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.
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Saturday, May 25

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Riot Fest Mon Sep 14 2015

Riot Fest Recap: Day Three

Riot Fest 2015 - Sunday (photos by Rena Naltsas)

As the pools of mud began to settle and the freak-show carnies pulled the last swords from their throats, Riot Fest 2015 was officially coming to a close in Douglas Park. It was a weekend of dangerous stage dives, emo nostalgia, and a few indulgent sets of crappy party rap. Day three had many surprises in store with its vast variety of artists, and we look forward to another fest weekend in 2016.

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Emily Ornberg

Riot Fest Sun Sep 13 2015

Riot Fest Recap: Day Two

Riot Fest 2015 - Saturday (photos by Rena Naltsas)

The second day of Riot Fest brought about a range of talent, and we were happy to revel in the diverse experience. From monster-outfitted rockers GWAR (who shot out a mysterious blue liquid at the crowd), to indulging in a bit of nostalgia at The Academy Is..., to capping the evening off with some System of A Down, the Saturday schedule left us with a variety of surprises and a solid lineup of performers within the enclave of Douglas Park.

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Transmission / Comments (4)

Riot Fest Sat Sep 12 2015

Riot Fest Recap: Day One

riotfest1.JPGRiot Fest 2015 - Friday (photos by Rena Naltsas)

After complaints from neighbors and the alderman, Riot Fest moved to Douglas Park in the city's Southwest Side (though opposition has arisen there, too). The size of the park allowed the fest to maintain its carnival component, and the early afternoon downpour made it feel right at home.

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Transmission / Comments (1)

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.

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Sarah Brooks

Riot Fest Thu May 28 2015

Riot Fest Reveals Its Lineup


Even before the lineup announcement, Riot Fest has had headlines for weeks. Issues at their old home in Humboldt Park caused a spat with former ally, 26th Ward Alderman Roberto Maldonado, which led to practically everyone affected taking a side. When the dust settled, Riot Fest organizers and Chicago Park District officials agreed on a move to North Lawndale's Douglas Park. And then, of course, concerns were about who would be on the lineup, as with any other year.

And now we know. No Doubt, Modest Mouse, Faith No More, Iggy Pop and Snoop Dogg will headline the festival over the September 11-13 weekend. Even though Riot Fest is often labeled as a punk-themed festival, they have cast a wide net since moving outdoors in 2012. Some of this year's non-headliner highlights include Anthrax, Bootsy Collins' Rubber Band, De La Soul, Merle Haggard, Ice Cube, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Motorhead and Rancid. Local pop punk act The Academy Is... leads the reunions, along with L7 and Babes in Toyland. Other local acts are peppered throughout the lineup, and there are even more acts to be added in the coming weeks. Keeping in line with what Riot Fest expects, Gapers Block hopes that they saved the good bands for the next announcement.

Weekend passes are $169.98 for us hoi polloi and $299.98 for VIP. Daily lineups will be revealed later this summer. Riot Fest & Carnival takes place September 11-13 in Douglas Park at California & Roosevelt.

James Ziegenfus

Riot Fest Tue Sep 16 2014

Riot Fest 2014: Day 3

Blue Meanies 1.jpg
Blue Meanies by Katie Hovland

This year's Riot Fest was an amalgam of sights, sounds, and even weather conditions. From a brutal freezing rain that left sopping muddy grounds, to a blazing sun shining down without a cloud in the sky, this 10th anniversary celebration was definitely bringing all of the elements out for its many, many attendees. Luckily, the musical offerings were absolutely top-notch as we got to watch sets from emerging hopefuls complemented by powerhouse performances by legendary rockers in an incredible environment. As the festival grounds shifted and became bigger and better, so did the experience, as we were invited to watch the festival grow together, and we look forward to where it will be taken in the next 10 years.
Sarah Brooks

Continue reading this entry »

Justin Freeman / Comments (1)

Riot Fest Sun Sep 14 2014

Riot Fest 2014: Day 2

Television by Katie Hovland

After Friday's rain, the situation at Humboldt Park remained incredibly muddy. Once again, this is not Riot Fest's fault as they certainly don't control the weather, but overwhelming patches of mud and deep puddles of collected rainwater were everywhere, making navigation a continued difficulty. Certain parts of the park appeared so bad, they seemed to be fenced off and quarantined. I found myself feeling kinda bad for the promoters of Riot Fest about the massive scope of damage -- the weather and the presences of thousands of concert goers had caused the park a lot of damage, and they're on the hook for park repairs. I've never seen damage this bad. I remember covering North Coast last year and it stormed so hard, they had to postpone opening the gates. It was pretty muddy but nowhere near as bad as what I've seen at Riot Fest this year. Large portions of what was once grass simply no longer exist and have been replaced with mud so thick, it snapped the heel of one of my boots off. It sucks, man. It's a bad hand to have been dealt. Thankfully the mud didn't prevent us from catching some pretty rad bands.
Justin Freeman

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Justin Freeman / Comments (1)

Riot Fest Sat Sep 13 2014

Riot Fest 2014: Day 1

One of the first thing you notice about Riot Fest is how large the festival has become. The second thing is the mud, but we'll get to that soon enough. During the previous two years, the festival took place in the smaller southern portion of Humboldt Park. Before that for the better part of a decade, it was scattered around town with shows happening at various clubs around the city. This year is Riot Fest's tenth anniversary and they've decided to go big in response.

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Justin Freeman

Riot Fest Fri Sep 05 2014

Riot Fest Announces Daily Schedules and Pussy Riot Panel Information

Today was a busy day for the folks at Riot Fest. First, they announced the daily schedules which can be found here. Then, they announced further details about the Pussy Riot discussion panel.

Let's talk about Pussy Riot and their panel first. The big news is that Henry Rollins will be moderating it. The panel itself looks like it will be a discussion examining the relationship between art and politics. Can art be used as a viable agent of social change? These are the things the panel will seek to discover.

The full panel is: Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina of Pussy Riot; Greg Graffin of Bad Religion; Tim McIlrath of Rise Against; Marcelle Karp, one of the founders of Bust Magazine; and Michael A. Petryshyn, founder of Riot Fest. The discussion will be moderated by Henry Rollins of Black Flag.

Continue reading this entry »

Justin Freeman

Riot Fest Thu Aug 21 2014

Riot Fest Now Has a Mini-Golf Course and Is Substantially Larger


So, it was just announced that this year, Riot Fest will have a 9-hole mini golf course. This, in of itself, is excellent news and worthy of all the celebration as drinking beer and playing a round of mini golf on a autumn Chicago night as the Wu-Tang Clan plays a few feet away sounds kinda incredible.

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Justin Freeman

Riot Fest Wed Aug 20 2014

Riot Fest Mystery Act Ur Lineup Sux, Bro Releases Single

When Riot Fest announced its lineup for this year's festival, it included a couple of acts at the bottom that were a bit of a mystery. One of them was Ur Lineup Sux, Bro, the other was Ughh, My Parents Are Here.

Both were assumed to be jokes. Well, jokes they may be, but one of them has released a debut single. The Gapers Block offices received a link to the songs below in an email that simply read, "And people thought we didn't exist. As if! :P"

Continue reading this entry »

Andrew Huff

Riot Fest Fri Jun 13 2014

Riot Fest Announces Second Wave of Bands


Earlier this week, Riot Fest announced a second wave of bands who are performing at the festival in a few months.

Some of the bigger names on the list include Primus, The Hold Steady and Say Anything. I, for one, find myself kinda excited about the addition of Tokyo Police Club whose most recent album Forcefield has been finding its way into heavy rotation as of late. Fake Shore Drive approved rapper Lucki Eck$ is also set to perform.

Check out the a list of the new acts below.

Tokyo Police Club
Say Anything
The Hold Steady
Frank Iero
Only Crime
Pity Sex
From Indian Lakes
Lucki Eck$
Tiny Moving Parts
The Bots
The Picturebooks
Survay Says

Riot Fest is happening at Humbolt Park on September 12th through 14th. More information can be found here.

Justin Freeman

Riot Fest Thu May 15 2014

Riot Fest's 10 Year Anniversary Surprise

Finding out about the Riot Fest lineup on Tuesday evening was akin to experiencing complete euphoria, like receiving a long-awaited birthday present as a kid, the first glimpse of sunshine after a Chiberia winter, or a first listen to your favorite band's newest record. The lineup for the festival's 10th anniversary absolutely exceeded my expectations with its stellar lineup of veteran favorites, up-and-comers, and elusive finds that I wistfully listened to years ago, their sound still seeping into my thoughts from time to time.


As if this amazing lineup wasn't enough, Riot Fest unveiled an additional surprise for its 10th year, during which 10 bands will be performing a pinnacle album from their catalog in its full duration. Entitled "10 Years. 10 Essential Albums," this new phase of Riot Fest will allow attendees to hear some of their most coveted albums from some of their most cherished artists, in their full-length form in a live setting. What could be better?

Continue reading this entry »

Sarah Brooks

Preview Tue May 13 2014

Riot Fest Announces 2014 Lineup

Riot Fest

Ending months of speculation and seemingly endless requests by fervent twitter acolytes, Riot Fest released the lineup for this year's edition. The Cure, Slayer and The National are just some the headliners that were announced just moments ago.

The lineup is expansive and impressive including everyone from Pussy Riot to the Wu-Tang Clan. At first glance, some of the acts I find myself excited for are The Hotelier, La Dispute, Dads, Saosin, and The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. Other notable acts include Patti Smith as well as The Afghan Whigs. Andrew WK returns for a third year of partying, but the most interesting thing I see on the lineup so far is the inclusion of GWAR which is a curiosity. Dave Brockie, the lead vocalist of GWAR recently passed away and I'm curious as to what will happen. A tribute of sorts to GWAR? Who knows? We'll find out in September.

Chicago acts aren't lacking with Archie Powell & the Exports, ShowYouSuck, My Gold Mask, along with legacy Chicago bands such as Naked Raygun and Cheap Trick all booked to play.

As we previously reported, Riot Fest returns to Humboldt Park this September on the 12th through 14th. This year is special in particular as it marks the ten year anniversary of Riot Fest's existence in Chicago and it appears they went all out to celebrate. Right on.

Tickets can be purchased here. Check out a copy and paste of the lineup so far below.


The Cure * Jane's Addiction * The National * Rise Against * Weezer
The Flaming Lips * Social Distortion * Slayer * The Offspring * Wu-Tang Clan
Descendents * Tegan and Sara * Metric * Samhain * Cheap Trick * ????
Pussy Riot (Nadya Tolokonnikova & Masha Alekhina) * Patti Smith
Taking Back Sunday * Die Antwoord * City and Colour * Paul Weller * The Used
Bring Me The Horizon * ???? * NOFX * Dropkick Murphys * Gogol Bordello
Of Mice & Men * Mastodon *The Afghan Whigs * Naked Raygun * Cock Sparrer
Dashboard Confessional * Superchunk * Billy Bragg * Blue Meanies * Lucero
New Found Glory * Saosin w/ Anthony Green * ???? * Mighty Mighty Bosstones
The Murder City Devils * Mudhoney * Failure * Hot Snakes * The Dandy Warhols
Thurston Moore * Circa Survive * The Get Up Kids * Motion City Soundtrack
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes * Streetlight Manifesto * Clutch * GWAR
Buzzcocks * Andrew W.K. * Bouncing Souls * Stiff Little Fingers * Face to Face
Kurt Vile & The Violators * Marky Ramone w/ the Bouncing Souls * Wavves
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears * We Came As Romans * Senses Fail
The Orwells * ALL * Mineral * Title Fight * La Dispute * RX Bandits
Samiam * 7 Seconds * Anti-Flag * The Menzingers * The Front Bottoms
Silverstein * Emarosa * Citizen * The World is a Beautiful Place... * Bad Suns
The Pizza Underground * The Hotelier * Nostalghia * In The Valley Below
Radkey * Pianos Become The Teeth * Modern Baseball * I Am the Avalanche
Skaters * Laura Stevenson * Cerebral Ballzy * Red City Radio * PUP * Dads
Show You Suck * The Unlikely Candidates * Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas
My Gold Mask * The Bots * Broncho * The American Scene
Baby Baby * Restorations *Wounds * Plague Vendor * Team Spirit * Somos
Rose's Pawn Shop * Chumped *Archie Powell & The Exports * Ex Friends
& more to be announced!!

Justin Freeman

Concert Fri Apr 18 2014

Riot Fest Announces 2014 Chicago Dates


Yesterday, the internet's most lovable grump announced the dates for this year's edition of Riot Fest. Riot Fest will return to Chicago this September 12th - 14th. Before that, it'll be in Toronto on September 6th - 7th. Riot Fest will wrap up this year's season in Denver on September 19th - 21st.

From the looks of it, they plan to keep building on what they've started when they pivoted to become a major festival. They plan to expand the grounds at Toronto in order to have more carnival rides. In Denver, they plan to revamp the camping areas. 2014 also marks the ten year anniversary of Riot Fest being in Chicago. In response, they promise "special surprises and attractions."

Ticket and lineup information has not yet been released, but should be provided soon.

Justin Freeman

Riot Fest Wed Nov 27 2013

Happy Holidays! Love, Riot Fest.

Riot Fest

The end of November always has taken on a generic holiday feel. Everywhere you go as of late, you're increasingly surrounded by decorated trees and joyous carols. It's like we're living inside a Norman Rockwell painting for the next month or so.

The holidays also traditionally mean huge discounts on all sorts of things. Usually these discounts involve you hanging out at a Target at 4am in a depraved insomniac state violently deterring all those who would block your path of getting a microwave at a HUGE SAVINGS whilst Bing Crosby croons, "May your days be merry and bright." Riot Fest is also getting into the holiday spirit by selling some deeply discounted tickets for 2014's edition of the festival just, you know, minus the Mad Max post-apocalyptic warrior part.

A limited amount of three day passes for next year's Riot Fest will go on sale at noon today. No word on what the lineup is going to be yet, but this is the same group that got The Replacements back together so it's safe to assume the lineup will probably be quite impressive.

Tickets are $69.98 and will probably sell out quickly. If you're into it, go here and good luck.

Justin Freeman

Riot Fest Wed Sep 18 2013

Picturing Riot Fest 2013

Photographer Katie Hovland spent one amazing long weekend photographing the sights and sounds at Riot Fest in Chicago. Here are all of her wonderful shots:

Anne Holub / Comments (1)

Riot Fest Mon Sep 16 2013

Riot Fest 2013: Sunday Review

Replacements 1 by Katie Hovland Gapers.jpg

The Replacements by Katie Hovland

Despite the cold soggy weather and fields of mud, Riot Fest rounded out the weekend and ended on a high note with some of the most anticipated sets of the weekend from The Replacements and Pixies. A little mud or rain only dampened mohawks but not spirits of the considerably older and friendlier crowd that huddled to keep warm in Humboldt Park. -Lisa White

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Lisa White

Riot Fest Sun Sep 15 2013

Riot Fest 2013: Saturday Review

Radkey 1 by Katie Hovland Gapers.jpg

Radkey by Katie Hovland

Logistically, things are starting to crumble at Riot Fest as the second day was marred with more sound issues, security issues, transit problems and injuries as a considerably much larger crowd trudged along in Humboldt Park. And the city woke Sunday morning to a chilly constant drizzle of rain, so one can only hope that the weekend can pull it off and end on a high note with the odds stacked against them. -Lisa White

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Lisa White / Comments (2)

Riot Fest Sat Sep 14 2013

Riot Fest 2013: Friday Review

Smoking Popes 5 by Katie Hovland Gapers.jpg

Smoking Popes crowd by Katie Hovland

It was the perfect black hoodie and leather studded jacket weather Friday in Humboldt Park, as a noticeably much larger than last year crowd descended on the park for this year's Riot Fest. With one of the most impressive lineups of this years festival season, the growth in attendance is no surprise. And although it made for some major logistical hiccups (long will call lines, confusion with park layout and lack of schedule posting, troubles with transit to and from the festival) the crowd didn't seem to mind once the music started. -Lisa White

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Lisa White

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

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Transmission / Comments (1)

Riot Fest Wed May 15 2013

Riot Fest 2013 Lineup Announced


With much fanfare and long waits for many pleading fans on Facebook and Twitter, Riot Fest announced their 2013 lineup just now. The festival, held for the second year in Humboldt Park, is three days (September 13-15) of both new and old punk and hard rock favorites, with the addition this year of some notable hip-hop acts. The festival has added serious ammo this year with an impressive lineup that rivals many of the other major festivals coming through Chicago this summer. Some personal favorites just at a glance includes Blondie, Violent Femmes, Taking Back Sunday, Against Me!, Bad Brains, Stars, Dessa, Saul Williams, and many more. The festival is also going to be three full days in the park instead of two, and will include the same carnival theme as last year.

Three day passes are now on sale for $69.98, and three-day VIP passes (which include 15 drink tickets, not a bad deal at all) are $175. UPDATE: Early-bird tickets are sold out; passes are now $99.98 and increasing as more tickets are sold -- so get in there soon. You can purchase tickets here.

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Lisa White

Riot Fest Thu Sep 20 2012

Riot Fest 2012 in Photos

Photographer Katie Hovland spent the weekend in Humboldt Park photographing the magic of Riot Fest. Here are her favorite shots.

Anne Holub

Riot Fest Tue Sep 18 2012

Riot Fest Day Three: Up the Punx

White Mystery-by Katie Hovland GB.jpg
White Mystery (photo by Katie Hovland)

My biggest issue with Riot Fest on Sunday was that the line-up was too perfect. With most other festivals, I end up with only a handful of bands I really want to see and am able to space out my day accordingly. This time around, I was looking forward to almost every single act. I ended up running from stage to stage with little opportunity to sit down and take a break for a second. I barely even had the chance to take faux-artsy Instagrams of carnival rides! And I still wasn't able to catch every band I had been hoping to see. To the fine people that run Riot Fest: Please consider adding a few crappy bands to your line-up next year so I don't have so many painstakingly difficult decisions to make.
- Stephanie Griffin

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Katie Karpowicz

Riot Fest Sun Sep 16 2012

Riot Fest Day Two: The Carnival Begins

Andrew W.K. Photo by Katie Hovland

If nothing else, 2012 will go down as the year of the outdoor festival in Chicago. With the inclusion of several new large-scale music festivals -- including the conversion of the Saturday and Sunday portions of Riot Fest into an outdoor, all-day carnival -- and more street fests popping up than you can shake an ear of corn on a stick at, planning out your summer calendar has become more trying than ever.

After attending and/or covering many of these festivals this summer for Gapers Block, things almost seemed a bit stale going into Riot Fest yesterday. But, I have to say, what a wonderfully enjoyable experience it was. We've seen a huge growth in electronic music just in the last year in Chicago and most of the bigger music fests have catered specifically to that genre. As much as I've enjoyed them, it was refreshing to get away from the bass drops, the molly-seekers, the Jason-mask-wearing Pikachus hoisted up on poles and get back to my roots, the music I grew up with.
-Katie Karpowicz

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Stephanie Griffin

Riot Fest Sat Sep 15 2012

Riot Fest Day One: The Offspring, Neon Trees

Photo by Stephanie Griffin

Before we all head off to the new incarnation of Riot Fest this weekend, the festival kicked off with some familiar territory -- the fest's old stomping ground, Congress Theater. Saturday and Sunday we head to Chicago's first outdoor Riot Fest, complete with a carnival and luchadores, over in Humboldt Park. Friday night had no frills, just a great line-up of bands playing a dark, grimy club with plenty of mosh pit space. This is the Riot Fest I am used to.

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Stephanie Griffin / Comments (1)

Preview Thu Sep 13 2012

Riot Fest 2012: Your Best Bets


In the past I've never made it out to Riot Fest. It's right up my alley, musically, but running across the city to catch shows at various venues all week just seemed a little overwhelming. Naturally, I was thrilled when I heard that things had centralized this year... without foregoing any quality in the lineup picks. And carnival rides?! Count me in.

Aside from the bands, I'm most excited to see the crowd that this diverse lineup and new location in such an eclectic part of the city will turn out. How will fans of legends like Iggy and the Stooges interact with fans of the younger, more emo bands -- let alone screamo acts like A Day To Remember? Time will tell. But one thing is definitely for sure: whatever you're looking for, you'll probably find it at Humboldt Park this weekend.
Katie Karpowicz

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Stephanie Griffin

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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.

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