Features Music Riot Fest 2019: our personal highlights

Music: Riot Fest 2019: our personal highlights

We had such a blast at Riot Fest 2019 that we want to share our favorite moments and also give you recommendations for how you can recreate and/or relive those moments for yourself! Summer’s definitely over, but that doesn’t mean life has to be a total bummer. Check out our lists below and feel free to reach out with your own personal highlights from Riot Fest 2019 as well!

Top 5 acts that surprised us at Riot Fest 2019



Just before Slayer was set to perform their last ever Chicago show, I overheard a photographer say “I love Slayer, but might not want to shoot them to avoid getting blood on my camera.” As if we needed another reason to catch Slayer’s set, this comment more than convinced us. Slayer were definitely the heaviest band performing throughout the weekend and there’s something to be said about their ability to not only draw such a diverse crowd, but still remain influential nearly 40 years later. Whether you’re interested in the band’s heavy thrash metal influence or just want to rock out like you were at Riot Fest with us, we recommend checking out albums Reign In Blood and World Painted Blood.


American Football

American Football’s set was warm and relaxing, which considering the weekend hinted at fall weather, I couldn’t think of a more perfect pairing. This year marked the 20th anniversary of their self-titled debut album which really hit home on the band’s influence they’ve created since 1999. We think the crowd may have been the calmest one we saw all weekend—the band managed to create this intimate environment during a chaotic festival and we applaud them endlessly for this. We recommend listening to the band’s self-titled record, preferably on a rainy day to get the full Riot Fest experience.


The Flaming Lips

We’ve heard about the extravagant performance The Flaming Lips put on during their live shows, but finally experiencing it was beyond our expectations. There were life-sized balloons, endless amounts of rainbow confetti, a larger-than-life pink robot, a giant hamster ball contraption that lead singer Wayne Coyne hopped inside and walked across the crowd in—and yes it was as insane as it sounds. And we loved every minute of it. Their performance was captivating and innovate while still remaining true to their music, a balance not all acts had nailed down at Riot Fest. We suggest filling your room with as many balloons as possible and putting on the band’s album performance record Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot—note that confetti and streamers will enhance all the magical feelings of this record.



We love a good supergroup, so when members from Riverboat Gamblers and Rise Against joined forces to form a garage-y, old-school, hazy punk band, we knew we had to see them live. There’s something eerily cool about this group that transcends into their music. We’re betting it’s the mashup of the two established groups that allow Drakulas to push boundaries outside the norms. Self proclaimed as space punk, we couldn’t agree more. Put on your dark sunglasses and soak up what’s left of the summertime sun while listening to EPs Fashion Forward and OWOWOWOWOWOWOW.


Sincere Engineer

Sincere Engineer really blew us away at Riot Fest this year—they’re not only one of the best new punk bands we’ve heard play in the last few years, but they have a true Chicago punk sound reminiscent of The Lawrence Arms. Singer/songwriter Deanna Belos has grit and serious range in her voice, plus the fact that her songs instantly connect with audiences made it no surprise this up-and-coming band drew a large crowd. Their namesake is beyond fitting as their music exudes sincerity and we hope they continue to make genuinely raw punk music that makes us feel something. Bust out your favorite TLA hoodie and your nicest headphones while listening to the band’s debut album Rhombithian—and yes, prepare to reminisce.

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Words by Kristen Swanson on Sept. 29, 2019, 2:34 p.m.

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Riot Fest 2019: our personal highlights

Posted by Kristen Swanson on Sept. 29, 2019, 2:34 p.m.

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  1. Top 10 acts at Riot Fest 2019
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