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Your 2013 Riot Fest Survival Guide

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 12, 2013 4:20PM

Photo of the crowd at the 2012 Riot Fest by Cobra Productions

Riot Fest is a little different from the other summer festivals in that a) it is truly and completely homegrown and DIY, b) it has taken great pains to become part of the neighborhood it occurs in, and c) it's at the tail end of summer so you/re not going to sweat to death. We've already given you the skinny on what bands to see earlier in the day so you can roam like a pro when it comes to choosing the music. But what about the rest of the fest? What should you bring? How should you get there? What should you know?

Humboldt Park is not dangerous. If there's one thing I'm sick of hearing, it's people griping about the location. I lived in Humboldt Park off and on for the last 15 years and while, yes, long ago it was a little rougher, so was Wicker Park. Humboldt Park has not gone the full gentrification route, so maybe that's what makes uninformed attendees uneasy. In fact I recommend getting there early so you can explore the part of Humboldt Park the festival grounds aren't occupying; it's a huge space. I'm not saying you should traipse down alleys or wander far off the more public path—doing that anywhere in the city is asking for trouble—but if you use your noggin you'll be just fine.

You should probably get familiar with this map if you're going to the Chicago Riot Fest
Eat local. While there is no re-entry to the festival once you enter, that doesn't mean you can't sample some of the neighborhood food on the way in or stop at a restaurant or bar on your way out. There's plenty of grub on the festival grounds so sandwich those eats with something from the surrounding neighborhood to bookend your days.

Plan ahead on how you're getting there. The one downside to the location is that it's not the easiest to get to via public transit, and on the weekends the traffic and parking situation near the park itself is such that driving there is downright foolish. Your best bet, if you're driving is to either park east of Western or south of Grand and walk to the grounds. If you're riding public transit, try and take the Western Bus over the California bus; you'll get there much faster. Again, the neighborhood is no more dangerous than any other in the city if you use common sense, so stick to there main streets when walking. Given the crowds and congestion your feet are your best bet after a certain point. Finally, the fastest mode of transportation is a bicycle, and there will be plenty of onsite bike parking, so if you really want to fly that's the way to go.

Go to an aftershow or two. Look, the bands on the bill will be awesome to see at Riot Fest, but nothing beats seeing a band in a dark club, so take advantage of that.

Come prepared. Read over the list of what you can and cannot bring to Riot Fest. The most important thing to note is that you can only bring an EMPTY water bottle so don't pack your backpack with water that's sealed. Our favorite banned item on the list? "Audio recording equipment (including portable “boombox” stereo units)." Personally, if I saw someone taping a band with a huge old boombox I think that would be hilarious. But don't try it.

Dress for success. The weather this weekend is looking to be pretty good, if a bit cloudier and cooler than people are used to when you hear the words "summer music fest." That's a good thing, but it does mean you probably want to bring light jacket—at least Friday—and don't forget sunscreen. You're going to be outside for many, many hours and those lovely rays poke through the clouds whether you can see the sun or not.

Don't be a dick. The great thing about Riot Fest as it's grown from being a punk rock music festival into an event that just believes in booking good music no matter what the genre is that the crowd is truly diverse. And most of the acts are the kind to draw in true fans, so you don't get that festival crowd that's just there to party like certain other Chicago-based music fests. Riot Fest is a party, don't get me wrong, but it's a party with heart so act like a human being and you'll have an awesome time.

Don't leave without seeing the Butter Stamos. And start bugging John Stamos right now to get Jesse and the Rippers on the bill for next year's Riot Fest!

Riot Fest is this weekend, Sept. 13-15, in Humboldt Park and a few tickets are still on sale.