After a worrisome week of speculation and rumors, Riot Fest has finally unveiled the schedule for this weekend. As is the case with the schedule for any festival with more than a handful of decent acts, scheduling conflicts are unavoidable, and there are certainly some big ones to be addressed this year. We’ve taken a closer look at six of the most congested, conflict-ridden spots on the schedule to help you find some resolution when sketching out your plans for the weekend.
Digable Planets @ 5:15, Matt and Kim @ 5:30, Flogging Molly @ 5:45
The acts: Three bands, three very different sounds, one theoretical person who actively listens to all three acts. Digable Planets, who have had been intermittently active since forming in the late 1980s and shaping the future of alternative hip hop, will be performing their massively influential debut album Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) in full. Keyboard driven indie poppers Matt and Kim have been soundtracking neon-streaked dance parties over the last decade and a half, with their latest album, Almost Everyday, featuring a wide array of guest appearances from folks myriad musical worlds, including Mark Hoppus, Santigold, and Kevin Morby. Irish punk band Flogging Molly is Flogging Molly.
The verdict: Go watch Digable Planets. Easy call.
Cypress Hill @ 8:15, Dropkick Murphys @ 8:30, Weezer @ 8:45
The acts: Classic hip hop collective Cypress Hill will release their first album in 8 years, the psychedelic Elephants on Acid, later this month, but will spend their Riot Fest set looking back at their massively popular LP Black Sunday (yes, the one with “Insane in the Brain” on it). Dropkick Murphys are not Flogging Molly but you’d be forgiven for getting them confused. They’re the ones from Boston. Weezer knows why people go see them and play plenty of The Hits from their early albums, plus plenty of the stronger cuts from the 21st century (and the recent meme phenom cover of “Africa.”)
The verdict: Weezer are headlining for a damn reason! Get over there and watch those goofballs. Maybe catch the first half hour of Cypress Hill if you’re looking to catch a pre-Weezer buzz.
The Voidz @ 6:15, Killing Joke @ 6:30, Elvis Costello & The Imposters @ 6:35
The acts: The Voidz, best known as the Julian Casablancas band that isn’t The Strokes, revels in the weirder, more psych-leaning corners of rock history, offering up shambling tracks that make for an enjoyable if not super memorable listen. Influential gothy postpunk band Killing Joke, currently in the midst of a US tour in celebration of their 40th anniversary, is a perfectly Riot Fest booking, bringing some moody late afternoon vibes to Douglas Park. Elvis Costello is a huge get, placed a bit early on the crowded Saturday lineup.
The verdict: Our friend Elvis is a living legend. This is an easy one, for me, but if you’re a big Killing Joke head and need to catch them, I’ll allow it. They don’t play the States often.
Interpol @ 7:40, Jerry Lee Lewis @ 7:45, The Jesus Lizard @ 8
The acts: This conflict can be looked at as a study in aging rock men. Early 2000s indie rock idols Interpol have been putting out albums fairly consistently over the last fifteen years, but have generally failed to capture the magic of their early releases (their latest, Marauder, was released last month to mixed reviews). You can count on Riot Fest to book at least a few head scratchers each year, and the Octogenarian boogie icon Jerry Lee Lewis is one of 2018’s more incongruous additions to the lineup. That said, The Jesus Lizard have been absolutely lighting up stages during their recent run of reunion shows, leaning into their ferocious, provocative personas during marathon sets.
The verdict: In arguably the weirdest three-way rock music pileup of the weekend, I’m thinking you go for 15-20 minutes of Jerry Lee Lewis and then hoof it over to catch the damn Lizard.
Superchunk @ 5:30, Dillinger Four @ 5:45, Blondie @ 5:45
The acts: This is hard one. You can count on Superchunk to kick out the jams, expect a perfectly upbead mid-afternoon set of upbeat 90s indie rock jammers from a quartet of vets. Dillinger Four’s reputation for massive, rowdy live shows is well known. Blondie are, of course, legends, with a deep catalog of absolute jams. Their 2017 album, Pollinator, was a surprisingly strong late period entry in the band’s catalog, so one can expect a nice mixture of new and old.
The verdict: Blondie is the must-see here, for me. I wouldn’t be mad at you if you split time between them and one of the other two, though, if you gotta. Just remember that only one of these bands wrote “Heart of Glass.”
Incubus @ 7:45, Father John Misty @ 7:55, Bad Religion @ 8:30
The acts: Closing out the fest with another stylistically diverse but potentially frustrating conflict for those with more wide-ranging tastes, is the three-band mashup of Incubus/Father John Misty/Bad Religion. The juxtaposition between California spirit trippers Incubus and the self-referential-but-just-as-restless Father John Misty is an interesting one, with their respective frontmen coming from two generations of introspective, soul-searching rock music. Bad Religion are here, too, celebrating the 30th anniversary of their fan favorite 1988 album Suffer.
The verdict: I mean, I wouldn’t ever like, buy tickets to an Incubus show but am I gonna see what their live show is like since I’m already there? Absolutely.