The gates opened bright and early as the 2022 Riot Fest kicked off for another installment at Douglass Park. It was a scorcher of a weekend, with high temps and large crowds making this year’s fest a new challenge for both veteran attendees and those new to the event. Regardless, day one saw incredible acts like Bleachers, Foxy Shazam and the return of My Chemical Romance for an unforgettable day.
The sun was shining right in the faces of L.S. Dunes, but the supergroup gave everything they had to an already packed field. Featuring members of Thursday, My Chemical Romance, Circa Survive and Coheed and Cambria, Rioters were treated to the live debut of the band’s upcoming album. Singer Anthony Green launched himself over the barricade to scream up close and personal with delighted fans- the perfect way to get things started for the day.
Boston Manor- some of our favorite rockers from across the pond- also played an afternoon set. They flew all the way to Chicago for 30 minutes of blistering rock that amped up fans who’d trekked over to the far stage to mosh along. The band was more than prepared for the elements as they sweated it out with us.
If there’s one thing we love here at Atlas, it’s a killer reunion. Foxy Shazam is back from their six year hiatus and they tore up the Rise Stage with even more energy than we remember. The diehards crowded the barricade, screaming the words to “Holy Touch”, “Oh Lord” and more of the hits- plus songs from the band’s comeback album as well. Eric Nally flung himself all over stage, all over his bandmates and probably would have tried the audience next if keyboardist Sky White didn’t beat him to it.
This point of the day usually finds fans seeking any shade they can find, but with Friday being the only sold out day, shelter from the elements was tough to come by. Lines for food and water stretched into long waits as more and more people crammed into the area in front of the main stages for My Chemical Romance.
Before we got to that, however, Chicago welcomed Bleachers back to the festival for their headlining set. Jack Antonoff always looks so thrilled to be onstage and Friday was no exception- the band backed him up with an energy that moved the audience both physically and emotionally. Antonoff even remarked with obvious delight that they were sharing the sound space with Alkaline Trio- something he’ll “take to my grave”.
As the last notes rang out, My Chemical Romance made their dramatic entrance on a stage built to look like the end of the world. Gerard Way, dressed in another fabulous stage outfit, growled his way through “The Foundations of Decay” before the band rocked a setlist of all the hits. Unfortunately, the night was marred by the size and fervor of the crowd and the band stopped between each song to implore fans to make more space to avoid crushing anyone.
Nevertheless, the show must go on and MCR ensured that it did- until the final notes of “The Kids from Yesterday”. Naturally, we couldn’t end the night without one more surprise- Way returned to the stage under a single spotlight, bringing everyone to tears with an impromptu rendition of “Cancer”.
While it was a chaotic start to this year’s fest, Riot remains unmatched in its lineup diversity and general excellent atmosphere for fans of all ages. We spotted plenty of young ones making the trek from stage to stage as their parents introduced them to the music of their lives and brought so much joy in the process. Thousands of fans flooded the streets ready to come back for two more days of our favorite festival.
Check out all the photos from day one!
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel
My Chemical Romance photo credit: Jason Pendleton