Riot Fest

Music, Music festivals
4 out of 5 stars
(4user reviews)
Riot Fest 2017
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan

It's the social event of the season for anyone with a denim jacket covered in patches hanging in their closet. Riot Fest brings acts like Beck, Weezer, Alkaline Trio, Blondie, Elvis Costello, Run the Jewels and rock 'n' roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis to Douglas Park for a three-day carnival of music (there's even a Ferris wheel). You'll find punks, metalheads, indie fans and hip-hop aficionados eating corn dogs and crowding the fields at this eclectic end-of-the-summer fest. 

Event website:

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

This is probably my favorite music festival year after year. Being in September makes it just chilly enough so you don't feel like it's too terribly hot. The people are always interesting and it's always got interesting music to keep you interested all day long.

This is hands down my favorite Chicago music festival. I first attended Riot Fest during its first venture outdoors in 2012. Prior to that, it took place across several smaller indoor venues in the city. I've gone back for the full weekend every year since, in Humboldt Park and then Douglas Park. Every year the line up is bursting at the seams with great rock artists to appease every generation, the anonymous Riot Fest Twitter Guy keeps me amused year round, and they make a distinct point to give back to the community. Oh, and they run a carnival throughout the festival grounds with a full Hellzapoppin side show, as if you need further entertainment. 

While it's not as central to downtown as some festivals, it affords traveling concertgoers a true taste of Chicago, not just the tourist's version. The neighborhood around Douglas Park has plenty to offer though, including the Lagunitas brewery and tap room just a few blocks away. Check it out if you have a few hours to kill before entering the festival. They do all they can to add extra CTA service to accommodate the festival goers, but at the end of the day thousands of people charging the pink line at once will always be a little messy for half an hour or so.

As with any outdoor festival, sometimes it rains and that creates mud. Riot Fest also does an amazing job at creating once in a lifetime band reunions and opportunities to hear albums played in full. I'm fairly convinced that since they got the original Misfits back together for 2016, that they can do anything. And that is certainly worth wading through some mud for. 


Riot Fest is so, so much fun. First of all, there's the music—including a bunch of bands you probably used to listen to back in high school. Then there's the carnival atmosphere, complete with snacks and a Ferris wheel. Lastly, there's the fashion. You could go to Riot Fest for the people-watching alone. 

I am dying to go to Riot Fest! The line up is as fantastic as it is diverse. When else in life would I be able to catch Snoop Dogg, Modest Mouse, De La Soul, and the queen and kings of the ska-pop soundtrack to my adolescence, No Doubt?! Riot Fest Denver’s lack of Gwen Stefani has made Chicago win out as the ideal weekend to attend. Angsty acts from my younger days include Taking Back Sunday and Coheed and Cambria, but one of my favorites from Gov Ball 2014 will also be in the house: Damian Marley. Cannot wait.