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Everything We Overheard at a Punk Festival This Weekend

"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

If you're heavily into rock music and grew up in Britain, you've likely been through the revolutions of longing for US alt festivals. As a pre-teen you wanted nothing more than to follow Warped Tour around because you heard blink-182's "The Rock Show" in 2001, graduated to Gainesville's Fest when you considered yourself a mature punk at 17 and then ended up looking at Riot Fest line-ups.

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 and less Kasabian and Muse. This year the biggest bands playing are Taking Back Sunday, Paramore, Jawbreaker, The Menzingers, Danzig and New Found Glory with a sprinkling of hip hop acts. Instead of teens who've just finished their GCSEs sloping around on ket, Riot Fest doesn't care about your age as long as you come wearing a joke Black Flag vest and oversized trucker cap. 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 line-up of the year, there was plenty more to enjoy this year, from women riding motorbikes 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 8PM. 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 are 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. sat 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 are 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.

Fall of Troy are 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 9AM and now I'm having to hold your fucking head up to listen to emo.

I've seen a Pikachu belly button ring on a stand over there that I wanna 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 break-up 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 life blood.

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, and 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 favourite 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 Lazzara?
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.