UTG PREVIEW: Eight Reasons Riot Fest Is Your Middle School Dream Come True

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Riot Fest Chicago is everything an alternative music lover of the past 3 decades wants in a festival. It is arguably the most buzzed about, tweeted at, liked and talked about festival of 2013. It has the potential to be legendary. 

Riot Fest Chicago will be a weekend full of unforgettable sets and unrealistic appearances. Here at UTG, we understand this is the festival of 2013. Over the next week and a half, we are going to be bringing you a multiple-part series dissecting the lineup of Riot Fest Chicago and telling you why we think this particular event in 2013 will be the festival everyone will still be talking about when Danzig has their 50th anniversary show. The second part of the series is titled Eight Reasons Riot Fest Is Your Middle School Dream Come True and it gives a little glimpse as to why you would have been begging your mom for tickets to this at 15.


Nothing screams middle school romance more than the chorus of “Ocean Avenue.” A decade ago, when that record hit shelves, I was stunned. A band with a violinist?! I don’t know what more could throw a 13-year-old-wanna-be-pop-punk-expert for a loop. Regardless, Yellowcard are still going strong. Their live show in 2013 is as full of as much energy as it was in 2003 and their music is even better.

Last year’s release, Southern Air, was among the best of 2012 and a mixture of songs old and new is exactly what this crowd will need. – Matthew Leimkuehler (@callinghomematt), News & Review Writer


When I look backwards at my life through music, I can pinpoint two distinct moments that shifted my taste towards punk. Though I can’t remember the chronological order of the two events, both shoved me into a golden revolution of music research that changed the way I looked at everything. One of those two forks in my journey was skanking to “Ruby Soho” on our living room couch as it blasted from our modest, 12-inch television. From 13 years old on, my choice of music, books and culture surrounded the punk scene. I learned about The Clash, Sex Pistols and Joan Jett, finding I related to the angst and working class vibe of the entire movement. Growing up poor and angry in a single-parent, small, industrial town in the Midwest, nothing had ever connected with me the way that punk did.

As odd as it seems now, MTV influenced my life in a way kids now could hardly imagine through their support of Rancid. Had I never seen that video, it is truly possible that I wouldn’t be in the life position that I’m in now.

Thankfully, I can say that Rancid changed my life.

Side note: The second was purchasing my first ever album with my own money. That album was Dookie. – Josh Hammond (@endless_rambles)Review Writer


It is of the utmost vitality to see Reggie and the Full Effect. Fronted by James Dewees of The Get Up Kids, Reggie is back in full force and ready for round two at world takeover. This was by far the strangest music I listened to in my later middle school years, it is as though I was a hipster before being a hipster was…hip? Who knows. If we are lucky, we will get to see a glimpse of the high-energy that Reggie delivered during the first run at world takeover while hearing some new songs at the same time.

A win-win. – Matthew Leimkuehler (@callinghomematt)News & Review Writer


My first glimpse of Danzig came in the form of a MTV Buzz Bin CD that also featured Counting Crows, Gin Blossoms and Radiohead. Though not the most punk vehicle in the world, I listened to this CD at least 10,000 times in my lifetime. The closing track, “Mother,” stuck with me like most of the tracks on the disc had.

Down the line as I grew older and dove into research, the knowledge of the horror punk band The Misfits would fall into my lap. I fell in love instantly. Crunchy, crude and stripped down to its simplest elements, I loved the bellow of Danzig’s vocals. Larger than intended and booming through speakers, there was nothing about the band’s ballsy frontman, or anyone who wanted to be him for that matter, who I would want to meet in a streetfight.

However, regardless of his spooky demeanor and professional wrestler wardrobe, Glenn Danzig, as his friends know him, has a softer side. Rumor has it that outside of a show in Lawrence, Kansas, Danzig had his crew and team adjust their plans to remove a kitten from beneath the outfit’s tour bus. Upon the retrieval of said kitten, Danzig flew to LA with cat in tow to place it in his home. He then caught a flight back to the following night’s gig.

You can ask him yourself if you see him at Riot Fest. – Josh Hammond (@endless_rambles)Review Writer


The year is 2002 and the latest edition of the Madden football video game series is the only thing in the world that matters. The lead song for the game- Andrew W. K.’s “Party Hard.” It was arguably the most memorable sports game song appearance ever. This song has been the anthem of an entire nation for the last 12 years and will hold true for Riot Fest.

I didn’t even know what it meant to party hard in 2002, so I guess next weekend will give me an opportunity to make up for lost time. – Matthew Leimkuehler (@callinghomematt)News & Review Writer


Someday, I’d like to thank John Cusack for introducing me to the Violent Femmes through the brilliant soundtrack for Grosse Point Blank. I connected instantly with the band’s quirky sound and outside the box approach to songwriting. That attraction to unconventional rock stuck with me through the years as I fell into patterns of listening to Gogol Bordello, Man Man, Modest Mouse, and Xiu Xiu.

However somehow over the years, Violent Femmes have managed to escape my list of bands I had check off my “seen” list. Nothing in the world will keep me from marking that x.

It is easily my most exciting aspect of this years Riot Fest. – Josh Hammond (@endless_rambles), Review Writer



Ahhh, Taking Back Sunday. A foundational reason Riot Fest Chicago is so appealing. For over a decade, Adam Lazzara and co. have been mesmerizing crowds with mic-swinging anthems that still hold powerful so many years into rotation. Taking Back Sunday is one of those bands that truly have gotten better with age. Songs that you felt hit you so hard at 13, hit you even harder at 22, which is the magic behind this band. Lines like, “Best friends means I pulled the trigger…” resonate with you through situations at any age.

When that chorus of “Cute Without The E” kicks in, embrace it. There are some moments in music that are simply too great for words. – Matthew Leimkuehler (@callinghomematt), News & Review Writer


To say that seeing The Pixies will be one of the best moments in my career might not be totally true. Having seen Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and The Boss, it is probably more correct for me to say that I want to see The Pixies with more of a desire than anything I have ever wanted in my musical life.

There is something truly special about that era of music. The Pixies, Pavement and Teenage Fanclub have always stood the test of time, transitioning from my Walkman to my iPod and from mixtapes to spotify playlists to get me through the workday.

In my humble opinion, no reunion in 2013 is more important than that of The Pixies (you hear that Fall Out Boy?) and no band playing the festival holds a more important place on the stage. Riot Fest is Frank Black’s world and everyone else is just allowed to be in it. – Josh Hammond (@endless_rambles), Review Writer 


(Keep in mind, Josh Hammond is over 30)

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