First off, I’d like to thank the rain boots and three pairs of black jeans that got me through Riot Fest Chicago. They truly are trophies. I had never experienced a Riot Fest up to this point, but was aware (especially this year) that it had one of the most diverse lineups I had seen up to this point. Who could also discount Chicago? Was it an excuse to divulge in deep dish, Chicago style pizza? Partly. If you needed rock, Douglas Park was the place to view it.
There was mud. Showers at the beginning of days one and two rendered the park almost into a soggy, NFL game. I called it the “Anti-Coachella” where everybody didn’t mind feeling gritty. What couldn’t be more “rock” than that? Taking the Pink line, the park was fairly easy to get to and for the most part, the lineups were pretty well balanced, soliciting something for old and new fans alike. On day one in particular, I shuffled around to see Living Colour, Coheed And Cambria, Every Time I Die and Thrice. All these bands put on a hell of a show. I’ve seen these bands like before, so it felt family reunion like. At the end of the night, we had our first time conflict. No Doubt vs. Ice Cube. Do you dare forage through the mud to try to make both of these acts, well…yea. No Doubt are as energetic as ever and Ice Cube was great because adding a legendary rap act brought a different element.
Day two may have been the day of the newcomers balanced out with the veterans of rock. I really liked how that was balanced out. Fidlar, Gwar, The Joy Formidable, and Mayday Parade ruled the first half of the day. We saw the triumphant return of The Academy Is and a rare performance from System Of A Down. It got a little crazy during their set as they had to stop playing “B.Y.O.B.” a couple times because fans got a tad rowdy.
Day 3 felt like the sequential end of a two prior leg days. The grounds had hardened a little bit because of the slight increase in temperature, so it wasn’t as hard to move around. I headed to check out the carnival show which had a man put a moving drill bit up his nose. I bet the sinuses were clear. Andrew W.K.’s set was an all-out party. Even though he started his set a bit late, seeing Snoop Dogg for the first time live was good after I raced over from Tenacious D‘s set. The entire weekend led up to me seeing The Prodigy. They rarely come over to the U.S. and Fat Of The Land is one of my favorite albums from that time period. Loud, draped in green and red lights, the band tore the house down with their headlining set.
Riot Fest is a continuing, evolving entity that amidst it’s rotating nature, supplanted itself as one of the premier fests in the country. The first day, I probably won’t wear a pair of Chuck Taylors’ to the grounds (RIP my black pair), but this will be on my radar for years to come.
Check out our entire Riot Fest Chicago 2015 photo album below. All photographs © Murjani Rawls.