As the last fling of summer, Riot Fest is once again bringing some serious heat in 2017 thanks to three days of alternative action coming to Douglas Park. From Friday, September 15 through Sunday, September 17, fans of rock, hip-hop, electronic, punk and ska can scratch every musical itch imaginable with standard shows and several complete album performances. Though it’s impossible to catch every single second of around 100 acts, here are 10 must see sets, ranging from the club-ready concoctions of New Order, politically-charged chants from Prophets Of Rage, industrialized aggression by Nine Inch Nails and so much more.
1. New Order (Friday)
Rising from the ashes of Joy Division, New Order quickly became pioneers of electronic music, dominating the 1980s with club constants “Bizarre Love Triangle,” “Blue Monday” and “True Faith.” Though the membership has shuffled, the band’s popularity and innovation remained right up through its latest long player “Music Complete,” plus it’s not very often Bernard Sumner and company come to America.
2. Nine Inch Nails (Friday)
Trent Reznor and his ever-rotating cast of Nine Inch Nails backers bring current cuts from this year’s “Add Violence” EP, along with many of its industrialized classics. In fact, anyone who even flipped past Q101 throughout the last two decades is certainly familiar with the muscular likes of “Closer,” “Hurt” and “Head Like A Hole,” to name but a few.
3. Prophets Of Rage (Sunday)
Inspired by one of the most polarizing political seasons in global history, members of Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill converge in this rap/rock supergroup. Besides previewing tunes from a forthcoming project of original material, there’s likely to be a significant sampling from everyone’s respective acts, alongside a bold message destined to “Make America Rage Again.”
4. Jawbreaker (Saturday)
For the first time in exactly 21 years, alternative/indie/pop/punk titans Jawbreaker will reunite to revisit an extremely influential catalogue. While the New Yorkers never reached the upper ranks of the mainstream, the one-time Nirvana tour mates have a gigantic cult following from practically everywhere, so be sure to post-up early.
5. Wu-Tang Clan (Saturday)
Hailing from that same state, Wu-Tang Clan is known for harvesting many of the most massive names in hip-hop, many of whom will come back to the collective for a run through the entire landmark album “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).” For those needing a refresher, that was 1993’s debut disc that moved more than two million copies and spanned the smash “C.R.E.A.M.”
6. M.I.A. (Sunday)
British rapper/singer/songwriter M.I.A. is back with tunes from 2016’s “AIM” and about a decade’s worth of prior chart-toppers. Yet no matter what exact selections make the final cut, this is someone who can bring a party to the very back of the crowd with both pop sensibility and more experimentally-minded beats.
7. Fishbone (Saturday)
Falling somewhere in between funky rock, punk and ska, Fishbone are always explosive, entertaining and unpredictable. This time around, the band turns in 1988’s “Truth And Soul” in its entirety, which is filled with high-octane instrumentation and several social commentaries that could easily translate to today.
Chicago’s very own Vic Mensa is rapidly making a name for himself in hip-hop, plus it hasn’t hurt that he’s a frequent Chance The Rapper collaborator. No mention has been made of any specific features, but even if it just winds up being this very rapper, his socially conscious lyrics and connective stage presence will have no problem filling up center spotlight.
9. Queens of the Stone Age (Saturday)
Hard rock/alternative metal heavyweights Queens Of The Stone Age just turned in “Villains” following a four-year hiatus from the studio. But not to fear, Josh Homme and the current cast are as consistently colorful and ballsy as ever, further explaining their headlining status smack dab in the center of the weekend.
10. Mighty Mighty Bosstones (Sunday)
To both closely observing followers and casual onlookers, Mighty Mighty Bosstones are best known for 1997’s platinum-plus “Let’s Face It.” While “The Impression That I Get” made the most impact, “The Rascal King” and “Royal Oil” are also textbook examples of the group’s contagious pop/punk/ska stylings.
Riot Fest takes place at Douglas Park from Friday, September 15 through Sunday, September 17. For additional details, visit RiotFest.org/Chicago.