Riot Fest
Douglass Park // Chicago, IL // September 16-18, 2022

The beloved Chicago festival hosted some of the best acts in rock and punk, and most of those acts were female-fronted.

Another year, another Riot Fest. The 3-day festival located on Chicago’s southwest side has been a staple in the city for over 15 years, and the lineup this year had some of the strongest bands in a long time. From the truly iconic My Chemical Romance (which brought the biggest crowd I have ever seen to the festival grounds) to Yellowcard’s first live show with the original band in years, Riot Fest brought out the best of the best to close out the 2022 festival season.

Yellowcard headlining Riot Fest on Day 2 of the festival

Despite the heat, fans of My Chemical Romance came to Riot Fest dressed all in black on Friday. Wearing gothic makeup, striped tights, and studded belts, the fans channeled the mid 200s and brought waves of nostalgia to Douglass Park. Of course there were other incredible bands on Friday (Foxy Shazam, Bleachers, and Pale Waves to name a few), but nothing could prepare people seeing Gerard Way and the rest of MCR stepping onstage in Chicago for the first time in years. The sheer volume of fans screaming and singing along felt like it could be heard from the other side of the city, and I personally will never forget the feeling of hearing my favorite MCR song, “The Ghost of You”, live and alongside thousands of other MCR fans.

Riot Fest has always pushed for female-fronted bands and acts, and some of the biggest and most exciting bands this year were led by the baddest and most iconic women and girls in rock music today. One of my favorite acts of the weekend was The Linda Lindas, a punk rock band consisting of teenage girls who made it big covering Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” back in 2019. The Linda Lindas have since recorded their own music and released their first studio album, Growing Up, over the summer to applause from fans and critics. The band played tracks from Growing Up, including “Monica”, a song about guitarist Bela Salazar’s cat. The crowd for The Linda Lindas was huge, especially considering they were one of the earliest bands to play on Sunday. Their Riot Fest debut was a huge success, and it seems like they’ll definitely be back in years to come.

Bela Salazar of The Linda Lindas at Riot Fest

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played the penultimate set on Sunday night, just before Nine Inch Nails. The band played songs from their upcoming new album, Cool it Down, as well as some of their most popular hits. Yeah Yeah Yeahs undoubtedly had one of the best sets of the weekend, in no small part thanks to frontwoman Karen O. Yeah Yeah Yeahs currently only have four studio albums, but they have been a staple of indie rock for over 20 years. Karen O. looked absolutely electric, wearing an iridescent jacket that resembled a kimono and caught the light just right. The band was perfectly in sync, playing a powerhouse set for fans who had eagerly been waiting all day to see them. One of the best moments came when the band threw giant beach balls into the crowd shaped like eyeballs. The crowd went nuts, and Karen O. started singing “Zero”.

Karen O. of Yeah Yeah Yeahs

This year’s Riot Fest was one for the books. I hope that 2023 brings just as many amazing artists and female-fronted acts, and you can bet Substream will be there to cover all the action!