With headliners like the original Misfits lineup, Morrissey, Descendents and more on this year’s Riot Fest, it’s easy for a lot of noteworthy acts to get overlooked. Festival promoters are bringing out some of the best hidden gems of the underground hip-hop and indie worlds, and with more additions of the festival lineup to be revealed, it’s only going to get better from there. Check out some of our most anticipated breakout acts for this year’s festival in both Denver and Chicago below.

Culture Abuse

With a lineage including members of Dead To Me and All Teeth, San Francisco punk act Culture Abuse have been relentlessly touring in support of their debut full length, Peach, out now via 6131 Records. They’ve upgraded from living in their practice space in the gentrified Mission District of the Bay Area to taking on the continent with Riot Fest and sizeable tours supporting the Story So Far, Nothing, Citizen and more.

Kirk Knight

Rising Brooklyn artist Kirk Knight will be making his Riot Fest debut this year. The 20-year-old producer and rapper has made a name for himself as a member of the Pro Era collective, releasing music with hip-hop luminaries such as Mick Jenkins, Joey Bada$$ and Flatbush Zombies. (I personally hope that the Zombies and Knight might collab live, as they’ll both be playing Riot Fest Denver.)

White Lung

Canadian punk stalwarts White Lung will play both dates of Riot Fest this year in support of their recent record Paradise. With sneering guitar leads and haunting melodies, White Lung should make for a most excellent fast and gritty set reminiscent of the early days of the festival. You will be hitting their merch table after their set.

High Waisted

NYC surf rockers High Waisted will be bringing the beach to both dates of Riot Fest this year. After exploding out of the Brooklyn punk scene with a unique West Coast sound, this dreamy quartet aim to leave their mark on the Midwest this fall. 

Denzel Curry

Florida rapper Denzel Curry will be hitting Riot Fest Chicago, currently supporting his sophomore record Imperial, which was released in March. If fans are lucky they might even get to see a collaboration with fellow Riot Fest Chicago act JoeyBada$$, as featured on his 2016 single “Zenith.”


After kicking off their year with a monumental set of supporting tours for the Wonder Years, Man Overboard and Motion City Soundtrack, Microwave will be taking over the punk festival circuit this fall with appearances at The Fest, Wrecking Ball ATL and both dates of this year’s Riot Fest. With new music in the works following their debut record Stovall, Microwave are on track to being one of the bigger breakout artists of this year.

Plague Vendor

Southern Californian voodoo punks Plague Vendor are returning to Riot Fest for their second time around, following their 2014 debut. This year, they’ll be coming through both dates in support of their latest record BLOODSWEAT, out via Epitaph Records. Prepare yourselves for psychedelic riffs, mosh-worthy beats and unparalleled dance moves from singer Brandon Blaine.

Night Riots

Hailing from the small town of San Luis Obispo, California, Night Riots have really asserted their footing in 2016’s festival circuit. After years of DIY touring, the indie rock band have achieved slots on not only Riot Fest, but San Francisco’s BFD, as well as Delaware’s Firefly Music Festival this year. With new music in the works following their latest Sumerian Records EP, they’ll surely be an act you won’t want to miss.


Tasha The Amazon

Self-described as “the patron saint of ruckus,” this punk-inspired, Toronto-based producer and rapper will definitely bring an eclectic energy to the festival in Chicago. Also known for her role in the “ghettotronic” group Candy Coated Killahz, Tasha The Amazon’s solo work presents more of a rambunctious verve that’s perfect for a festival environment. 

A Will Away

After climbing their way out of the Connecticut punk scene, A Will Away will be making their Riot Fest debut in Chicago this year. With two EPs, an acoustic release and a rock solid split with Head North under their belts, this band will undoubtedly shine this September.


Marina City

Midwest pop-punkers Marina City have been working tirelessly to prove themselves over the past four years as a band. Just last year they were crowned the first prize in the Ernie Ball Warped Tour Battle of the Bands, and will follow their summer on Warped this year with a fitting homecoming at Riot Fest Chicago.