Photo Highlights Day One #RiotFest Chicago 2015

Photos and article by Empress K for Reggae Reflection and Island Stage Magazine

RiotFest Chicago 2015

Welcome to Riot Fest  (part 1 in a 3 part series)
Originating in Chicago as a Punk Rock Festival in 2005 at multiple venues located throughout the city, the festival took root in an outdoor location only four years ago in Humboldt Park and this year it moved to its new location at Douglas Park.  Riot Fest has now evolved into the 2nd largest Festival held in Chicago, second only to the infamous Lollapalooza festival – with its own broad variety of music for a slightly more mature crowd than Lollapalooza.

Where else could you expect to see Punk, Heavy Metal, Rock, Pop-rock, Country, Hip Hop and of course our favorite genre of Reggae all at the same three day festival. Genres of music only separated by the seven stages scattered throughout Douglas Park.  And let’s not forget the full scale Carnival smack in the middle of the park, complete with a giant ferris wheel, amusement rides, cotton candy, funnel cakes and much more carnival fanfare!   The multi-day festival has since expanded its footprint to include stops in Denver and Toronto.

One of the main attractions in Chicago this year for us, was the wide variety of Reggae acts featured at Riot Fest including Lee Scratch Perry, Dirty Heads, Slightly Stoopid, and Jimmy Cliff as well as the Catch A Fire  artists in the middle of their month-long tour:  Skip Marley, Black-Am-I, Jo Mersa Marley, Tarrus Riley, Morgan Heritage, Stephen Marley and Damian Marley.  The Reggae artists paired with the legendary acts of No Doubt, Billy Idol, Fishbone, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and much more made this a not to miss festival.  

Day 2 coverage of Riot Fest featuring Merle Haggard, Billy Idol and more! 

Day 3 Coverage of Riot Fest featuring Tarrus Riley, Morgan Heritage, Black Am I, Jo Mersa, Stephen Marley,  Jimmy Cliff,  Damian Marley
Stephen Marley Riot Fest

Full Riot Fest coverage in the latest edition of Island Stage Magazine

Opening Day Highlights  – Friday, September 11, 2015
Marked by rain in past years, this year’s experience  was no exception.  By the time we arrived at the park Friday afternoon, the rain had fortunately cleared – for that day anyway and it was time to check out the surroundings! 

Fishbone Riot FestAngelo Moore and Norwood Fisher

Fishbone, a band well  known for their multi-genre fusion of rock, punk, and ska unleashed a killer set on the main Riot stage mid afternoon under the now cloudy skies.  By the time they performed their hit song , Everyday Sunshine (also the title of their 2012 released documentary), right on cue the sun was shining!   

Everyday Sunshine 

Fishbone Everyday Sunshine

Fishbone Angelo Moore

Angelo Moore pictured here with Xavier Leblanc from the Island Stage / Reggae Reflection Media Team.

Fishbone is not to be missed on the live circuit. They have been consistently touring in support of their latest project, Intrinsically Intertwined, an EP released in 2014 and have plans to release more music next year.  
Fishbone Angelo Moore and Norwood Fisher

 Scenes from the crowd

Lee Scratch Perry

Lee Scratch Perry

Lee Scratch Perry, the pioneer of Dub was the first Reggae act for us to see on the Roots stage. He arrived on Jamaican time – about 20 minutes late to his set. We understand he was delayed by traffic getting to the park and since we also struggled with that earlier in the day, we could certainly relate to that dilemma! 
Dj Emch

DJ Emch, the mastermind of the Subatomic Sound System that he tours with and Perry’s very capable supporting vocalist, Chezere Brathwaite along with legendary percussionist, Larry McDonald and a saxophonist easily kept the audience entertained until Perry decked out in a colorful “Perry-esque” outfit arrived on stage.  

Lee Scratch Perry

 Lee Scratch Perry at the young age of 79 was on a month-long tour across the US celebrating the 40th anniversary of his legendary album, Super Ape. Perry is also the subject of a new documentary, Lee Scratch Perry’s Vision of Paradise, a culmination of 15 years of documentary footage, which debuted earlier this year.   Perry’s age seems to transcend time; during our interview after his performance, when asked how he stays so young, he describes himself as “Working for the spirit and the spirit keeping him young as the reward.”   It’s obvious that Lee Scratch Perry may not slow down anytime soon. 

We also surprisingly discovered that Lee Scratch Perry is also a visual artist.  See the interview to hear more from Lee Scratch Perry and watch him create art for us.   

Lee Scratch Perry Art

Lee Scratch Perry

Scenes from The Roots Stage

Lee Scratch Perry





Chef’Special a young five piece band from the Netherlands comprised of  lead singer, Joshua Nolet; guitarist, Guido Joseph; bass player, Jan Derks; keyboardist, Wouter Heeren;  and drummer, Wouter Prudon are on their first US tour and were very enthusiastic when we spoke to them about their debut at Riot Fest as well as their upcoming tour dates.  They’ve all been together since 2008 and have already made a name for themselves in their homeland, touring extensively across Europe.  Now they have a chance to earn new fans while they are making their way across America on a nation-wide tour with Boston based band, Aer.  Chef’Special had an  energetic performance at Riot Fest  combining their own style of hip-hop, rock, pop and a bit of reggae mixed in and we have no doubt they will easily acquire a US fan base as well.   Look out for their upcoming full length album to be released next year.

Get to Know Chef’Special  – Empress K chats with Chef’Special 

Slightly Stoopid Rocks the Roots Stage




 Straight out of Riot Fest –  Ice Cube

Ice Cube Riot Fest

A Hella Good set from No Doubt to close out opening night at Riot Fest

Gwen Stefani No Doubt Riot Fest

It’s been 20 years since No Doubt released their breakthrough album, Tragic Kingdom, however without a doubt they were exactly where they should be, back on stage headlining on the opening night at the main Riot Stage. Fronted by the ever stylish Gwen Stefani who by the way doesn’t look a day older than her Tragic Kingdom days,  didn’t miss a beat  as they kicked off their high energy set with Hella Good from their grammy winning, Rocksteady Album (2002) recorded in part in Gee Jam Studios in Portland, Jamaica.  They also performed a few other fan favorites from that album including the billboard chart topping songs Underneath it All and Hey Baby  produced by Jamaican producers Sly & Robbie, which also features Jamaican recording artists, Lady Saw and Bounty Killer, respectively.  The enthusiastic audience didn’t mind at all that the majority of their set included a number of their hit singles from Tragic Kingdom including Don’t Speak,  Sunday Morning, Happy Now, Excuse Me Mr, while saving Just a Girl and Spiderwebs for their final song selections making this a most memorable opening night at Riot Fest.  

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