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From mid-summer through the season’s end, Chicago is home to no shortage of amazing music festivals. Pitchfork Music Festival takes over Union Park every July, with Lollapalooza following in early August at Grant Park. A bit farther west than either of those festivals, Riot Fest takes place every year during the second full weekend of September – right before summer officially becomes fall – at Douglas Park.
Unlike the more indie-focused Pitchfork Fest and Top 40-focused Lollapalooza, Riot Fest focuses on punk and other adjacent rock genres (with a sprinkling of hip-hop to boot). If you’re heading to Riot Fest tomorrow through Sunday and want to catch the very best music the festival has to offer, don’t miss these five acts.
Friday, Rise Stage, 8:45 pm
Earlier this decade, a band called Jawbreaker Reunion began getting a bit of attention. Is this band to blame for Jawbreaker actually reuniting in 2017? Unclear. What is clear is that Jawbreaker’s reunion shows, their first since a fistfight on tour broke the band up in 1996, have been incredible. The band’s first reunion show was at Riot Fest 2017, and with a headlining slot again for this year’s Riot Fest, Jawbreaker just can’t be missed.
2. Bloc Party
Saturday, Rise Stage, 8:45 pm
In the mid-aughts, Bloc Party skyrocketed to international fame with the genre-hopping rock stylings of its beloved debut album, Silent Alarm. The albums that Bloc Party went on to release in the years following never achieved nearly as much critical acclaim as Silent Alarm. That might be why Bloc Party has been playing Silent Alarm in full – and nothing else – on its most recent tour. That tour will hit Riot Fest on Saturday Night, where Bloc Party will headline the Rise Stage.
3. Patti Smith and Her Band
Sunday, Riot Stage, 6:20 pm
Few musicians have influenced punk music more than Patti Smith has. Her 1975 debut album Horses is universally considered a punk classic, an especially righteous feat given punk music’s history of excluding women. Even at 72 years old, Smith remains a musical icon, so when she and Her Band play the Riot Stage Sunday night at 6:20 pm, it’ll be a spectacle not to be missed.
4. Bikini Kill
Sunday, Riot Stage, 8:30 pm
An hour after Patt Smith’s set, another punk icon will take the Riot Stage. Bikini Kill may have single-handedly launched the riot grrrl subsect of punk music, a subgenre that placed women front and center. Frontperson Kathleen Hanna invented the now common rock show phrase “girls to the front,” which bands and showgoers will shout at concerts to ensure that young girls and women get a proper view and can actively participate in the show. As with Jawbreaker, Bikini Kill’s Riot Fest set is part of a larger reunion tour.
5. Wu-Tang Clan
Saturday, Radicals Stage, 7:30 pm
Looking to get away from all the punk at Riot Fest? Then head to the Radical Stage at 7:30 pm on Saturday to catch one of the most legendary hip-hop acts of all time. The Wu-Tang Clan, whose history is chronicled in a new Hulu drama, are all but certain to play “C.R.E.A.M.,” among other timeless hits, when all 10 members take the stage.
Who are you most excited to see at Riot Fest? Sound off in the comments!