The 5 Bands You Must See At Riot Fest Chicago 2015 – Sunday

Riot Fest is a go! After a weekend filled with drama Riot Fest 2015 will proceed as planned. Here’s the last batch of bands I think you need to watch.

Doomtree – 1:30pm Rock Stage
doomtreeDoomtree the eclectic Minneapolis hip-hop crew plays a far too early set for the kind of raucous energy they are sure to bring to the Riot Fest stage. I can’t imagine a better early (for the last day of Riot Fest) in the day pick me up than Doomtree.

Hum – 2:15pm Riot Stage


Did you not get your full of emo-rock reunions on Saturday? Well Hum has you covered. Whether you only know “Stars” or you celebrate their entire catalog Hum doesn’t play very often so here’s your chance to see a band that should have been bigger than a one hit wonder.

Kevin Devine – 12:50pm Riot Stage


There are many different incarnations of Kevin Devine. There’s the quiet acoustic-tinged Kevin and the full on rock band version. I’m pretty sure we’re getting full band version but either way Kevin has been doing this for quite a while and has been a commanding presence at festivals for years now. I’ve seen Kevin Devine play a few times and it is always mesmerizing. Devine’s band is always full of super-talented musicians bringing new life to all the recorded material. Even if you know a lot of his songs you may not recognize them live and that is a treat to watch.

Manchester Orchestra – 5:15pm Riot Stage


Oddly enough Manchester Orchestra plays on the same stage a few hours after their best friend Kevin Devine. When Manchester and Kevin Devine combine they become Bad Books who played Riot Fest in 2013. Will we get a repeat performance? I doubt it but don’t be surprised if Kevin shows up to play in the Orchestra. Don’t know anything about Manchester Orchestra? They are one of the most powerful live bands I’ve ever seen. They put everything they have into their live show. Riot Fest starts with Into It Over It and the emotional onslaught ends with Manchester Orchestra.

Modest Mouse – 8:45pm Riot Stage

modestmouseSunday is a good day for the Main (Riot) Stage. And everything wraps up with Modest Mouse. It has been 15 years since I’ve seen them live but I remember how great it was all these years later. 15 years ago I never thought they would be a popular band let alone headlining festivals so it will interesting to see how they perform for very large crowds but if the last decade and a half are to be believed they’ll be just fine. Modest Mouse doesn’t technically have more than 3 “hit” songs so I’m excited to see a band that doesn’t really have any radio airplay navigates a festival. I guess I don’t need to convince you to see Modest Mouse they’re closing out the whole damn thing so lets just be excited that Riot Fest is wrapping up with such a great band.




The 5 Bands You Must See At Riot Fest Chicago 2015 – Saturday

Saturday is jam packed with reunions, nostalgia, and some of the biggest bands in the world. These are the five I think you need to check out.

American Nightmare – 3:30pm Roots Stage


Ask the current wave of melodic hardcore bands who their biggest influences are and American Nightmare (who for a short time were called Give Up the Ghost) will come up every time. We caught them a couple of years ago at Metro and it was easily the most chaotic show I’ve ever witnessed at a venue I’ve been seeing shows at for going on twenty years. How will that translate to a festival setting? I’m honestly very curious but they’ve been doing the festival thing for a while and I haven’t heard any complaints yet. In a day that’s honestly full of melodic hardcore bands I would guess this will be the stand out set.

Desaparecidos – 4:30pm Rock Stage


You guys know that of all of Conor Oberst’s projects this is the best one, right? You know it took them 13 years to release their second album, right? How are you going to miss this? Of all the bands that could actually start a riot at Riot Fest Desaparecidos seems like the most capable.

Drive Like Jehu – 6:40pm Rebel Stage


Drive Like Jehu are one of the links that connect hardcore to emo. They released their second album via Interscope records and then evaporated. That was 1995 and they played one show in 2014. That inspired some scattered appearances earlier this year and now Riot Fest in Chicago. Basically…’ll never get to see Drive Like Jehu again. So if you missed them in the early 90’s here is your only chance.

Lifetime – 1:10pm Rebel Stage


Let’s be honest the Saturday lineup for Riot Fest is so good its almost embarrassing to other festivals. Here’s another band that I never thought we’d see at Riot Fest let alone….anywhere. Lifetime was another influential emo-hardcore band from the early 90’s who just stopped playing and that was that. Out of nowhere they reunited in 2007 with big time plans. They signed with Fueled By Ramen/Decaydance and put out a fantastic self-titled album. Then….they played a few shows and that was that again. They pop up here and there on larger East coast shows and punk festivals but this will be their first Midwest date in a long long time. Could it be there last? I wouldn’t miss it.

The Movielife – 2:15pm Roots Stage


I could say the same thing about this band that I said about the previous four. The Movielife was big once, then they broke up, now they’re playing festivals. The Movielife is one of the most well respected bands from the 2000’s Emo movement and we get to watch them play Chicago for the first time in like a decade. See these five bands in a row, which you could do and get schooled on emotional hardcore’s history.

The 5 Bands You Must See At Riot Fest Chicago 2015 – Friday

It is once again time for Riot Fest in Chicago. Well, if it even happens at all. But if it does here are the 5 bands you need to check out on Day 1.

Alkaline Trio – 8:00pm Rise Stage

Alkaline Trio

Alkaline Trio owns Chicago pure and simple. The energy between the band and their fans in their hometown for over a decade has always been a very special thing to watch. Odds are you were already going to see them but I just have to be sure. On a personal note Riot Fest started for me at their Empty Bottle show in 2012. This could very well be the last Riot Fest I attend so it would be nice to bring things back to where it started.

Coheed and Cambria – 5:45pm Rock Stage


Speaking of Riot Fest 2012 Coheed and Cambria put on one of the most memorable performances of that years festival. It really felt like the first set that weekend where everything clicked. We were watching a band at the top of their game play on a stage and the end of the street in Humboldt Park. Definitely a top 5 Riot Fest moment for me. With a new album coming out October 16th hopefully we’ll get to hear some new jams mixed in with the crowd favorites.

Ice Cube – 9:00pm Roots Stage


Ice Cube is playing Riot Fest. Oh, that sounds like a fun set to watch. Oh, he’s doing “Straight Outta Compton”? Hmm…that’s even more interesting. Well, also he’s billed as “with special guests” which at Riot Fest Denver included MC Ren and DJ Yella. That’s 3/4 of the surviving members of NWA for those not keeping track at home. On top of that the NWA movie is still raking in millions of dollars. What you have here is one of the most anticipated sets of the whole weekend. Oh, and will Dre show up? No, but….I mean…you’re gonna make sure he doesn’t right? We all are, we all are.

Into It. Over It. – 1:15pm Rise Stage


Into It. Over It. are the so called kings of the “emo-revival”. I tend to agree. Over the course of 2 albums and more singles and compilations than you can count Evan Weiss has gone from lone acoustic gunman to the leader of a great emotional rock band. I saw them last year open for Mineral and they were fantastic. I just wish they were playing more than just a brisk 30 minute set.

Thrice – 6:15pm Rise Stage


In 2012 Thrice called it quits or they called it a hiatus or something. They claimed their hearts weren’t fully in it anymore. I don’t know if they were talking about being a band or the hiatus because three short years later they are back at it. Playing mostly festivals but well…this is a festival and here we are so lets just go watch one of the best alternative rock bands ever play some music.




I Drank 8 Marzens and You Wont Belive What Happens Next!

EDIT: 9/5/9:51 PM There were pictures of each beer but on some devices they displayed sideway so I took them down for now. 

It’s almost time to set aside the session IPAs, the Pilsners, and the fruity over hopped ales and start thinking about warmer maltier beers. Yes, Fall is here and that means only one thing. Your beer store is full of 4 month old pumpkin beers already. Blech….its time to start drinking Marzens better known as Oktoberfest beers. But which ones are worth your time? Well, that’s almost impossible to answer. Untappd shows over 300 different beers identifying as Okotberfest/Marzen. So I grabbed 8 locally and nationally available ones and decided to give them a taste test. There’s another big caveat to this list and that is it’s missing Leinenkugel and Samuel Adams. I’ve had both before and Leinenkugel wasn’t very good but the Sam Adams Oktoberfest is outstanding. I would place it in the top 3 of this list but since I didn’t drink it yet this year I can’t say for sure if it holds up.

So here are 8 Marzens ranked from worst to best. Feel free to let me know what else I should try. I’m definitely a bit of a Marzen novice. Prost!

8. Ballast Point Dead Ringer


I’m just as surprised as you are. Ballast Point has been knocking it out of the park all year. Unfortunately their Oktoberfest has no aroma, a lackluster appearance, and a bland taste. At best I could drink one of these and where’s the Oktoberfest spirit in that?


7. Excel Brewing Company Oktoberfest


Excel is a brewery I’ve never heard of from a town in Illinois I’ve never heard of. So I thought I’d give this new to me brewery a shot. Unfortunately they did not deliver. The taste of a traditional Marzen was there but they stumbled on the aroma and mouthfeel. Again, I would probably only drink one of these.


6. Spoetzl Brewery Shiner Oktoberfest


The taste is there on Shiner Oktoberfest but it seemed more watered down than the other beers we drank. Nothing really wrong with it I just wanted more….flavor? It reminded me of Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest something you could drink a bunch of because it didn’t overwhelm your palate.


5. Metropolitan Afterburner 


I was expecting big things from the Kings and Queens of Chicago Lagers but what I got was a more flavorful version of the Shiner offering. They were tied in my mind. It was really the mouthfeel that pushed it over the edge. Afterburner had a weight to it that I liked. I could have a couple of these on a Fall night and be satisfied.


4. Baderbraü Oktoberfest


Baderbraü’s offering lands right in the middle. Nice toasty grains which I love but then the flavor just evaporated. It felt like I was chasing the ghost of an Oktoberfest beer. The flavor that I did taste was 100% what I want from a Marzen it’s too bad it couldn’t stick around.


3. Great Lakes Oktoberfest


Most people consider this the quintessential Oktoberfest beer and I could totally see that. I dinged it points on the aroma and the appearance but everything else was there. An absolutely solid beer there is no reason you shouldn’t pick this up if you’re interested in the style.


2. Revolution Brewing Oktoberfest


I’ve had Rev’s Oktoberfest before and thought it was a great example of the style. They said they had tweaked the recipe a bit and boy did they. There’s a nice hit of spice mixed in with the malty sweetness that is just what I wanted. If you live in an area where you can get this beer you absolutely should pick some up immediately. As soon as we get a nice crisp night in Chicago I can’t wait to throw a hoodie on and enjoy one of these.


1. Goose Island Oktoberfest


I really didn’t expect Goose Island to take number one. Figured this would be a decent attempt at the style brewed by Anheuser-Busch but I was wrong. It’s as good as Revolution’s but where it shines is a bit of toastyness and a mild fruitiness. This is a Marzen I could drink all night.

If I’m being completely honest all of these beers were solid except the Ballast Point I would never drink that again. They all had a great base flavor but since I scored them using the Beer Advocate scale some got dinged for their appearance or they were too carbonated. Goose Island and Revolution definitely are the best of the eight but the other ones aren’t going to kill you.