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Friday, December 2

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Riot Fest Thu Sep 10 2015

Our Riot Fest Recommendations


Riot Fest is returning to Chicago, in a new, sprawling Douglas Park location from September 11 through September 13. The standout festival, complete with carnival rides and games, is jam-packed with an exciting array of acts, from Iggy Pop, to No Doubt, to Snoop Dogg, to local favorites including Psalm One and Into It. Over It. We've rounded up our top picks for all three days of the fest, allowing you to dance (and perhaps mosh) with the best of them all weekend long.


Into It. Over It.
1:15pm-1:45pm: Rise Stage
Take in some local fare this weekend in your Riot Fest menu - Chicago's very own Evan Thomas Weiss will be helping to kick off the fest on the Rise Stage at 1:15 on Friday. The indie rocker will no doubt be sampling from his 2015 Split EP and you should be there. Your boss will understand.
-Celeste Mallama

Living Colour
2:45pm-3:30pm: Rock Stage
Head over to the Rock Stage at 2:45 on Friday and get ready for a blast from the past. NYC's rock group from the 1980's, Living Colour, will be taking over the stage with their own unique brand of rock/funk/jazz/hip hop fusion. Get ready for the crowd to freak out when they play "Cult of Personality."
-Celeste Mallama

88 Fingers Louie
3:30pm-4:15pm: Riot Stage
There's nothing like taking in some hometown jams to kick off the Riot Fest weekend. If you head over to the Riot Stage on the first day, you will be treated to a set from local punk heroes, 88 Fingers Louie. Although they have had several different incarnations over the past few years, the group still brings a vigorous attitude to their set that shows these punks ain't getting tired.
-Chris Zois

Psalm One
4:30pm-5:00pm: Radicals Stage
An incredible artist and humanitarian, Psalm One is a Chicago force to be reckoned with. In 2006, she became the first lady signed to the prestigious indie label Rhymesayers Entertainment after leaving her job as a food chemist in the Chicago suburbs. Since then, she has helped launch a mentorship program, released seven prodigious albums under two different aliases, toured the world with everyone from MF Doom to 50 Cent to Kendrick Lamar, and joined a local girl group, Rapper Chicks, alongside Who Is Fluffy and Angel Davanport and ill-esha, who are about to take over the rap game.
-Emily Ornberg

Against Me!
4:45pm-5:30pm: Rise Stage
Going almost 20 years strong, Against Me! has evolved from acoustic anarcho-punks to arena rockers. Much has been made of lead singer Laura Jane Grace coming out as transgender in 2012, but die-hard and new fans will notice that the group has become much more aggressive with 2014's Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Grace's powerful vocals and lyrics are the main standout of the group, which they should rightfully be, but the other members all bring something to the table, including drummer Atom Willard's intense drum solos.
-Chris Zois

Coheed and Cambria
5:45pm-6:15pm: Rock Stage
Everyone's favorite space fantasy-weaving prog-punk band is back in action, having released two singles this summer in advance of The Color Before the Sun, expected in October. Interestingly, this will be their first non-concept album, as lead singer/songwriter/guitarist/sci-fi-master Claudio Sanchez is apparently moving on from musical adaptations of his Amory Wars graphic novels. The band's new songs--"You Got Spirit, Kid" and "Here To Mars"--retain the melodrama of their earlier hits, but move in a poppier, more chord-driven direction, with Sanchez's high tenor wailing above all as always. The real reason to see Coheed and Cambria, though, is to headbang to the dueling guitar solos on the band's most famous track, "Welcome Home." Catch Coheed and Cambria on Friday at 5:45 pm on the Rock Stage.
-Zach Blumenfeld


11:50am-12:20pm: Riot Stage
Usually music of Chon's technical complexity is heavily distorted progressive metal, but this Texas-based foursome utilizes mostly clean guitar tones in its instrumental jams. Erick Hansel and Mario Camarena blend prominent jazz influences into their dexterous, melodic soloing, as much Stanley Jordan as John Petrucci as they stand nearly motionless on stage. For a technical rock outfit, Chon has some surprisingly groovy moments on their 2015 album Grow--of particular note are "Can't Wait," one of the few songs featuring vocals, and "Story"--but the overall vibe you'll get from the band's set is one of stolid appreciation for their musical ability. Catch Chon bright and early on Saturday at 11:50 am on the Riot Stage.
-Zach Blumenfeld

12:50pm-1:30pm: Riot Stage
Heralded as the party-punks, FIDLAR is an acronym from a skate mantra: "F--k It Dog, Life's A Risk." Their two Mom + Pop studio releases, FIDLAR (2013) and Too (2015) feature relentless surf-rock tinged with a punk sensibility.
-Emily Ornberg

The Dear Hunter
1:00pm-1:45pm: Roots Stage
If you enjoy Coheed and Cambria's storytelling ambition, you'll love The Dear Hunter, which last week released Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise, the fourth in a series of six planned LPs chronicling the life of a fictitious man for whom the band is named. The Dear Hunter falls nicely under the umbrella of prog rock, incorporating baroque elements, swooping strings, and Beach Boys-esque vocal harmonies into the occasionally lilting beats and power chords that form the chassis of the music. Crescenzo's voice carries traces of his past in Boston's emo scene as he reaches up effortlessly for high notes and noodles theatrical melodies over the music in the style of Brendon Urie. Catch The Dear Hunter on Saturday at 1:00 pm on the Roots Stages.
-Zach Blumenfeld

The Joy Formidable
2:15pm-3:00pm: Riot Stage
If you're feeling like your ears are ringing from all the straight up rock you've been binging on since Friday, head over to Riot Stage and imbibe on a little shot of dream pop (not too much - just enough to clear your head). Riot Stage will play host to dream-pop-rockers The Joy Formidable at 2:15 on Saturday led by the lovely Ritzy Bryan.
-Celeste Mallama

Direct Hit
2:30pm-3:00pm: Radicals Stage
If most bands give 110 percent in their sets, then Direct Hit gives 120 percent. With a band catch phrase of "f--k you! get pumped!" you know that this set will be nothing but pure adrenaline. The band's two full-lengths, 2011's Domesplitter and 2013's Brainless God, which was released on local record label Red Scare Industries, combine the usual punk vocal harmonizing, but there is an intensity that Nick Woods brings to each song that make them different from every other band. Feel free to take a rest after this set, as you might be taxed from cruising in the pit.
-Chris Zois

The Lawrence Arms
4:55pm-5:40pm: Rebel Stage
If there ever was a title of Chicago Punk Royalty, that mantle would belong to The Lawrence Arms. That is a bit of niche title to hold, but it is an earned one. Bassist Brendan Kelly, guitarist Chris McCaughan and drummer Neil Hennessy inject a volt of Chicago pride into each of their tracks, which has spanned across six full-length albums. The set will be a high energy one that will give Riot Fest-goers very little time to settle down. But Kelly is one of the most enjoyable and hilarious frontmen in punk rock, so those who attend will be able to catch their breath.
-Chris Zois

Echo and the Bunnymen
5:15pm-6:00pm: Riot Stage
Head over to the Riot Stage at 5:15 on Saturday and be transported back to 1970's England. Post-punk Liverpool band Echo and the Bunnymen will be taking over the stage and sampling from their extensive repertoire: With a full on dozen albums, there will be no lack of choice material.
-Celeste Mallama

Joyce Manor
6:15pm-6:45pm: Revolt Stage
Californian punk-rockers Joyce Manor formed in 2008 in a Disneyland parking lot with the intention of producing a folk-punk. Six EP's later and endless tours extending across the country, the six-piece soon found their passion leaning more toward a loud pop-punk sound. Their newest release, Never Hungover Again, showcases their growth with crisp, bold guitar progressions and heavy, heart-pounding drums.
-Emily Ornberg


1:30pm-2:15 pm: Rock Stage
The hip-hop world has been a nice cousin to the usual sounds of punk rock at Riot Fest each year. This year's incarnation features Ice Cube and De La Soul, but the stand out hip-hop act for 2015 is Doomtree. The Minnesota-based group has been around since 2001 and is hugely present in the hip hop scene in the Twin Cities thanks to their Blowout concert series, which just wrapped up in 2014. With a large group of artists, you may assume there is a breakout star, but each member of the group brings creativity and soul. Dessa, Cecil Otter, P.O.S., Sims, Mike Mictlan, and DJs Paper Tiger and Lazerbeak definitely prove that hip-hop and rap belong at Riot Fest.
-Chris Zois

4:25pm-5:05pm: Rise Stage
An excellent example of the way that features in commercials, TV, and film can singlehandedly amplify a band's profile, South African-born, Phoenix-based KONGOS has risen on the strength of its infectious, romping, accordion-driven song "Come With Me Now." The four Kongos brothers, though, have more to offer besides their smash hit, pumping out percussive alt-rock with a worldly range of influences, a full sound in the vein of Imagine Dragons but with less overbearing positivity and clapping. The band loves to use unison vocals to add power to their chant-like choruses, backing them up with biorhythmic beats and atmospheric guitar riffs. Catch KONGOS on Sunday at 4:25 pm on the Rise Stage.
-Zach Blumenfeld

6:00pm-6:30 pm: Revolt Stage
A name change hasn't done much to slow down this Pennsylvania quartet. Originally formed as Daylight, the group decided to change their name to Superheaven, which, let's be honest, is way cooler in 2014. To christen their new name, the band released their second LP Ours is Chrome in 2015. The group's newest album sounds like they were transplanted from the 90s grunge era, thanks to the guitar-heavy tracks and stinging lyrics that feels personal to each listener.
-Chris Zois

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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

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