Best Of Chicago

Guide To Riot Fest

October 5, 2011 4:45 PM

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rf2011 webposter 1 Guide To Riot Fest


Chicago, October 5-9
Congress Theatre
Cobra Lounge
Bottom Lounge
Double Door

Pull out your leather coats covered in spikes, kiddos. It’s that time of the year again. Time for Riot Fest. So channel the spirits of Johnny Thunders and GG Allin and get out there.

Note, this is a guide to Riot Fest and is meant to offer you simple tips and information. It is, by no means, a guide to being punk. If you need one, then you’re probably hopeless. (Just be a mod or something, loser.)

telephone Guide To Riot Fest

Vivian Girls NOT appearing at Riot Fest (credit:


For a full list of bands, check out the Riot Fest website. Here are a few bands that I guarantee will please…

No Girls?

That’s not the name of a band. I just wanted to take a moment to mention the lack of women performing here. Seriously, Riot Fest! Was it so hard to call up the Soviettes or Vivian Girls? Heck, I’d settle for Lemuria. As far as I can tell (correct me if I’m wrong), there are zero bands here with a female lead. I know the world isn’t exactly brimming with chick punk bands, but you almost have to put forth an effort to have a fest with so many bands and so few women. [Correction: X is, in fact, fronted by a woman. As is the awesome psychedelic garage rock band White Mystery. I should do better research before stepping on a soap box.]

The Menzingers
Congress Theatre
10/08 at 2:30pm All Ages

The Menzingers are a pop punk band that really rocks. Combining great choruses that are easy to sing along to with heavy guitar riffs, they’ll please ’77 punk snobs and poppy teens alike.

l Guide To Riot Fest


The Tossers
Congress Theatre
10/06 at 6:30pm All Ages

This Southside Chicago band comes with an Irish brogue and a fiddle to boot! If a mix of traditional Irish music and punk rock is your thing—along with songs that are easy to jump around to—then you should definitely see The Tossers.

Chinese Telephones
The Bottom Lounge
10/07 9:30 17+

Punk should be fast and dirty, two qualities Chinese Telephones seem to understand well. Sure, they’re from Wisconsin, but I wouldn’t hold that against ’em.

Danzig Legacy
Congress Theatre
10/07 at 7:00pm All Ages

Tired of listening to person after person ruin Danzig’s “Mother” time and time again at karaoke? Come hear the real McCoy. For those who are more into metal, he’ll also be performing some Samhain songs. He will also be doing Misfits song. I mean, how could he not?


Congress Theatre
2135 N. Milwaukee
Chicago, Il 60647

Easily the biggest venue at Chicago’s Riot Fest, you’ll find the bigger acts playing here. An old building with no real natural light inside, the crumbling feel of everything makes for a good Punk show.

It’s easily accessible from the California Blue Line El Train.

Cobra Lounge
235 N. Ashland
Chicago, Il 60607

Cobra Lounge is a great club West of the Loop. Great drinks are improved with great food; few bars have food as good as what you’ll find at Cobra Lounge.

Accessible from the Ashland-Lake Pink and Green Line El.

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(credit: Bottom Lounge's Facebook)

Bottom Lounge
1375 West Lake Street
Chicago, IL

Though I miss the old Bottom Lounge, which was amidst Belmont & Clark’s odd scene of freaks, punks, skins and everything under the sun, the new Bottom Lounge has a lot to offer. More space, more food, more booze… more everything. Their stage, raised on a simple, concrete floor behind the bar, makes punk shows almost feel like they’re in a friend’s basement. If your friend had a gigantic basement.

Also accessible from the Ashland-Lake Pink and Green Line El.

Double Door
1572 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, Il 60622

In the heart of Wicker Park, Double Door has become a pretty hip place for shows. Don’t expect food, but they do have a great selection of beers, both bottled and on tap.

Accessible from the Damen Blue Line El stop.


Have you noticed that, no matter what, you always seem to forget something when you go to a show? Here are a few reminders that should hopefully allow you to avoid any road blocks you might encounter.

Parking is a pain in the butt. Take the train, or ride your bike! If you do drive, watch out for permit parking, and pay your meter!

Wear shoes. Like real shoes. Not flip flops or anything that can easily fall off your feet. Chances are, your toes will, in fact, get stomped on.

Water is good. Drink it between trips to the dance floor.

Keep an any on the age restrictions for shows, youngins.

If you bought your tickets online, don’t forget to print everything out.

Finally, don’t forget to have fun. Just don’t LOOK like you’re having fun, that’s uncool. I think.

Actually, I don’t know anything about cool, so whatever.

Mason Johnson, CBS Local Chicago
View Comments
  • John

    X is female fronted band, so is screaming females

    • Mason Johnson

      Yikes, X is a pretty big oversight. Yeah, you’re right there, I’ll edit it.

      I don’t see Screaming Females on the lineup anywhere. I do see them in Chicago a week and a half after Riot Fest.

      I also neglected to mention psychedelic garage rock band White Mystery. Their frontman is, in fact, a frontwoman. They’re pretty awesome.

  • Tom Schumacher

    Is this really hipsterfest? legit question.

    • Mason Johnson

      Too many corporate sponsors.

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