The Foo Fighters, The Cure and Death Cab for Cutie are among the headliners announced Tuesday by Riot Fest. Whether they’ll take the stage is still up in the air.
Because while the lineup and dates — Sept. 15-17 — for the three-day event might be set, the permit for the festival is not. Organizers have yet to obtain approval from the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners to hold the festival in Douglass Park.
After fielding numerous complaints from community members about the disruptive nature of so-called “mega-fests” — multi-day events that draw more than 10,000 attendees per day — the board amended its own code in 2022 specifically to gain greater oversight of such events, and now has the final say on permits.
Douglass Park, in particular, has become a major point of contention. In recent years, three successive summer festivals — Riot Fest, Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash and Heatwave — have been held in the park, blocking residents’ access to the community’s green space for lengthy periods of time during setup and teardown, creating traffic hazards for emergency vehicles and damaging the grounds, neighbors said.
Both Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash and Heatwave opted to relocate in 2023, but Riot Fest still has its sights set on Douglass Park.
At the most recent Park District board meeting, neighbors spoke for and against Riot Fest, and a member of the event’s staff said community outreach — required by the board — was ongoing. A virtual community meeting is scheduled for June 7.
“The Chicago Park District is committed to balancing the needs and interests of all park users,” Park District spokeswoman Michele Lemons told WTTW News via email.
Regarding the lineup announcement and launch of ticket sales, which would seem to suggest Riot Fest is secure in its choice of location, Lemons said: “The organizers of Riot Fest have submitted a permit application for the use of Douglass Park however the Park District has not issued a permit for the event. ... Any ticket sales made prior to the Park District approving a permit, are done at the organizer’s risk.”
Heather West, a spokesperson for Riot Fest, said they are confident the festival will receive a permit and they expect to release an announcement soon about bands from the community joining the lineup.
The Riot Fest 2023 lineup is here! We'll see you September 15-17, 2023 at Douglass Park in Chicago.
— Riot Fest (@RiotFest) May 16, 2023
Note: This article was updated to include a response from Riot Fest.