Scott, Ned & I drove to Chicago this past weekend for a music festival I will never forget. Riot Fest is held at the Congress Theater and a few other sites each year to showcase the best of punk rock. We saw new bands with only an album or two under their belt and bands celebrating their 30th year together (the epic Bad Religion). Since we all have jobs, we didn’t make it to the Wednesday, Thursday or Sunday night shows. What we did see was crazy, exhilarating, and exhausting.
Of the 70+ bands performing, we saw only 9: Bouncing Souls, Circle Jerks, The Lawrence Arms, Bad Religion, Anti-Flag, Snapcase, Less Than Jake, Pennywise & Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
It seems like a ridiculously low number looking back now. However, at about an hour or more for each band, it was overwhelming at the time. Scott and Ned have loved some of these bands since they were kids. I listened pretty religiously to a few of them back in high school. Of those playing, I had only seen The Lawrence Arms in concert before. It has only been in the last year and a half that I’ve paid attention to them again. Some, like Bad Religion were impressive for more than their sound; they were the most energetic performers to hit the stage. Others got the mosh pit really riled up.
The most enjoyable, for me, was the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. This ska band is one of the few that has invaded nearly everyone’s music stash at some point. By the time they took to the stage late on Saturday night, the place was packed and nearly everyone was dancing and singing along. They played songs from several different albums including “The Impression That I Get” aka the only song that played on popular radio and the first song of their’s I ever heard.
To anyone who hasn’t been to a punk rock festival, this is THE one to attend. I cannot wait for next year.