FESTIVAL REVIEW: Riot Fest 2022 Part II – Douglas Park, Chicago IL


Saturday kicked off with Cumgirl8 performing on the Rebel Stage. Coming from New York, they carried an energetic pop-punk set that worked the crowd into a rare early afternoon frenzy. Their set was filled with provocative lyrics, and visuals. I’m looking forward to watching their popularity grow. I jumped over to catch Mothica next. Mothica is fronted by McKenzie Ellis. Their set was accompanied by beautiful visuals and was heavier than I expected. Riot really brought the pop-punk this year, and Mothica fit the bill.




Next up was one of my favorite bands of the weekend and Bully truly did not disappoint. I try and catch Bully’s show every time she comes through Chicago and her inaugural Riot Fest appearance was no different. Alicia asked for input from fans on Instagram leading up to the show asking what everyone wanted to hear. Comments asking for their favorites rang throughout, most coming from her 2020 release “SUGAREGG”. If you haven’t had a chance to check Bully out, do so soon!

While running around I was able to check out a few songs from both Charlotte Sands and The Joy Formidable. Two completely different sounds, both carrying large crowds. It’s great to see Riot catering to multiple music styles and expanding their attendee’s genre preferences. After a few songs of each, I made my way over to check out The Get Up Kids performing “Four Minute mile.” They are the epitome of what Riot Fest is. Bringing nostalgia and pop-punk to the masses.


Next up was another band I was personally excited to check out in person. The Bridge City Sinners. Riot bringing folky-rock back this year was a great hit, and again, both visually and audibly stunning. Digging into this realm a bit more myself over the last year has brought an appreciation for acoustic bands (especially those traveling with upright basses.) The sound is hard to beat and carries such a different feel that evokes emotion on a different level. Following the sinners was War on Women. Another hardcore punk band, another energetic chaotic crowd full of moshing/circle pits. I’m not sure how everyone still had energy to keep up this level of engagement, but my camera was excited to capture it!




I caught the opening for Yungblud on one of the main stages next. It was a fun, energetic experience. While bleeding from one leg, he ran back and forth from one end of the stage to the other. Crowds cheered and sang along to nearly every word. Clearly another crowd favorite for the day. On the next stage Riot was bringing us back to the 1980s with Bad Religion. It felt like the band hadn’t missed a beat and was as tight as ever. As the sun started to set for the day, we got in position to check out Sunny Day Real Estate. These guys were right up my alley. While I know they have been around for 30 years, I never gave them much attention. Their vibe screams Walter Schreifels (Quicksand/Gorilla Biscuits) a la Rival Schools. Hard hitting grooves matched with clean vocals that can draw anyone’s attention. I have been listening to them a lot since the festival ended and kicking myself for not giving them the time earlier in life.

Closing out Saturday for me was Yellowcard. They played their most popular album Ocean Avenue in entirety. This was also their first show since splitting in 2017. It was a dream come true for many, and the crowd let everyone know.





Last day – Sunday – where did the weekend go? While Sunday was a swelter of a day, it didn’t keep anyone away. Fans for the fest’s closer Nine Inch Nails started securing their spots as soon as the gates opened. It created a long day for those dedicated fans, and security helped them out all day long providing water and help if it was needed.

Sunday was no different than the previous days. The schedule had amazing bands all day long and it was hard to pick and choose who to check out. Our afternoon kicked off with The Linda Linda’s. I believe they were the youngest band of all three days, with most of the band was under 18. They brought a youthful energy, sharing commentary that they are the future generation and bringing awareness to topics close to their hearts.


Another 1990s classic, Jawbox, filled the air with nostalgia and fans reminiscing of years passed. We jumped over to check out Zola Jesus. She provided artistry and slowed the pace. It was a welcome rejuvenation to break up the day. After a few songs we made our way over to Less Than Jake. Being somewhat a large ska fan, LTJ hit on all cylinders. They played crowd favorites “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts” and closed out with “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads.”



Another artist I was excited for was Coolio. At the time of writing this, I hate to say that he has passed away. I feel exceptionally lucky to have seen him live. There are stories across the internet of how much he cared about his fans and was always up for connecting. He was a true artist and will be missed.




Jimmy Eat World had one of the biggest draws of the day, and certainly the biggest up to that point. Their music is so well known and loved by so many. They kicked off their set with hard-hitting “Futures”, continued through and played hits from albums Bleed American and Futures. They closed their set with “Sweetness into “The Middle”. I can only imagine what it feels like to play in front of tens of thousands and have every single person singing your song back to you. It’s truly an incredible experience just to witness.


For the next throwback – we saw Sleater-Kinney. Again, the range this year was excellent and something I am looking forward to Riot expanding on as the festival continues to grow. We managed a quick break for some yummy food from Reggies (shout out to that Mac and Pork bowl!) and quickly queued up to check out Karen O and her band Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I saw them play in Milwaukee around 2002 and was excited to see the artistic pageantry Karen O is known for. She came out dressed in a reflective-highly colored “suit” and umbrella hat. Maybe those aren’t the right words to truly explain, but it was over-the-top cool. After the first song she removed her hat, and over the next song removed her suit revealing another eccentric outfit. The band performed flawlessly and brought good vibes all set long. They closed their set with “Maps” into “Heads Will Roll and finished it off with “Date with the Night.

Riot Fest brought some heat with Ice Cube being one of the final acts for the fest. He kicked off his set with “Natural Born Killaz”. Randomly, I know all the lyrics to this song as it was something I bumped when I was around eleven years old. I got the CD because my sister signed up for Columbia House and couldn’t pay what she needed, so my mom let me pay and get CDs. Not going to lie, my mom probably should have been a little more aware of what music I was listening to. Anyway – fast forward to hearing it live. It brought back all the feels. Among others, Ice Cube performed “Check Yo’ Self, “Straight Outta Compton and closed his set out with “It Was a Good Day.

I skipped the first half of Nine Inch Nails to check out The Academy Is…


The 2000’s pop-punk is alive and well in this band. Especially being from Chicagoland, they were a crowd pleaser. From catchy hooks to hard driven bass – the crowd was enamored. They played fan-favs “About a Girl, “Slow Down and “We’ve Got a Big Mess on Our Hands.”

I managed to get back over to Nine Inch Nails to catch the last bit of their epic performance. The crowd size was only rivaled by My Chemical Romance on day one. They closed their set out with “Head Like a Hole”, and performed an encore including “Reptile, “Even Deeper and “Hurt. I don’t think there is much to say here. Nine Inch Nails is a legendary band, and I can check them off my bucket list. Trent is a true master of his craft and everything about their show is awe-inspiring.


Riot Fest has made their point again at being one of the better, if not best festivals in the Chicagoland area. Every year they line up some of the biggest stars along with some diamonds in the rough. If you’re looking for anything new or want to relive some memories of your favorite bands then this is the place to do it. No matter the age or taste in music you are always welcomed at this festival. Here’s to hoping that next year is just as killer.


Oh, and again, they have funnel cake! I mean come on!


Read part 1 of our coverage here:


FESTIVAL REVIEW: Riot Fest 2022 Part I – Douglas Park, Chicago IL