In just a few short days, tens of thousands of people will descend on Douglas Park on Chicago’s West Side to bare witness to a pretty stacked Riot Fest bill, Sept. 15 – Sept. 17. Headlining acts include Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, and Jawbreaker – who haven’t played in over 21 years together. Not to mention, the artists in-between, which include some pretty heavy hitters, such as New Order, Wu-Tang Clan, Built to Spill, Paramore and many more.

As if trying to figure out a carefully calculated schedule that allows you to catch all your favorite bands on time wasn’t already hard enough, we’ve listed ten rising acts on the Riot Fest line-up that you should give a listen to and add your Riot Fest schedule ASAP. You can thank us later!

Culture Abuse

Culture Abuse is bound to be one of your new favorite bands. Their music is a melodic mix of punk, pop and California surf. Check out their recent single “So Busted,” which is slated to be part of their forthcoming follow up LP. While you’re at it, give their critically acclaimed debut album Peaches a listen.

Catch their set on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 2:00 p.m. on The Heather Owen Stage.

Downtown Boys

Signed to Sub Pop Records, but still very much DIY at heart, Downtown Boys use their growing platform to sing, and sometimes yell with a passionate rage, about the struggles they face as Chicanx, Latinx, and queer punk artists in a predominately cis-hetero male genre. If you want a good socially conscious set, some brass and somewhere to let your frustrations out, this is the band to watch!

Catch their set on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 1:00 p.m. on the Rise Stage.


As one of the first bands kicking off the whole festival, there is no doubt that Grayscale will bring the energy to their noon set. As one of pop punk’s fastest rising acts out of the Philadelphia music scene, Grayscale will bring the riffs and catchy hooks to get you moving. Listen to their recently released album Adornment to get yourself acquainted.

Catch their set on Friday, Sept. 15 at 12:00 p.m. on The Heather Owen Stage.


INVSN – pronounced as invasion – are a post-punk band from Umeå, Sweden. Many of the band members come established punk acts across Swede music scene so they are not relatively knew to the stage. You may not know of them yet, but they will surely get your attention with their 1980’s punk and pop synth sounds. Get familiarized with the band by listening to “This Constant War” off of their recently released album The Beautiful Stories.

Catch their set on Friday, Sept. 15 at 12:00 p.m. on The Heather Owen Stage.

Knuckle Puck

Chicago’s pop-punk scene is on full display at Riot Fest this year – catering to the ever-growing popularity of the scene – with the inclusion of Chicago natives Knuckle Puck. The band has been hard at work on their follow up album Shapeshifter, slated to be released next month, and are about to embark on a headlining tour, but first they have to play Riot Fest. Listen to their single “Gone” from their upcoming album and get ready to bounce.

Catch their set on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 2:30 p.m. on the Rise Stage.


Expect Seaway, a catchy pop punk band from Canada who are signed to Pure Noise Records, to bring the Vacation vibes – the name of their upcoming album for those who may not get the reference – to the their Friday set. Watch their recently released video for “Lula on the Beach” to get familiar with their infectious sound.

Catch their set on Friday, Sept. 15 at 2:00 p.m. on The Heather Owen Stage.

Sleep On It

Another Chicago pop punk band that you must catch at Riot Fest! You have to admire the guys of Sleep On It for their hustle and dedication over the past years to get to where they are at now – on the Riot Fest line-up. They recently released their new single “Distant”, are on the heels of releasing their debut LP Overexposed, and with another major North American tour on the books before the year is over, this might be the last time we get to call them a “rising act.” If you like memorable lyrics and good hooks then make time to support your local scene.

Catch their set on Friday, Sept. 15 at 1:50 p.m. on the Radicals Stage.

The Regrettes

Get ready to get jump around with The Regrettes, one of the best punk bands out of L.A. in the most recent years, whose honest, vulnerable and raw lyrics, 50’s sound and very 90’s punk attitude have captured everyone’s attention. You will thoroughly enjoy the band’s ferocious performance and their overwhelmingly good melodies. Listen to their too relatable hit “Hey You.”

Catch their set on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 6:00 p.m. on The Heather Owen Stage.

The Smith Street Band

Hailing from Australia, The Smith Street Band is known for their fast catchy rambunctious hooks and emotional lyrics partly sang and partly spoken by lead front man Will Wagner – which makes them one of the most fun and rowdy acts to see. Expect high energy, expect to yell and dance around, and maybe expect to unexpectedly cry. Listen to their most recent single “Shine” off their upcoming forth album.

Catch their set on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 1:15 p.m. on the Rise Stage.

The Hotelier

As one of the many bands leading the “emo revival,” The Hotelier are an interesting pick for the Riot Fest line-up, who normally shies away from this genre, but nobody should complain because The Hotelier are a great rock band. Their last album Goodness was named one of the best albums of 2016. They aren’t necessarily a new band, with four albums under their belt, but might be new to some of you. Listen to “Piano Player” and brace yourself for an emotionally enthralled set.

Catch their set on Friday, Sept. 15 at 4:00 p.m. on The Heather Owen Stage.

Make sure to see these bands and many many more at Riot Fest this weekend!