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Riot Fest 2017
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan

What’s going on with Riot Fest?

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

Eight days from now, Riot Fest is scheduled to take place in Douglas Park, but organizers behind the event have been strangely quiet since revealing the first wave of the lineup on May 30. Since then, the only substantial news that has come out of the Riot Fest camp was the announcement of a sale on three-day tickets to the festival, which were available for just $99.98 for a few weeks. The lack of announcements has left plenty of people asking themselves and others: What exactly is going on with Riot Fest?

RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Riot Fest music festival

With a little over a week until Douglas Park welcomes thousands of fans into its fields, there's still a lot of things we don't know about the three-day festival. There's a missing headlining act indicated by a series of question marks on the Riot Fest lineup poster, though a link in a Chicago Reader newsletter indicated that goth rockers Bauhaus will fill the slot (organizers haven't confirmed this). There's a promised second wave of bands joining the lineup that hasn't materialized. There are no daily lineups specifying the day that each of the confirmed bands is performing, and single-day tickets haven't even gone on sale.

Granted, this isn't the first time that the release of Riot Fest's schedule has come down to the wire—in 2014, the festival released its schedule exactly one week before the event opened its gates in Humboldt Park. But 2018 does mark the first year that Riot Fest has not released daily lineups (which have traditionally been revealed in June or July) and failed to make single-day tickets available for purchase.

Due to the lack of information available, the online conversation about Riot Fest has taken a turn for the speculative and panicked. On the festival's Reddit page, you'll find threads with titles like "Shit Is Hitting The Fan - Riot Fest Bitch Fest Pt. 2" and "WHAT IS HAPPENING" where fans are floating theories about the lack of a schedule and the potential cancellation of the entire event. Internet sleuths have even turned to the Chicago Data Portal, tracking down Riot Fest's permit requests for Douglas Park (in case you were wondering, they're still listed as "tentative," but that seems to be entirely normal). 

With advertisements running throughout Chicago and tickets still on sale via the festival's website, there's no indication that Riot Fest is in danger of being canceled, but Block Club Chicago brought up the possibility to 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas, whose ward includes Douglas Park. Cardenas told the publication that, "by all accounts, it is happening." 

Riot Fest organizers have been tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding the delay in releasing additional information about the event—representatives for the festival replied to a request for comment with an appeal to "please stand by." Yesterday, organizers sent press approvals to members of the media who applied to cover Riot Fest, but no additional information about the festival was included.

While the lack of communication is certainly frustrating for anyone who's trying to plan their weekend around Riot Fest's nebulous schedule, there's no denying that producing an event of this scale is a convoluted process. Though we may never find out what (or who) is holding things up, Riot Fest organizers seem intent on embracing the punk-rock spirit of the festival, which probably means that we'll find out more information whenever they damn well please.

UPDATE: Now we know what's going on—Blink-182 has canceled its set, while Run the Jewels, Weezer and Taking Back Sunday have joined the festival. More details here.

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