5 New Bands to See at Riot Fest 2016

Riot Fest by Sarah Hess

Chicago – Ah, yes, it’s that time of year again – time to experience all four seasons while attending one of Chicago’s best music festivals: Riot Fest. For some, the chances of getting rained on, spending the weekend slowly walking through mud, and on the daily experiencing an Autumn morning, humid afternoon, and then a frigid evening during the festival and carnival, seems like an absolute turn-off, but for residents of the Windy City, this is simply another way to laugh in the face of Chicago weather, while also enjoying some kick-ass music. We here at Best New Bands L.O.V.E. Riot Fest and all the new bands that come through each year, so in anticipation, we’ve created a list of the Top Five New Bands to See at Riot Fest 2016. Let’s get started, shall we?


Diarrhea Planet

Diarrhea Planet by Sarah Hess - Best New Bands

You absolutely cannot attend Riot Fest Chicago this year without seeing Nashville six-piece Diarrhea Planet! Don’t let the name deter you because guitarists Jordan Smith, Brent Toler, Emmett Miller, and Evan Bird, bassist Mike Boyle, and drummer Ian Bush will put on the best show you’ve ever seen. We guarantee there’s nothing shitty about it. And yeah, you read that right: FOUR guitarists! Diarrhea Planet has been touring in support of its third album Turn to Gold (Infinity Cat Recordings), which flawlessly mixies indie rock, punk, metal, and arena rock. Expect to hear plenty of new material, like ”Ain’t a Sin to Win,” and most likely some old favorites such as “Ghost with a Boner!” Go see DP on Friday 9/16 on the Rock Stage from 12:45-1:15 p.m. And check out the BNB interview with drummer Ian Bush, too!

*photo by Sarah Hess



Microwave - BEST NEW BANDS

Atlanta band Microwave blends post-hardcore, emo, and indie rock for an irresistible sound, with songs that tackle life, love, loss, faith, etc. The four-piece, comprised of Nathan Hardy, Wesley Swanson, Tyler Hill, and Timothy Pittard, released the honest, emotional debut album Stovall back in 2014, after frontman Nathan Hardy had left the Mormon Church. The band is now ready to dish out record number two. With its sophomore album Much Love set for release on September 30th, it’s safe to say Microwave will perform some new material for us, such as the single “Vomit,” plus oldies like “Trash Stains.” Enjoy the sounds of Microwave Saturday 9/17 on the Storyheart Stage from 3:30-4:00 p.m.

*Photo by Cameron Flaisch


Black Foxxes

Black Foxxes - Best New Bands

Trio Black Foxxes is not to be missed! The U.K. punk outfit first unleashed its sincere, candid “depression rock” with the EP You Gotta Grow, in 2013. This August, Mark Holley (guitar, vocals), Tristan Jane (bass), and Ant Thornton (drums), released the powerful debut LP I’m Not Well. Best New Bands recently talked with frontman Mark Holley about I’m Not Well, his struggles with anxiety, and the excitement of playing Riot. In the BNB interview, Holley let us know this will be his first visit to Chicago, so you know, we have to show him and the guys of Black Foxxes some Windy City love. Go check out Black Foxxes Saturday 9/17 on the Rebel Stage from 4:00-4:30 p.m.

*Photo courtesy of Golightly Media


The Walters

The Walters by Kristina Pedersen - BEST NEW BANDS

You also absolutely cannot attend Riot Fest Chicago without seeing at least one local band – it’s just bad juju, if ‘ya don’t. So, we suggest seeing The Walters, for a good dose of “cardigan rock.” What the f**k is cardigan rock, you ask? It’s basically a mix of garage, grunge, and indie rock, infused with sounds of 60s surf rock. Think The Beach Boys meets Nirvana. The Walters is comprised of Luke Olson, Walter Kosner, Michael James Tirabassi, Danny Wells, and Charlie Ekhaus. The five men have become a staple in Chicago’s DIY scene, but they’ve been branching out to bigger and bigger venues – and the guys just returned from an East Coast tour with The Symposium, in support of the EP Young Men. Bring a cardigan and get rowdy with The Walters on Saturday 9/17 on the Storyheart Stage from 4:30-5:00 p.m.

*Photo by Kristina Pedersen


The Julie Ruin

The Julie Ruin by Shervin Lainez - BEST NEW BANDS

Although The Julie Ruin is a new band, its frontwoman Kathleen Hanna is a veteran and a serious musical icon. Yeah, as in Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre. If that’s not enough to get you to see The Julie Ruin’s set, well then just take a listen to the band’s latest album Hit Reset, filled with “upbeat songs combining fuzzy garage, punk, and 60s girl-pop, which lyrically put Hanna’s personal world to rights.” Get all Riot Grrrl at Riot Fest with The Julie Ruin on Sunday 9/18 on the Rock Stage from 5:00-5:45 p.m.

*Photo by Shervin Lainez


Of course there are plenty more up and coming bands to see at Riot Fest Chicago this year. Here are a few Honorable Mentions:

Highly Suspect: Friday 9/17, Storyheart Stage, 8:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Brick + Mortar: Saturday 9/17, Roots Stage, 12:00 – 12:30 p.m.

Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas: Saturday 9/17, Riot Stage, 1:30 – 2:00 p.m.

Hippo Campus: Saturday 9/17, Roots Stage, 2:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Bleached: Sunday 9/18, Rock Stage, 12:15 – 12:45 p.m.


Purchase tickets for Riot Fest Chicago HERE. Follow Riot Fest on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Cover photo by Sarah Hess for Best New Bands.

Sarah Hess

Sarah Hess

At the age of six, Sarah Hess discovered True Blue by Madonna. This resulted in her spending hours in front of the bathroom mirror with a hairbrush microphone, belting out "La Isla Bonita" off key. Her love for music only intensified over the years thanks to her parents; her mother exposed Sarah to The Jackson Five and had her hustling to the Bee Gees, while her father would play her albums like 'Pet Sounds' and 'Some Girls' from start to finish, during which he'd lecture on and on about the history of rock & roll. Sarah would eventually stumble upon rap and hip-hop, then punk and alternative, and fall madly in love with Jeff Buckley and film photography.

After attending The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Sarah went on to study education at Dominican University, earning a degree in history. When not teaching, writing, or taking in a show, she is most likely to be found with a camera to her eye or hanging out in a darkroom.

You can follow Sarah Hess on twitter at @Sarahhasanh and view her music photography on her website: smhimaging.com.
Sarah Hess

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