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Stage Buzz: Riot Fest Undercard Preview

| September 8, 2019

The Selecter by Dean Chalkley

Riot Fest returns this fall for its historic 15th anniversary, once again in Douglas Park (Ogden & Ashland). From its humble beginnings in small clubs to its current incarnation as a classic punk, indie rock, and hip-hop celebration, Riot Fest has a connection to Chicago like no other festival.  Now in its 15th year, the fest has become a crucial fall event and one of the year’s best music values. Here are some of our must-see picks for the undercard.

The Selecter
The Selecter are co-founding originators of England’s historic 2-Tone movement that brought together ska and reggae musicians of all colors for the love of the game; namely R&B and rock steady beats. Fronted by the angular Pauline Black, the band didn’t achieve the more significant successes like their Coventry hometown mates The Specials, but their early music was just as crucial, including “Three Minute Hero” which perfectly captures the spirit of the late ‘70s, where punk and ska collided to form a lasting multi-generational genre.

The Get Up Kids
The Kansas City-based second-wave Emo giants signed a new deal last year with Polyvinyl records – a perfect home for their sometimes reluctant pop/punk sound. They’ve run away from the emo label for years, which has puzzled both fans and critics, but they finally seem to be at peace on their new label, where they can plant their flag with undeniable results.

The Beaches
Toronto’s all-female quintet have made waves in their home country winning a JUNO award as Breakout Band of 2018. Their singles “Money” and “T-Shirt” show they know how to write a catchy single in the vein of Patti Smith and The Primitives. Usually, this isn’t the path an indie band follows, but Beaches has the attitude and hooks like they don’t give fuck.

Pittsburgh’s punk giants are a band we need in the current orange political climate more than ever. Being on an indie or major label doesn’t matter for a group that has always stood for righteous causes and pro-human organizations – including anti-fascism, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and many more. “You Can Kill the Protester, But You Can’t Kill the Protest” is one rock’s all-time great protest anthems

Elder Brother
A spin-off of The Story So Far and Daybreaker, Elder Brother have in some ways eclipsed the musical benchmarks of the bands they’ve temporarily left behind. Their latest album **Stay Inside takes a stripped-down and dour look at heroin addiction. After three albums, EB has established themselves as one of indie rock’s top bands ready to break out.

Riot Fest takes place September 13th, 14th, and 15th in Douglas Park, Chicago. For complete line-up and ticket information visit

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