Now that the cat's out of the bag re: Riot Fest's 10th essential album (it's Cheap Trick), we can focus on the early-afternoon acts whose masterworks are still ahead of them—and there are tons. Here are eight to show up early and plan ahead for. Who knows? They might just be playing an essential album at Riot Fest 2024.


Set Time: Friday at 3:00
Why you should watch them: You've likely heard so much about fourth-wave emo it's started to feel as icky as the verboten brand, but there's plenty more to trumpet. This Boston quartet's debut LP Temple of Plenty is positively shimmering, both technically (they know their way around a time signature) and technologically (it's one of the genre's most hi-fi releases yet).

Title Fight

SET TIME: Friday at 3:30
RIYL: Rise Against
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH THEM: Riot Fest is a punk show, after all, and this Kingston quartet is as vicious as it gets. Prepare for sludge.

The Hotelier

SET TIME: Friday at 5:00
RIYL: Descendents
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH THEM: In the Hotelier's admittedly fringe ecosystem, their second LP Home, Like NoPlace is There is generally considered to be the best release of 2014—and the year isn't even over.

Pity Sex

SET TIME: Friday at 8:00
RIYL: The Cure and Social Distortion going through a rocky breakup
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH THEM: No, 8:00 isn't exactly early, and you'll have to sacrifice seeing the Offspring play Smash, but there shouldn't be a ton of fan-overlap anyway. Pity Sex is all hopeless mumbling and fuzzed-out guitars—beautiful, but by no means for a party-punk crowd.

The Orwells

SET TIME: Saturday at 12:50
RIYL: Tokyo Police Club, but angrier
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH THEM: They're local! Also, they're one of the only bands at Riot Fest playing punk's peppier, garage-birthed side (think the Ramones). Also also, lead singer Mario Cuomo usually gets up to something nutty on stage (he ended his Lolla 2013 set pantsless).

Streetlight Manifesto

SET TIME: Saturday at 2:15
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH THEM: A pick for the ska fans. If you can't hear it at Riot Fest, where else is left? Skank away! (And note, Mighty Mighty Bosstones play at 4:25 later that day.)

The Menzingers

SET TIME: Sunday at 11:45 a.m.
RIYL: Social Distortion
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH THEM: This Scranton quartet has been penning rock-solid punk for far long enough to buy them a better set time. If you wake up early for one set, make it the Menzingers'.

The Front Bottoms

SET TIME: Sunday at 1:10
RIYL: Weezer
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH THEM: It's nerd rock for the next generation—crisper, more clever, and with startling proximity high school (the band's core duo, Brian Sella and Mathew Uychich, endured their awkward years and everything after together, and it fuels Front Bottoms' self-deprecating synth-pop).

Riot Fest runs from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Humboldt Park. Three-day and Sunday passes are sold out. Friday, Saturday, and two-day passes (including Friday/Sunday and Saturday/Sunday) are available here.