Riot Fest 2015 Preview: Saturday

By Brad Bordyn

Riot Fest comes to the Lawndale neighborhood this Friday through Sunday, capping off what is shaping up to be another successful festival season in Chicago. While it remains to be seen how the predominantly punk rock festival will be received by its new neighbors, given the prior controversies in Humboldt Park and the last-minute lawsuit from that was dropped, the lineup is as strong as ever. Here’s a preview of some of the must-see performers set to take the stage on SATURDAY.

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Bands of note

Early-2000s emo heavyweights Taking Back Sunday are well worth elbowing your way up to the front of the stage – if not only to witness their frenetic stage antics, then for the opportunity to shout the opening lyrics to “Cute Without the ‘E’” at the top of your lungs. Bright Eyes songwriter Conor Oberst has resumed his role as the frontman of politically-literate emo-punk rock band Desaparecidos. They’re fresh off the release of their first full length album in over a decade. 90s post-hardcore heavyweights Drive Like Jehu are back together at last, and if you miss them on Saturday you’re doing Riot Fest wrong. They’ll be melting faces during the 6:40 slot with their trademark spastic guitar violence and bone-rattling bass grooves. Of course, for those looking for the heaviest of the heavies, GWAR will be an essential set. Unless for some reason you’re the kind of person who isn’t into seeing the darkest of metal being performed by space monsters – and if that’s the case there’s something very wrong with you.

Local flavors

Among the Chicago-area natives performing on Saturday are The Lawrence Arms who deliver no-frills, infectious punk rock. In addition, seminal emo pop band The Academy Is… (who broke up in 2011) announced that their Riot Fest set will be a farewell show, so catch them while you can.


Another group of Chicago locals, Meat Wave, are starting to make some figurative noise to go along with their literal noise. Check them out if you’re looking for some refreshingly raw, high-intensity garage punk.


Iggy Pop. Because he’s fucking Iggy Pop. Godfather of all things punk. If there’s a punk rock Mt. Rushmore somewhere, he’s probably on it. What’s wrong with you? Why are you even asking? Go.

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