My Riot Fest Story

I Started Chicago Punk Rock Radio in 2007. At the time I was fourteen and wasn’t listening to anything considered “cool” at all. For those who don’t know my first real exposure to punk was hearing Anti-Flag’s “This Is The End (For You My Friend)” on the Madden NFL 2007 soundtrack. After hearing that song I went online and listened to as much of Anti-Flag as I could. Doing that led me to discover so many other great bands and began my punk rock journey. I never thought a sports video game would be the catalyst for me getting into punk rock, but at least it makes for a good story.

Years later in 2010, I heard about Riot Fest. My friend Steven told me about this punk rock festival that we had to go to. At the time my friends and I were all juniors in high school and felt like we were the only ones listening to punk. In high school sometimes you feel like it’s you against the world and that’s exactly how we felt. As fate would have it Steven and I had just recently fallen in love with Less Than Jake’s Losing Streak. Since the band was playing that album in full at Riot Fest we had to go. I asked my dad to borrow his car and we were off.  That is a night I will never forget.  I felt like the world at least for one night was perfect. All the bands were incredible and Less Than Jake played a set I will never forget. At the end of the night, I ended up with pizza and at my girlfriend’s house. It was like I was living a Blink-182 song.

I never got to see American Football, Alkaline Trio or Slapstick play the Fireside Bowl. However, I did see Rise against play Humboldt Park. Throughout the years I and many other have had amazing moments thanks to Riot Fest. I’ve said on the show in the past that there’s something special about listening to a band from your hometown. It’s a deep connection that you don’t have with other bands.  I can only speak for myself but Riot Fest has always felt at least partly mine.  Riot Fest was my wet dream as a kid. I didn’t think a punk rock festival was even possible, let alone for it to be happening in my own town. Riot Fest is debauchery and hooliganism but it’s also so much more. It’s a community of welcoming, non-judgmental people. Yes, those people like to wear a lot of black but who doesn’t? Since starting the show I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the people at Riot Fest. Every time I do it’s always a pleasure. In short, to me and I think many others Riot Fest is our Fireside Bowl.

Riot Fest will reveal the first wave of its lineup tomorrow. Keep an eye out on all our social media platforms for the announcement.


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