Riot Fest: The Music Fest for Grownups

It’s not easy being a grownup music fan. And the older you get, the harder (and weirder) it becomes. Your peers (i.e., your neighbors and your kids’ friends’ parents) can’t even pretend to understand why you’d choose to stand outside in the dirt for three days and listen to bands nobody’s ever heard of. And it is impossible to justify. I love music fests, and yet even the greatest sets I’ve experienced would’ve been way better in a dark club or theater.

So what’s a middle-aged music fan to do? (Actually, let’s not say “middle-aged.” Let’s say “mid-century modern.”)

Here’s what: go to Riot Fest. They book a lot of bands that prominently feature guitars. That might seem quaint or old-fashioned, but if that’s your thing then Riot Fest is pretty much the only game in town.

Yesterday, they announced the “first wave” of the 2018 lineup. There’s a ton of good stuff. I’m especially excited to see Beck, Elvis Costello, Blondie, Jerry Lee Lewis, Liz Phair, Cat Power, Johnny Marr, Superchunk, Speedy Ortiz, Bully, and the Bombpops, but there’s way more that I’m interested in checking out.

One disappointing thing: by my count only 14 of the 82 acts announced so far (17%) are fronted by women. That’s worse than both Lollapalooza (38 of 183; 21%) and Coachella (56 of 166; 33%). Seems like they could do better than that these days when all of the most exciting new guitar music is being made by girls. Maybe next year…

Riot Fest 2018 Lineup

Blink-182, Beck, Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Incubus, Young the Giant, Interpol, Blondie, Alkaline Trio, Father John Misty, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dropkick Murphys, Bleachers, Atmosphere, Flogging Molly, Cypress Hill, Bad Religion, Underoath, Matt and Kim, the Jesus Lizard, Sum 41, the Voidz, the Front Bottoms, Twin Peaks, K.Flay, Suicidal Tendencies, Bullet For My Valentine, Clutch, the Wonder Years, Digable Planets, Liz Phair, Cat Power, Gary Numan, Killing Joke, Hot Snakes, Wolfmother, Moose Blood, SWMRS, Johnny Marr, Superchunk, JD McPherson, Reignwolf, Lagwagon, Pussy Riot, FEAR, Andrew WK, GWAR, the Aquabats, Hobo Johnson & the Lovemakers, Face to Face, the Exploited, the Bouncing Souls, Dillinger Four, Conflict, Piebald, Adolescents, the Avengers, Cobra Skulls, HEALTH, Calpurnia, Kevin Devine, the Frights, the Districts, Arkells, the Audition, Spitalfield, Flor, Speedy Ortiz, Bully, Lower Class Brats, Total Chaos, the Fever 333, Direct Hit, Mom Jeans, Mannequin Pussy, Pronoun, Beach Goons, the Bombpops, Badflower, Save Face, Super Whatevr, Beach Bunny, No Small Children, and featuring Hellzapoppin’ Circus Sideshow Revue.

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