All words and photos: Emily Sisson
Joey Valence & Brae were here playing lollapaloza earlier this year. Little known fact – Chicago’s Lollapalooza was the duo’s first time performing a festival show, now back in Chicago after months of festival gigs all over the US and UK; they were ready to “Crank It Up” with the band Riot Fest. That day, fans and audience members heard a few songs that have yet to be released by the duo, including “Street Pizza”, “Club Sandwich”, and “Fuck Me, Fuck You”. Joey Valence and Brea have mostly released new-age rap that resembles a 90s aesthetic sprinkled with pop culture references from the 2000s and 2020s. “Fuck Me, Fuck You” presents fans with a taste of punk style from the guy, who only seems suitable for the Riot Fest scene. “Wish we had sponsors..” Brea says “Scooter Heelys or Razor, hit us”. Both artists really have a lot to offer the music scene in the years to come, as evidenced by their varied tastes in musical interests and the very calculated details of their projects. Joey Valence and Brae are great at livening up the crowd and I could tell the audience members were saving energy for the band to play “Start A Fight”. “Wow yeah! Come on, let’s start a fight!” an audience member shouted at the end of the song “Hooligang”. The band has been able to play almost every song they have released so far but this one in particular. However, since the song “Start A Fight” was surely anticipated, the stage production informed them that their time was up and their set had to be finished. “They’re cutting us off,” Joey Valence said “I’m so sorry” I sat down with the guys after the show to ask them about their future in music and how they got to where they are today today. An in-depth article and an exclusive interview with the band will be available soon.
Coolio will never be forgotten. This performance proved to all of us that some legends never lose their mojo. Although it was added late to the lineup, fans and attendees alike were thrilled. Sadly, as many know, less than 2 weeks after his performance at Riot Fest, rapper Coolio was pronounced dead at a friend’s house in Los Angeles on September 28th. Visitors who attended the Coolio show at Riot Fest had the chance to witness one of the rapper’s final performances. I will regret for a long time to have captured and photographed only the first 3 songs of the set. The “Fantastic Voyage” performance had us jostling and grinding in a cathartic state. Coolio, who was an incredible rapper, was also his own best hype man. The show consisted of numerous saxophone solos and invitations to “put your hands up”. Everyone around the stage was surely there, anticipating a particular song. Once “Gangsters’ Paradise” started, the crowd erupted in a roar. “Can you make a little more noise? Come on Chicago, a little louder!! »
Played one of the smaller scenes on the grounds at Riot Fest, but worked it for all it was worth. Singer Cameron Boyer, during his performances, turns out to be extremely routine and unbalanced. The band was great fun to watch play, to say the least. One of the first songs played was one of their biggest hits “I’m Not Okay”. You can’t help but switch to the song, the opening line “I can be a handful, that’s why you have two hands” is not only cheeky but topped with an overly catchy beat. The band performed an array of songs from multiple albums, from 2018’s “Kids In The Night” to their latest 2021 album “Pillows & Therapy.” The performance of “Alone Again” clearly a crowd favorite, drew in a few crowd surfers who wanted to not only get close to the action, but maybe catch a high five or even just a smile from Cameron. Those who did won’t soon forget and I had hoped I wouldn’t either. Once the show was over, I immediately knew I wanted to go back and relive the performance. If you missed their set and want to see what it looked like on video, you’re out of luck. I tried to find a youtube clip of one of the songs performed at the riot fest show, but to no avail. Maybe one day someone will come, but until then, there’s always next year.
Gave us a show we couldn’t help but love. From the moment singer Lyndsey Gunnulfsen took the stage, the audience latched onto every word sung by her angelic voice. Pvris is known for his indie rock and psychedelic sound, but also for evolving the alternative scene by dipping his toes into experimental electric beats and synthesized sounds. This show was not only a testament to the singer’s incredible vocal range and dynamics, but also the band’s ability to craft and perform fan favorites from each album. In August 2022, they were featured on a track from Bad Suns’ album “Apocalypse Whenever”, a song called “Maybe You Saved Me”, a pop and catchy song about love and trust. The group’s performance “You and I” not only brought tears to the eyes of the audience members, but also invited them to dance, rejoice and release their emotional energy. Lyndsey paced back and forth as she performed with and without her guitar, making small jokes with audience members. His voice was so powerful and serenaded to my ears, I couldn’t help but let go of all my worries and smile. They finished with the song “use me”, surely leaving the crowd wanting more.
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take the stage at about the hottest time of the day. Although my exhaustion was high, I couldn’t wait to see the set. Like many others, the song ‘The middle’ was one of my favorites to listen to while walking through the halls of my college. The band continues to have a loyal fanbase and continues to tour frequently, even holding a spot on the lineup of the future iconic When We Were Young music festival in Las Vegas. I had never seen their show before, but was all too ready to join the sea of other longtime fans and new viewers. The band opened with the song ‘features’ and just minutes after braving the dazzling sun, the band broke into a profuse sweat just as noticeable as the crowd. In the 2019 release of their latest album, “Surviving” singer James Adkins shared that “‘Surviving’ feels like an album that makes up for lost time” and “builds a new foundation from the ground up.” Surprisingly, we haven’t heard any songs from this most recent album. We did however hear the song ‘Something Loud’ the band’s most recent single. Adkins jumped and wandered onstage showing off his model guitar, a crimson red fender telecaster. Their well-balanced set ended with the song ‘sweetness’ followed by their number one hit ‘The Middle’.
Released two singles in 2022, both featuring other artists. The song “Box in a Heart” was released in September and features artist RENforshort, a Canadian singer-songwriter. The other single released this year “Loved You A Little” features both Taking Back Sunday and Charlotte Sands, two other artists from this year’s Riot Fest lineup. When the song “Loved You A Little” was performed, the band invited Charlotte Sands to join the stage. The crowd, ecstatic and excited as ever, welcomed her with open arms and admiration. Charlotte Sands joining the performance of course made it that much better, as she added so much dynamic to the track that her strength was beckoning. It was very interesting to see that the three bands featured in the song played at this year’s festival, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that Taking Back Sunday didn’t join them on stage! As they performed “Am I Pretty,” the sun in the sky was barely visible, and the sky quickly turned black. As audience members surfed and piled on top of each other, singer John O’Callaghan encouraged audience members to “don’t just think about going there,” summoning the rebels in all of us. The song “Bad Behavior” from 2017 album Lovely Little Lonely made an appearance midway through the set again calling on others to dance and share their joy. As their set ended, the band finished with the song “Black Butterflies and Deja Vu” and thanked us for our company.
Played the last set on the Radical Stage. As a youngster you might have found it a bit difficult to see any of their shows or performances. In 2011, the Chicago-based band announced their split. A blow to all of us who care deeply as longtime fans of the band. Then in 2015, vocalist William Beckett announced the band’s return to the 2015 Riot Fest lineup and later hosted a farewell tour with some of the original members. Finally and remarkably after 7 years, it was shared on Twitter that the band would reunite again for Riot Fest to perform together again. This show was surely a historic performance that anyone in the crowd could witness. Of course, the real diehard fans of the band saw their concert at Concord Music Hall on September 17th. Ironically, those audience members ended up seeing the same show and setlist as the night before. What would you think of that? The Academy Is started their set by electrifying the floor with their song “The Phrase that Pays”, a song released in 2005. When the second song “About A Girl” started playing and the lights turned pink, the crowd became helpless and began to pour out exclaiming “I’m not in love”. Beckett exclaims “We had day three of Riot Fest here, and it’s been amazing. Amazing.” He sighs “I don’t want to cry yet, I was close when we went out”. For the performance of “Attention”, former members AJ LaTrace (guitar) and Mike DelPrincipe (drums), who played original recording of that song, joined the band on stage. Singer William Beckett was so excited of course that he couldn’t help but greet them twice. “I didn’t repeat my jokes , we’re just chilling out tonight.” When it was time to perform their final song, you could tell the emotions were running high for both the band and the crowd. A thoughtful and deep performance of “After The Last Midtown Show” left the audience grateful and joyful to have seen their favorite local band reunite again. As I left the show, I could feel the joy as other people around me talked about all their favorite sets and artists while throughout the three days of festiva I. Myself and other Riot Fest-goers left the festival bewildered and amazed by all the sensational acts of this memorable Riot Fest season here at Douglass Park. This year’s festival was one for books and will not be soon forgotten. Thank you to everyone who came out and made this possible!