Riotfest Chicago 2012 (General and Friday)

Posted: September 28, 2012 in Music, Travel

As promised, this is going to be the post about Riotfest Chicago 2012, well at least about the setup and Friday night.  There were a lot of awesome bands, so pardon me while I split this up into a few posts.  If I had to sum things up quickly, I would say, awesome.  So, this year Riotfest Chicago diverged from its usual format of having the main shows at the Congress and some other shows at other local venues and did the damn thing by moving it outside.  This move outside is likely the motivation for the fact that Riotfest 2012 was about a month earlier than usual.  The main location fo Riotfest Chicago 2012 was Humbolt Park, where there were a myriad of stages (large and small set up) in addition to an actual Carnival and all the fun that comes with.  I snapped  a few pictures really early in the day Saturday before the place was packed, but I am also including a map that shows how massive this thing was, and how cool.  Please note the Mexican wrestling ring included therein.  Also please note that prior to this day I had never tried a corn dog because, as I would say, I don’t like them.  Turns out, I do like them, a lot.  Glad they are healthy.

Part of the offer this year was that you could buy three-day VIP wristbands.  In the past the VIP wristbands got you entry into the shows and also access to an area in the balcony at the congress where you had your own bar and could watch the shows without being butt to front with strangers.  This year these special wristbands were pretty killer.  I hesitate to write this, because I don’t really want to share this in future years, but all 16 of you can probably squeeze in with us and not create too much of an issue.  First these wristbands get you access to a fenced off area where there are tables, chairs and about a billion porto-johns which, as you will see later in this post, are super important to me.  They also get you 10, yep ten, “free” beers a day.  This area where I could relax, drink, eat and make water was key to my old legs and back making it through three full days of punk rock.  Maybe I am not that punk, but not waiting in line for a bathroom is worth a little public shame these days.

But I digress, before the outdoor festivities began on Saturday there was a Friday line-up at the Congress, which I sadly didn’t see much (sorry Offspring, but you made some questionable decisions in the late 90s-early 2000s that I just can’t look past, yep, pretty fly for a white guy isn’t something that I am going to be able to forget).   Despite that little personal thorn in my side there, the real reason we didn’t spend much time at the Congress was that Brendan Kelly (Or S’s baby receptacle as S now calls him) and Alkaline Trio were playing at the Broken Bottle at one of the “Secret Shows” on Friday night. 

I use the quotes as the “Secret Shows” used to be announced the day of and only be accessible to wrist-bank holders for Riotfest.  It was a gamble who you might see (previously was awesome bands like the Suicide Machines, Teenage Bottlerocket, Sundowner, and on and on), but this year these shows were announced a month ahead of time, and although the wrist-bands got you in, separate tickets were also sold such that you weren’t guaranteed space unless you got there early, and in this case, stood in a pretty wicked line.  This year also saw headlines like Alkaline Trio, NOFX and (although not  headliner, Fishbone, who were fantastic as I will get to later). 

Luckily there is a bar close to the Broken Bottle that will let you use their restroom if you buy a beer. This is excellent business decision for this bar (whose name I do not recall for some reason…go figure)  as pounding beers in order to use the restroom becomes a pretty circular self-fulfilling endeavor, as I have bladder of a kindergartener and would have to run back to use the restroom and pound a beer more times that you would believe.    I see no issue with saying I had to, as I had to use the restroom, and in order to do that I had to buy and pound a beer.  Oh yeah, there was some music too that night, so lets get to that.  

Brendan played a great set.  Funny guy on-stage and funny guy online, check him out on twitter @badsandwich and for longer funnier posts  at  I don’t have any good pictures of this show as I was too busy being awesome.  Here is a pic I took, which pretty much can be viewed two ways (1) I took an artsy picture by adjusting my iphone in numerous ways to look this cool, or 2) the stage had lights.  You’ll have to just trust me that it is Brendan Kelly.  In any event, nice small venue and great crowd.

This reminds me, I saw a t-shirt at Riotfest that said that “A Hangover is gods way of reminding you how awesome the night before.”  I think that is true, and now will allow me to be more grateful for these awesomeness barometers. 

Alkaline Trio played a great set as well.  Very nice to see them play together, especially nice to see them play together at a small venue like the Broken Bottle.  I have always been a Matt guy, think I have seen them a handful of times and always left a Matt guy, however, and maybe this is because of the Slapstick show on Saturday that I say this, but I left Friday as  a Dan guy.  No offense to Matt, or his sassy hat, but color me Dan for the time being.

Again, pretty artsy/shitty picture, but shows the size of the venue and how rare of an opportunity it was to see Alkaline Trio in this day and age. 

So that was Friday, found our way back to our hostel (that’s right, stayed at Getaway Hostel, which was a painless experience, nothing special, but they didn’t beat us or anything or give us bed bugs).  If you are ever there, about two blocks away in an alley there is a woman with a BBQ pit selling sausages.  She assures me that she has all necessary permits and health department accreditation and that at 4AM she is the best food in Chicago, so check that out too (turns out, she has no website, so you’ll have to do some recon on this yourself).  Only help I can lend is she is about a block before the 7-11 from the Getaway Hostel and I believe at the end of the alley there is a techno dance club (apparently that still is going on).  I’ll get to Saturday soon, it was pretty killer too.


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