Case the Producer’s Riot Fest 2023 ‘Path to Greatness’

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

This weekend, tens of thousands will storm Douglass Park for three days of live music, food, and chaos. Now in their 18th year, Riot Fest will once again why they are the best festival in the world.

You don’t have to spend your entire weekend watching music, but if you want wall-to-wall action, Case the Producer from Brian & Kenzie has you covered. Here it is: his highly-anticipated Path to Greatness.


Origami Angel: 12:50-1:20 (Radical Stage)

There’s no better way to kick off your weekend than with a staple of fifth generation emo in Origami Angel. Heavy on nostalgia with a mix of heavy riffs, this band grabbed my attention with the release of 2019’s cult-classic Somewhere City. Since then, the band has only grown their sound and their audience.

Hawthorne Heights: 1:40-2:10 (Radical Stage)

Stay planted at the Radical Stage, as Riot Fest put together a one-two punch of emo bands that the whole family can enjoy. Veterans Hawthorne Heights make their Riot Fest debut in what should be an epic set.

Oso Oso: 2:45-3:15 (Rebel Stage)

Very few bands write better hooks than Oso Oso. The New York-based band uses a rotating cast behind singer Jade Lilitri, yet their output remains consistently strong. As the weather gets colder and fall rears its head, Oso Oso provides a soundtrack worth diving into.

Code Orange: 3:05-3:50 (Roots Stage)

One of the most exciting acts in nu-metal and active rock, Code Orange (formerly Code Orange Kids) take the Roots Stage just after 3:00 o’clock. To some, the band are an example of what can happen if you shatter the glass ceiling of the grueling underground world of DIY rock music. For others, Code Orange have provided the soundtrack to the late Bray Wyatt in his Fiend persona. Most recently, the band collaborated with our friend, Billy Corgan, for an exciting new single.

Quicksand: 4:45-5:45 (Roots Stage)

The first of three performances by the legendary Walter Schreifels this weekend. In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the band’s classic record, Slip, Quicksand takes the Roots Stage for what could end up being the set of the weekend. The word “post-hardcore” gets thrown around a lot now because of bands like Turnstile, Militarie Gun, Scowl, etc., but none of that would be possible without Quicksand. Do not miss this.

Braid: 6:00-7:00 (Rebel Stage)

Riot Fest is offering a number of “album plays” this year, and none of them excite me more than legendary Champaign, Illinois band, Braid, who celebrate 25 years of their brilliant Frame and Canvas release on Friday. Paving the way for the success of bands like Fall Out Boy and Motion City Soundtrack, Braid brings the heartiness of the midwest and combines it with heavy lyrics and instrumentation. In short: they might be the perfect emo band.

Turnstile: 6:55-7:55 (Roots Stage)

I mean, come on. Merely a band at the bottom of the poster when they played in 2019, Turnstile has since turned the rock world on its head and are now billed underneath only the Foo Fighters. They are arguably the best band in the world right now. If you missed them at Lolla, then you missed them at the Aragon, and then you missed them with Blink…go. Go see them. You’ll be better off for it.

Foo Fighters: 8:00-10:00 (Riot Stage)

Back in Chicago for the first time since the untimely death of Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters have reloaded and are back for their first ever Riot Fest performance. I don’t need to sell you on this. It’s the Foo Fighters. They’re the best. End of story.


Drain: 1:00-1:30 (Radical Stage)

Drain might be the most lit band on Earth. I felt goofy typing that, you probably felt embarrassed for me just reading that, but I don’t know how else to describe it. Blending thrash metal with hardcore punk, these SoCal heavy-hitters have caught the attention of Metallica’s Robert Trujillo and Post Malone, just to name a few. They played the Metro in June and it was one of the best shows of the entire year. They are a living, breathing party, and they are the perfect band to kick off your Saturday.

Snapcase: 1:50-2:20 (Rise Stage)

I associate Snapcase with possibly having the loudest snare drum in the history of recorded music. I always know when I hear a Snapcase song, because I hear that song. Respected by their peers and adored by a loyal fanbase for decades, they are worth checking out at Riot Fest.

Peep footage of Chicago’s Metro in this music video

High Vis: 3:15-3:45 (Rebel Stage)

If you take any recommendation from me, take this one. I implore you to go watch High Vis. They are exploding, and they may very well be the most exciting band in the world right now. I caught their first ever show in Chicago at the Cobra Lounge in April and it was the best concert I’ve seen all year. I’d put it, at worst, in the 10 best I’ve ever seen. Realistically, it might be top 5. High Vis swing for the fences with every song. They are raw and unnerving and beautiful all at once. Find a new favorite band this weekend and let it be them. I give them my fullest recommendation.

Viagra Boys: 3:50-4:35 (Roots Stage)

Swedish, slimy, and surreal, the Viagra Boys have spent the summer on the road with Queens of the Stone Age. They’re now back for Riot Fest after selling out The Salt Shed earlier this year. It is hard to pinpoint what exactly this band is, which I imagine they like. Part art-rock, part jazz-inspired, and street-punk, Viagra Boys are all things weird and all things good.

Frank Turning & The Sleeping Souls: 5:00-5:40 (Rise Stage)

Is there anything Frank Turner can’t do? Seemingly able to produce an endless array of sounds, the English frontman is no stranger to performing on big stages. While Turner’s ability to lyrically pack a punch is never in doubt, his set should offer a nice reprieve from the debauchery taking place throughout the day.

PUP: 6:10-6:55 (Rise Stage)

Easily one of the hardest working bands of the last decade, PUP’s relentless dedication to DIY touring and producing new music is paying off in big ways. The Canadian quartet has grown A LOT since their last time at Riot Fest way back in 2014. Three studio albums and an EP later and PUP are have proven that their addiction to the grind will not be to their own detriment. Every time I see this band, I’m practically slapped in the face by how good they are. In my head, I know I love PUP, but then I see them and I’m reminded, I love PUP.

Death Cab For Cutie: 6:50-7:50 (Riot Stage)

Good Lord, it’s been 20 years since Trasatlanticism. With all due respect to 100 Gecs, Pennywise, and Sleep Token, all of whom are playing at this time and all of whom are tremendous acts, my allegiance is to Ben Gibbard and his crew.

Queens of the Stone Age: 7:55-8:55 (Roots Stage)

I’m not going to run across the park after Death Cab. In fact, I’ll just be shifting slightly over to the Roots Stage to see Queens of the Stone Age take on Chicago for the first time since Twisted Xmas 2017. You heard their single “Emotion Sickness” first with Brian & Kenzie, and now we can’t wait to hear it in Douglass Park.

The Postal Service: 9:00-10:00 (Riot Stage)

I’m doubling down on Gibbard, baby! While I do love the idea of someone watching Death Cab and not The Postal Service, I will be closing out my night with “Such Great Heights”, one of the greatest songs ever recorded.


Free Throw: 12:00-12:30 (Radical Stage)

If you have the strength to begin rioting early on Sunday, I recommend doing so and doing so with Free Throw. This hard-hitting emo band has been at it for over a decade, but it was 2021’s excellent Piecing It Together that caused me to fall in love with this band. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the final day of Riot Fest.

Smoking Popes: 12:40-1:10 (Roots Stage)

Greatest Chicago band of all-time? If not yes, then they’re certainly in the mix. I jump at the opportunity to see the Popes whenever I can. They were simply tremendous when I saw them open for Rise Against in the spring and I expect the same at Riot Fest.

Nothing: 1:50-2:20 (Roots Stage)

I remember when Nothing came out with 2018’s Dancing On the Blacktop. It was getting a ton of buzz and I didn’t fully “get it”. Then I heard the song “You Wind Me Up” in my friend’s car and it blew me away. There’s a very short list of songs that I’ve enjoyed more in the last five years. It hits just right, every single time I hear it.

Earth Crisis: 2:15-3:00 (Rise Stage)

Earth Crisis are a vegan straight edge band that put all over vegan straight edge bands to shame. At times, one of the most controversial acts in underground music, lead singer Karl Buechner has never been afraid to speak his mind and never afraid to back away from critics. Their 1996 release, Firestorm, is one of the most essential releases in the history of punk rock. There’s a clear divider in the world of hardcore when it comes to that EP. There’s before Firestorm, and then there’s everything after. I’ve never had the chance to see Earth Crisis, but I’m stoked to finally get the chance.

Fleshwater: 3:05-3:45 (Rebel Stage)

One of the most unique, emerging bands right now, Fleshwater grabbed the scene’s attention with the release of last year’s We’re Not Here to Be Loved. Since then, the band has received nothing but adulation for their grungy, melodic approach. If you aren’t already familiar with this group, get familiar, because they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

AFI: 4:25-5:25 (Roots Stage)

I have never seen AFI live and I plan on rectifying that this weekend. AFI has real girl-next-door energy. They aren’t always at the top of mind, but whenever you run into AFI, you remember just how pleasant they are.

Gorilla Biscuits: 5:30-6:30 (Rebel Stage)

The final Album Play of the weekend belongs to Gorilla Biscuits, who will be playing the seminal record Start Today in full. If you’ve ever wanted to get into punk rock, Start Today is Punk 101. It’s essential. It’s in the starter pack and always will be. Your favorite 90s and 2000s pop punk bands owe their careers to Gorilla Biscuits.

The Gaslight Anthem: 6:30-7:30 (Rise Stage)

I find Bruce Springsteen to be a nuisance. I’ve never enjoyed him. I don’t even like Nebraska, which is the cool Springsteen record to like. The Gaslight Anthem have gladly become the Bruce Springsteens of punk rock, though, and I absolutely adore them. 2008’s The ’59 Sound is a near-perfect release. The world was worse off when TGA stepped away from music for a short time in the 2010’s. They’re back, and I can’t wait to see them again on Sunday.

The Cure: 7:40-9:55 (Riot Stage)

Lose my number if you aren’t sticking around for The Cure. They’re the best, and you never know when they’re going to call it quits forever. Go see them. It’ll be worth it, I promise.