Riot Fest Preview

Authors: Jackie Olsen and Tyler Dallman

The fest is one of the premier punk festivals in the world, every year happening in Chicago, Illinois. It’s not only host to punk though; there’s a large emphasis every year for related genres, ranging from aggressive hip hop, to heavy metal, to everything in between. This year Jackie and Tyler are heading down from WSUM to check out some of the acts, here’s a preview for the ones they’re excited for:

Jackie’s Picks:

I Don’t Know How But They Found Me 

I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, shortened to IDKHow, is an American musical duo out of Salt Lake City, Utah consisting of two members – lead vocalist and bassist Dallon Weekes and drummer Ryan Seaman. Their Alternative debut EP titled 1981 Extended Play was released just last year in November of 2018. Talks of forming a joint album began back in 2009 for this duo, yet any evidence that they existed as a group did not come out until 2016. Weekes had been on the road with his band, Panic! At The Disco, for several years until Seaman and himself were able to come together and form IDKHow. Weekes has said that he draws musical inspiration from pop culture of the 1970s and 80s. Their musical style has been described as electronic rock, indie pop, new wave, alternative and more. Although the group itself has not been established for long, the individuals within the group have been good friends for some time and both have strong backgrounds in writing, playing, producing and performing rock music. Getting to see IDKHow at the beginning of their career as a duo is more than exciting – I cannot wait to see where they draw future inspiration from and how they grow in their music going forward. 

Violent Femmes 

Debuting as a group in the 1980s, Violent Femmes went on to become one of the most successful alternative rock bands of their time. The multi-men folk punk band originated in Milwaukee, WI and have since released 10 studio albums and 15 singles during their career. Their self-titled debut album, Violent Femmes, continues to be the home of some of their best-loved songs, such as “Blister In the Sun” and “Add It Up”. One aspect in particular that I am excited for are the “Horns of Dilemma.” The Horns of Dilemma, a horn section, are welcomed on stage with the Violent Femmes during live performances. They consist of a variety of instruments – trumpet, saxophone, trombone, flute, and more – and their purpose is to provide a free-form noise jam. During certain songs like “Black Girls” or “Confessions,” their only direction is to play as freely and wildly as possible during different parts. I cannot wait to see how The Horns of Dilemma add to and change the musical experience while seeing Violent Femmes. 

Wu-Tang Clan 

One of the most famous Hip-Hop groups formed during the early 1990s in New York City, Wu-Tang Clan, have left a permanent mark on the rap game. Originally the group was composed of 10 members, including some legendary names like Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Cappadonna and Method Man. Wu-Tang Clan is commonly regarded as one of the most influential Hip-Hop groups of all time, and their 1993 debut album Enter The Wu-Tang(36 Chambers) is also considered by many to be one of the greatest Hip-Hop albums of all time. Their songs and style are constantly referenced by some of the top current Hip-Hop artists. Nods are constantly given to the group and individuals as their music is what the current artists grew up listening to, and for many current artists these group members are seen as idols and legends. Although not every group member is still around and performing, I am in awe that I will be in the presence of such crucial characters in the life of Hip-Hop. 

Blink-182 

The American rock band Blink-182, originating in California in 1992, will be performing their third album Enema of the State this weekend at Riot Fest. This 1999 album is what catapulted the band into stardom, making them one of the biggest pop/punk acts of the time. Into the 2000s, Blink-182 continued to release new music and tour across the world. Currently, the band is on a North American tour with rapper Lil Wayne performing their third album in its entirety while they also continue to release singles for their upcoming, ninth studio album NINE. The band has said on many different occasions that the punk rock group The Descendants were their greatest influence, who just so happen to be playing right before Blink-182 on Friday at Riot Festival. They have also identified influence from the group Pennywise who are playing before The Descendants on Friday as well. I cannot wait to be able to experience Pennywise, into The Descendants, finally leading up to Blink-182 to receive a full background of their musical inspiration and listen to the similarities and differences between each group. 

Tyler’s Picks:

The Flaming Lips 

The Flaming Lips have long been part of the American psych-rock dictionary. They are synonymous with rock, light shows, and tripping. However they took longer than most to get there. The band first formed in 1983 but it was a full decade and a half before they found any grip within American culture. With the release of 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, the group suddenly found themselves in every music journal and publication around the country. Equal parts pop melody, washed out reverby-guitars, and sheer oddity, the album cemented a sound that the Lips had been working on in their prior ten albums and put them within the ranks of legends like MGMT, Spiritualized, and Ty Segall. At Riot Fest this year, they’ll be performing Yoshimi in its entirety. 

Slayer/Anthrax 

Within the genre of Thrash Metal, there’s a list of bands that are popularly known to have created and defined the genre. Two out of those four will be performing at the fest this year. I could go on for awhile about the popularity and influence these bands have achieved, but I figured it’d be more appropriate to just give the definition of Trash Metal from Wikipedia and say that these two bands are the most historic and best examples of the genre in the world, because they created it.Thrash metal (or simply thrash) is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar work. 

American Football 

American Football’s new album, American Football, comes out Oct. 21.

American Football has found itself to be one of the slowest burners within the genre of emo (though as a whole the genre has a tendency to do so). Initially releasing to not much popularity, and having the band dissolve mere days after the release of their debut LP, American Football found cult status as their name spread through word of mouth over the course of decades. Whereas the initial release of that self titled debut found only popularity at college radio stations (mostly through the name Kinsella), when the band decided to rerelease the album in 2014 it found itself at 68 in the Billboard 200. They’ve released an addition two self-titled albums since, with only increasing popularity. 

The Garden 

The Garden is a relatively newer duo from Orange County, California. They’ve become well known ever since signing on Epitaph Records, and although the label mostly is mostly known for Punk related materials, the Garden has always found itself just outside of that boundary. The band always edges the lines of weirdness, whether that be through the clown on the cover of their most recent full length, Mirror Might Steal Your Charm, the oddities of the time-signatures and timbres that lie within, or the interesting obsession with fashion that the duo has, having modeled for Yves Saint Laurent, Hugo Boss, Ugg. This is one of the few bands at the fest this year where I have no idea what the performance will entail, and honestly I don’t want to know until I’m there because I’m sure it will be a welcome surprise no matter what. 

Andrew W.K. 

One of my favorite concert memories is being in a crowd in the middle of a hot day in Austin, TX at SXSW, and having Andrew W.K. convince everyone in the crowd to countdown from 100 at the top of their lungs before their final song. The sound at 10 to 1 was deafening. Andrew W.K. has always been a bit of an enigma, being right on the line between genuity and parody, seeming to be remnant of 80s hair metal, yet also going on national tours as a motivational speaker. His music may be the definition of cheesy, but by god is it fun.