It happens after every major music festival: People talk. Sometimes they talk for weeks. Sometimes years. But they always recount the weekend's greatest triumphs in ways that make those of us that missed it feel like jerks — "You weren't there? I can't believe you weren't there!" "That was the best show of the year — I'll never see anything like that again." If you want to be the person saying this stuff on Monday, you'd do well to pay attention to our Riot Fest primer. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Sunday at Congress Theater, $25 Comprised of former Descendents members, this Colorado punk band headlines Riot Fest for one of the underground's most anticipated reunions of all time. Hyperbole? Considering that anyone who's ever even heard of the band owns every single record, sports at least one All tattoo, and has likely taken off work to fly to Chicago for this show, we think not. The band has been inactive for the better part of a decade — members instead hitting the road with other notable acts including alt-country's own Drag the River, hardcore giants Only Crime and indie innovators, The Lemonheads. Last January, after the band played a rare opening set in their hometown of Fort Collins, it was announced that they would, indeed, reunite to headline Chicago's Riot Fest.
Saturday at Double Door, $16.50
There's a lot to be said for catching reunions and rising stars, but — barring an unexpected reconciliation a few years down the road — there's something just a tad sweeter about witnessing the final strains of a band gone wrong. Despite an insistent campaign to assure the internet world that they weren't planning a break-up, the Jersey rockers finally announced in September that they'd call the quits after the fall tour — making Riot Fest the final showing of barebones pop-punk they'll deliver to Chicago. No word yet on whether the members will change their names (they've all adopted the surname, "Erg," a la the Ramones), but what is certain is that this is a set worth catching.
Sunday at Congress Theater, $25 and Double Door, $15
Still catching a hard time for missing Jay Reatard's mega-wattage set at Pitchfork? Time to redeem your rock credibility. This Memphis-born guitar prodigy can shred like no other — and he's been doing it since the tender age of 15. A series of limited-edition singles from Matador Records have provided Reatard with that oft-desired blogosphere hype, not to mention sent teems of hipsters to blows in record aisles nationwide. Live shows see him violently wailing through his invasive brand of gutter punk, irritating the audience into sublime, snarling submission. To say that he's at his best on stage is to say not nearly enough — but you'd know that already if you caught him at Pitchfork.
Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Sunday at Congress Theater, $25
Love 'em or hate 'em, no one can ever accuse the Boston ska-punks of being boring. They've been pillars of the punk community since the Reagan years, gathering footnotes in popular culture along the way (touring mainstage on Lollapalooza's 1995 tour, chatting up a young Jon Stewart on MTV, appearing on Saturday Night Live, and who could forget that cameo in Clueless?). After years of heavy touring, the band went on hiatus during most of the 2000s — reuniting in 2007 for a show that was dubbed, "the worst kept secret in Boston." Riot Fest marks the band's first show in Chicago since the split.