This September 13–15, Riot Fest will be celebrating its 15th anniversary at Douglas Park in Chicago and, lucky us, we get to celebrate too. In preparation for the weekend – and to set our emo minds at ease – we’ve washed all of our black jeans, shined up our Dr. Marten’s, made a playlist*, and have (finally) chosen our artists to watch. Rock on, read on.
Caroline Rose (@carolinerosemuzak) Friday, September 13
Another artist who found her calling after exploring many genres is Caroline Rose. The 29 year old Burlington, VT native has undergone quite the transformation from folk-rock to full-fledged indie rocker. A three-year hiatus where she learned a lot about herself and what she wanted for her career moving forward. Rose underwent a self-discovery process that allowed her to come out of the shadows in the last two years.
Rose has developed her personal brand to be much more than just writing songs. Comical banter is something to expect in each of her performances, which lets her fiery personality and confidence shine. It is evident that her wacky themes and comical approach allow her to translate her struggles and create a meaningful live show for her audiences. On her latest release, LONER, Rose sings about the hard-to-swallow truths of getting older and staying true to one’s artistic vision.
Connecting synth-heavy rhythms and comical banter, Rose has established an eccentric indie-rock show which showcases different sides of her personality through each track. A liberated Caroline Rose will play the Roots stage on Friday, Sept. 13 from 1:40 p.m. to 2:25 p.m.
— Ashley Evers
Pvris (@thisispvris) Saturday, September 14
Imbued with the power of the supernatural and an aura of another time, the work of PVRIS (pronounced as “Paris”) lingers in your mind long after it has ended, like perfume in the air after an incredibly beautiful person walks by. Every lyric takes on a poetic expression of inner strength and turmoil, manifesting powerful anthems with chilling acoustics and eerie synths.
With a single glance, it’s clear Lynn Gunn (vocals, guitar, keys, and so much more) along with guitarist Alex Babinski and bassist Brian MacDonald, put care into every aspect of their art; Everything they touch, from their disorienting visuals to their social media presence, is carefully considered. Since their debut album White Noise (released in 2014), PVRIS have explored all sides of rock, alternative- and pop-, and metamorphosed into an entity much different than the raw edge of what those of us in the “CVLT” (i.e. PVRIS fans) were born into. The most recent full length release from PVRIS, All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell, delivered as an intimate diary, carrying airy piano, echoed vocals, and messages of longing and desire, alongside upbeat ballads.
Singles “Death Of Me” and “Hallucinations,” released only a few weeks ago — the latter of the two was teased by snail-mailing a select few a red, square 7” vinyl of the track — follow behind “Nola 1” and “No Mercy” of AWKOH, AWNOH — and arguably in “My House” and “Fire” from White Noise — sparking a new age for the group, having recently moved to a new record label and teasing more than just new music. PVRIS will take the Radicals Stage on Saturday, Sept. 14 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
— Geordon Wollner
Turnover (@turnoverva) Saturday, September 14
As the group celebrates a decade of music-making, Turnover from Virginia Beach, VA are featured on this year’s Riot Fest lineup. Austin Getz, Casey Getz, and Danny Dempsey are redefining the rock genre through changing themes and assessing what is important to them as a band.
The group began touring the country in their early stages and established a solid pop-punk sound. Watching this group’s progress has been a treat for many, as Turnover transitioned from pop punk to the heavier, tear-inducing lyrics found on their 2015 release, Peripheral Vision. This album’s simplicity is what caught many fans’ attention, as well as the growing popularity of wistful, indie sounds. Their latest project, Good Nature, dips into the realms of dream pop while combining driving rhythms with intense emotional value and angsty frustrations of adolescent life.
Over six years of music, these friends have established themselves in both the indie-rock and pop-punk communities. The three have reached a point in their career where change and experimentation are necessary, and so far have been very successful for the group. The evolution of Turnover’s music occurred naturally, and their fans have transitioned with them as they continue to advance. They are set to play the Rise stage on Saturday, Sept. 14 from 4:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
— Ashley Evers
Ganser (@ganserband) Sunday, September 15
Tuning post-punk and noise rock right from Chicago, Ganser describes their sound simply as “dissociative shouts and murmurs” — which is pretty damn accurate. The local four-piece built by Nadia Garofalo (keyboardist/vocalist), Alicia Gaines (bassist/vocalist), Brian Cundiff (drums) and Charlie Landsman (guitar), have a way with taking charge. Their disruptive noise is enough to make you want to walk a little faster and cast a glance or two over your shoulder, digging into your innate fight-or-flight instincts — but, like, in a good way.
This physical reaction is embodied in the groups most recent release “Bad Form” and, when paired with dark, disorienting visuals, really packs a punch. Ganser seems to tap into something from within that you just can’t tear away from. Their 2018 full length release Odd Talk gave us more of that loud noise and chatter — especially in “PSY OPS” —, but “Bad Form” seems tighter and more refined, all without losing that gritty, post-punk shit we love. A controlled chaos, if you will. Ganser plays Sunday, Sept. 15 from 12:25 p.m. to 12:55 p.m. on the Radicals Stage.
— Geordon Wollner
The Beaches (@thebeachesband) Sunday, September 15
Toronto-based band The Beaches — named after the neighborhood in which three out of the four members grew up — hits. Jordan and Kylie Miller (lead vocals, bass, guitar), along with Eliza Enman-McDaniel (drums) and Leandra Earl (keys and guitar) have, as most bands do, been developing their sound in desperation of figuring out who they are and who they want to be since 2013(ish).
Their debut album Late Show (released in 2017) is the culmination of their journey to finding themselves — and it’s full of light-hearted, catchy, dance-alone-in-your-room-worthy tracks. They’ve certainly come a long way since their first EP, Heights, was released in 2014, with lines like ‘Boys don’t get me/Girls want to get with me’ and ‘I’m not pretty/Itty-bitty-titty-committee’ from hit single “T-Shirt” off Late Show, (a song that also happens to be Elton John Approved) highlighting the bands ability to not take themselves too seriously.
The Professional, a recently released 5-song EP, is a little more tongue-in-cheek, with lines like ‘Cold snake tongue stuck in-between/Two fingers shaped like a ‘V’/Oh, why would you think I’d wanna meet you?’ and ‘Just because I’ve got this fresh face/Doesn’t mean I wanna taste your toothpaste’ from “Snake Tongue,” written in response to one of the members being cat-called on the way to the recording studio. Unafraid to speak their mind and speak up about their experiences, The Beaches are the ones you can go to for help that will still tell it like it is — the sisters you’ve always kind of wished you had. They’ll be rocking on Sunday, Sept. 15 from 2:25 p.m. to 3:05 p.m. on the Riot Stage.
— Geordon Wollner
*Yes, of course we really made a playlist.
Happy Anniversary, Riot Fest!