All the Ridiculous Stuff We Overheard at Chicago's Riot Festival

"What's your favorite song? Mine is the one that goes, 'Punch in the face, punch in the face, uhhhh punch in the face.' It's catchy."
Hannah Ewens
London, GB

This article originally appeared on VICE UK. Chicago's legendary Riot Fest is a marriage of Slam Dunk and what Reading and Leeds Festival used to be when headliners were more Linkin Park and Metallica than Kasabian and Muse.

This year, the biggest bands playing were Taking Back Sunday, Paramore, Jawbreaker, Nine Inch Nails, and New Found Glory, alongside a sprinkling of hip-hop acts. Riot Fest is made up of all sorts, many of them wearing Black Flag vests and oversize trucker caps. And because Americans have no drinking culture, as a Brit, stumbling around half-drunk, you're acutely aware of sobriety at every turn.


Besides the best punk lineup of the year, there was plenty more to enjoy this year, from women riding motorcycles on a tightrope accompanied by a trash-metal soundtrack, to kids devouring weed edibles by the To Write Love on Her Arms stand. One night, I lost my friends because I came across a guy from a Southern state with a black pig in a pentagram choker, bucking on its leash to At the Drive-In. "You can pet him—he's friendly," the owner told me, writing the pig's Instagram details on a Zimbabwean note.

This is the tone of Riot Fest. These are the things I overheard.

I don't care if you drove us here; you can't go to bed, you fucking loser, it's 8 PM. Go sleep in the grass. You're always an embarrassment at these things.

[Musician upon ending his set] Love yourself!

I just got back from tour with Neck Deep. It was pretty gnarly.

My mouth has never tasted more like a goat's asshole as after those noodles from last night.

[A man wearing a band vest] Sleeves are bullshit.

There are no bigger fakers than Green Day. Have you heard Billie Joe and his fake fucking British accent?

Man A: FIDLAR is a little depressing.
Man B: What the fuck, Steve, you can't even read. I'm not listening to your bullshit.

Legit I saw Andrew W.K. sitting on a keg looking very not party earlier.

The bad fashion here is contagious. I saw a big fat guy yesterday with overalls and no shirt. God bless America.

We did so much Molly for the first time ever that no one could explain the entire night.


Red Hot Chili Peppers are the shit, but what I'm saying is I wouldn't be wearing their shirt in public.

You know who I'm glad is not playing again? Tenacious D.—Fuck that Jack Black, man.

Man A: If I wear the same outfit here every day but change the shirt, can't go wrong.
Man B: No dude, you fucking stink like ass. I'm sorry.

The Fall of Troy is still gnarly.

Man: My boys are playing tonight. They've been my boys from way back when.
Woman: You keep saying that, but you barely know them.
Man: They're my [boys].
Woman: Please shut up.

I got this vegan tattoo, but I'm only really half meat, half vegetarian now. *points around to the seven-inch word "vegan" across her shoulder blades*

I've been drinking since 9 AM, and now I'm having to hold your fucking head up to listen to emo.

I saw a Pikachu belly button ring on a stand over there that I want to get before Say Anything. It's pretty random.


Girl: Have you seen Jawbreaker before?
Man: Of course, countless times.
Girl: Interesting, they haven't played for 20 years.

Swearing is awesome. Fuck!

Say Anything's Max Bemis: This song's about breakup sex.
Teen Boy 1: Oh God, can we please leave.
Teen Boy 2: Stop being so fucking miserable for five minutes.
Teen Boy 1: I'm allowed to feel sad.

Is it excessive to say I live for ska?

Ska is lifeblood.

Girl 1: Is that lizard man?
Girl 2: Who the fuck is lizard man?
Girl 1: He's that guy dressed as a lizard, with green tattoos all over his body. He works at the circus and does stuff with Nine Inch Nails somehow. My friend Brenda says she fucked him, apparently.
Girl 2: Get your picture with him.
Girl 1: OMG, no. I need to be plum drunk as a skunk for that shit.


Did you see the pigs earlier? You know pigs are hard fuckers. Like, they will fuck, and then they will fuck you up, and then they will fuck you, too.

What's your favorite song? Mine is the one that goes, "Punch in the face, punch in the face, uhhhh punch in the face." It's catchy.

Man A: Who wins in a fight in 2017, though? Jesse Lacey or Adam Lazzar?
Man B: Do you need to ask that question? You see how he still fucks with that mic swing? He will crack you and Lacey in the balls with that mic, no question. Any day, any way.

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