In 2020 Riot Fest announced the first ever fourth day, a preview party, for people that bought 3 day passes. With covid and such hitting along with a slew of line up changes and stuff, that preview party in 2021 was also opened up with people who held single day Sunday passes as well as available to everyone else who wanted to buy a ticket (though those who bought just a Thursday ticket would be supporting the charities Riot Fest were donating the profits to). With a shortened lineup handpicked by headliner Morrissey, fans were given an extremely chilled and more intimated sized crowd for a perfect kick off to the festival.
Kicking off the day was Kristeen Young, a collaborator of Morrissey. With her brand of keyboard driven alt rock she got the crowd that was filing in going with a glimpse of what the day would hold. Following her was WDRL (We Don’t Ride Llamas), a sibling group who right away kicked the crowd into full gear. With their brand of punk rock the young band showed old and new fans what they bring the table. The band clearly will only be going up if their performance at Riot was any indication.
Emo / pop punkers Joyce Manor brought the first pits and crowd surfers for the weekend when they made a special showing doing their self titled release from 2011 in full for the tenth anniversary. The band whipped through the album while also giving fans some other hits. They closed their set though with a cover of My Chemical Romances “Helena” in tribute to the band who dropped their headlining set at Riot this year to postpone it to next year.
Walking up to the stage looking like the definition of bad ass next was Patti Smith. “Happy Mexican Independence Day, Another strike against colonialism” were some of the first words out of her mouth. Breaking right into “People Have The Power” everything was made perfectly clear where not only her but the entire crowd stood, in unity, watching a legend before their own eyes.
Shortly after the genre took a 180 into Chicagos own punk legends Alkaline Trio. Being their first show back in the US, and 3rd overall, since COVID the band looked happier than ever to not only be back on stage but back in front of their hometown crowd. With a setlist spanning their entire career leaving out some hits for some deeper cuts, the band fired on all cylinders and the crowd couldn’t get enough of them.
Ending the night was the man who curated it all, a man who you either love or hate, Morrissey. Controversial for things he says and things he has done, Riot Fest was treated to a different Morrissey than we’ve seen before. On time to the minute, looking fantastic, looking happy, and sounding amazing the fans were given a show they won’t forget anytime soon.
With a career spanning set featuring several Smiths songs, a variety of solo material, and some covers fans were given a little of everything. For the first time since 2009 Morrissey even brought out “The Loop” into the set. Almost to avoid any extra controversy Morrissey kept it short and simple mostly between songs limited to the banter and in only a way Morrissey could he ended the set with an “I love you” and walking off into the fog not to be seen again.