Walk around Logan Square, and chances are you’ll pass someone in a band, playing music or aspiring to be a musician. The DIY music scene is big here, especially starting in dingy basements where bands call home; many have blossomed and gone on to be successful in their own right — surely you can name some off the top of your head. But wherever they are now, they always come back to Logan Square as if they never left.
Riot Fest 2017 will feature two local groups: Sleep On It and Turnspit, along with big names in the punk-grunge music scene, such as Taking Back Sunday, Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Paramore and more.
Sleep On It
True to the hipster stereotype, Logan’s rock-punk band Sleep On It formed in 2012 in a dirty basement. Five years later, the guys are touring the world with their 2016 EPs and coming back home to play Riot Fest Sept. 15 and an after show Sept. 17 with Taking Back Sunday at Bottom Lounge (1375 W. Lake St.).
Sleep On It is made up of Zech Pluister on lead vocals, TJ Horansky on guitar and vocals, Jake Marquis on guitar and vocals, AJ Khah on bass and Luka Fischman on drums. Marquis said that Riot Fest is the band’s favorite part about fall.
“This year we’re opening the Radicals Stage on Friday,” Marquis said. “It’s an honor to open a stage in our hometown. TJ and I actually met at Riot Fest in 2013, so it’s pretty awesome to be playing the fest in 2017.”
He said the band is excited to watch other groups at the fest and enjoy being spectators as well as performers. A few favorites they are itching to see live are Paramore, Action Bronson, Mayday Parade, their friends in Grayscale and Like Pacific, Say Anything, Bayside and many others. Click here to see the full Riot Fest lineup.
“We get to share the stage with so many talented musicians and bands; we can’t wait to watch everyone,” Marquis said.
While home for a few days, the guys said they are excited to visit some of their missed Logan hotspots like Taqueria Moran, The Native, Boiler Room, Logan Bar & Grill, Revolution Brewing and Billy Sunday. But before that? “First thing we do will be to go head first into our respective beds,” they all said.
With more than 10,000 fans on Facebook and several big-city tours under their belt, the local band is getting high marks from the pop-punk music community and growing in popularity. They released their EP Lost Along the Way in 2016, which features their most popular songs on Spotify, “Unspoken” and “See You Around.” On Sept. 5, 2017, the band released their single and music video for “Distant” from their upcoming debut full-length album Overexposed, set for release Nov. 3 on Equal Vision Records. The band wrote on their Facebook page that the album has been in the works since before their last EP was released.
“We wanted to write a cohesive record that ebbed and flowed; we wanted it to tell a story,” they wrote. “There’s a level of inherent fear and anxiety that accompanies the pursuit of whatever fills us with passion. We sacrifice the refuge of convention and make ourselves vulnerable in the process.”
While you are waiting for Riot Fest and the band’s first album, check out their “Distant” music video and look for them at Logan neighborhood spots.
Our other local group, Turnspit, can’t be defined by just one genre. The band, which is playing Riot Fest on Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. at the Heather Owen stage, plays “Midwestern punk” according to their Facebook page, and mixes some twang with the melodic vocals from lead singer Gillian McGhee, who also plays guitar. The rest of the band is Brad Davis on bass and backup vocals, Jason Swearingen on guitar and vocals and Dan Tinkler on drums. Formed in 2014, Turnspit has two EPs out just finished recording their debut album Desire Paths, although the band is still looking to be signed, so the release date is not yet set.
“Playing Riot Fest is a total dream come true for me,” McGhee said. “I’ve been going religiously since I was in high school when it was still spread out at a bunch of venues across the city. It’s a real Chicago punk rock success story, and it’s surreal that our band got asked to play this year.”
She shared that she is looking forward to watching Jawbreaker perform the most. “I was basically in diapers the last time they were an active band,” she said with a laugh. “I’m super glad they’re playing at a time when I can really appreciate it and at a festival that my band is also playing.”
This is the band’s debut Riot Fest show, and McGhee said she is also stoked to see RVIVR, The Menzingers, The Flatliners and The Lawrence Arms. She said the band is thankful for the chance to play the fest and hope people enjoy the set, adding that it will be “high energy, and we’ll all be riding an adrenaline high, so it should be a pretty good time.”
The band members live in Logan Square, Avondale and Ukrainian Village and practice at Kildare Studios. As for neighborhood hangs, McGhee said Quenchers is probably the band’s favorite spot to play.
“That’s like a second home to me, and so many of our friends work and hang there on the regular,” she said. “We most recently played there with Captain, We’re Sinking in July, which was one of my favorite shows we’ve ever played.”
Sleep On It and Turnspit at Riot Fest this weekend. For more info, check out the lineup.