Riot lives up to its name. Taking over Douglas Park in Chicago, IL, the three-day festival is brimming with the best of punk and rock bands — both established and upcoming. Relative newcomers like Fidlar and Smith Street Band appeared on the same bill as greats like Queens of the Stone Age, Buzzcocks and Ministry. The reality of Riot fest was exactly as its name suggests: unbridled, massive and engrossing.

But Riot didn’t paint itself into too tight a corner. Acts outside of the rock realm included Peaches and her raunchy ravings, Wu-Tang Clan’s iconic rhymes and the ever-dynamic M.I.A.. The attendees reflected Riot’s range — there were patch-covered crust punks, children tagging along with their parents, pop-punk twenty-somethings and middle-agers who had clearly been entrenched in the scene from the beginning. No matter the niche, Riot had you covered.

— Carly Snider, Senior Arts Editor


Pictured: Jeremy McKinnon of A Day to Remember, Photo Credit: Dominic Posinelli

New Order

From the ashes of Joy Division, New Order was born iconic. And their sound — pulsing and reverberating across the open field — commanded attention. Though punk in spirit and in origin, New Order’s performance was powerful not in speed or provocation, but in sprawling beats and nostalgia. The set was, of course, peppered with odes to Joy Division. The second track New Order played was “Disorder,” one of the most well-known and beloved Joy Division tracks.

Supporting New Order’s revolutionary sound was anarchic and riotous imagery. The enormous screen behind the band projected clips of mobs, punk shows and protests. These images flashed in between whizzing shots of cityscapes, creating a feeling of simultaneous agency and insignificance.

The set wrapped with a moment of remembrance. As New Order played “Love Will Tear Us Apart Again,” and Bernard Sumner mimicked Ian Curtis’s now-legendary monotone, the large screen projected Curtis’s image emblazoned with the words “Joy Division Forever.” For young fans like myself, the moment was surreal — a rare opportunity to hear and see, live, a band that, up until that point, seemed almost mythical.

— Carly Snider, Daily Arts Writer

Pictured: Dan O'Connor of Four Year Strong, Photo Credit: Dominic Posinelli

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails are not unfamiliar with the festival stage. Having been performing and making music for decades, NIN knew exactly what to do. In a span of ninety minutes, the band played twenty songs, one of which was a cover of Bowie’s “I Can’t Give Everything Away,” and another was the live debut of “The Background World.” The performance was solid, and delivered just what the crowd would expect from such seasoned veterans. The band served as a major name to round out Riot’s relatively niche lineup. Reznor was in true form, appreciative head-nods (the rock equivalent to ecstatic cheers) and sensual, albeit quite unfortunate, sways during “Closer” ’s explicit chorus. Wrapping with “Hurt,” NIN set the headlining bar high for the rest of the weekend.

— Carly Snider, Daily Arts Writer

Pictured: Ryan Locke of Seaway, Photo Credit: Dominic Posinelli

Mayday Parade

I love Mayday Parade. I fucking love Mayday Parade so much it hurts. And I will never stop loving Mayday Parade. A few months ago I had the opportunity to watch Mayday perform their seminal record A Lesson in Romantics in its entirety at The Crofoot in Pontiac, and the performance reminded me exactly why I’ve continued to love the band since I was 13 years old. Just two weeks ago I saw it happen all over again, becoming little 13-year-old Dom ready to scream his tiny heart out. From the opening notes of “Jamie All Over” I reveled — and I mean truly reveled — in nostalgia.

When you’re as good as Mayday Parade is, it really doesn’t matter that the crowd knows exactly which songs are coming next. Every song washed over me with the same force of emotion I felt as a middle schooler getting over a “breakup.” I will literally go to my grave yelling that “Walk On Water Or Drown” is one of the greatest songs ever written, and I was arguably the loudest person in the crowd when it burst from the speakers after the iconic “Miserable At Best.” Simply put, the band always sounds incredible, and they’re a damn American treasure.

— Dominic Posinelli, Daily Arts Writer



Peaches is wild. Much like the dissonant noise that dominated Douglas Park, Peaches performance was brash, unapologetic and purposeful. But instead of achieving control through noise and speed, Peaches did so by harnessing the performative power of sexual taboo. She started off in a pink jumpsuit covered in whirring tassels and a vagina head piece before stripping down to her underwear, only to later dawn a blonde wig and a gold-plated chest piece; all in the span of her fifty-five minute set. And believe me, each of those minutes packed a punch of energy.

But it wasn’t just her outrageous attire, it was Peaches herself. Despite the relentless sun, she never ceased to jump, strut and pounce about the stage. Flanked by two dancers (read: provocateurs), Peaches danced her way through tracks like “Rub,” “Boys Wanna Be Her” and, of course, “Fuck the Pain Away.” Though the overt sexualization of the female body may have made those unfamiliar with Peaches’s antics take pause, those acquainted with her brand knew the display’s intention was empowerment and liberation. And that goal was met through bare bodies, blunt lyrics and, yes, vagina hats.

— Carly Snider, Senior Arts Editor

Pictured: Will Wagner of Smith Street Band, Photo Credit: Dominic Posinelli


Fidlar is nothing if not aggressive; aggressive in their youth, their jubilance and their praise of inebriation. Speaking of inebriation, Riot offered an array of alcohol for festival-goers whose booths were swarmed in-between sets. Most notably, though maybe most surprisingly, was the popularity of Electric Sky Wine. On first glance one may assume that the punk crowd would prefer brews or bourbon, but the bright bulbs of wine were everywhere.

Fidlar whipped the (wine-fueled, already sweating) young crowd into a frenzy. Opening with a Beastie Boys cover, the L.A. foursome went on to rail out tracks like “40 oz. on Repeat,” “West Coast,” “Cheap Beer” and “Cocaine” — do with those titles what you will. As for the crowd, they took them and ran. And by ran I mean moshed, crowd-surfed and screamed. By the end of the set, the mass of bodies was covered in sweat and the dust kicked up by their own feet. Fidlar’s fast and loud performance was one of the most energetic of the weekend, both on stage and off.

— Carly Snider, Senior Arts Editor

Bad Brains

When I was 16, I bought a car that could only play CD’s; no tapes, no aux cord, just a good ol’ CD from Dearborn Music or my friend Grace’s basement. Over time, I collected over 40 of my favorite albums on CD that had their own place in my backseat. Six of these were albums and hits compilations by one of the most defining bands in my life — and arguably the most defining band in hardcore-punk, and reggae — Bad Brains. I first listened to the Washington D.C. punk quartet when I was around 14, and I’ll never forget it. The song was “Re-Ignition” off their 1986 LP, I Against I, and I’ve loved punk and hardcore music ever since.

14-year-old Selena would have never guessed that she would see Bad Brains live. Especially after 2015 when Dr. Know was put on life support, and later in 2016 when H.R. was diagnosed with SUNCT — a rare disease causing strong headaches that H.R. would later undergo brain surgery for.

But, on September 16 at 4:40 p.m. 19-year-old Selena was standing in the center of sweaty 40-year-old crust punks and reggae-lovers alike talking about the D.C. ban on Bad Brains in 1979, eagerly waiting to see what would unfold. And then, amongst the weed smoke, dreads and gleams of sunlight, laid the staple Bad Brains image of the capitol building being struck by lightning with Daryl Jennifer, Earl Hudson, H.R. and Dr. Know standing in front of it.

The drums hit and my heart started to beat outside of my chest when they began to play “Give Thanks and Praise.” The crowd became a body of running and jumping legs, pushing arms and screaming mouths; a body that wouldn’t settle down until the last note hit. The set continued and they played (not in this order) “Soul Craft,” “I Luv I Jah” and “Pay to Cum,” songs that created a spot in my brain sticky with punk tunes and the need to be creative in my previous formative years.

I could not believe that I was finally seeing the band that literally made me who I am today. There was a constant lump of love and appreciation growing in the back of my throat and when the guitar and drums slammed into “Re-Ignition,” I started to cry. With tears wetting my cheeks and a smile glued onto my face, I witnessed show-goers of all ages dance, laugh, cry and smile until H.R. signed off after “Banned in D.C.” Three other songs ensued with vocalist Randy Blythe, and then the banner rose up. It was done. I’ll never forget it and I’ll love Bad Brains forever.

— Selena Aguilera, Daily Arts Writer

Pictured: Joe Taylor of Knuckle Puck, Photo Credit: Dominic Posinelli

Queens of the Stone Age

Queens of the Stone Age have made a name for themselves in the contemporary hard rock world with the ability to create harsh hitting tunes that are laced with hints of soft beauty. Being able to see them at Riot Fest was an experience in itself, separate from all of the other treasures in this years line-up.

With a quick introduction and thanks to Chicago, the boys dove right into “You Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel like a Millionaire,” off of one of their most known and hard-hitting albums, Songs for the Deaf. After immersing us with that instant crowd-pleaser, Queens of the Stone Age started playing songs off their 2017 LP, Villains. Their sound embodied what the band is best at: a fresh spin on something classic.

Different shades of blue, red, and green lights were cast upon the crowd in rays during their 14-song set, commanding people to consume every ounce of their environment and dance out their excitement.

Most the of the songs played were from the new 2017 album and their staple from 2002, but a few others were thrown in the mix for the devoted Queens of the Stone Age fans like “Little Sister” from Lullabies to Paralyze, and “Smooth Sailing,” from ...Like Clockwork, giving everyone the taste they were craving.

Ending with “A Song for the Dead,” was the perfect close to a memorable set. The drum fills, guitar riffs and Hommes cooing vocals wound you up and slowed you down at the same time, leaving you satisfied enough, but always wanting a little bit more.

— Selena Aguilera, Daily Arts Writer


Pictured: Max Bemis of Say Anything, Photo Credit: Dominic Posinelli

The Menzingers

There is much to be said about The Menzingers, but I’d first like to take this space to shame the Paramore fans who crowded the field four — yes, you read that right, four! — full hours before Paramore was even set to take the stage. They tossed dirty looks and annoyed glances over their shoulders that we, the fans of the greatest band on this earth, returned with a massive pit, numerous crowd surfers and a whole lot of roaring singing. While the Paramore fans made it difficult to find some space to breathe, I would have gladly gone through it all again for their impeccable performance. If you need any context, I truly think The Menzingers are the greatest songwriters in the world today. Their music is on another level. During a set heavy with their new material from this year’s After The Party, we laughed, we cried, we yelled and we felt. Classics like “The Obituaries” and “Burn After Writing” ignited the crowd while new songs like “Lookers” and “Midwestern States” brought the tears. In this crazy, messed up world we live in today, we are so lucky to have the humanizing music and passionate shows The Menzingers give us.

— Dominic Posinelli, Daily Arts Writer

Pictured: Max Bemis of Say Anything, Photo Credit: Dominic Posinelli

Pictured: Blake Schwarzenbach of Jawbreaker, Photo Credit: Dominic Posinelli


Like many other acts that graced the Riot stage, Jawbreaker is legendary; not in the sense of massive commercial success and notoriety, but in really shaping musical lives. The air around the Sunday night closer felt different, more monumental. The band hadn’t played in more than a decade before 2017. For many in the crowd, this reunion was their first — maybe only — chance to ever see the band live.

With that in mind, Jawbreaker more than delivered. Frontman Blake Schwarzenbach was humbled and grateful to be welcomed back with such (and so many) open arms, professing, “I am truly honored to be in your historic city.” This gratitude was complimented by Schwarzenbach’s warm, smart humor, cracking jokes about age and riding carnival rides after the show. Though the crowd amassed in front of the Riot stage was enormous, the performance somehow felt intimate: There was a mutual understanding that this was a special show.

As for Jawbreaker’s sound, the band didn’t miss a beat. It was almost as though no time had passed, there was no rust on their guitars or stiffness in their fingers. The band opened with “Boxcar” before flying through fourteen more tracks. The set was jam-packed but not rushed and touched on more well-known tracks (“Accident Prone,” “Want”) and deeper cuts (“Chemistry,” “In Saddling Around”). On stage surrounded by friends and family, Jawbreaker ended with “Bivouac.” By the end of the ten-minute song, Schwarzenbach was on the ground, playing his guitar with his teeth. Drums were kicked over and feedback was left to screech and peeter out. The reverb kept ringing, and it was over.

— Carly Snider, Daily Arts Writer

Pictured: David Kelling of Culture Abuse, Photo Credit: Dominic Posinelli

Culture Abuse

Culture Abuse is a kickass band. I stumbled upon their debut record, Peach, last year thanks to Noisey’s overlooked albums list — which inspired me to include them in the Daily’s own. They’ve taken a tried and true punk rock methodology and upped the pop without losing the punk to put on a thrill ride of a show. It’s a fact that their music is best experienced live while tossing yourself around in the put or gracefully surfing on the crowd (OK, maybe it wasn’t very graceful, but I still had a blast). There’s nothing to unravel with Culture Abuse; they bare it all. They just want to share a joint on stage and have a fun time, and it isn’t hard to follow their lead.

— Dominic Posinelli, Daily Arts Writer

Pictured: Hayley Williams of Paramore, Photo Credit: Dominic Posinelli

Pictured: Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, Photo Credit: Dominic Posinelli

Pictured: Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, Photo Credit: Dominic Posinelli