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Going Back to Live Music: Riot Fest, Ruido Fest, Rise Against

The weekend of September 18-19 I faced the dilemma of whether to go to the third Supernova Ska Festival in Virginia or stay in Chicago for Riot Fest. I hadn’t missed a Supernova Festival yet nor had I missed a Riot Fest since 2013. Riot Fest won out for three reasons:

  • I didn’t particularly want to fly amid the Covid resurgence & couldn’t spare the time to drive to Virginia

  • My all-time favorite band Rancid was playing Riot Fest

  • My daughter, who’s 22 & doesn’t spend a lot of time with the parents nowadays, wanted to go to Riot Fest & we’ve gone together to every Riot Fest I’ve ever been to (though we’re often watching two different bands)

We only went for Saturday this year but had a great time.

Everything I wanted to see was on the Radical stage—beginning with Hepcat at 4, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones at 5:30 & Rancid at 7.

Here’s a video I made of people slow skanking to Hepcat:

And another of Mighty Mighty Bosstones Dancing Guy Ben Carr:

The sun set during Rancid & although I had a good view on one of the side rails, my camera wasn’t up to the task of getting any good photos or videos. The ones that people put on YouTube weren’t much better, but here’s the best one I found:

In addition to numerous hits, Rancid did several songs that they don’t often do live, including Rejected, Hooligans and others. And Lars did a solo version of The War’s End.

By my tally at least 9 other women from the We Are Mable Syndrome Facebook group were at Riot Fest, including some who traveled a long way to get there. We planned to meet at 4 on Saturday at the Punk Rock Saves Lives booth, where Mables Mackenzie & Tina were working – and I think some people from the group did indeed get to say hello to each other there, but slow traffic to the train & waiting 16 minutes at the train stop meant that I got there about 4:13 & missed everyone.

I did catch up with Tina later, though, who was manning a mini PRSL booth on the outskirts of the Hepcat audience & swabbing for the bone marrow registry. Some bands allowed PRSL to do that – a nice move. (Read more about PRSL & the good work it does here.)

Rise Against

I caught a bit of Rise Against at Riot Fest but they overlapped with Rancid & I had just seen them a few weeks earlier at an outdoor show in Chicago with The Descendents & The Menzingers.

I bought seats for my daughter & me within the first hour or so after the Rise Against/ Descendents/Menzingers show was announced, so we could see quite well. Nevertheless, my camera wasn’t up to the task there, either, but I’ll share this video that someone else shot there to show the set that Rise Against used:

It reminded me of that fountain in Chicago’s Millenium Park that is basically a huge rectangular monolith onto which a succession of oversize faces are projected. The Rise Against rectangles also displayed a succession of projected images.

I got a chance to spend a bit of time with fellow Mable blogger Erin at the Rise Against show. She grew up in Illinois but now lives in Minnesota & flew in with her husband for the event. (We neglected to take a photo, though.)

Ruido Fest

Rise Against wasn’t my first show post-Covid. That honor goes to Ruido Fest, also in Chicago, which is billed as an alternative Latin music event.

There, too, I only went for one day. I really wanted to see headliners Panteon Rococo. They’re a ska-punk band from Mexico & they were great. They made a fabulous entrance, which someone captured quite well in this video:

I did manage to get some good video of one of my favorite local bands – another band that does ska punk – Nahuales Underground. I liked the non-glitzyness of the photo of band members in someone's backyard that they projected occasionally behind them as they played:

Moving Forward

Ruido Fest & Riot Fest required proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test & since those events & Rise Against were all outside, I felt comfortable attending as Covid rages on.

Temperatures will be dropping in Chicago soon, though, & music will have to move indoors. I haven’t bought tickets to any indoor events since Covid & haven’t decided yet whether I will or not.

Let’s all hope the country gets Covid under control soon so this doesn’t have to be such a tough decision. And I hope I can attend both Riot Fest and Supernova Ska Fest next year.


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