A little more than a preview, Riot Fest 2014


by Rose Blanton

Riot Fest is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year among some tension. Said tension comes from the somewhat new location of the festival. Back in 2012 Riot fest founder Michael Petryshyn apprehensively decided to move the festival to Humboldt Park (headliner Patti Smith’s childhood home). Since the initial and the following years at Humboldt Park, Riot fest has been blamed in part for some of the gentrification that the neighborhood has suffered. Petryshyn claims, however, that he and his team have worked directly with neighborhood groups to engage them in the festival, when pressed for details though, he offered no comment.

While this initial topic of gentrification and, perhaps, unwanted occupation should not be ignored, at this point I’d like to direct your attention to the music. In addition to its movement to Humboldt Park, Riot fest has also seen upsurge in popularity, which some might argue is a bad thing. But whichever side you’re on musically or politically, I’m just here to advise you on the acts I think are worth your time.

Patti Smith is coming back to her hometown this year and I am wishful for nostalgic banter and tracks from Radio Ethiopia and Horses. The National is gracing Chicago with its fifth performance this year and I’m sure the Berninger brothers will cover us with a syrupy mixture of screamo. The Cure is playing a whopping 2 hours and 15 minutes set which I highly doubt anyone will stick around for in its entirety and a rumour on the street has it that Weezer is playing the complete blue album.

A few outliers on the docket are The Flaming Lips, Wu-Tang Clan and Die Antwood. Riot fest has traditionally been a “punk festival.” So bands like The Hold Steady and MudHoney make sense. Some smaller or lesser known acts you should try to catch are Lo-Fi centric San Diegans WavvesKurt Vile and the Violators, and Chicago’s own My Gold Mask.

This is my first time at Riot Fest so as far as navigation goes, I’m a little wet behind the ears. I did hear they are banning e-cigarettes, if anyone cares.

Also, Macaulay Culkin has a band called the Pizza Underground that does Velvet Underground covers, but I think they replace some of the words with pizza. Yes, someone actually signed them to the line-up.

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