Riot Fest 2019
Douglas Park // Chicago, IL // Day 1: September 13, 2019
The first day of Riot Fest brought out some of the best acts of the weekend.
I’m not shy about it: Riot Fest is my favorite festival of the year. I look forward to it every fall: the smell of mud and rain, punk rock dads with their punk rock kids in tow, and dozens upon dozens of Mohawks. This year was an extra special year, because it was the festival’s 15th anniversary! To celebrate, some of the biggest names in punk, emo, and metal came out to play some of their biggest hits.
Pennywise are a Riot Fest staple. They draw a massive crowd, they play what the audience loves, and vocalist Jim Lindberg loves to mess with photographers. “Here ya go!” he said before flipping us all off, much to the delight of the crowd. Laughing, he roamed the stage and led the band in a kickass rendition of “Fight Til You Die”. The band closed their set with their iconic and incredibly catchy song, “Bro Hymn”. It may be the easiest song in history to sing along to, and it always get the crowd doing.
When Descendents‘ lead singer Milo Aukerman came out onstage, he could hardly believe how many times the band had been at Riot Fest. “We were being interviewed backstage, and the [reporter] asked us how many times we’ve played here. I said ‘six?’ and he said ‘no dude, it’s 11!’ 11 fucking times!” The band played “Suburban Home” and “Everything Sux” in minutes (because, let’s face it, good punk songs are super short), and the crowd had already formed a circle pit in the back.
For me, Friday’s best band was undoubtedly The Flaming Lips. There’s nothing better than hearing one of your all-time favorite albums (Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots) in its entirety under a full moon. Perpetual hippie and amazing human being Wayne Coyne was in top form, singing each track of Yoshimi with passion and love. The crowd was just as enamored as I was, especially when the massive confetti cannons went off during “Fight Test”. I love every single Flaming Lips show I’m lucky enough to attend, and this really show was probably their best one yet.