Riot Fest: Claire's Artists to Watch

  • Post Author
    by Music director
  • Post Date
    Sat Sep 16 2023


Thousands of live music lovers will descend upon Douglass Park in Chicago this weekend for Riot Fest, a three-day music festival. The event began in 2005 as a celebration of everything alternative, hosting the biggest names in punk, rock, metal, alternative and hip-hop. To help you prepare for three days of mosh pits and music, here's a list of WSUM's must-see acts at Riot Fest 2023. 

Day One – Friday, September 15

Headliner: Foo Fighters

The Foo Fighters (Magdalena Wosinska)

8:00 P.M. – Riot Stage

Top Tracks: “Everlong,” “Monkey Wrench,” “Rescued,” “Run”

With foundations in the hook-based, dynamic sounds of grunge and the guitar-driven sensibilities of modern rock, Foo Fighters began in 1995 as the solo project of former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl. The release of The Color and the Shape in 1997 saw them emerge as a full-fledged band, determined to unleash their harsh yet hopeful anthems on the world. They've introduced a variety of new dimensions to their sound over the years, traveling across the country to gather lyrics for 2014's Sonic Highways, embracing an upbeat dance sound on 2021's Making a Fire. After the devastating loss of drummer Taylor Hawkins in 2022, the band released But Here We Are as a celebration of his memory. The Foos are set to bring nostalgia, catharsis and unparalleled energy to their Riot Fest set. 


Quasi (John Clark)

1:25 P.M. – Roots Stage

Top Tracks: “I Never Want to See You Again,” “Doomscrollers,” “Last Long Laugh” 

Portland-based indie-rock duo Quasi broke their decade-long hiatus earlier this year with Breaking the Balls of History. Their latest release proves that they've maintained a knack for bizarre, percussive instrumentals and cynical lyrics. Fans at the festival should brace for a heavy dose of sarcasm , but an even heavier dose of drums and bass.

Day Two – Saturday, September 16

Headliner: The Postal Service

The Postal Service (Autumn de Wilde)

9:00 P.M. – Riot Stage

Top Tracks: “Such Great Heights,” “Sleeping In,” “Nothing Better” 

With a name that pays tribute to their long-distance collaborations, The Postal Service is an indie-electronic project brought to life by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel. 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of their breakout album Give Up, which they plan to perform in its entirety at the festival.

100 Gecs

100 Gecs (Michelle Groskopf, Jennifer Aborn)

7:00 P.M. – Radical Stage

Top Tracks: “Hollywood Baby,” “Dumbest Girl Alive,” “800db Cloud,” “Money Machine” 

Nobody does deliberate chaos like 100 Gecs. Genre-bending genius combined with unabashed wackiness on 2019's 1000 Gecs to catapult Laura Les and Dylan Brady to legendary status within the hyperpop scene, and that only egged them on. Their sophomore album, 10,000 Gecs, aims to outdo their debut release wherever possible. With an arsenal of shock-value samples and dizzying electronic hooks at their side, this duo is dead set upon hacking genre divisions as we know them to bits and bringing their own creation to life with a bolt of lightning. 

Day Three – Sunday, September 17

Headliner: The Cure

Robert Smith of The Cure (Burak Cingi)

7:40 P.M. – Riot Stage

Top Tracks: “In Between Days,” “Boys Don't Cry,” “Close to Me” 

Even four decades after their first show, The Cure remains one of the biggest names in English rock. Flurries of warm guitar, an extra dose of bittersweet synth and a trademark brand of earnest lyricism have allowed them to create something that is at once both brooding and bright – something incredibly enduring. Their impressive new wave legacy and their timeless discography are perfectly suited for Riot Fest reverence. 

L.S. Dunes

L.S. Dunes (Zachary Spangler)

4:05 – Radical Stage

Top Tracks: “Permanent Rebellion,” “Benadryl Subreddit,” “Old Wounds” 

This post-punk supergroup features Frank Iero of My Chemical Romance, Travis Stever of Coheed and Cambria and Anthony Green of Circa Survive alongside Tim Payne and Tucker Rule of Thursday. Combining explosive creative forces from across the genre, L.S. Dunes crafts punk anthems as they've never been seen before. Their debut album, Past Lives, throws raw, furious vocals against a backdrop of masterful instrumentals. This weekend's festival crowd had better prepare for their first look at the future of rock music.