Yeah Yeah Yeahs perform at Riot Fest in Chicago on Sept. 18, 2022.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs perform at Riot Fest in Chicago on Sept. 18, 2022.

Riot Fest 2022 was more Rebellious than ever with a lineup boasting the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sleater-Kinney, Alice Glass, Bully and many more. My Chemical Romance, The Original Misfits – who performed Walk Among Us – and Nine Inch Nails, delivered heavy-hitting headlining performances, but many of the most memorable sets of the weekend of Sept. 16 – 18, were found all across Chicago’s Douglass Park with the smaller stages hosting an incredible roster of dynamic sets.

Cliffdiver performs at Riot Fest in Chicago on Sept. 16, 2022.

Cliffdiver shared a star-making show on Friday afternoon as vocalist, Briana Wright, thrashed, kicked and jumped her way through the set without so much as a waiver on each pitch perfect note. Front man Joey Duffy shared with the crowd that he was celebrating approximately 500 days of sobriety. He showed compassion for anyone who has been in a similar position, adding a healthy dose of hope to those affected by addiction. The sincere song “Lost in Ikea” certainly resonated with the crowd.

Surfbort performs at Riot Fest in Chicago on Sept. 17, 2022.

If you haven’t seen Surfbort, stop what you’re doing and go see Surfbort. The group made the Rebel Stage feel like a sweaty club during their cheeky Saturday afternoon set. Vocalist, Dani Miller, smiled and skipped across the stage during “Pretty Little F*cker” and “D*cks in Space” before jumping to the front rail to sing “Les Be in Love” directly into the faces of front row fans.

Day two also found The Joy Formidable unleashing an epic jam to start their set in the form of a sweetly sprawling rendition of “The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade.”

“It’s lovely to see you all again. We love coming through Chicago. It’s such a music city so thank you very much for coming out and giving us this welcome today,” said lead vocalist / guitarist Ritzy Bryan before inviting fans to come visit the band back in their home of North Wales. “If any of you’ve been to Wales, it’s f*cking cool, anyway, definitely take a trip. I feel like we’re not very good at promoting ourselves sometimes. It feels like people go to Scotland, go to Ireland and England – which are all lovely as well – but Wales is a bit of a secret that I’ve just divulged.”

The Joy Formidable performs at Riot Fest in Chicago on Sept. 17, 2022.

Riot Fest saved the best for last as Sunday was jam-packed starting with Moon Kissed who opened the Rebel Stage for the day.

“It’s your last day of rioting so give us everything,” said vocalist Khaya Cohen during the set which included “Bubble Gum” and the powerful interlude, “I’ll Ask For It.”

After rocking Pitchfork earlier this year, The Linda Lindas returned to Chicago somehow treating Riot Fest to an even tighter performance complete with synchronized dancing. Their “Rebel Girl” cover sounded even better this time around with memories of Bikini Kill’s unforgettable 2019 headlining performance still resonating in the Riot Fest setting.

To close out the Roots Stage on Sunday night, Riot Fest recruited a band with a reputation for bringing the house down, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Vocalist Karen O walked out wearing an iridescent hat and cape yet her shimmering aura shined brighter than anything else seen on stage. The band began with the new song “Spitting Off the Edge of the World” – off their forthcoming album Cool It Down set to be released on Sept. 30. “Cheated Hearts” followed with Karen O removing her fashionable accessories as she sang, “Well I’m taka-taka-taka-taka-takin’ it off.” “Pin,” “Heads Will Roll,” and “Zero” appeared on their Riot Fest setlist as well.

War on Women perform at Riot Fest in Chicago on Sept. 17, 2022.

Bridge City Sinners, Skating Polly, Pale Waves, Rebellious Magazine favorites War on Women and Sleater-Kinney, and so many more artists also made Riot Fest 2022 a magical experience.

Check out photos from all three days of Riot Fest below. More information about the event can be found at Riotfest.org.

(Photos by Laurie Fanelli)

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Laurie Fanelli

Laurie Fanelli is a Chicago-based writer and photographer who specializes in live entertainment coverage. She is at home at major music festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and, of course, Lollapalooza and...