This weekend marks the fifth year of Riot Fest in Chicago—the Midwest’s premiere punk festival. Boasting a lineup including Bad Religion, Naked Raygun, Articles Of Faith, Corrosion Of Conformity and dozens more, Riot Fest 2010 promises to pack even more punch than usual. We caught up with founder MIKE PETRYSHYN during the calm before the storm.
How did Riot Fest come about?
Out of sheer boredom. I had a standard 9-to-5 job and was working on my Ph.D and was pretty disenfranchised with everything I was doing. The idea of having some of my favorite bands play just popped into this overactive skull, and four months later, the first Riot Fest was born.
What was your intention with it?
Just to pass on the bands that inspired me to another generation. As Steve Albini once told me, “There are many people going to shows these days who think they’re being individualistic, but when push comes to shove, it’s just ‘stupid’ being written differently on all of them.” Maybe in a way, I’m hoping we change that a little.
How did it grow to where it is today?â€¨
Luck. The stars and planets aligned and we filled a niche in the Midwest. We were part of the whole reunion craze from a few years ago without really being aware of it. We just wanted to see some of our favorite bands play—we still do. So, in essence, by using that as one of our templates, we automatically started to gain a bit more exposure.
What do you think it offers that other fests don't?
I believe our array of different subgenres within punk, ska, metal and hardcore separates us from other like-minded fests. In one night, you can catch Bad Religion, Jello Biafra, Corrosion of Conformity and the Toasters all playing separate shows. To me, that’s pretty unique.
What's different this year?
I suppose the biggest difference this year is the how well we planned our secret shows. In years past, it was somewhat fly by night, but we decided to be a tad bit more proactive and get the bands to agree months in advance.
Is there anything you're particularly excited about?
For it to get started. There’s always a ton of anxiety before it begins, and hopefully by Thursday night, we’ll be a well-oiled machine.
If you had to choose five bands fans shouldn't miss this year, who would it be?
Circle Jerks, Articles Of Faith, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Less Than Jake and Cap’n Jazz.
Have you noticed any shifts in the scene since first starting out?â€¨
Not really. If anything, it seems the 30 and older crowd is more willing to go to our shows than during the first few years, which is actually pretty great because we get 14- to 50-year-olds losing their shit at our shows. alt