Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Thursday, February 22

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Review/Photos: Deerhunter with Marnie Stern @ Cabaret Metro 09/10/13 Redefine Sunday Night Blues with The Wood Brothers »

Riot Fest Wed Sep 11 2013

Ten Ways to Make Your Riot Fest the Best

Riot FestThe feather in the cap of festival season, also known as Riot Fest around these parts, is this weekend in Humboldt Park. Riot Fest transitioned their event into a full three day large scale festival last year, and it was one of the more enjoyable festivals we attended last year. The location was a great fit, the sound bleed wasn't too awful, and booking it in September made for a milder weather experience in the mosh pit. We're back covering the festival all weekend, so we thought we'd share 10 tips on how to maximize your Riot Fest weekend.

1. Show some local love. At some point there'll be a break in your schedule when you have no allegiances to any band playing. So why not fill the time by seeing a Chicago area band, whether they've been on US Weekly covers or you unknowingly walk by them at Cole's? Obviously, there's no shortage of local acts, like the Broadways, Deal's Gone Bad, Fall Out Boy, Flatfoot 56, Lawrence Arms, Maps & Atlases, Pet Symmetry, Screeching Weasel, Smoking Popes, Twin Peaks and White Mystery.
- James Ziegenfus

2. Plan your transportation in advance. The second most annoying tweets that Riot Fest has responded to the last few months is a plethora of people that are utterly confused by transit. Let me break it down for you in the most simple way possible: Take the blue line to either Division or California. Take the California bus south or the Division bus west. Division bus drops you off right across the street from the festival, California bus drops you off at Division and you walk a few blocks. That's my best advice, Riot fest has other options as well. There is ample bike parking onsite as well, so that is another great way to get there. Even if you don't want to deal with the hassle of the bus on the way to the festival, a cab ride from either blue line stop will run you around $10 or less with tip. And last year I was able to immediately catch one of the Division buses lined up ready to go at the end of the night, so thanks to Riot Fest for wonderful planning, getting home was quick and easy. Like anything in life, just plan ahead.
- Lisa White

3. Don't stress too much over hard set conflicts. Friday will have one of the hardest conflicts of the weekend with Screeching Weasel and Bad Religion practically up against each other. On one hand, this is a no-brainer for a lot of people, mostly depending on whether they're cerebral or jocose. But for the many of us who fall somewhere in the middle and have soft spots for both pop-punk and a hardcore edge, it's brutal. One thing to look for around 6:30 on Friday is how the crowd goes between two of the bigger names on this year's bill. The positive is there's no wrong choice.
- James Ziegenfus

4. Enjoy Humboldt Park. The ever sassy and helpful Riot Fest twitter account has spent majority of their time leading up to Riot Fest telling off people that continually ask "is the park safe, isn't that an awful area?" Not only is that insulting to the festival, since some of the organizers have been very active in the Humboldt community for years, but it's also incredibly uneducated. Are there parts of Humboldt Park that are dangerous? Yes. Are there parts of every neighborhood in Chicago that are dangerous. Yes. It is a major metropolitan city, deal with it. You want to know what neighborhood had the highest crime rate for theft and muggings this summer? Lakeview. Just be smart. Should you wander around the area late at night by yourself? No. Use common sense. But I encourage all people coming from out of town to head out early and enjoy the neighborhood. Grab breakfast at Feed or Flying Saucer (both cash only), head a bit north of the festival grounds and enjoy the beautiful park grounds (and food trucks), and after the festival swing by California Clipper and grab a gimlet. Just like all Chicago neighborhoods it has its quirks, but it is a lovely area.
- Lisa White

5. Explore. Riot Fest has five stages, and the distance between them are not that bad. Sure beats the distance walking end to end at Lollapalooza. Also, according to the current predictions, the weather will be mild this weekend, so you won't be standing still trying to stave off melting in the sun. All this means that you should wear a comfy pair of shoes (a given at a festival anyways) and explore the grounds and check out new music. Don't just camp out at one stage, hop around. Same goes for exploring stuff that isn't music related. Buy a funnel cake and ride the Ferris wheel after checking out Butter Stamos (yes, a butter statue depicting Riot Fest's twitter crush John Stamos). Just don't put so much effort into staking out a spot for Blink-182 that you end up not enjoying the rest of what the festival has to offer.
- Lisa White

6. Chill out. In a year when Chicago music festivals were hit with extreme weather, Riot Fest is late enough that there's no real risk of heatstroke and the forecast is cooperating by only showing slight chances of rain along with 72°F as a high. Break out the hoodies! (Although Friday's chilly evening forecast does put Danzig's set at risk.)
- James Ziegenfus

7. If you're up early(ish) on Sunday morning, check out the Lillingtons for a brunch show at Beat Kitchen. The Wyoming band was generally underrated in pop-punk's mid-'90s halcyon years with albums like Shit Out of Luck and Death by Television. They've been off the radar for a few years, though singer Kody Templeman's doing time in Teenage Bottlerocket, so Riot Fest is a rare opportunity to catch them and brunch is a really good way to kick off a Sunday. (It's sold out, but you're creative, right? Otherwise, the Lillingtons are playing Saturday afternoon at the festival.)
- James Ziegenfus

8. If you're at Riot Fest late(ish) Sunday night, see The Replacements. I don't care if you have no clue who they are, do not leave early, stay and see them. Sit on the ground in the back and just listen for all I care. But it is a big fucking deal they are playing Riot Fest. This is one of those bands people seriously thought would never play again after falling apart in such a spectacular fashion. And if you saw them back in their prime, chances are it was an incredibly sloppy drunk set, so this is the first time for you as well in a way. Whether they play more shows outside of Riot Fest together is very up in the air, so do not miss this. Their Riot Fest Toronto setlist was amazing, so even if your feet are tired or you don't care, just stick around. If I see anyone exiting the festival I'm yelling "FOOLS" at them immediately.
- Lisa White

9. Make sure to see these bands. It wouldn't be a festival preview without mentioning a few favorite acts to check out. On Friday, get their early and catch the back to back sets of Dessa and Saul Williams. If you've never witnessed GWAR, at least go check it out. I've never seen that much fake blood at once in my life. Joan Jett is one ripped badass lady in leather, so make sure to pay your respects. And love them or hate them, Fall Out Boy put on a really fun, high-energy show, so if you aren't a Danzig fan, stick around for their set. My Saturday is all about worshiping Debbie Harry during Blondie's set, but also make sure to check out a wall of guitar noise at Dinosaur Jr. earlier in the day. My other Saturday picks are Stars, Glassjaw, Flag (mainly because Keith Morris is awesome), and making sure to catch some of the both Taking Back Sunday and Violent Femmes during their dueling set times. Sunday is all about The Replacements for me, but getting to watch The Pixies right before is an awesome bonus. Against Me! and Best Coast are two other sets I plan on checking out Sunday as well.
- Lisa White

10. Stay out after curfew. Of course, Riot Fest isn't completely over when Humboldt Park goes silent. Aftershows go late into the night because nobody gets tired after being at a festival for 8+ hours, right? From Peter Hook playing New Order (as opposed to Joy Division at Riot Fest) to San Diego's Rocket From the Crypt putting on one of the finest rock'n'roll revues you'll see to Andrew WK partying hard to Quicksand pummeling eardrums, there's something for everyone.
- James Ziegenfus

GB store

paul worsterberg of the deplacements / September 12, 2013 10:28 AM

the replacements stink

GB store

Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

GB store


Featured Series


Transmission on Flickr

Join the Transmission Flickr Pool.

About Transmission

Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Sarah Brooks,
Transmission staff inbox:



Transmission Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15