Riot Fest 2017: An attendee’s perspective

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, September 27th, 2017 at 3:33 PM
Riot Fest 2017: An attendee’s perspective by Dakota Palmer
Photo: Dakota Palmer

Last Friday, I looked down at the countdown app on my phone and saw a zero. The time had finally come. I’m a huge concert junkie, so when a friend asked me last semester if I wanted to go to a music festival in Chicago in September, the automatic answer was yes.

I immediately started a countdown the day I bought the tickets.

I’d never been to a music festival before Riot Fest, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.

Would people be nice? Would performers just be walking around the fairgrounds talking to fans? Was I going to stand out as the person who had clearly never been to a music festival before?

I walked into Douglas Park with my Bayside shirt on, ready to hear The Story So Far, Mayday Parade and A Day To Remember rock the stages. I looked around at the other festgoers and noticed that everyone looked very friendly.

Some people were just enjoying the music while sitting on patches of grass; others were standing with crossed arms, bobbing their heads to the beat; and some brave souls were moshing around in the pit.

There was one commonality amongst every single person in that park: they were all there because of their love of music. Nearly everyone I saw was repping some sort of band T-shirt and was so enthusiastic while listening to the bands play, even if they weren’t their favorite band. It didn’t matter if you didn’t know all of the words to the songs, because everyone was just there to have a good time and absorb the music.

Whenever I’ve gone to concerts, I’ve always noticed people crowdsurfing and thought,

“Wow, I wish I could do that.” However, I’m a very clumsy person and knew I would end up getting hurt somehow. But, when A Day To Remember came on the stage, I knew it was my time to do the one thing I had always longed to do. With my friend behind me, we got through the stragglers in the crowd until we had reach a point where the crowd was pretty jammed together.

I tapped on a bulky guy’s shoulder and asked him to lift me up. Soon, I was looking above the crowd, kicking people in the head as I floated towards frontman Jeremy McKinnon.

Eventually, I got over the barricade, ran back to my friends and just collapsed on the ground, adrenaline rushing through my body…along with a pain in my shoulder and hip (I’m fine).

The next day, I saw some old and new bands like Knuckle Puck, New Found Glory and Taking Back Sunday, while eating the best lo mein I have ever eaten in my entire life. I sat on a soccer field and laid down as New Found Glory rocked out on the stage. Finally, I concluded the night by screaming along to Taking Back Sunday’s “Timberwolves at New Jersey” from behind the sound booth, where I scored a TBS setlist and a picture with Anthony Raneri of Bayside.

Sunday, I woke up, sad the weekend was nearly over, but also physically exhausted from the jumping, dancing, yelling and singing. I saw Say Anything, took a food break (to eat some very good tacos), and then headed back to a comfortable patch of grass to watch Minus the Bear from afar. Once Minus was starting to wrap up, we headed up through the crowd to get closer to the stage so we could be prepared for Best Coast and ultimately, Paramore.

I’ve never seen Paramore live or even particularly liked the band, but watching Hayley Williams jump around the stage with the excitement of a 5-year-old was amazing.

Her enthusiasm and love for music spread to the crowd, and somehow, I started singing along and knew all the words to the songs (even the ones I’d never heard of, that’s how powerful Williams is).

I came into that performance only knowing the words to the popular Paramore songs that played on the radio. I left a huge Paramore fan.

That was, by far, my favorite show that weekend simply because the band was so in sync with each other and you could tell they were so happy and grateful to be there.

I feel very lucky to have been able to attend Riot Fest, and I’m very excited to hopefully attend next year. 351 days.

Dakota Palmer is the news editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at

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