Summer may be winding down, but it’s shaping up to go out with one final fling that could very well top Chicago’s entire list of festivals for 2016. The return of Riot Fest to Douglas Park boasts an ambitious and diverse blend of hard rock, alternative, punk, indie, rap and reggae, plus a little bit of everything else imaginable. And while everyone’s talking about the long-awaited reunion of The Original Misfits, there are tons of other exclusives and worthwhile sets taking place from Friday, September 16 through Sunday, September 18, including these 10 must see shows.
1. The Original Misfits (Sunday)
The tag line “they said it would never happen” has rarely been as applicable as the one applied to this highly heralded horror punk/heavy metal reunion. Outside of Chicago and Denver’s editions of Riot Fest, there are simply no other chances to catch Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only and Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein performing together for the first time since 1983!
Between time leading The Smiths and the fact that he doesn’t actually get to Chicago all that often (in spite of several false alarms), a chance to see the absolutely unmistakable Morrissey may very well be worth the price of admission. The politically-charged singer/songwriter, sexually ambiguous personality and animal rights activist will surely touch on his time with the alt-rock icons and dive deep into an esteemed solo career culminating in the current “World Peace Is None of Your Business.”
3. The Flaming Lips (Friday)
Known to roll over a massive festival audience in a giant blow-up ball, blitz confetti all over a field, dress up in crazy costumes and bring practically anyone up on stage, The Flaming Lips’ leadership of Friday’s bill will be anything but dull. In fact, be ready for who knows what as Wayne Coyne and company uncap one of the most colorful, bizarre and intriguing catalogues in the lineage of experimental rock and neo-psychedelia.
4. Julian Marley (Friday)
As much as many have tried, there will never be another Bob Marley, but perhaps the purest form of tribute will come when his son Julian performs The Wailers’ monumental “Exodus” in its entirety. The 1977 album is responsible for not only the enduring title track, but also fellow classics such as “Three Little Birds,” “One Love,” “Jamming” and “Waiting In Vain.”
With the brand new “Integrity Blues” bowing on October 21, Jimmy Eat World faithful may get one of the first glimpses of the group’s ninth studio offering. And even if it’s just the standard career-spanning set, expect a power pop sing-a-long through the likes of “The Middle,” “Sweetness,” “Pain” and “Big Casino.”
6. Thursday (Sunday)
Throughout the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Thursday dominated the post-hardcore and emo scenes, serving as a blueprint for the countless offshoot acts that rode a similar wave. Despite the group announcing an indefinite hiatus five years ago (and eventually a full-fledged disbandment), Geoff Rickly and the guys are back for a whole new generation to experience their unbridled aggression and instantly apparent passion.
7. Rob Zombie (Sunday)
No, White Zombie isn’t back together, but leader Rob Zombie’s re-visitation of the band’s complete “Astro-Creep: 2000” could very well scratch that itch. The shock rocker’s inaugural Riot Fest appearance also promises to be the exclusive place to hear the full double platinum project, including the monsters “More Human Than Human” and “Super-Charger Heaven.”
In the grand history of hip-hop, few long players have possessed greater musical or societal impact than NAS’ 1994 platinum-plus debut “Illmatic.” Though he’s sure to play a hearty smattering from the smash, the rapper’s maintained a steady streak of recording right up through the compelling comeback collection “Life Is Good.”
9. Social Distortion (Saturday)
On another exclusive and entire album note, punk veterans Social Distortion are also slated to dust off a game-changer. However, in addition to simply hearing and seeing “White Light, White Heat, White Trash” leap to life, this presentation just so happens to land on the 20th anniversary of the exact release date from September 17, 1996!
10. Dee Snider (Sunday)
Flying high from the critically-lauded documentary “We Are Twisted F***ing Sister!,” over the top front man Dee Snider logs a rare solo appearance. While he’s certainly recorded a few individual albums and several soundtracks, it’s pretty likely the band’s immortal “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and its growling follow-up “I Wanna Rock” will bust out of the speakers at some point.
Riot Fest takes place at Douglas Park from Friday, September 16 through Sunday, September 18. For additional details, visit RiotFest.org/Chicago.