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Top Ten Acts We're Excited About at Riot Fest 2017

Words: Kristen Swanson • September 14, 2017

Top Ten Acts We're Excited About at Riot Fest 2017
Top Ten Acts We're Excited About at Riot Fest 2017

Multi-day music festival Riot Fest returns to Douglas Park in Chicago for its twelfth year, September 15-17th. The independent music festival specializes in punk, rock, alternative, metal, and hip-hop. Not to mention, there will be carnival rides, sideshow performers, and top-notch food vendors added to the mix of performers. If that wasn't reason enough to attend, here's the top ten acts we're most excited to see perform at Riot Fest.



There's something intriguing about young rapper HDBeenDope and it's not just his name; his sound and style is fresh enough to stand out amongst the crowd. This Brooklyn native has a unique voice and beats for days, definitely not a bad way to start off Riot Fest on Friday afternoon. Currently there isn't much out there about HDBeenDope, but after his performance at Riot Fest I expect his monthly listener rate to quickly escalate.


The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

The impression that I get: Most of us had a ska phase and no band screams nostalgia more than the Bosstones. For a band that's been going since 1983, their shows are still energetic as hell. This band opened the door to ska/punk and without them a lot of other bands we love might not have ever existed. We're ready to party like it's 1997 when their platinum album Let's Face It was just released.



British rapper M.I.A. is a heavy-hitter; not only is she a badass and proud of it, but she's truly earned that title. There's no one out there who even comes close to her sound and style, she's original and influential, and she's just so damn cool. Not only is her music addictively catchy, but it pushes boundaries far beyond the realm of music. Seriously, if you miss her set on Sunday why did you even bother coming to Riot Fest?


Built To Spill

We're all about the 90s—alternative music was at a peak, our President didn't tweet, and Built to Spill released its magical album Keep It Like a Secret. Clearly things have changed since 1999, but Sunday at Riot Fest we can at least pretend everything is okay when the band plays their hit album in its entirety. So bring on those sweet harmonies and layered guitars.


Culture Abuse

If there's a band out there for all the misfits in the world, it's Culture Abuse and we couldn't be more stoked about them playing Riot Fest. With gritty vocals and loud guitars, this band will be down for whatever, wherever. Their songs are catchy as hell, they have an undefined sound that only makes you want to listen to them more, and they are proving that it's okay to break the mold of what a band should be.


The Smith Street Band

We absolutely adore Australian punk band Smith Street Band, whose albums including the latest More Scared of You Than You Are of Me, are jam-packed with catchy choruses and heartbreakingly honest lyrics. This band wears its heart on its sleeve, especially during live shows. From being the opener in tiny venues to headlining their own shows, these Melbourne boys always give it their all. It's refreshing to see a band have so much heart; we heart Smith Street Band and so should you.


Best Coast

There's something oddly endearing about hearing the dreamy sounds of Best Coast at a huge festival with carnival lights and rides. Best Coast is one of those bands that appeal to you no matter your mood—in love, heartbroken, content, stoned. They're a band full of highs and lows, the kind of band you want to say goodbye to summer with. Plus, we're a sucker for a good duo.


That Dog.

Not to intentionally introduce this band with a dad joke, but That Dog. could be perceived as the underdogs of top performers at Riot Fest. In the 90s the band had decent success with the album they'll be performing in its entirety Retreat from the Sun. I'm not sure if we're just nostalgic for alternative 90s music, but I think their performance is going to be one you won't want to miss considering you may never get the chance again to hear Retreat from the Sun live in its entirety. Really, what more convincing do you need?


The Lawrence Arms

When you think of Chicago, you should think of The Lawrence Arms. The turnstiles, the brick wall views, the band's interpretation of the Chicago flag plastered across their album Oh! Calcutta!. If you've never seen Larry Arms, or even if you've seen them numberous times before, Chicago is the perfect place to see them live. It's their turf and they're comfortable there—more importantly, it shows in their performance. Not to mention they'll be performing their beloved album Oh! Calcutta! in its entirety on Saturday night and the chance to hear this record live has happened, oh, never before. I guess old dogs never die.



This band doesn't really need a description. It's Jawbreaker: the iconic punk rock band of your angsty youth. No, you're not dreaming. No, it's not the 90s (as much as we want it to be). Yes, they really are going to be playing Riot Fest. The band has been playing a few shows around the San Francisco Bay Area, but good luck seeing them prior to Riot Fest as tickets for those shows sold out within a minute. They're the headliner on Sunday night; which makes sense the festival decided to save the best for last. And since words can't even describe them, here are some videos from those San Fran shows to get you prepared for Sunday night.

Top Ten Acts We're Excited About at Riot Fest 2017
Top Ten Acts We're Excited About at Riot Fest 2017

Series: The Set List

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