier had it turnt to the max on a early Sunday afternoon.  It’s always dope to see a dope artist give a dope performance! Can’t wait for him to make his way back to the Chi.


Thanks for ROCKIN wit me!!! Roc4Chi_City
IG @rockwitb_roc @4chi_cityradio
Log on to uicradio.org Sunday nights 6-8pm

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.

Continue reading “Riot Fest Chicago 2014 Recap”