Music

Let’s Start a Riot (Fest)

Chicago’s annual gathering of the punks — more commonly known as Riot Fest — took place at Douglas Park Sept. 13-15. The three-day alternative music festival with the tagline “Riot Fest sucks” celebrated its 15th year of providing an end-of-summer bash.

The festival showcased the diversity within the genre — alternative functioning as an umbrella term to cover every subgenre and genre-bending artist who can’t find a niche somewhere else. From the ‘90s hip-hop staple Wu-Tang Clan to the pop-punk nostalgia of Blink-182 and metal intensity with Anthrax, there was room for every type of person and experience.

Many fest-goers got down and dirty in the muddy mosh pits — the raucous shoving leaving some bruised and sore. The physicality offered a healthy outlet for any anger or frustrations. Others took a more relaxed route, chilling in the back and taking in the sounds from afar.

Some fans got a clearer view of the artists while crowd surfing toward the stage. Those with time between sets may have caught a bird’s-eye view of the park from the Ferris wheel or a dizzied panorama from the Tilt-A-Whirl.

A few lucky people near the front of the crowd got up close and personal with artists who made their way to the crowd. Alt-hip-hop artist grandson let the crowd carry him and Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath ran up to the barricade to close out his band’s set.

Monumental metal band Slayer bid farewell to its Chicago fans during its last show in the city before retirement. Those fans — whether they were diehards or just watching to take in the historic moment — soaked in every second of the band’s last set in the area.

The band didn’t dwell on this fact and simply did what they do best — playing loud and fast.

Loud and fast became a theme over the weekend with endless energy from Welsh rockers Neck Deep and alt-newcomers Ultra Q. 

Amid the noise, bands and fans came together to challenge the norm and fight for justice. Bikini Kill raged through its feminist anthems and grandson hyped up the crowd with politically charged jams. Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace, who came out as a transgender woman in May of 2012, represented the transgender community from the stage.

Whether people came for carnival rides and greasy foods, to see timeless tracks “Love Shack” and “Y.M.C.A.” or to run rampant during guitar solos, Riot Fest didn’t suck.

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