Riot Fest 2018 is this weekend (9/14 - 9/16) in Chicago's Douglas Park (despite rumors that it wasn't happening). blink-182 is out due to Travis Barker's medical condition, but Weezer, Taking Back Sunday, Run the Jewels, Beach Rats, Street Dogs, and a few other new additions are in. As always, some acts are playing classic albums in full.
The set times are out now, and as is often the case with a festival that has this many exciting acts, there are a lot of tough conflicts. If you're going to the fest and trying to decide who to catch, we put together a list of 10 artists not to miss at Riot Fest 2018 that may be of some assistance. And don't forget that some of the acts have late night shows, so maybe you can still see a few of the sets you're forced to skip during the fest.
As you're planning your personal Riot Fest schedule, be sure to check out the festival map. The Roots Stage and the Riot Stage are right next to each other and have back-to-back sets all day with just a few minutes of crossover time. So it's worth keeping in mind that you can always watch an act on the Roots Stage while waiting for the next act to play Riot Stage, and vice versa. The Rise Stage, Radicals Stage, and Rebel Stage are a little more spread apart.
Also, Riot Fest reminds you that are no selfie sticks, umbrellas, chairs, coolers, glass, metal containers, outside food, skateboards, mace, fireworks, frisbees, air horns, megaphones, drones, water guns, Donald Trumps, Native American headdresses, or pineapple on pizza allowed. And no re-entry. There are lockers with unlimited cell charging that you can reserve, and you can bring in an empty plastic bottle for use at the water refill stations.
Riot Fest also has a zero tolerance policy "for harassment of any kind, including but not limited to: race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, gender presentation, sexual orientation, age, body size, disability, appearance, religion, citizenship, pregnancy."
Here's our list of 10 acts we think you shouldn't miss at Riot Fest 2018, in order of their appearance at the festival:
Liz Phair's influence on modern indie rock is louder and clearer than ever right now. Her impact can be heard on countless modern bands (like Speedy Ortiz, who are touring with her, play right before her at Riot Fest, and recently covered one of her songs), and her recent reissues of her classic early recordings have helped lead to a pretty massive comeback for Liz. She's been playing a lot of early stuff on tour, which makes it an even more perfect time to see her.
DIGABLE PLANETS playing Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space)
Brooklyn jazz-rap vets Digable Planets (whose Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler went on to form Shabazz Palaces) reunited a few years ago, but their shows are still few and far between, so this rare chance to see them is very worth taking. Making this set even more exciting, they're playing their 1993 debut (which was reissued this year) in full for its 25th anniversary. They only have two albums, so this full-album set won't be that different from Digable Planets' usual setlists, but there's still something special about seeing an album performed in the same sequence you've known it your whole life.
A lot of the artists on this list are more longer-running and/or more legendary than HEALTH, but if you want to see a crushingly good live band at Riot Fest, we wanted to make sure you get out of bed on time on Saturday morning to see HEALTH's 2:45 set. After years of making quality noise rock, HEALTH indulged in poppier (but still dark) influences like Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode for 2015's great Death Magic, which remains one of the better industrial pop albums in recent memory. Live, their shows are heavier than some metal bands. You have to see them in person to fully experience it, but this video gives you a good idea:
Indie vet Cat Power has been making great records since the mid '90s, and she's a rare veteran artist whose new music has been relevant for her entire two-decade-plus career. She's got an anticipated new album due out this October (made even more exciting by its Lana Del Rey collab), and we're just as much looking forward to hearing her play songs off that as we are to hear her break out classics. While you get excited for her Riot Fest, revisit this classic:
ELVIS COSTELLO & THE IMPOSTERS
A festival is always a good place to catch a legendary act that you might not otherwise see, and Riot Fest has especially been great at providing that kind of opportunity. There are lots of legends on this year's lineup, and one of the most unmissable is Elvis Costello, whose impact on power pop, new wave, and beyond is undeniable (and who is thankfully touring again after recently cancelling dates due to cancer recovery). He's got so many classics that at this point are part of the musical DNA of the types of bands who tend to play Riot Fest, and he's likely going to play plenty of them. And it's doubly exciting 'cause he'll be playing with them original Attractions drummer Pete Thomas and keyboardist Steve Nieve, who are both in this lineup of The Imposters.
THE JESUS LIZARD
The Jesus Lizard are part of one of the toughest conflicts of the festival (they're up against Interpol, GWAR, and Jerry Lee Lewis), but if you ask us, they have the edge against their competitors. The noisy post-hardcore vets returned last year for their first time in 8 years, and though the reunion almost ended in December, they thankfully decided to keep it going. Also, unlike a lot of reunited punk bands, The Jesus Lizard's present-day shows are just about as wild as ever. The Jesus Lizard's influence extends from Nirvana to Jimmy Eat World to modern bands like Pissed Jeans and METZ, and it seems safe to assume that they'll only get more legendary as time goes on.
Before you say "not another 'beach' band...," take a look at the members of this punk supergroup who released their ripping debut EP on Bridge 9 this summer. Their frontman is Lifetime vocalist Ari Katz, and he's backed by Brian Baker (Minor Threat, Dag Nasty, Bad Religion), Pete Steinkopf (The Bouncing Souls), Brian Kienlen (The Bouncing Souls), and drummer Danny “Dubs” Windas. It's the most no-frills, melodic hardcore project that Ari has been involved in since Lifetime's '90s albums, and these guys have more lifelong punk talent in their fingertips than most bands do in their whole bodies. It might be tough to get your hungover self back to Riot Fest by 1:25 PM on Sunday, but Beach Rats will wake you right up.
FEAR playing The Record
Punk as we know it wouldn't exist without Fear's 1982 debut album The Record, so it's very exciting that the band (who are still led by frontman and sole constant member Lee Ving) are playing the whole thing at Riot Fest. It's been named a favorite by Jawbreaker's Blake Schwarzenbach and Kurt Cobain, so you don't have to listen to us tell you it's a good one. 35+ years later, it still sounds as pulverizing as it ever has.
SUICIDAL TENDENCIES playing S/T
Crossover thrash vets are still fronted by Mike "Cyco Miko" Muir, and though nobody else in the current lineup played on their classic 1983 self-titled debut, they've currently got one of the best metal/punk drummers in the world: ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo. Their live show also still totally rips, and as evidenced when they played their S/T in full in Brooklyn in July, they still handle every song on that album with all the energy in the world.
Riot Fest has always been big on booking reunited bands, and while it is fun to see your favorite bands reunite, more of these bands need to take a lesson from Dillinger Four. They've never "broken up," they just haven't made an album in a decade, and if they feel like playing shows, they play shows. If they don't, they don't. Fortunately, D4 feel like playing just a few shows this year, and one of them is Riot Fest. Their live show is also still killer, so you don't wanna skip out on this rare chance to see them. Also, this year marks the 20th anniversary of their debut album Midwestern Songs of the Americas, an album that influenced melodic punk bands for years and years to come. Just ask Green Day.
The Riot Fest 2018 lineup also includes headlining sets from Weezer, Beck, Run the Jewels, and Incubus, plus Bad Religion (playing Suffer), Cypress Hill (playing Black Sunday), Lagwagon (playing Let's Talk About Feelings), Spitalfield (playing Remember Right Now), Interpol, Blondie, Alkaline Trio, Father John Misty, The Voidz, Clutch, The Wonder Years, Gary Numan, Killing Joke, Hot Snakes, Johnny Marr, Superchunk, Taking Back Sunday, Kevin Devine, Speedy Ortiz, Bully, Mannequin Pussy and much more. See the full lineup and set times.