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Chicago music scene mourns the death of Riot Fest co-founder Sean McKeough

Written by
Jonathan Samples

Sean McKeough wasn’t just the owner of Cobra Lounge and All Rise Brewing, the 42-year-old entrepreneur was also a “pillar of strength” in Chicago’s punk rock music scene. McKeough, who co-founded the eccentric rock music festival Riot Fest, died on Tuesday—the cause of death was undisclosed.

“Sean was Riot Fest’s pillar of strength... Without Sean and his belief that a little fest could make a positive impact on people’s lives by doing things differently and left of the dial, Riot Fest would have never become such an intimate family,” friend and Riot Fest co-founder Michael Petryshyn said on the festival’s website. “His Herculean-sized heart and volition made that all possible. Anyone lucky enough to have witnessed his kindness and compassion knows Sean’s muddy work boots will never be filled.”

McKeough was admired by many in the city’s music scene, with artists and friends taking to social media to offer their condolences and laud his influence. Chicago punk band Rise Against tweeted on Wednesday, “Devastated to hear about the passing of our friend, Sean McKeough. His heart of gold will never be forgotten.”

Petryshyn, a.k.a. Riot Mike, agreed, adding that the “vision” McKeough brought to Riot Fest will live on. “Sean, I will forever be indebted to you. I love you, brother and I’ll make sure that Riot Fest never loses its purpose or vision…  the one you saw before any of us.”

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