Riot Fest: My Chemical Romance Usher in the Return of Punk Rock

Riot Fest is always a bit of a shit show. It’s where Warped Tour kids went once they began contributing to a 401(k). But there is a draining magic to the event that draws us back year after year to brave the heat and feet for 10 straight hours a day. But this time, just this once, it felt different.

This year’s first day was held beneath clear but milky skies, the sun slowly peeling away sunscreen and shade to provide attendees with painful and splotchy souvenirs they’ll carry with them all weekend. While everyone’s experience at a festival is different, I spent Riot’s opening day shepherding a group of people who have never attended the Fest before from stage to stage, making it even more impossible to review the event as a whole. 

Instead, I have snapshots of the day burned into my brain. Anthony Green ditching his mic and launching himself into the crowd during L.S. Dune’s intense debut show. Singer Stubhy Pandav of Lucky Boys Confusion wiping away tears of joy as the crowd that showed up early to see them shouted “LBC! LBC!” after telling them about his recent struggles with muscular sclerosis. Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years brimming with an earned confidence as he introduced “Low Tides”, a song from their upcoming album The Hum Goes on Forever, before announcing that he was dying from the heat of the blue jumpsuit he wore on stage. 

Pioneer skate punks Lagwagon slaying the stage, as well as a man accidentally trebucheting a tub of cheese fries onto the grass after throwing his hands up in excitement to yell “Tony Hawk!” when they played “May 16”. A girl in a large hoop skirt running across the open field of grass to see Anberlin, only for her foot to catch in her clothing and faceplant into the dirt. A girl sitting alone on a swing hanging from a poorly lit plastic arch, watching Portugal. The Man with a gentle kick of her feet. A man in full face paint of the classic Misfits skull logo giving a resigned “Fuuuuuuuck,” when he realized that they were actually playing on Saturday, and he was watching Friday’s punk legends The Descendents. 

The question everyone seemed to be wanting to ask, though, was how My Chemical Romance would play, considering they were booked on the stage tucked furthest away in the corner, with the worst view and nowhere for the monolithic crowds to go. Seemingly every third attendee wore a different MCR shirt, some even in the blue leather Danger Days jacket. People flowed through the ever-swelling crowds in fluid rivers to a single stage. Considering MCR’s headline gig (and reunion tour) had been postponed a full year, it was hard not to consider their set something entirely different from the rest of Riot Fest.

A close friend of mine said that seeing David Bowie’s 1979 performance on Saturday Night Live was an event. The 80’s were just days away, but Bowie’s spellbinding performance in the last moments of the decade was Bowie himself allowing the 70’s to end and announcing, “Okay. Now the 1980’s may begin. Now, you may have new wave.” Forty years later, he swears that seeing that single moment of television was a monumental moment of his life.

Bands like Descendents and Lagwagon taught us what punk rock was. Alkaline Trio and Taking Back Sunday showed us what a new generation of punk rock could be. The Wonder Years and Anberlin redefined punk rock entirely. My Chemical Romance somehow managed to naturally encapsulate all of those sensations into one tidal wave of energy that even people who don’t pay attention to the genre can still sing along to. 

My Chemical Romance at an offensive distance from the stage

As the lights flared, Gerard Way stepped on stage in dark glasses, a shawl, and a dark coat over a dress like a vampiric babooshka. The image stood haunting, iconic even, as the opening notes of new single “The Foundations of Decay” swept over the fields. The image of My Chemical Romance on stage together bore a palpable energy for anyone standing below that seemed to say that punk rock itself was re-energized. 

My Chemical Romance said, “Okay. Punk rock is back.”

Was it the best show I have ever seen? Simply put, no. Gerard’s vocals seemed stunted at times, pronouncing each syllable so startlingly disjointed from one another at times, and lacking some of the trademark swagger of his elegantly disheveled vocals. Despite that, the drama he brought to the stage was a power on par with a relaxed David Bowie. Between every song, Way took the time to check on the sea of people mushing themselves together like an ocean wave to be as close to the stage as possible.

Frank Iero and Mikey Way moved little on stage, but the sound they expelled was a force of nature. Hearing those guitars again was an event. Whether MCR makes new music or not, just knowing the band is a ruling force of music again feels like it is singlehandedly ushering in a new era of the genre.

The next night, I was able to see one of the Drive-Thru Records bands I thought were gone forever, Midtown, reunited and preparing to tour with MCR. Their sloppy but thrilling set was cobbled together allegedly at the request of Mikey Way himself.

The Academy Is…, performing together for the first time in seven years, headlined the Concord Music Hall with a passion and fury that had been missing from pop punk for over a decade. William Beckett may in fact be the best frontman in all of pop punk, in utter control of the stage and sounding better with age.

Pop punk royalty Yellowcard, playing Riot during the day Saturday, were reunited after years apart.

L.S. Dunes, courtesy of Alice Wiltgen

Speaking of Frank Iero, the other big takeaway from Riot was the debut of L.S. Dunes. Composed of Iero, Anthony Green, and musicians from Coheed & Cambria and Thursday, the new supergroup is one of the few times such a team-up seems to not just succeed, but astound. Bringing together the best parts of post-punk hardcore, L.S. Dunes threaten to compete with the best the scene has to offer, shining as a particular high point in Anthony Green’s already astounding discography, comprised of some of the best and most influential bands in the genre. 

As previously stated, Riot Fest was a shit show. There was no shade. One of the biggest bands in the world performed in a corner. The line for artist merch was an hour and a half long. Beer was a felonious $14. But it’s our shit show. Its very existence is a symbol of the thriving perseverance of punk through ages and eras, as well as a beacon of inspiration for bands on the rise. I can’t wait to be told “Holy shit, the sunburn on the back of your neck is impossible,” again next year.

Punk rock is back. Now, we may see it evolve.

by Kyle Schultz

Kyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and almost spent $7 on a water bottle. There was a sign saying they were $4 in the distance, but he was first in line at a cart and just wanted to look cool in front of his friends. What a fool he is indeed.

Review: Jake Bugg – On My One


Jake Bugg has been a growing name in the musical world for quite some time. He grabbed the mainstream’s attention for writing aggressive, modernized folk with the fierce and biting lyricism of early Oasis. When his second LP, Shangri-La released, his shift to a full band delving deep into Brit pop was a welcome change that still managed to highlight his songwriting in the best ways.

On My One then, is a complicated matter. It is a hybrid that gives a grounded focus to Bugg’s signature acoustic ballads while throwing in some rock songs to give a taste for both worlds. However, what should be a well-rounded sound instead feels disjointed and crammed with several ‘filler’ tracks to justify the release as an LP.

All things considered, Bugg’s sound is remarkably similar to what gave him a rise to fame to begin with. His voice fits the sound with a youthful arrogance that occasionally hits the bleating notes of a young Bob Dylan. The acoustic tracks are a strong mix of crooning ballads and strong pop sensibilities. What falls flat are the electric tracks. Rather than transitioning his sound through an electric guitar, he takes the opportunity to experiment with genre and electronics. While I am never opposed to artists taking chances, it does not pan out for On My One.

Where the acoustic songs shine in atmosphere and story and emphasize the loneliness felt in the album’s name (“Love, Hope, and Misery”), the electric tracks devolve into wanna-be dance songs with repetitive lyrics that feel alien to anything in Bugg’s discography.

“One My One” is a dark, bluesy opener that aims to set the tone, describing being on the road touring for three years as an artist and feeling stripped of a sense of home, much less an abandonment by God. It feels like a thesis statement and carves a deep wound immediately.

The very next song, “Gimme the Love” barges in with a disco-esque beat and guitars ripping at the dance floor. Jake sings, “Better put your sticker on cause you gonna break / Late nights make you walk sideways / And now we’re gonna party my way / It’s only gonna be the same” before shouting “Just gimme the Love” eight times in a row per chorus. In a way, it removes most everything that made me pay attention to Jake Bugg in the first place, and replaces it with what feels like an above-average song that would play in the background of a dance club.

Immediately following that, is “Love, Hope, and Misery”, a song among the best of Jake Bugg’s career. An acoustic ballad highlighted with doo-wop guitar strains, brass instruments and swelling violins, the song is emotional and marks a return to the loneliness of the album title. Bugg’s voice carried the weight of frustrated sincerity as he sings, “They say it comes in threes; love hope and misery / And the first two have gone and tell me if I’m wrong / I hope that I am and you don’t hate me / Don’t be mad, I’m just a man / And I know, and I know, and I know, and I know, and I know, and I know that you must hate me”.

“Livin’ Up Country” is an experiment that pays off. It is a country-styled song that seemingly appears in the middle of the album, much in the same way Ace Enders would plant one in the midst of The Early November’s albums. It gives a different mood than the rest of the record, while pulling off the idea of being hopeful while stumbling through a series of failures. “And if I could understand, my body would get some rest at last / Would I fight back to take a stand?/ I’d never look back, never have to look out for the man”.

But for all of the hits, it is the misses that ruin the mood. “Ain’t No Rhyme” is a paltry attempt at a Beastie Boys-esque rap song that would have felt cheesy in 1991. It could be a matter of taste, but with it’s lame drum beat and cheap guitar riffs, the track feels like the epitome of ‘filler.’

Jake Bugg is an incredibly talented musician. He’s one of the under-headliners for Riot Fest, marked on the same line as established bands like the Deftones, Bad Religion and Underoath as a draw. On My One is an album that all bands make, a foray into experimentation and tweaking sound to ensure that they don’t write the same songs year after year. However, the trials here seem forced, wedged between great songs like a bad game of Marco Polo. Not that most of them are even bad songs, it seems like there would have been a better way to implement them into the record. While there is much to like about On My One, it is a divisive hodge-podge from a musician who has shown several times that he is capable of so much more.


by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and will be seeing Mr. Bugg at Riot Fest. Honestly, I’ve been waiting for that for almost three years now. 😀

Mest and Showoff: Hometown Heroes


Riot Fest is the gift that keeps on giving. Each year, the festival boasts one of the best line ups in the country, attracting an older, matured audience that has appreciated their music for years. All the more reason then, to be excited for Mest’s recent show in Chicago at the Concord Theater, sponsored by Riot Fest. Five solid hours of punk rock punctuated by a nearly sold out house supporting Chicago-based and local bands. If there was ever a way to feel the love of the genre, it’s seeing homegrown bands receive the groundswell support of the very city they helped establish the sound for.

I’ve worried for quite some time whether Riot Fest would return to Chicago at all, given the bullshit hassles the festival has had to go through over the last couple of years finding a park to house them for the weekend. How wonderful then, to see the festival sponsoring one-off shows throughout the year as a special treat to keep anticipation high. Much like the main festival, the crowd was filled with a range of ages, from teenage punks, to those in their mid-thirties reliving their youth in the circle pit.

Although all the bands playing were local punk bands, the three stand outs where the last half of the show- Much the Same, Showoff, and Mest. All three bands became success stories in their own way, paving the sound of Chicago punk in the late 90’s and early 2000’s before eventually breaking up sometime near 2005 (coincidence? I think not!). Ten years later, the bands had reformed in their own ways, much to the delight of the city’s thankful fans, who came out on their weekends off of work to see the music they worshiped in their youth.

I’ve made a big deal about Lucky Boys Confusion being the sound of Chicago, but the fact is that any of these bands could have held that title, and depending on who you/ ask, they do. It’s an odd thing to see a show where each band is just as loved as the one before it, all the while the crowd becomes more and more excited just to see any of them play one more time.

Much the Same was the first band to cause a pit to form. I’m fairly unfamiliar with their music, unfortunately, but their brand of high intensity punk shook the room. The band’s stage presence was quiet, maintaining minimal movement while letting the music speak for itself. The more energetic in the crowd made their way deep into the crowd to jump and use up their energy. It felt like a classic punk show, in that there was genuine love for the music regardless of the scene. Maybe it was age, but the band stood firm for the most part, looking out over the crowd calmly over churning guitar chords and the rampant drumming.

Showoff took the stage second to last to roaring applause. Going back to listen to bands that made it big in the late 90’s or early 2000’s, it can sometimes be hard to see why the band made it big when they did. Seeing them live, it entirely made sense before the end of the first song. A smooth mix of pop punk, skate punk and ska, Showoff blasted away to the sound of the entire audience reciting every lyric back to them.

They’ve had ample time to learn; Showoff just released their second album after 15 years. Their fans are a loyal bunch, dancing to “Ralphie” and “Bully” the way they did when they were kids. “Falling Star”, the band’s biggest hit, was a definite highlight of the evening.

Showoff’s appeal is how easily they sway through genre. What can be a common pop punk song can just as soon become a ska fantasy or hard rock. Vocalist Chris Envy peppered in rap elements amongst his singing, perhaps the only feature to remind you that the songs were written in 2000. “The Anti-Song”, one of the fastest songs on their Self-Titled album, closed off the set, sending the crowd into a frenzy before walking off.


Mest headlined the evening, shredding the night away with classic pop punk. A good portion of their set came from their Self-Titled album, as “Until I Met You” and “Jaded (These Years)” met the audience to deafening noise. The band commanded the stage, raging through hometown classics. Lead vocalist Tony Lovato crawled onto a sea of outspread arms, singing while standing on platforms of hands.

Being unfamiliar with Mest for most of my life, I enjoyed the show as another pop punk concert. The people near me though, jumped to each song as though it were their favorite. One man, beer in hand, jumped from group to group, encouraging everyone he saw to dance while shouting, “I love Mest!” while couple of obnoxious fans kept calling for an early hit, “What’s the Dillio?” at every opportunity  between songs (this request thankfully never became fulfilled). Closing out the night was “Rooftops”, a song reflecting on the good times and listening to punk rock.

One of the highlights of pop punk is that it finds you in the formative years, and although there is a drop off with age, the songs you grow up with retain their rebellion and youth for as long as you’re alive to hear them. Mest’s show was a tsunami of nostalgia for the kids who grew up on Chicago’s chugging punk rock, and the basis for which countless bands based themselves on.

Seeing a concert hall packed from the outset, and not just to see the headliner, is something that rarely seems to happen, much less followed by the entire room falling in love with their rebellious spirit again. It’s the perfect spirit to be honed in on by Riot Fest, and the perfect bands to represent Chicago as a city.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and can’t get the taste of pita out of his mouth.


The Ground Beneath Our Feet: Riot Fest 2015 – Day 2


Riot Fest is an exhausting weekend. Sticking with what has become a yearly tradition, Day 2 of the festival opened after a full day and night of rain and cool temperatures the day before. Thankfully, Saturday’s weather was gorgeous save for a few threatening clouds, but the rain had left its mark, and it would be felt by dozens before the night was done.

One of the trademarks of Riot Fest is how quickly the earth turns to mud once it rains. Vans shoe after Vans shoe smashes the soft grass into the chunky clay and it tends to become a mess. Everyone at the festival would experience it, but for some, it would become a nightmare.

Let’s jump back though, just a bit, to about midday, when Millencolin blazed away to a large crowd. The band looked eerily relaxed on stage, pacing gently and letting the crowd do the majority of the energetic work for them; we were happy to oblige. It was a quick startup to the day ahead.

The Movielife took the stage early on in their full 2002 glory. Vinnie Caruana paced the stage, screaming as the band blazed through their songs to a large crowd, considering the group has been mostly inactive and haven’t released any material in the last 13 years. Regardless, they carried the torch high for the generation that really launched the pop punk revolution from Drive Thru Records back in the day.

About midday, The Dead Milkmen came up, and basically split the crowd in half. On the one side, there were hardcore fans, singing along to every word, losing their shit and constantly reminding anyone who stood near them that seeing this band live was “something magical that doesn’t happen very often.” The other half couldn’t have given less of a fuck and waited it out or went to see who else was playing.

Midday, several current bands utterly slayed everything in their path. Mayday Parade took the stage by storm, delivering one of the most energetic sets I’ve ever seen, leading the crowd in choruses so strong, some people I brought with me who had never heard of the band before were humming the songs by the end. One of the more memorable moments came when the band played a new song, “One of Them Will Destroy the Other”, allegedly for the first time live. The real surprise though, was when Dan Lambton of Real Friends stormed the stage midway through and sang double vocals with vocalist Derek Sanders.

The Devil Wears Prada are destroyers of all things living and pilot the stage like they were trying to destroy Alderaan. Do you really need to know anything else? It’s an amazing show they put on, and even in peak daylight, their lightshow is perfect.

Alexisonfire recently reunited to a mad swarm of fans. The band danced around the stage to a frenzied crowd, wondering when their next chance would be to see the group live again. Although it didn’t happen at Chicago Riot Fest, a week later, the band would announce their official reunion at Riot Fest Toronto in their native Canada.

That night though, was when the true magic appeared, and for some, pure terror.

Billy Idol headlined his stage to a monstrous crowd. He carried his swagger and demanded the crowd sing along with him. He was truly enigmatic, blasting music across the hills before ending with a massive rendition of “White Wedding” that sent the crowd raging screams as Billy commanded their attention.

Taking Back Sunday helped close off the night with a massive stage show. For being one the smaller stages, they upped the ante from their headlining position the previous year. Even several hundred feet from the stage, fans jumped and sang back. With a massive catalog of older songs and their newer hits, the band blasted the night sky with a huge light show.

Then there was The Academy Is… The instant they stepped on stage, the crowd fell under their spell – the opening lines, “Attention, attention” grabbed the audience completely. Despite the incredible noise the band managed to produce, the crowd sang back almost loud enough to drown them out. Their performance was magnetic, nostalgic and hypnotizing, made all the better with the announcement of the band taking a full tour for the 10th anniversary of Almost Here before ending with one of their most underrated songs, “We’ve Got a Big Mess on Our Hands”.

Finally, System of a Down took full reign of the evening. They headlined Day 2 on the biggest stage, and were the unfortunate victims of the day’s muddied frenzy. I only saw the band from the very back of the crowd, as I am not terribly familiar with their music but wanted to see them perform. Several friends jumped headfirst into the gigantic crowd, hoping for a good view and a place to jump. It was catastrophic.

The crowd in front of the stage became too large, too quick, and the mud beneath their feet basically liquefied. Within the first few songs, all hell broke loose as waves of people fell, with more eager fans trampling them further into the mud. The band was forced to stop their set at least twice for minutes at a time to make sure people could get out, but for those in the crowd, it was utter hell. There are dozens of stories about people thinking they were going to die from suffocating in the mud, of people with a bit of space grabbing girls and smaller people and throwing them into the air to crowd surf them to safety.

Although there were officially only a few injuries, several people passed out, and one of my friends emerged with a muddied boot print across his nose and a glassy-eyed, shell shock look on his face as he just mumbled that “he saw a body, face down in the mud, not breathing,” and how the crowd closed in and started jumping before he could get close enough to pull the stranger out of the mud.

It was unfortunate, but a cost of unfortunate weather, and an enormous swarm of loyal fans willing to wade through hell to see their band. At the very least, there are some unique battle stories to be had.

Riot Fest is my favorite festival. So many generations of musicians and fans make it an event that lacks to pompous and annoying crowds that flock to younger shows. This is an event for everyone, and a generous helping of music for whatever genre or era you’re most in love with. With all of the trouble the festival faced this year in Chicago (forced to move venues, sued by a hospital, the mud, so much mud), I fear that we may not see them here again. But Chicago loves this festival, which has quickly become a yearly staple for those who have attended before. I sincerely hope that the festival survives Chicago’s bullshit to reward those loyal enough to come year after year.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and went to Riot Fest with a man dressed like Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers. He was recognized almost a dozen times and posed for photos, while I stood awkwardly to the side, hoping for the sweet release of beer to take hold.

Wet Shoes, Full Hearts: Riot Fest 2015 – Day 1


In the days leading up to this year’s Riot Fest in Chicago, I kept checking the weather app on my phone. Friday? Rain. Saturday? Rain. I thought maybe the forecast might change and we’d be able to enjoy the festival on dry ground for once. No such luck.

I arrived at Douglas Park early Friday afternoon wearing the black Chucks I bought last year to replace the black Chucks that were ruined in the mud at Riot Fest 2014. Before this year’s festival could even begin, the ground was already sloppy. The good news was that Douglas Park allowed for a much more sensible layout than Humboldt Park. At least if we were going to get covered in mud, we wouldn’t have to walk as far.

For me, the day truly kicked off when Every Time I Die took the Rebel Stage. Last year’s From Parts Unknown was a return to vicious form for the metalcore vets and their set did not disappoint. It’s nearly impossible to take your eyes off of Keith Buckley when he’s commanding the stage with his roar, but the rest of the band can be just as rowdy. The set ended with Jordan Buckley throwing himself through the stacked amps on stage, Kurt Cobain-style. It only seemed appropriate, especially after the band’s performance of Nirvana’s “Tourette’s”.

Against Me! took the Rise Stage immediately after and raged through an energetic set. That the band can still stand after a year of non-stop touring in support of Transgender Dysphoria Blues is nothing short of miraculous. That Laura Jane Grace can take the stage with such energy and emotion is a thing of beauty. The set ended with “I Was a Teenage Anarchist”, but the night continued later as the band played a secret show at Conchord Music Hall.

Although I’ve been listening to Coheed and Cambria on and off since 2003, I had somehow managed to miss the band in concert until Riot Fest. The performance was just as I had imagined it would be, however, with Claudio Sanchez singing in perfect tune from start to finish. I was delighted to hear the band play my three favorite songs of theirs (“A Favor House Atlantic”, “The Camper Velourium III: Al the Killer” and “Blood Red Summer”) all in succession. Clocking in at exactly an hour, the set felt like it passed in a matter of minutes.

The most surprising part of the weekend for me took place that evening as the sun set at the Rock Stage and Faith No More appeared. While I’m not as familiar with their music as I would like to be, my friend was thrilled to see the return of his favorite band. It was a sight to behold as the entire crowd sang along with the incredible Mike Patton, who showed off his vocal range in every way imaginable. The band easily had the most impressively tight set of the weekend, with every note sounding as if it were being played from the record.

Part of what makes Riot Fest so great is seeing newer bands like Real Friends get a chance at the big stage while legends like Faith No More are able to flex their muscles once more in front of giant crowds. I’ve said in the past that Riot Fest is like Warped Tour for grown-ups, but truly, it’s bigger than that. There’s literally something for almost everyone, and it’s impossible to leave disappointed or unimpressed.

At no point was this more obvious to me than when the night closed with Ice Cube at the Rebel Stage. I briefly caught a glimpse of No Doubt before making my way over to watch Cube rock the mic. After four of his solo tracks, he welcomed N.W.A. partners MC Ren and DJ Yella to the stage as the trio performed tracks from their legendary Straight Outta Compton release. By the time the crew launched into “Fuck tha Police”, the crowd collectively lost their minds. It was almost surreal watching the crowd unite for one of our era’s most important songs.

Yes, there is mud. Always. But in exchange for our wet clothes and soaked shoes, we’re given some of the most amazing reunions and performances we could ask for. Our clothes are muddy, our muscles are sore, and our stomachs ache from the disgusting food and copious amounts of alcohol – but our hearts are invariably full.

Read about day 2 here.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

It’s All Dead Podcast Episode: 016 – Riot Fest Preview


Riot Fest takes place this weekend at Douglas Park in Chicago! Kiel Hauck and Kyle Schultz break down their most anticipated sets for each day of the festival and share their mutual love for one of the best music experiences in the country. They also discuss No Closer to Heaven – the latest release from The Wonder Years. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

Who are you excited to see this year at Riot Fest? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

The Academy Is… Will Reunite to Play Riot Fest in Chicago


Talk about unexpected! The Academy Is… will be reuniting to play this year’s Riot Fest in Chicago. The band will be playing their debut album Almost Here in its entirety in honor of the album’s 10th anniversary. Sadly, it would appear that this will also be their farewell performance. You can read a message from the band below:

Hello old friends,
We are pleased to announce that we will be reuniting the band for a our first show in many years. In September, we will come together for Chicago’s RIOT FEST in Douglas Park to perform our beloved debut album “Almost Here” in its entirety. This is a 10 Year Anniversary Show! This is a Reunion Show! This is a Farewell Show! We are extremely excited to take a trip down memory lane — in the city that we call home.
See you soon!
Xo. The Academy Is…

Riot Fest is set to take place September 11-13 at Douglas Park in Chicago. To view the full lineup, go here.

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Most Anticipated of 2015: #8 Riot Fest


Riot Fest is becoming one of the greatest festivals in North America. Where Warped Tour caters to a younger crowd and acts as a proving ground for fledgling bands, Riot Fest is where the veterans come to play. Each year the lineups are massive draws that comb the best talent through multiple generations and genres. It’s one of the few arenas of punk rock where middle age and teenagers meet in mutual respect.

Though the festival attracts mostly modern punk bands, metalcore, dance and hip-hop have been frequent acts. On top of that, the festival also has a maddening ability to reunite bands we thought long gone (The Replacements, Saosin & Anthony Green). The worst part about the festival is that over its three day course, there’s hardly a moment to pause at any one stage because another epic moment is happening just around the corner.

The three day time frame can be overwhelming, as by the third consecutive day even the most conservative of festival goers will be worn out. It’s a daunting task to be in the mud and mosh for an entire weekend, but the lineups are just too damn attractive. For two years in a row I’ve told myself that I would only buy a one day pass, but was unable or unwilling to choose which day would be preferable over the others.

If the bands do start to wear thin, there is always the swarm of carnival rides to steal your attention. Haunted houses, tilt-a-whirls and wrestling rings dot the landscape between merch tables and an army of food stands.

The bands for 2015 haven’t been announced yet, but the presale holiday tickets for Chicago are already completely sold out. In it’s 11th year, Riot Fest has already proven itself capable of attracting the attention of people of all ages and returning with an over the top lineup each day. See you at Humboldt Park.

For any updates for this year’s festivals, check out Riot Fest’s website.

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and has lost two pairs of chucks in the icy mud of Rito Fest. He watched Weezer play the Blue Album from a tree last year and danced in NFG’s circle pit when he should have been journalisting.

The Past is Present: Riot Fest 2014 – Day 2


Believe it or not, this year marks the 10th anniversary for Riot Fest, Chicago’s own punk rock music festival and carnival. While locals can likely recount the event in its early days, only in recent years has the festival become a full-blown, internationally respected gathering. The 2014 lineup was one for the ages, honoring both past and present movers and shakers in the punk scene and far, far beyond.

Saturday was marked by big names that spanned multiple genres: Indie rock (The National, The Flaming Lips, Metric), hip hop (Wu Tang Clan, Die Antwoord), punk (Samhain, Descendants), rock (Taking Back Sunday, The Used, Dashboard Confessional), and much more.

If you had difficulty putting together your personal schedule, you weren’t the only one. The good news is that no matter where you found yourself, it was nearly impossible to feel disappointed.

One of the things that has made Riot Fest so noteworthy of late is its ability to showcase bands that are reuniting at the event, saying goodbye, or paying homage to their past. At this year’s festival, 10 major bands played classic albums from front to back, adding even further motivation to attend (as if you needed it).

Looking at the massive crowd, it’s easy to tell that this method of attraction is working. Riot Fest feels like Warped Tour grown up, drawing in thousands of former punk rock youths now turned adult, feigning for a chance to see their favorite band one last time. It’s hard to remember an event becoming this relevant by celebrating the past.

Personally, my day was awash in nostalgia. My main reason for attendance was to say goodbye to one of my favorite bands – Saosin. The group recently reunited with original lead vocalist Anthony Green after being dormant for over four years. The resulting one-off shows have appeared to come to an end with their Riot Fest appearance.

Even with their set landing in the middle of the afternoon, Saosin still drew a large crowd of devoted fans who appeared both excited and anxious about what appears to be an impending end. Green appropriately addressed the crowd upon taking the stage by stating, “Hi, we’re Saosin from ten years ago” before launching into “Lost Symphonies”.

These sorts of nods to the past abound throughout the day. Dashboard Confessional took the stage on Saturday for only the fourth time in the past four years as Chris Carrabba’s new project, Twin Forks, has taken the lead. Nevertheless, Carrabba looked elated as the band performed fan favorites from Swiss Army Romance and The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most with every crowd member singing the words.

If that last sentence sounds familiar, it’s probably because we’ve all lived it before. There’s something about Riot Fest that causes these performances to seemingly live outside of the norm – a time capsule that allows you to emotionally transport back to youthful excitement.

That’s not to say that this isn’t good music in the present. Far from it. In fact, Say Anything sounds at their best during their set when playing tracks from their latest album, Hebrews, even if they still rope you in with classic cuts from …Is a Real Boy. The Used show off ferocious new songs from Imaginary Enemy, but still bring the house down with “A Box Full of Sharp Objects”.

Finishing off the day at the Rock Stage is Taking Back Sunday, drawing one of the festival’s largest crowds of the day. A veteran band with a large following built during their early days, they waste no time in breaking out “Cute Without the E (Cut From the Team)” before moving on to newer songs from Happiness Is and older classics. It’s not a trip down memory lane for the crowd – it’s the experience of a band with a now monstrously strong front-to-back catalogue.

Lead vocalist Adam Lazzara may no longer be a spring chicken, but he flashes glimpses of youthful exuberance, highlighted by his signature mic swinging and capped by his climbing of the stage scaffolding during the band’s final song.

Lazzara isn’t alone in his impassioned performance. Carrabba, Green, Bert McCracken, Max Bemis – they all shared a fire on Saturday, looking and sounding as sharp as ever. Call it an anomaly if you will, but there’s something about the friendly confines of Humboldt Park that seem to bring out the best in the bands we’ve loved for the past decade.

Rock and roll is a young man’s game, but if this year’s Riot Fest proves anything, it’s that punk’s current, and even past, generations aren’t quite ready to hand off the baton just yet. Judging from the crowd response, it won’t be any time soon, either.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.