5 things you may (and should) do at Riot Fest 2014

Bridging the short gap between Chicago’s summer festival season and its fall one is Riot Fest, taking place this weekend in Humboldt Park. Blessing our ear drums with a cornucopia of rock music of all varieties and eras, we’ll be fortunate to be hearing some post-punk and regular punk, grunge and lo-fi, metal and screamo, and everything in between. If you’re anything like us, in addition to trying to avoid taking an elbow to the eye and having to explain to your boss why you can’t hear jack shit on Monday morning, be prepared to do a little bit of these five things.

1) Make some tough decisions

The upside of a festival is that you can see a ton of bands, and even if you shell out a pretty penny for tickets, it’s actually cheaper per-band than seeing them in an individual concerts (hey, at least that’s how you rationalized it, right??.). The downside is that, inevitably, the organizers will have two or more acts that you really, REALLY want to see, perform simultaneously. Here are some tough decisions we still have yet to make:

Friday, between 5:15 and 6:15pm:  Clutch vs. Failure vs. the panel discussion with members of Pussy Riot

Saturday, between 4:30 and 5:30pm: Afghan Whigs vs. Mighty Mighty Bosstones vs. Say Anything

Sunday, between 5:55 and 6:45pm:  Patti Smith vs. Mudhoney

Sunday, between 8:40 and 10pm: The Cure vs. Weezer

2) Unleash the angsty teenager who still lives inside you

This lineup includes a number of bands that take us millennials back to our my-life-is-so-hard-and-I-hate-the-world-and-my-parents high school days when angry post-punk, pseudo-metal and emo were a way of life especially in the mostly-cushy, mostly-white Chicago suburbs in the early 2000s where Brad and I spent our formative, angry years chatting on AIM and finding such ‘unknown’ types of bands on MySpace. We’re looking at you, Taking Back Sunday and Say Anything with your obnoxiously long song titles. The Used, with all your whine-yelling. NOFX, Rise Against, Offspring and Anti-Flag, repping for the 90s punk rock kids . And even Mineral, with your emo-ness that may now be a little too intense for us now that we’re not actually 15 anymore.

P.S. This music video gets extra angst points for shameless band website promotion and featuring a scene of parents yelling at each other and a kid getting real upset about it.

3) Respect your elders

Many musical pioneers of genres from grunge, to first-wave post-punk and hip-hop who have featured at this year’s festival, showing the curator’s. Just peruse the lineup and you’ll see the legends like Television, Patti Smith, The Cure, Mudhoney, Naked Raygun, Descendents and Wu Tang Clan, all of whom are basically icons  and really don’t have to prove anything to us. But hell if we aren’t super pumped to see them.

4) Get nostalgic

Amongst the well-seasoned musical veterans who will be at Riot, there will be several exciting reunions and comebacks for bands like Failure, Saosin, Face to Face, Mineral, who are some of the acts back in the musical saddle again after an extended hiatus, some of them for a decade or more. Perhaps most of all, since we are nerds and true believers in the power and perfection of indulging in a good album, we also are ecstatic that bands like Weezer and Jane’s Addiction will be playing their best albums, from front to back.

5) The Side Show, nearby and post-Fest events 

In addition to all the goodness of the actual concerts, Riot Fest has the “and Side Show” component to it, which includes the basics like your festival food and drink, but also carnival rides, mini-golf and a haunted house. Plus, on Friday evening there will be a panel discussion with member of Pussy Riot, a talk about the intersections among music, art and activism. For those who can’t get enough Riot and for those who couldn’t make it to the fest itself, there will be plenty of aftershows and post-Fest hangouts happening all over the city. Oh, and did we mention that the Fest is in Humboldt Park? Because there is hella great food to eat and things to do around there, too.  Explore!

Ilene Palacios & Brad Bordyn contributed to this article.

Follow @gozamos on Instagram and Twitter this weekend for more Riot Fest content and some giveaways!