Hello. I’m Kevin Andrew. I sing in the Chicago-based pop-punk (or “diet punk”) band Guardrail. This is my first write-up for the Pop-Punk & Pizza Podcast, and what better topic than this upcoming weekend’s Riot Fest?
I’ve been going to this fest since 2012. It’s always been an absolute blast, and this year is looking like no exception. In this presentation, I’ll be giving my artist recommendations for this year. Well, a rundown of the artists I’m trying to catch at least. I’ll tell you why I like them, and give a song I like as well. Before you start yelling at me like “What about *band name*?!” just know that the lineup is absolutely fucking stacked, and I’m only one boy. There are definitely some bands I’m gonna have to skip out on, and I’ll be crying by myself in the shower about it, okay? Here we go.
Sincere Engineer – Roots Stage 12:15
This will be my first time seeing Sincere Engineer since the pandemic. Between the long wait and the fact that the newest album Bless My Psyche absolutely rips, I’m incredibly stoked to kick off my weekend with their set and I suggest you do the same.
Track to check out: “Trust Me”
LS Dunes – Rise Stage 1:00
When the lineup was first announced, this name was a mystery. No music on streaming services, brand new social media accounts. People began speculating online, tracking down clues, and it was finally officially confirmed within the last couple weeks who this band is. They’re a post-hardcore supergroup consisting of members of My Chemical Romance, Circa Survive, Coheed & Cambria, and Thursday. Their only single so far was just released, and it’s definitely cool enough to peak my interest.
Track to check out: “Permanent Rebellion”
Lucky Boys Confusion – Roots Stage 1:25
It’s about time LBC hopped on Riot Fest. Such a Chicago staple, I’m surprised they haven’t played it. When singer Stubhy was on PP&P, he mentioned that they always do the street festivals here, which makes sense given their draw (I’ve actually seen them at Do Division Fest before, so that checks out). Happy to see them on Riot this time around. If you’re coming in from out of town, LBC is the band to see for a fun Chicago experience.
Track to check out: “Fred Astaire”
Foxy Shazam – Rise Stage 2:00
This is one of those bands that, even if their music isn’t your thing, you need to experience live at least once. Known for their wild stage antics (most notably vocalist Eric Nally eating lit cigarettes) and their unique sound (think a modern twist on Queen), they’re definitely a sight to see. I personally haven’t seen them before so I’m making the effort to at least catch half their set before I run to the next band on my list.
Track to check out: “Killin’ It”
Wargasm – Rebel Stage 2:15
This is one of the bands I’m looking forward to most this weekend. Wargasm is a duo from the UK who blend punk, industrial, nu-metal, and electronic genres in a style that makes you want to bang your head one minute and dance your ass off the next. If you’re looking to have an afternoon rager, be sure to catch their set.
Track to check out: “Spit.”
Aviva – Riot Stage 2:30
Shameless self-promotion alert. Aviva is currently on tour with Enter Shikari. My band Guardrail is actually opening the Chicago date on the 24th at Concord. I don’t really know much about Aviva, but I will definitely catch the end of her set to see what she’s about. Her music gives me a Meg Myers or Halsey vibe. Poppy, yet kind of creepy.
Track to check out: “GRRRLS”
Lagwagon – Roots Stage 3:05
What can I say about Lagwagon? If you’re a fan of skatepunk and hot riffs, then you’re a fan of Lagwagon.
Track to check out: “E Dagger”
Anberlin – Rise Stage 3:15
Anberlin has been a huge influence on me as a songwriter, and was bummed to see them call it quits back in 2014. I went to the farewell tour, only cried a little bit, I swear. Singer Stephen Christian said in interviews that they weren’t gonna be one of those bands who breaks up then gets back together 4 or 5 years later. But lo and behold, they reunited 4 or 5 years later. They just released their new EP Silverline, which to me is a good precursor to this next chapter of the band. I’m also going to their aftershow that night at Reggies, which will be the smallest room I’ve seen them in, so that will be a blast.
Track to check out: “Dismantle. Repair.”
Destroy Boys – Rebel Stage 5:15
Last summer I was picking up some wings from my favorite wing place Wing Boss (now closed, RIP) and there was a rad song playing in the store. I Shazam’ed it, it was Destroy Boys, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Such a cool raw punk rock sound with in-your-face lyrics. I’m unfortunately gonna have to skip the beginning of Descendents to check them out.
Track to check out: “Honey, I’m Home”
Descendents – Roots Stage 5:15
The first time I ever saw Descendents was 10 years ago at Riot Fest 2012. They didn’t play much back then so getting to see them was a treat, and it was basically a religious experience. I was a skinny little dork back in the day (let’s be honest, I still am), and they were a band that showed me that you didn’t have to be a “cool guy” to be a musician. I related to them in a way that was different to every other band I listened to, and they’ve become absolute legends. I may come out of crowdsurfing retirement for them this year, we’ll see.
Track to check out: “Hope”
The Wonder Years – Radical Stage 5:45
I was really only into this band for a couple albums. Their last few releases haven’t really been my thing. But I’m still gonna be catching the end of their set because they’re a blast to see. A friend of mine recently mentioned that she really enjoys when a band you’re watching is clearly THE favorite band of most of the people in the room. The energy and emotion in a crowd like that is impossible to really describe. The Wonder Years was one of her examples, and I definitely agree.
Track to check out: “Don’t Let Me Cave In”
Alkaline Trio – Roots Stage 7:25
Alkaline Trio in their hometown is just a no-brainer really. One of my all-time’s.
Track to check out: “Demon & Division”
Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg – Rebel Stage 8:00
If I could bring back one band from the dead, it would be The Ramones. So of course I’m gonna sprint over to this stage after Trio to watch as much of this as I can. I have no idea who’s even in the band besides Marky on the drums, but according to setlist.fm their set is just full of Ramones hits, so I am fucking there.
Track to check out: the whole Ramones Mania compilation
My Chemical Romance – Riot Stage 8:30
MCR is one of those bands that I don’t really listen to that much but really enjoy their live set. I’ve seen them twice (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution ‘07 and on the Honda Civic Tour with blink-182 in 2011) and had the best time, so I’m looking forward to experiencing that again. They’re such an iconic band in this alternative scene, and being their first show in Chicago since 2011 means that shit is going to pop off.
Track to check out: “Helena”
Skating Polly – Rise Stage 12:00
I hope I’m not too exhausted and/or hungover to get there by noon, but if I make it I’ll be checking Skating Polly out. Dirty guitars and vocals that are sweet one moment then raspy & screechy the next.
Track to check out: “They’re Cheap (I’m Free)”
No Trigger – Rebel Stage 1:00
These guys just put out their first full-length album in about a decade. No Trigger has that classic early 2000’s skatepunk sound with lyrics that are zany enough to make me constantly chuckle. Jono Diener of The Swellers drums for them now, and they recorded their new album with his brother Nick during the peak of the pandemic lockdowns while camping on his property, recording guitars outside with long cables going through a window. What a wild last couple years it’s been, right?
Track to check out: “Take Your Time”
Bully – Radical Stage 1:45
There are 4 artists playing at the exact same time that I don’t really know much about but am interested in. Bully is the first I’ll be running to since they start at 1:45. Solid indie-punk sound, singer Alicia Bognanno has a great raspy voice that reminds me of Dead Sara or L7.
Track to check out: “Trying”
The Joy Formidable – Roots Stage 2:00
This band has been around a long time, so I want to see what they’re about. Cool alternative rock sound that wouldn’t be out of place on a bill with bands like Jimmy Eat World or Silversun Pickups.
Track to check out: “Little Blimp”
Charlotte Sands – Rise Stage 2:00
Charlotte Sands is an up & coming artist with a unique voice who I feel could be the next big thing. I’ve been seeing her name everywhere lately (mostly as vocal features on songs by Taking Back Sunday, The Maine, Sleeping With Sirens, and Underoath), so I’m curious to see her do her thing.
Track to check out: “Bad Day”
THICK – Rebel Stage 2:00
I literally just found out about this band a few weeks ago, so I’m stoked to check them out since they’re so fresh in my brain. Solid indie-punk for fans of Sincere Engineer and Cayetana.
Track to check out: “Love You Forever”
Bridge City Sinners – Rebel Stage 4:00
Another band that’s fresh on my radar. Folky Americana crust punk with banjos, upright bass, violins, & washboards that reminds me of bands like Days N Daze, Harley Poe, Larry & His Flask, etc. Definitely a unique band to check out.
Track to check out: “The Devil’s Swing”
Alexisonfire – Radical Stage 4:30
After just releasing their first album since 2009, Alexisonfire fans are gonna be on another level of stoked for this set. Another example of a band I don’t really listen to but love to see live. Frontman George Pettit usually tears away at his shirt throughout their set until it’s ripped into pieces. I wish I had the confidence to do that shit. Maybe someday.
Track to check out: “Conditional Love”
War On Women – Rebel Stage 5:00
I first saw War On Women at Warped Tour a few years ago. I was walking by the stage and had to stop because they drew me in. Singer Shawna Potter’s lyrics about politics, human rights, & feminism are so bluntly straightforward that I remember a venue employee rolling a garbage can past me stopped for a second as well and went “god DAMN!” before continuing his trash journey. I highly recommend checking them out while on your own trash journey.
Track to check out: “White Lies”
Yungblud – Roots Stage 5:15
Yungblud to me is basically the much-better UK version of MGK. I actually watched his livestream show over the pandemic and I was so entertained by his personality. You can find him featured on tracks by Bring Me The Horizon, Demi Lovato, & more. Definitely gonna check out at least the beginning of his set before running to the next band.
Track to check out: “The Funeral”
The Menzingers – Rise Stage 5:15
A friend of mine referred to The Menzingers as “punk rock for your 30s”. I saw them about a week after I turned 30 and was like, “Oh. Yep. I get it.” And I’ve been in love with them ever since. They’ll be playing their album On The Impossible Past in full, which will be a wonderful treat.
Track to check out: “The Obituaries”
Bad Religion – Riot Stage 6:20
I mean, it’s fucking Bad Religion. Need I say more?
Track to check out: “Sorrow”
GWAR – Rebel Stage 7:30
I mean, it’s fucking GWAR. Need I say more?
Track to check out: “Sick Of You”
Yellowcard – Rise Stage 8:30
I was into Yellowcard before they were cool. Yeah I’m definitely being ‘that guy’ right now, deal with it. When “Ocean Avenue” hit MTV and blew up, I loaned my copy of the album to so many kids at school to burn their own copies (remember burning CDs? Fuck we’re old). Wild to see them get back together for a night to play Ocean Avenue in its entirety.
Track to check out: “Breathing”
The Original Misfits – Riot Stage 8:30
I personally never really got into the Misfits. Probably because all the people I grew up with who wore their shirts all the time were assholes. But as a much more open-minded adult, I appreciate their legacy & impact on our scene, and a bunch of their songs have grown on me. So I’m definitely heading over there to check them out once Yellowcard wraps up. They’re playing Walk Among Us in full too, hell yeah.
Track to check out: “Astro Zombies”
The Bombpops – Roots Stage 12:00
I’m pretty sure the first time I saw The Bombpops was at a free Riot Fest pre-show in 2018 with Direct Hit! in a random store in Wicker Park. I waited in line for an hour or two, made some international friends while in line, and right when we all got to the front of the line they said they were at capacity. But once a few people left they let us in, and I had the best time. I’ve been a fan of theirs ever since, and it’ll be great to kick off my last Riot day with them. They have that classic Fat Wreck punk sound that still sounds fresh.
Track to check out: “Can’t Come Clean”
Night Spice – Radical Stage 12:00
Synthwave from right here in Chicago. If dancing is your vibe, start your sunday off with Night Spice. They just dropped a new single this week too, check out the video.
Track to check out: “Plums”
The Linda Lindas – Roots Stage 1:00
This band went viral in early 2021 with the video for their song “Racist, Sexist Boy”, shortly after which they signed to Epitaph Records and performed on Jimmy Kimmel. I feel like they’re this generation’s Bikini Kill (they actually have a cover of “Rebel Girl”) or Lunachicks (who play later in the day).
Track to check out: “Growing Up”
Joey Valence & Brae – Rise Stage 1:00
There are 3 bands playing the 1:00 slot that I’m interested in, so I’m hoping to at least catch a song or two of Joey Valence & Brae. This is a brand new name for me, and while checking out all the artists I was unfamiliar with, this one stuck out. There’s a huge Beastie Boys influence here, which definitely caught my ear.
Track to check out: “Underground Sound”
Treaty Of Paris – Radical Stage 1:00
The third band in my 1:00-time-slot-adventure, they play 10 minutes longer so I’ll catch the end of their set. I was into Treaty Of Paris in high school in the Purevolume days, and never got the chance to see them. This one is for teenage me.
Track to check out: “Rollerskates”
Less Than Jake – Radical Stage 3:20
My first real rock show was Warped Tour 2006, where I saw Less Than Jake. I was a teenager wanting to start a band, and no idea what I was doing. Seeing LTJ’s wildly fun set, I was blown away and promised myself that I’d always have as much fun as I possibly can at every show I play. I’ve since seen them play at least a dozen more times (most recently a couple months ago) and they’re always a blast.
Track to check out: “Look What Happened”
Lunachicks – Roots Stage 3:25
This band of rad women started before I was born, and have been pretty much inactive since 2001 (according to setlist.fm the last time they played in Chicago was 1999) until they recently started playing festivals. So it’s an absolute honor to be able to catch Lunachicks this year.
Track to check out: “Bad Ass Bitch”
Coolio – Rise Stage 4:00
I’ll be honest, I only really know Coolio because of the Weird Al parody “Amish Paradise”. In all seriousness though, Coolio is a hip-hop legend that you should absolutely check out.
Track to check out: “Gangsta’s Paradise”
PVRIS – Radical Stage 4:35
This set will be my late afternoon dance break. PVRIS put out a fantastic album Use Me in 2020, so I’m looking forward to hearing some of those tracks live.
Track to check out: “Hallucinations”
Jimmy Eat World – Roots Stage 5:00
One of the first songs I ever illegally downloaded (ALLEGEDLY) was “Sweetness”. They’re one of those classic bands that never really misses and continues to put out music that holds up over time. Excited for all the singalongs from my teenage years. IT JUST TAKES SOME TIME!
Track to check out: “Work”
Midtown – Radical Stage 5:50
I never ever thought I’d get the opportunity to see Midtown live. They split up before I even went to my first real show, and Cobra Starship was so huge for awhile. Bummed to leave Jimmy Eat World a little early, but I MUST catch Midtown’s whole set. A true staple of the early-00’s emo scene and a bucket-lister for sure.
Track to check out: “Like A Movie”
Sleater-Kinney – Riot Stage 6:05
Sleater-Kinney is a legendary riot grrrl band at this point. Their first record was released in 1995, and they’ve been going strong ever since (with the exception of a few-years hiatus). I started listening to them a lot over the pandemic, since I had more time to deep dive into bands’ discographies, and fuck I have been missing out. Gonna catch the end of their set.
Track to check out: “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone”
renforshort – Rebel Stage 6:15
A renforshort song was randomly on my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist about a year ago. I really dug the vibe of her songs and her voice. She has some really cool, chill, catchy songs in the realm of Billie Eilish. There’s been quite an uptick of solo female pop-rock artists lately like LØLØ, Maggie Lindemann, Charlotte Sands, etc. that are all wonderful and I am fucking here for it. I probably won’t have time but I’m gonna try my hardest to catch a song or two between Midtown and S-K. I’ll run real real fast.
Track to check out: “i drive me mad”
The Maine – Radical Stage 7:05
There’s no other way to put it, The Maine is one of the best bands around. Their songs are so catchy and danceable that their live shows are always a great time with such a positive energy. I’m actually surprised they haven’t played Riot Fest yet, it’s about damn time!
Track to check out: “How Do You Feel?”
Nine Inch Nails – Riot Stage 8:15
I finally saw NIN the last time they played Riot and they were one of the tightest live acts I’ve ever seen. Whether you’re a die-hard, a casual listener, or don’t listen at all, they’re worth watching as you won’t see a more solid band all weekend. I’ll be watching the beginning and ending of their set this year.
Track to check out: “The Hand That Feeds”
The Academy Is… – Radical Stage 8:30
The hometown heroes are back for Riot Fest. While so many local Chicago scene bands blew up (Fall Out Boy & Rise Against for starters), The Academy Is… always felt like ‘the local band who made it’ to me. They grew up in the northwest suburbs where I did; I’m pretty sure their drummer went to my high school (I remember seeing footage of them playing my high school’s battle of the bands the year before I started there). If you’re gonna see TAI, Chicago is the place to do it.
Track to check out: “Slow Down”
This weekend is going to be exhausting (my 33-year-old ass is tired just from writing this), but will be the best weekend of the year. If you see me at all this weekend, be sure to tell me “Guardrail sucks” and give me a high five. See you at the show!
Also, checkout the Spotify playlist I made: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/09PM7nDZm6uDd4tqutHSgG?si=f-vroRQZSRCwPgIYWjFG_w
Lead Vocalist of Guardrail/Pop-Punk & Pizza Contributor