DS Festival Recap: Riot Fest Day One – Part One (9/16/22) w/Descendents, Lagwagon, Sincere Engineer and more

For the first time, Team Dying Scene had two photographers on the ground and in the pits in Chicago for the annual 3-Day Riot Fest. It was a blast to have another great photographer documenting RF. We both have our own perspectives. This is mine for day 1, Friday, September 16, 2022.


On the day 1 train rides to Riot Fest, I queried those headed to Douglass Park about whom they were most looking forward to seeing play. It would have taken several pairs of hands to count how many attendees on the nearly full CTA train cars of the red and pink lines responded with Sincere Engineer. Chicago area’s Deanna Belos, performing under the stage name of Sincere Engineer, has been on a rocket ship to national stardom these past several years. It’s not hard to see why. Sincere Engineer combines infectiously great tunes with a self-effacing wit and an utterly charming stage presence. This was not her Riot Fest debut, but it was her first on one of the event’s main stages. She blasted out a set list including “Trust Me,” “Bottle Lightning Twice,” “Dragged Across The Finish Line” and of course, “Corn Dog Sonnet No.7.” That last song was the inspiration for the “Corn Dog Mosh Pit,” in which participants held up corn dogs as they slammed into each other. Back to those fans on the morning “L” rides headed to Riot Fest? Eager as they headed to Douglass Park and left Riot Fest satisfied. If Belos ever asked  “what am I supposed to do now?” I think a good response would be “pretty much whatever you want.”

Please look for an upcoming DS special feature on Sincere Engineer. 

Carolsdaughter, aka Thea Taylor, from Temecula, CA, is just a couple of months shy of her 18th birthday. However, has already witnessed her song “Violent” featured in over a quarter-million TikToks. Taylor, as Carolsdaughter, has also amassed 882.7K followers on her own TikTok channel. That’s in addition to the 183K followers on her Youtube channel. But the musician/comedian demonstrated that she is no flash-in-the-pan influencer too many often assume of young people with such large social media fan bases. Her performance at Riot Fest proved this. With an appearance recalling Gwen Stefani in her No Doubt days, Carolsdaughter utilized the entire stage, running from one corner to the next, with a few pogo jumps sprinkled in whilst belting out haunting lyrics. This included the aforementioned “Violent”: “don’t make me get violent,
I want my ring back, baby, that’s a diamond,
You don’t listen anyways, I’ll be quiet
I don’t really feel like fighting” was quite captivating.

As accomplished as she is at such a young age, it will be fun keeping an eye out for her future projects. We will be listening.

Boston Manor was founded in March 2013, in Blackpool, Lancashire, England. “Datura,” the band’s latest album is scheduled to be released on October 14, 2022, to critical acclaim. The record has thus far generated three singles, “Foxglove,” “Passenger,” and “Inertia.” As with the past Boston Manor releases, its sound is a fusion of punk, emo, dance, and electronica. The band’s Riot Fest set was intense as demonstrated through “Foxglove,” one of the above-mentioned recently released singles.

There was also a nice touch by guitar player Mikey Cunniff. Cunniff appeared on stage with a sports car yellow guitar emblazoned with Topo Chico branding and wearing a Placebo t-shirt. Placebo, one of the top billed Riot Fest 2022 artists, was forced to pull out of the festival, according to a statement the band put out, “…due to unprecedented visa and logistical issues beyond our control.” 

Taking Back Sunday, from my native land of Long Island, was back at Riot Fest after performing at the event in 2021. The band played a solid set much to the appreciation of many fans in the crowd. Those fans eagerly sang along as TBS ran through “Set Phasers to Stun,” “Timberwolves at New Jersey,” “You’re So Last Summer,” and “Flicker, Fader’.”

Taking Back Sunday, a Riot Fest semi-regular, was yet again a reliable part of the event and I’m sure this will be far from its last performance there.

The legendary Descendents kicked off their set with “Everything Sux.” Considering that the festival’s long-time slogan is “Riot Fest Sucks,” this was a great choice. Through nearly 30 songs, the Californians held their fans in sway as crowd surfing fans continually made it to the barricades before being pulled to safety by security personnel. In addition to the opening tune, Descendents also jammed through “I’m Not A Punk,” “I’m the One,” “Coffee Mug,” “When I Get Old,” “Merican,” “My Dad Sucks,” and “I Don’t’ Want to Grow Up.”

Descendents may sing about everything sucking but the band itself has never earned such a description.

San Diego’s Rocket From The Crypt has long been a fan favorite. With all members dressed in matching black attire with white trimmings, the group brought to mind a Mariachi band. Rocket From The Crypt had a common Riot Fest musical assignment: Playing one of its best albums in full, from start to finish.  In this case, it was the band’s penultimate album, 2001’s Group Sounds which features the very popular  “Savoir Faire,” and also includes “Straight American Slave,” “S.O.S,” “Carne Voodoo.” RFTC also performed “Sturdy Wrists”, “Glazed” and “Don’t Darlene “ from its second album Circa: Now!

Rocket From The Crypt members Speedo, Petey X, ND, Apollo 9, JC 2000, and Ruby Mars provided die-hard fans what they were looking for and it’s hard to imagine they didn’t pick up more than a few new fans in the process.

Yet another great band from California played, Goleta’s Lagwagon. The band’s walk-on music was Theme from “The Warriors” (composed by Barry De Vorzon) and its set sprinkled with humor as frontman Joey Cape led Lagwagon through a set which included “After You My Friend”, “Falling Apart,” “Wind in Your Sail,” “Island of Shame,” “Razor Burn.”

Many fans at the very front wore Lagwagon attire and appeared ecstatic that their time waiting, often crushed up against the metal barricades, paid off with an experience they’ll remember for years. 

Chicago’s own Alkaline Trio matched Lagwagon and perhaps even superseded them with choice of walk-on music. This time it was a tune that had stage and security personnel, the fans, and yes even us photographer singing in hearty unison. The tune which provoked this sunshiny moment in the darkness of just past the gloaming? One of the biggest hits by the legends (and Riot Fest alums) from just 85 miles west-northwest past Chicago. Of course the tune was “Surrender” by Cheap Trick. It was glorious.

Once on stage Alkaline Trio blazed through a set which included “Time to Waste,”  “Calling all Skeletons,” “Sadie,” “Fatally Yours,” “Bleeder,” and “Radio.” 

Matt Skiba, Dan Andriano and Derek Grant also had a couple of dedications to gift. 

“How about a love song? How about a love song for Chicago? Tonight. Another one” proposed guitarist/vocalist Skiba as he introduced “Every Thugs Needs a Lady,” on which bassist/vocalist Andriano took the lead vocals. The conclusion of the song led to this delightful (partial) exchange between Skiba and Andriano as drummer Derek Grant sat back took it in:

Skiba “That, that was a 9 and a half.” 

Andriano “Thanks buddy… see I’m getting better.”

Skiba: “I would have given you a ten I just don’t want you getting cocky on me right?”

Andriano: “I can’t be reading my clippings” …”…I get a little confidence boost though with that, thank you Matt”

Skiba: “…No problem bro.”

This was immediately followed by Skiba declaring “This song’s for the Descendents, it’s called “Mercy Me.”

Alkaline Trio capped an enjoyable day 1 for Dying Scene correspondents.

Coverage of days 2 and 3 coming soon. See below for more day 1 photos.

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