FESTIVAL PREVIEW: The 10 Must-See Acts At Riot Fest Chicago

Riot Fest 2014

Most decisions in life are hard. Where should I go to college? What should I eat for lunch? What career path should I take? How should I cut my hair? Do I like Dumbledore or Gandalf better? Deep dish or thin crust?

The most pressing question bothering us over the last week is which Riot Fest Chicago acts can we absolutely not miss. By absolutely, we mean getting there if it means passing up every other band on the bill — even if, by some miracle, the festival curators talk Led Zeppelin into finally not being a bunch of babies and playing more shows together. Yes, our must-see acts are that freakin’ important.

Click the “Read More” button to check out what acts we think are the do or die must-sees of the upcoming weekend. Don’t agree? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


One of the most unique and long-standing acts in current rock ‘n’ culture is Clutch. This band is like rock on the water that is change in music. You know you’re going to get a loud, rowdy, guitar-driven party of a set with this band. Playing early in the evening on Friday, it very well could be the best way to kick your weekend off. — Matthew Leimkuehler, Music Editor & Feature Writer


I’ve admittedly not seen GWAR since 2007 but its a show I’ve never forgotten. Whether you’re familiar with what the band’s all about or not, GWAR’s live set is one that you have to see at some point in your life. It’s more than just your typical concert; it’s a full-on performance and experience. From their impressive costumes and personas to their onstage skits involving killings and all things gory and wet, you don’t even have to necessarily enjoy their sound to have a blast during their show. At this point, the band is still in the early stages of carrying on after the tragic death of their frontman Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie), so it’ll be interesting to see how they’ve adapted to the change.

Warning to the uninitiated: if you’re close to the stage, bring a poncho. — Brian Lion, Co-owner / Editor / Head Beard In Charge

The Get Up Kids

This band is like an apparition. The chances to see it these days are few and far between, and it comes and goes so fast. The Get Up Kids performing all of Something to Write Home About in full is going to be nothing but an exciting nostalgic roller coaster of emotions that is unbeatable. — Corey From, News & Review Writer

Modern Baseball

I’ve personally gone to multiple Modern Baseball shows in the past and they seriously never get old. Their crowd gets bigger and rowdier each time I’ve seen them, and this progression is probably not breaking any time soon. Nothing gets me more ecstatic than yelling the words back to them as they visibly pour every ounce of delight into every word. Besides, how many drummers do you see close out their band’s set by taking on the role of lead vocals? — Dana Reandelar, News & Review Writer

RX Bandits

I believe at this point, I’ve seen RX Bandits live more than any other band. The first time I saw them in 2005, I had only previously heard one song by them; one that was included on a Drive-Thru Records comp. From the moment the band took the stage, I was entranced, and I was dancing with strangers. It was a blast. But more than just having a good time, I felt connected to what they were emitting onstage. That feeling has grown with each and every show since. Even two members down from my inaugural RXB show, the four remaining members absolutely dominate any given stage with talents virtually unrivaled in today’s music scene. The grooves, the energy, the passion, the way the band carry themselves and seem genuinely thrilled to be playing for masses of music lovers…it all makes for such an incredible show. Don’t miss out. I promise you it’s worth it. — Brian Lion, Co-owner / Editor / Head Beard In Charge

Wu-Tang Clan

If you don’t see Wu-Tang ya better protect ya neck. Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothin’ to fuck wit’. — Nick Karp, Staff Photographer


Slayer is metal. There isn’t a more legendary act performing over the entire weekend, and yes that includes The Cure and Cheap Trick. This band helped coin an entire genre and musical movement and should be watched with heads ready to bang. — Matthew Leimkuehler, Music Editor & Feature Writer

Die Antwoord

I just don’t even know about this South African duo. Arguably the most obscure act to be slated for this year’s mainstage, Die Antwoord is going to drop jaws and turn heads. Have you seen this group’s music videos? If there’s such maniacal mischief behind a camera, the options of things to happen on stage are virtually limitless. — Matthew Leimkuehler, Music Editor & Feature Writer

Saosin with Anthony Green

This one is self-explanatory. It’s something for any fan that was around for Translating The Name and has wished to hear it live. Not only that, Riot Fest Chicago is one of the few places it’s happening. Who knows if Saosin will ever write or tour again, let alone with original vocalist Anthony Green. Watch them perform those brutal five songs and get crazy. — Corey From, News & Review Writer

New Found Glory

One of the forefathers of the aggressive side of the pop-punk scene, New Found Glory is locked and loaded for an explosive set on Sunday night. Shaking off the recent controversy related to the departure of longtime guitarist Steve Klein, the band’s new record, Resurrection, appears to be one of the most promising releases of the fall. — Matthew Leimkuehler, Music Editor & Feature Writer

Check out the full Riot Fest Chicago lineup here.

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