Riot Fest and Warped Tour will invade Chicago and the suburbs in what has been an annual rite of summer. The two music festivals share the common goal of bringing some of the best bands in punk rock, metal, and hardcore and have been successful executing so differently.
Warped Tour was formed in 1994 by Kevin Lyman, who still runs it today. Warped travels across the country during the summers months bringing dozens of acts to areas large enough to hold a six stage venue. Besides music, the tour has included extreme sports, tents upon tents of merchandise, and meet and greets with bands before and after sets. Warped has also traveled internationally to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, and Europe.
Riot Fest started in 2005 as a Chicago-based idea that has expanded to festivals in Philadelphia (2011), Brooklyn, Toronto, and Dallas (2012). Chicago is still the largest of them all. Riot Fest was popular due in large part to the venues chosen for the multiple day event. The Metro, Double Door, and Cobra Lounge are just a few of the venues used. In 2012, Riot Fest branched out by becoming a carnival. Games, carnival food, and characters were added to the four stage set up in Humboldt Park. That same theme is being used again in 2013.
The bands that have graced both events is long and the main reason both have been so successful. The Descendents, Gaslight Anthem, August Burns Red, Bad Religion, Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, Coheed & Cambria, and NOFX are just a few that have played.
Warped Tour has had a fusion of pop, acoustic, and hip-hop/rap in recent years. The occasional act, like D12, have been a lone wolf in a punk lineup. The move to diversify has been greeted with mixed reviews. Another genre that has been on the wrong end of criticism has been Christian punk and hardcore. The aforementioned August Burns Red is one of the well-known acts in that genre. The now defunct Underoath was subject to a verbal lashing by NOFX front man Fat Mike. He later defused the situation.
Much like Warped, Riot Fest included Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group Public Enemy and Atmosphere in the 2013 band release on May 15. Both are well-known and should draw just as well as any other group.
A lot of fans have shied away from Warped Tour because of the shift in acts. It seems for every past act rejoining the tour, there are four or five leaving because they do not like what is allowed on tour. I took a six year hiatus from the tour between 2006-11 because of a similar stance, but felt Lyman and company were making sure fans old and new could come and enjoy a full day of music.
Riot Fest threw fans off by taking to the parks of Chicago in 2012, but issues have been minor at best. The biggest issue in 2012 was space between stages. There were a few places in the gated venue where music from multiple stages were muddled together making for some unpleasant sounds.
I encourage going to both. Both have ticket price scaling that continue to climb, but any time you can get a three day lineup like Riot Fest’s, spending $100-plus is worth it. I locked up my pass just hours after a $30 price jump. Because of Warped Tour’s popularity, there is only one show in any town. The Fuse television show ‘Warped Roadies’ detailed how the tour runs, and basically sprints across North America.
There is no better time to enjoy a concert then during the summer months. Warped Tour makes its annual stop in Tinley Park on July 20. Riot Fest takes place in Humboldt Park September 13-15.
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