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13 Bands To See At Riot Fest That Aren't The Replacements (Or Fall Out Boy Or Other High Profile Headliners)

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 11, 2013 6:00PM

Andrew W.K. photo via his Facebook page

Look, we all know you're going to see the Replacements and Fall Out Boy and the Pixies and Blink-182 and all the other bands near the top of the Riot Fest bill this weekend in Humboldt Park. So we gathered the writers together around the butter sculpture of Andrew W.K. we have in the middle of our office, and asked them to pick out which acts they think folks should see that they might not otherwise check out. Their picks ran the gamut from the semi-famous to the obscure but it proved one thing: Riot Fest has a wealth of musical treasures to pick from this weekend. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy


Photo of Dessa via her Facebook page
4:15 at the Roots Stage

It might seem an odd idea to start your weekend at Chicago's punk rock carnival off with a rap artist. We urge you to go with it though. Dessa is perhaps best known for her role in Minneapolis hip hop collective Doomtree but continues to hold her own as a solo artist. Her rhyme style manages to fall between scrappy and elegant which helped make her her latest, Parts Of Speech, the beautifully powerful effort that it was. — Katie Karpowicz

Saul Williams
4:45 p.m. at the Riot Stage

If you’re in it to win it, you’ll be at Riot Fest on Friday afternoon and you’ll be watching Saul Williams’ progressive blend of poetry, jazz, punk and hip hop. While Williams oft-provocative lyrics about race, social issues, sexuality, relationships and political dissent are reason enough to pay attention, his background in performance art makes for a dynamic and visually stunning live performance. Expect to see costumes, elaborate facial painting, expressive dance and copious crowd surfing. — Lizz Kannenberg

Andrew W.K.
5:45 p.m. at the Rise Stage

Andrew W.K. is a force of nature. It’s O.K. to listen to his music and ask yourself if he’s joking or he’s serious because, in truth, he is both. While W.K. has been omnipresent in the media for the last few years, the truth is that he simply doesn’t tour with a full live band that often, so this is a rare chance to see him swirling in the midst of a live multi-guitar attack. His stage shows also tend to include his wife, but while this is a family affair we wouldn’t bring the kids. W.K. will be a blast at Riot Fest proper, but we HIGHLY recommend you catch him later that night at Double Door for a Riot Fest aftershow. Hell, watch him twice in one day! You won’t be sorry. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy


11:30 a.m. at the Rise Stage

This spring, I was a friend’s guest for Paramore at the Chicago Theater, where I got my first glimpse of Kitten opening the show. As someone who usually considers most emo a little over the top, I was inexplicably drawn to lead singer Chloe Chaidez’s explosive stage presence. Chaidez is very much the lead of this “‘80s post-punk-influenced dance-rock” four-piece. She’s been rocking out since she was a little girl, and the band released their first EP in 2010, when she was just 15 years old (yes, that makes her just barely a legal adult today). But, focusing on youth isn’t fair to this group. They’re no starter band, this is the real deal. — Michelle Meywes

Dinosaur Jr photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Dinosaur Jr
3:15 at the Roots Stage

The first time I saw the reconstituted Dinosaur Jr featuring the original line-up, I was worried that the band’s sound wouldn’t be as aggressively ands epically loud as itwas in their late ‘80s glory days. I happened to be standing in front of the stage to photograph the band and the first chords that flowed from J Mascis’ fingers to his guitar strings to the wall of marshall amps behind him literally blew my hair back. In addition to the band losing none of their volume, they’ve also managed the rare trick of a comeback that includes albums just as good and vital as their original run produced almost thirty years ago. Like many other acts appearing this weekend, Dinosaur Jr may be living legends, but they are no nostalgia act. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

New Beat Fund
5 p.m. at the Rebel Stage

This is one group I discovered with my Riot Fest playlist on shuffle. “Scare Me” is the lead single on New beat Fund’s EP, ($), and it’s got a throw-down noise-pop thing going on. They call themselves G-Punk, but the rest of the 6-song EP swings wide on influence with a funky beat on “Celibate Celebrity”, some beachy ska on “Get Up” and a little electro-dance on “Beware of Phony Disco.” The LA-based group recently joined Red Bull Records, and is currently on tour with blink-182, who headline the fest on the same day. — Michelle Meywes


Maps & Atlases photo via their Facebook page
Maps & Atlases
12:15 at the Roots Stage

After a weekend of banging your head, do yourself a favor by arriving early Sunday to fill it with the brainy, eclectic indie fare of Maps & Atlases. Chicago’s lauded math rockers will school you with intricate structures, polyrhythms, and uncommon time signatures. They’ve sparked the ire of prog purists for a sound that’s evolved to be more approachable, but Maps & Atlases still offer plenty of technical complexity to unpack as well as buoyant, funky pop. — Jessica Mlinaric

Pet Symmetry
12:30 p.m. at the Rebel Stage

This local trio gives power-pop fans a good reason to get to the festival early on Sunday. Made up of members of the bands Into It. Over It. (Evan Weiss) and Dowsing (Erik Czaja and Marcus Nuccio), Pet Symmetry doesn’t have a ton of material out yet, but what they do packs a punch and a melody. The most chatter (literally) will be about the two verbose songs from their 7-inch Two Songs About Cars. Two Songs With Long Titles., "A Detailed and Poetic Physical Threat to the Person Who Intentionally Vandalized my 1994 Dodge Intrepid Behind Kate's Apartment" and "Please Don't Tell My Father That I Used His 1996 Honda Accord to Destroy The Town of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania In 2002." — Michelle Meywes

Reggie and the Full Effect
1 p.m. at the Rise Stage

James Dewees has been around the block as the former drummer for hardcore outfit Coalesce and keyboardist for on-again-off-again emo act The Getup Kids. His solo side project, Reggie and the Full Effect, not so much teeters as it avalanches between the two genres. A fragmented body of sappy, synth-filled love songs; gutteral, palm-muted breakup tracks and ridiculously goofy and bizarre skits, Reggie's discography might have a severe case of ADD but there are some real keepers in there. Also, if you're still crying into your black, fingerless gloves following My Chemical Romance’s break up earlier this year, it looks like former guitarist Frank Lero will be joining Dewees onstage this weekend in his backing band. — Katie Karpowicz

Mission of Burma
1:25 p.m. at the Roots Stage

Mission of Burma's first two releases, Signals, Calls, and Marches (1981) and Vs. (1982), are critically lauded works with a secure spot in the indie rock canon, influencing a wide range of groups, including Superchunk and Pearl Jam. Since reuniting in 2002 after a nearly 20 year hiatus, they’ve quietly become one of the most consistent rock bands going. Predating the now standard model of cult underground bands reuniting years after breaking up (one that nearly every RF headliner has followed), Burma got back together 11 years ago and have remained together, tripling the size of their discography and constantly touring. Unsound, released earlier this year, is the strongest record from the band's second act, working within the sound they've spent years developing while introducing new textures and influences. Expect to hear a fair number of cuts from this album rubbing elbows with anthemic classics like "That's When I Reach for My Revolver" and "Academy Fight Song," during this early afternoon set that is sure to set the bar high for other long-reunited Boston-based indie rock bands playing the fest. — Matt Byrne

Peelander-Z photo via their Facebook page
2:30 p.m. at the Rebel Stage

If you like tacos (and who doesn’t), you’ll like this band. Peelander-Z’s number one song on Spotify is “Taco Taco Tacos” from the album P-TV-Z, and it’s about--you guessed it--tacos. Once I saw the cover and tracklisting for that album, I mistakenly took this Japanese pop/rock/punk group for a kid’s band. They even list Power Rangers as one of their influences, and go by the names Peelander-Red, Yellow and Green. In true punk fashion, most of their songs are short and speedy, coming in around the 2 minute mark. That is, except for their latest album, Metalander, which sounds like a punk parody of every hair metal band you’ve ever heard. Count on one raucous half-hour set that leaves us wondering what hit us. — Michelle Meywes

Against Me!
2:35 p.m. at the Roots Stage

Against Me!’s 2007 album New Wave is, in my estimation, one of the most solid melodic pop-punk albums of the last decade. Every song is an anthem and we have no fear that the band, fronted by Laura Jane Grace, will prove up to filling the great outdoors with their big ol’ sound, even in a slot this early in the afternoon. Expecta rowdy, fun time, punctuated with a dash of both political and societal aggression you’ll probably find yourself humming along to long after the weekend has ended. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Twin Peaks
4:30 p.m. at the Rebel Stage

We’re not surprised to see Twin Peaks on this year’s Riot Fest lineup—they may be relatively new to the scene but the hometown quartet has an undeniable knack for scrappy garage pop. Just like their debut album, Sunken, their live set is born from a punk mentality: short, sweet and melodious in a carefree stoned-to-bliss sort of way. These kids bring an incredible and sincere fervor to the stage that might rile the crowd into fits of thrashing and pogo dancing if fans weren’t so busy smoking the green. — Sarah Cobarrubias

Riot fest is this weekend, September 13-15, in Humboldt Park and tickets are still available.