Five New Bands at Day Two of Riot Fest

Riot Fest 2016 by Sarah Hess for Best New Bands

Chicago – Day two of Riot Fest went off without a hitch. That is to say, Morrissey showed up and performed. Although, he did go on late after projecting video clips for over thirty minutes straight… but according to his die-hard fans, that’s just his regular “intro.” Whatevs. To each is own, right? Luckily, none of Saturday’s newbies started late, and all performed phenomenal sets!


Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas

Jessica Hernandez by Sarah Hess for Best New Bands

I’ve been trying to catch Detroit six-piece Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas for two festival seasons now. Last year the soul-pop band played Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza, but my schedule never allowed for me to get a taste. Luckily, Riot Fest came through for me, and I was able to partake in the hype, over at the Riot Stage. And thank goodness because these guys and gal are the real deal! Frontwoman Jessica Hernandez has some serious pipes on her. Recently everyone has been talking about Amy Winehouse, with the anniversary of her death, and how there’ll never be another like her. Yes, I suppose there will never be another Amy – though this is where I must insert a small rant about how great Sharon Jones is, and if you don’t know who she is, one, shame one you and two, google her – but there’s Jessica. Miss Hernandez and her band, comprised of Michael Krygier, Steve Lehane, Taylor Pierson, John Raleeh, and Stephen Stetson, could easily reach the level of success Amy Winehouse (and the Dap Kings) saw, with some time and heavy radio play. Here’s to hoping that happens because with songs like “Caught Up” and “Sorry I Stole Your Man,” from the band’s debut LP Secret Evil, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas deserve to become a household name, and with a sophomore album on the way, that just might happen!


Hippo Campus

Hippo Campus by Sarah Hess for Best New Bands

This year Riot Fest attendees saw a bit more musical diversity, with far more hip hop, soul, pop, and indie rock. So while I was surprised that Minnesota foursome Hippo Campus was on the festival line-up, it made sense. And Jake Luppen, Nathan Stocker, Zach Sutton, and Whistler Allen definitely had a large, dedicated fan base, who got to Douglas Park early to catch them perform songs from the 2015 EP South, such as title track “South” and the oh-so-catchy “Violet.” The guys also tossed in some new music, giving us a taste of what’s to come on the band’s debut LP – which Hippo Campus spent all Spring and Summer working hard on. I chatted with the guys of Hippo Campus after their set on the Roots Stage, and I can tell you they’re very excited to get it out and get back to touring regularly. I’m sure they’ll be topping radio charts and selling out shows, soon enough!



Microwave by Sarah Hess for Best New Bands

After getting my hands on Microwave‘s fantastic, soon-to-be released LP Much Love (SideOneDummy Records), I was so stoked to see this Atlanta post-hardcore four-piece live! Members Nathan Hardy, Wesley Swanson, Tyler Hill, and Timothy Pittard absolutely killed it at the StoryHeart Stage! And they performed new songs “Busy” and “Vomit” from sophomore album Much Love. Of course, Microwave also performed songs from its debut album Stovall, including the title track and “Grass Stains.” I must mention that Microwave had one of the best mosh pits I’ve seen all weekend, complete with swirling dust – it was like Pig-Pen came to Riot Fest just for Microwave’s set. There is so much emotion to Microwave’s music, and live, that emotion is increased ten-fold. I just can’t stress enough how great Microwave is live. Do yourself a favor: pick up a copy of Much Love on September 30th, listen to “Dull” on repeat a few times because it’s a great track, and then grab a ticket to see Microwave live. I promise you won’t be disappointed. 


Black Foxxes

Black Foxxes by Sarah Hess for Best New Bands

Those in the know were at the Rebel Stage Saturday afternoon to catch U.K. trio Black Foxxes make its Riot Fest debut, with the band’s first proper U.S. tour. Members Mark Holley, Tristan Jane, and Ant Thornton put on an emotional set, with Holley’s truthful lyrics and passionate vocals nearly bringing me to tears. Black Foxxes played plenty of new material from its recent release I’m Not Well, including “River.” Holley seemed to be having a hard time with the heat and humidity, with temps high in the 80s and the mid-day sun beaming down, but he powered through – as did we. I have to say, this is the hottest Riot Fest I’ve ever experienced. Global warming is real folks, and it’s affecting our Riot Fest experience, so please recycle, drive less, and listen to Black Foxxes.


The Walters

The Walters by Sarah Hess for Best New Bands

As a born and raised Chicagoan, it makes me so proud to see Chicago bands succeeding! And I couldn’t be more proud of The Walters. Though, it should be noted that members Luke Olson, Walter Kosner, Michael James Tirabassi, Danny Wells, and Charlie Ekhaus, are Chicago transplants. But we still see the guys as our own. As was evident by the crowd the five-piece drew in, with its Riot Fest debut on the StoryHeart Stage early Saturday evening. Frontman Luke Olson was up to his usual crazy antics, jumping around stage, gyrating, feeling up his bandmates, and cupping some balls. He also made sure to say hi to his mom, who was watching from the crowd, and let her know he loves her dearly. Mario Cuomo of The Orwells was also on hand to check out the band he has taken under his wings. The band caught the attention of Chicago music lovers with debut EP Songs For Dads, and last year the guys drew even more (well-deserved) attention with the EP Young Men. The Walters mix sounds of the 60s, but most notably surf rock, with hints of doo-wop and garage rock. The young men of The Walters are old souls with the hearts of young punk-rockers. If you haven’t seen The Walters – aka The Beach Boys of Generation Y – live yet, you must!


We have one more day of Riot Fest Chicago! Stay tuned for our coverage. Follow Best New Bands on Twitter and like us on Facebook. Read our Day One Riot Fest coverage HERE.

Photography 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:
Sarah Hess

Latest posts by Sarah Hess (see all)

One Comments

  1. Pingback: Four New Bands at Day Three of Riot Fest - Best New Bands

Comments are closed.