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ATP! Live Review: Riot Fest 2013 (Chicago)

Now that we’re finally back to normality (and for one of our writers, back in the United Kingdom, if that can be considered as such?), we’ve finally recovered enough to share what can only be described as the most incredible musical offering the festival world has had to offer in years. The lineup for Chicago’s Riot Fest was one so classic, its performances will remain timeless even long after the fields at Humboldt Park have recovered from their 3 days of onslaught, abuse and, of course, memories in the making.

Friday (September 13th)


Although Ocean Avenue Acoustic wasn’t the set list for Yellowcard at Riot Fest, the audience was still enamored by the stage presence and performance that the band is known for. They played a variety of new and old songs – ranging from “Only One” to “Always Summer” – making it the ideal set list to please both new fans and fans that have been around since the beginning. Even though the band had to cut their set short due to time restrictions, Yellowcard is one of those bands that you can see live every day for a month and they will still leave you speechless. They put on yet another flawless performance that proves that Yellowcard is one of those bands you can’t not love.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

For a crowd blended with the curious youth and the dedicated youthful-on-the-inside, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts’ performance managed to command an essence of togetherness rarely seen from acts whose presence may not be seen much in the mainstream anymore. There’s no denying the awesome staying power of not only this woman’s voice, but famous classics such as ‘Cherry Bomb,’ ‘Bad Reputation’ and ‘I Love Rock & Roll,’ which went down a storm even when half of those watching were well on their way to drunkenness. When it comes to rocking out like she used to, Joan Jett may look old, but…. Hell, she doesn’t even look old at all. Not fair. For those who thought they were new to this woman, they seemed pleasantly surprised to discover just how many of her songs they really knew. It just goes to show how much today’s acts have to prove, as these guys demonstrate with an energetic (and timeless) display of exactly how getting into punk rock’s ‘Hall Of Fame’ is done.

Fall Out Boy

What can I say about Fall Out Boy other than WOW. They know that Chicago is where they started and put on the best show possible for their hometown crowd. Sporting FOB merch and ski masks, they opened the final set of the night with “The Phoenix” while the crowd went so insane that they stopped their set multiple times to ask everyone to take a few steps back and help those who had fallen over or gotten injured. Add guest appearances from Naked Raygun’s Jeff Pezzati and the Stanley Cup, and it felt as if Fall Out Boy hadn’t been off the radar for the past four years.

Saturday (September 14th)


Glassjaw have been around long enough to have a pretty damn serious following. Without the need for gimmicks or anything other than the music for that matter, the band got straight to work in ensuring that everyone knew just quite how serious they are about their stuff. Although Daryl Palumbo’s juxtaposed vocals were at times lacking in the power that they have become famed for, offerings like ‘Tip Your Bartender’ and the brilliant ‘Ape Dos Mil’ did not detract the energy from the boisterous crowd, nor dim the appreciation of those who chose to watch whilst sitting basking in the glorious sunshine of the day.


While Blondie is a veteran to the punk-rock industry, their Riot Fest set was slightly disappointing. It may have been the acoustics of the stage or it may have been the actual band but the vocals sounded prerecorded and unlike anything you would expect from their live performance. Debbie Harry came out in a full-on wizard costume and immediately started “One Way or Another” but since the sound was poor the majority of the younger audience left to find other acts to listen to. Sorry Blondie!

Taking Back Sunday

Some of us are stuck firmly somewhere circa 2003-2006, and some of us don’t ever want to grow up, okay? So for us, like many people in their twenties, Taking Back Sunday are an absolute must-see at anything like this. Rather than to say that their music is somehow irrelevant for those a little more modern, TBS have somehow managed to inject their own brand of that little gem of an era (which began over ten years ago…) right up to the present moment. Whilst the members, and perhaps even the music, may have changed somewhat, there was plenty to be nostalgic about as they turned out the awesome now-classics such as ‘A Decade Under The Influence’ and ‘Cute Without The E (Cut From The Team).' An impressive festival set effort.


While this band is the emphasis of punk-rock, Blink-182’s Saturday performance was awesome and disastrous at the same time. The moment they came out for “Feeling This” the crowd rushed the stage and managed to injure a number of people, earning news reports the next day for the number of concertgoers that were admitted into local hospitals. Despite the disastrous crowd, Blink-182 sounded incredible and was the perfect end to day two of Riot Fest.

Sunday (September 15th)

Best Coast

Bethany Cosentino may be new to the punk-rock scene, but boy does this girl have a voice. Sunday’s concertgoers were covered in rain, mud, and grass but that didn’t stop them from checking out this band’s set. Not only does Cosentino have an insane voice but her stage presence is enormous and her presence in the industry is recognized by the likes of Green Day and Drew Barrymore. They may not have been on everybody’s lists to see that weekend, but those that were able to catch Best Coast were not disappointed.

Brand New

If you know Brand New; then you know how seriously just about everybody takes them. Had they pulled out of Riot Fest the way they pulled out of England's Reading and Leeds this year; the band would certainly have provided a suitable explanation for the name of the festival given the inevitable uproar. Which is why it's definitely for the best that not only did they show up; they also gave the best part of an hour to a sea of dedicated fans. With an astoundingly beautiful performance, the voices of the masses could be heard resonating for what must surely be miles, in a set which so gloriously combined the charm and melancholy which the band are now famed for. If any fault was to be had, the slight fixation on 2009's Daisy album might have been it, but this was easily saved by almost heartbreaking renditions of ‘Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t’ and ‘You Won’t Know.’ If this music were a person, we’d have married everything that this band produced by now. Brand New can do no wrong - Fact. (Unless you count the somewhat inevitable yet unfortunate fact that they had to eventually leave the stage.)

All Time Low

Despite the somewhat ambitious scheduling clash with Brand New, the turnout for Baltimore’s favorite pop-rockers was every bit as generous and enthused. Of course, this was in thanks largely to the younger generation, who in spite of the rain, came out in droves to see the band pull out all the stops to ensure their fans had fun. Appearing the day after the forefathers of the genre, Blink-182, the 4 piece had a whole lot to live up to. Whilst they may have a long way to go to establish the respect of the aforementioned stalwarts; their Sunday evening performance did not disappoint. Unsurprisingly, an on-stage appearance from Pierce The Veil’s Vic Fuentes for a rendition of their collaboration of new song ‘A Love Like War’ went down a treat, but perhaps the highlight of the night was stolen by closing number ‘Dear Maria, Count Me In’ – which had just about everyone singing along.

Pierce The Veil

For an hour long set at Riot Fest, Pierce The Veil was one of the only bands to go all out on their set design. When the crowd wasn’t in awe of the set, they were amazed by the live performance put on by the San Diego-based group. They are the band that has made an impact on so many lives of this younger punk-rock generation and it was apparent on the faces of everyone in the audience. Even with the audience members that were there for the sole reason to boo the band, that didn’t stop anyone from enjoying the performance and gaining some respect for the band.

- Words by Gina Catalano and Claire Louise Sheridan

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