For the fourth year in a row, my daughter and I set out for the three day festival that takes musicians from the punk, alternative, rap and any other underground genre (that doesn’t quite fit into the norm) and puts them in the middle of a Chicago neighborhood that takes them in. Riot Fest is the place where anyone who wants to be themselves can be just that.

From Friday, September 16 through Sunday, September 18, Douglas Park played host to 125 acts and the ever present Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue. A mix of bands such as Pierce the Veil and The Specials played day into night with musicians such as Morrissey and Julian Marley. They all performed leading the way to the highly anticipated reunion of The Original Misfits to close the final night.

For once since attending Riot Fest, there was no rain…so no mud pits and no ponchos needed. Traveling from as far as we do, using public transportation would just add to our commute time, so we made the drive all the way there and determined the best place to park.

I stick to a budget of $20 each day, so driving around and negotiating is key. Our first stop on Friday was the lot at Lagunitas Brewing Company, but since it was still a weekday we couldn’t park there. I drove around the perimeter of Douglas Park and came upon a corner lot. I asked the gentleman how much he was charging. “$40,” he replied. I told him I would only pay $20, so he pointed over his shoulder to a teenager standing at the end of an alley. I yelled out, “$20?” And the young man replied, “Yes!” and pointed me towards the entrance to his backyard lot where other cars had already parked – a grassy patch where I was directed how and where to park by whom I could assume were his younger brother and sister. The great thing about Riot Fest is you know that when you pay for parking in these make do lots, it’s going back to the people of the community. I would end up parking at the yard of this family’s home for the rest of the weekend. (I know…I’m such a suburban.)

My watch list for the weekend included:

  • FRIDAY: The Specials, Julian Marley, Pierce the Veil and All Time Low
  • SATURDAY:  Morrissey, Death Cab for Cutie, Fitz & the Tantrums, and Bob Mould
  • SUNDAY:  The Original Misfits, Rob Zombie, Joey Bada$$

(Cut me some slack…it’s three days!)

Be sure to check out Riot Fest‘s website for the 2017 Riot Fest and to find out other shows taking place in the city to tide you over until then.