How the Hell Did Riot Fest Make it 15 Years?

Updated: Oct 03, 2019 05:05
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riot fest

Riot Fest has been around for 15 years, that’s a decade and a half (yay math)! If you aren’t aware, it’s a festival that caters to the punk, metal, hip-hop, and alternative crowd with all the accouterments their band t-shirt clad hearts could desire and then add a carnival twist.

Spending the weekend at the big 15th Anniversary we noticed a few things and asked a few artists the hot topic (no relation to the pop-punk anime store) or golden question; “How the Hell Did Riot Fest Make it 15 Years?”.

Here’s our thoughts and artists reactions:

riot fest bikini kill

Why on earth are they trying to murder swimwear? It’s still hot during September in Chicago! It is really cool that Bikini Kill closed out Riot Fest and was “the first all-female band to do so” at any major festival. Photo: Chris Casella

riot fest wu-tang clan

At least your kids will be safe at Riot Fest because Wu-Tang is for the children. Photo: Riot Fest Photography Ninja Magician

riot fest 2019

Every dang year! Why invite GWAR? Who wants to have a bloody good time every single Riot Fest? Photo: DTK

riot fest taking back sunday

Year after year they just won’t leave Sunday alone, you’re not taking it back! Photo: Chris Bain

Bloc Party riot fest

So isn’t this supposed to be a festival, hence the Fest in Riot Fest? Looks like a Bloc Party to us! Photo: Chris Casella

riot fest pennywise

Yeah, its carnival theme but why does that creepy-ass clown always show up? Oh, different Pennywise!

riot fest dragon

Idk about you, but 15 years? Seems like they’re really dragon this thing out!

riot fest flaming lips

Why are they letting mouths spontaneously combust? Like, Flaming Lips is something fans want.

tunrstile riot fest

Obviously they hate the laws of physics because they invite bands like Turnstile who defy gravity.

turnstile riot fest

Like legit, Sir Isaac Newton would be pissed.

Slayer - Riot Fest 2019

The forecast called for 100% chance of rain(ing blood) and yet they still let Slayer go on! @photomonroymusic

walker crowd surfing riot fest

Real cool, just give everyone a chance to have fun because the crowd is so inclusive and security cares about fans! @photomonroymusic

riot fest save ferris

Ska queen, Monique of Save Ferris, when asked the golden question: “They got their shit together, but honestly there’s a learning curve and each year is better than the last. Not only for the fans but the artists and they broke the mold on how to run a festival.”

rancid riot fest 2019

Every few years something Rancid pops up, let’s get a hold on that contamination. @photomonroymusic

The Hu - Riof Fest 2019

There’s no respect for ancient dynasties who time travel to Riot Fest because the amazing sounds of Mongolian heavy metal band, The Hu, will rock their faces off. @photomonroymusic

riot fest hot water music

They think hot water during summer is a good idea?

riot fest andrew w.k.

They let this party animal show up eight out of the 15 years? That’s Andrew W.K. for you non-partiers.

riot fest 2019

Riot Fest is constantly attracting devilish women. Like anyone wants that for 3-days straight!

riot fest 2019

Riot Fest built in an area where the knew a tornado would be, great planning guys!

riot fest 2019

The BYOB policy isn’t what you think it would be. Bring/buy your own blankets, which is fair with all the bars and bars (that’s booze and hip-hop).

riot fest 2019

The good thing is they took a page from The Waterboy and supplied some high-quality H20.

Beware, there were lots of Bs buzzing around, 52 of them to be exact. Also, a Rock Lobster got loose.

riot fest 2019

Holding Riot Fest on Friday the 13th (of September)? Killer idea geniuses, way to slay this one!

riot fest 2019

Not really sure how any work to make Riot Fest happen got done with this clowning around going on all the time.

riot fest 2019

We’re still wrestling with the idea that Riot Fest is 15 years old. Maybe they’ve pinned down a way to actually make it work.

riot fest village people

“It takes a village to raise a child” is the correct idiom but Riot Fest thought it was, “It takes the Village People to organize a macho man mosh pit and wall of death”.

riot fest streetlight manifesto

Just what any festival needs these days, a bunch of horny guys. Come to think of it, Streetlight Manifesto sounded great and were super polite.

riot fest 2019

We’re trying not to have a cow, man, about the service animal policy but this is udderly ridiculous.

rise against riot fest

Here goes Riot Fest again, just inciting riots, by urging the fans to “Rise Against”.

rise against riot fest

See what we mean? The fans are rioting so hard as they rise against… not singing along to their fav songs.

the damned things riot fest

There really needs to better gate checks, all type of things we’re getting into Riot Fest, some of them were (the) Damned Things!

the struts riot fest

Having international acts is cool and all but do they have to be ones with a case of The Struts? Boots we’re made for giving not walking.

ween riot fest

Having one of the most prolific jam bands play for two-hours seemed like a smokin’ idea but then this guy pulled out his Ween!

riot fest masked intruder

We felt for our safety with a Masked Intruder (four of them actually and their corrupt cop friend) jumping from crime to crime. Note: Green Intruder was arrested for assault with a deadly riff.

riot fest goose island

What marketing guru at Goose Island thought, “Yeah let’s make it so you can only drink your beer OR look at the schedule but not both at the same time”? (The best marketing guru.)

grandson riot fest

Terrible chaperoning! Someone old lady called this young man Grandson, well why if that’s the case why is he up on stage jumping around scaring that large orange child?


riot fest 2019

Riot Fest should come with this warning: “Not responsible if faces are collectively melted”.

riot fest 2019

When it comes down to it, there’s always THAT ONE GUY!

anthrax riot fest

Pretty sure there was an anthrax scare a Riot Fest. Nope, sorry, scratch that. Anthrax was scary good at Riot Fest!

riot fest pedialyte

What is this? A festival for babies? Free Pedialyte to put in that high-quality hot H20 sounds soooo reasonable if you’re into hydration.

riot fest less than jake

C’mon Riot Fest! How are you gonna make it another year if you’re not giving them all of Jake but instead they get Less Than Jake?

riot fest teenage bottlerocket

Hmmm? Adolescents with fireworks? Sounds like a safety hazard, luckily the dudes in Teenage Bottlerocket are all about keeping things… nvm.

riot fest 2019

There were dozens of vegetarian and vegan food options all throughout Riot Fest, you know, if anyone is actually into that.

hulk hogen riot fest

“Listen, brother, you better take cover, because Riot Fest is about to run wild all over you!”

anti-flag riot fest

Whoa! What do you have against the stars and stripes hanging it upside down like that? What are you, anti-flag? Ah yes, yes you are political punk royalty Anti-Flag!

riot fest 2019

She’s not wrong.

dashboard confessional riot fest

For some reason talking about your feelings in a car seemed fitting for Riot Fest… but where’s the rest of the vehicle? We only got Dashboard Confessional!

vans riot fest

Oh, don’t worry, if the 124 mosh pits weren’t enough pits for you, you could just jump Off the Wall into a pit too.

riot fest 2019

Does education belong at Riot Fest? They brought some Prof who didn’t teach much of anything besides how to beef with John Stamos and have a damn good time (separately).

riot fest skating polly

Skating Polly and Patsy when asked the almighty question: “Idk man, every year we’ve been apart of this it has been the sickest lineup around and everyone is nice to each other and that goes a long way!”

If you didn’t get it by now, there’s plenty of reasons Riot Fest has not only made it 15 years but grown exponentially. So many that we couldn’t capture it all (including a hilarious Twitter and that they have an adoptable dog of the week) which means you’ll just have to buy tickets for next year, and the year after that, and the year after that and so on until the next milestone (or at the very least be a liar, a supportive liar, and grab some Riot Merch and say you went). If you don’t Pat Thetic will come shake an angry fist at you and then give a political punk speech.

(All non-credited photos were sloppily taken by that semi-handsome devil author of this exposé, Curtis Conrad Schabath)

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Curtis Schabath

Curtis Schabath

Detroiter, dog dad, and down-to-earth dude. Living the creative lifestyle and crusading for quality causes all while adoring alliterations. You can trust 95% of what Curtis says and 100% of what he does (he's vegan and a volunteer after all). He can often be heard misquoting common idioms, his favorite; "Better safe than safari" - but he'll never misquote a rap lyric or movie quote from the 80s-00s.