Riot Fest Day 2 Review

Date: September 27, 2019

By Valentino Petrarca

I’m Valentino Petrarca, Assistant Music Director and host of Under The Stars (the Pop-Punk/Emo/Post Hardcore show). I have already reviewed Day 1 of Riot Festival in Chicago, so if you have not read that yet check it out on our website. Otherwise, here is my Day 2 recap of the famous festival. 

One thing I noticed upon arriving in the city of Chicago was how absolutely friendly all of  people were. This was true both in the festival and in Chicago as a whole. The public was always smiling and asking how my day was. Coming from New Jersey, these sudden acts of politeness were completely unheard of. People were genuinely interested in your backstory. It was really something else. 

One of the first bands that performed that deserves special praise is Microwave. They were absolutely amazing. Vocals sounded crisp and clear and all the instruments were incredibly well played. They found a way to increase their live sound in such a manner that it resonates with the audience more. The way they connected with the crowd was truly something special. 

Pvris was another act that took me by surprise. I’ve seen Pvris live a few times, but haven't listened to them in years. Even when I used to seem them live they never truly rocked their performance and owned their sound the way they did here. Their energy was through the roof, their sound was amazing, and they’ve never had a stage presence this strong. I remember standing near the sound-tent with my jaw dropped wondering how they continuously keep getting better and better. 

Another hard rock group that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as they deserve is the super group The Damned Things. This band consists of Fall Out Boy’s Guitarist and drummer, Anthrax’s guitarist, Alkaline Trio’s Bass player, and Every Time I Die’s vocalist. They were one of the bands live bands I’ve ever seen. The music was so raw and the emotion was present. It’s obvious every single one of these musicians bleeds punk rock, and they have so much fun playing it. Their on stage chemistry was outstanding. In every aspect they were truly out of this world. 

I’ve already spoken about Senses Fail in my Day 1 Review, but they played twice at Riot Fest and absolutely killed it the second time around as well. They played From Depths To Dreams in its entirety and it was so entertaining. Buddy was swinging the microphone and dancing in the most fun and amazing way. The whole band really has a way of commanding every ounce of your attention when they play live. Senses Fail has proven themselves as a Pop-Punk staple that will be around for years to come. 

I used some time throughout the course of the second day to check out the abundance of merchandise tents. There were many incredible vendors and very unique products. It felt like walking out of a festival and into a punk-rock flea market. The only thing experience that came close to this was the 25th Anniversary Of Warped Tour in Atlantic City. I didn’t purchase any items, but they all looked well made.

Another incredible aspect of the festival I didn’t even notice on the first day was the Chicago skyline. Looking west of the festival, a perfect view of the Chicago skyscrapers was visible. It was extremely beautiful and really added to the atmosphere of the festival. 

There is another band that I had seen live before, but was ecstatic to see again—Rise Against put on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. I saw them live in 2018 and forgot how absolutely electric they are live. Because Chicago is their hometown, they went off extra hard for the crowd. Tim makes a perfect front-man, delivering powerful speeches with beautiful notes. The guitars and drums were flawless and the performance left me stunned. I was singing every word with a group of WSOU alumni I had encountered on the way. Rise Against have proven time and time again that punk rock will never truly die, and witnessing that in their hometown was something I can finally cross off the bucket-list. 

Something else that happened during the festival that I will never forget as long as I live, was the astounding bright moon shining over the Riot Stage. A pretty moon hardly seems like something to festival can control, and something that would factor into a review of the festival, however I would deeply regret if I did not speak of this. During Rise Against’s brilliant set, the moon rose perfectly over the stage and made me feel like I was in a movie. The neon yellow glow was cast over thousands of people and rose above the stage unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It was one of the few moments in my life where I was left completely dumbfounded by how lucky I was to be alive in this moment. 

The festival also had powerful spotlights stations across the entire park throughout every night the festival. It was something I did not notice on Day 1, but was so happy I discovered on Day 2. It was super interesting and added to the atmosphere. When watching artists at night, you could look up and see spot lights waving across the night sky. It felt like something out of a movie. 

The final band of the night was also the most influential. This would be none other than Slayer. They defined heavy metal and hard rock for decades to come. 99% of the bands that WSOU plays would never have been possible without Slayer. Also because of their impending breakup, this was also their final Chicago date. It was truly incredible. The band had energy and the set to go along with it. There was fire, massive set pieces, and thrashing lights. I’ve never heard a crowd scream so loudly. It was such a sight to witness. They closed out their final Chicago performance with a bang in the best possible way. 

Thank you so much for reading my review/recap of Riot Fest Day 2, definitely keep it locked on WSOU to read my review of the third and final day of the festival. 

Click here for the Day 1 Review!

Valentino Petrarca is the Music Assistant for WSOU, and can be reached at

Posted in: Show Review, Metal, WSOU Exclusive, WSOU, Reviews

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