Pop Punk Takeover at Riot Fest 2021

Joseph Fran of Knuckle Puck by Ava Butera @_avabutera

Article by: Gwendolyn Brown

When it comes to pop-punk, Riot Fest surely delivered this past weekend in Douglass Park. Fans were able to see their classic Emo Nite favorites like Mayday Parade and Taking Back Sunday, as well as check out new up and comers like Action/Adventure, Meet Me @ The Altar and Bearings.

After recently being signed to Fueled By Ramen, the ladies in Meet Me @ The Altar played all their new songs at their first Riot Fest appearance on Friday. Their latest EP, “Model Citizen” is their first full release on their new label which has brought them many new fans. The gals in the band played a very high-energy thirty-minute set including a medley of covers from New Found Glory to Limp Bizkit. Lead singer, Edith Johnson, shared her gratitude on stage with the crowd and emphasized how crazy and exciting the past year for the band has been.

            Kicking off the second day of Riot Fest, Chicago pop-punk natives Action/Adventure played an upbeat set at the Rise Stage. Recently signed to Pure Noise Records, the band also expressed their gratitude on stage after being a band for seven years and never imagining they would be able to play Riot Fest. The crowd sang back the words to Tuck Everlasting and Semi-Prologue as Action/Adventure jammed on stage. Lead singer, Blake Evaristo, commented on how big the stage felt as they are used to playing at smaller venues and so he spent most of the set running and jumping around trying to fill the empty space.

            Canadian pop-punk band, Bearings, had one of the bounciest sets of the weekend when they played at the Rebel stage on Saturday. Most of their set was spent playing songs from their latest album that came out in 2020 titled “Hello, It’s You”. Bearings played all up-beat classic-sounding pop-punk songs with cheerful melodies and positive lyrics. The whole crowd sang along during their song Aforementioned and altogether sang the lyrics “well my friend, it’s been quite a year…I’ll be just fine.” I was amazed at how many fans showed up to support the Canadian rockers as it’s been over two years since they’ve played in Chicago.

            One of the most anticipated pop-punk sets of the weekend was definitely State Champs. Their crowd was massive for playing on the Rise stage and the energy of the set did not die down. These New Yorkers love playing in Chicago; so much so that they played a cover of Fall Out Boy’s song, Chicago Is So Two Years Ago. The crowd loved it and even casual State Champs fans were singing along. They showcased their new songs, Just Sound and Outta My Head, while ending with the song that initially got them traction back in 2015, called Secrets.

            Two Emo Nite favorites I was personally excited to see were Mayday Parade and Taking Back Sunday back to back on Saturday night. Both had massive crowds that were moshing, cheering, and dancing along to every song. Mayday Parade played the most songs from their well-known album, “A Lesson In Romantics”, while also playing newer songs like Piece Of Your Heart from their latest album, “Sunnyland.” Taking Back Sunday surprised fans with a cover of Weezer’s song My Name Is Jonas which was well received. Even casual fans like myself couldn’t help going crazy over legendary songs like MakeDamnSure and Cute Without The ‘E’. Both bands’ sets included a refreshing mix of old and new.

            Who better to play during sunset on the last day of the festival than Chicago Southsiders, Knuckle Puck. This pop-punk group has been a band for ten years now and shared how much playing Riot Fest in their hometown meant to them. This set was by far my favorite pop-punk set of the weekend, and not just because they happen to be my favorite band. Knuckle Puck brought lots of energy to the stage and the crowd did not let up throughout their hour-long set. They played many songs from their latest album “20/20” for the first time live such as True North and What Took You So Long? Aggression and emotions came through when they played two of their older songs Give Up and Fences back to back. Ending with one of their most well-known songs, Untitled, was an emotional finale to this high-energy fast-paced pop-punk set at Riot Fest.

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