Riot Fest, the last big bastion for summer music, slides in right under the deadline this weekend, packing a load of major acts into Chicago’s Douglas Park.
With the Flaming Lips headlining Friday, former Smiths frontman Morrisey taking the stage Saturday and Sunday’s reuniting of the original Misfits, Riot Fest organizers are maintaining their tradition celebrating some of the best punk, rock, alternative, metal and hip-hop artists. The supporting lineup – which includes metal rock from The Deftones, rapper Nas, the ska punking Specials, indie darlings Fitz and the Tantrums, buzzworthy pop-punk from Nashville’s Diarrhea Planet, the Hold Steady, the Descendents, Bad Religion, Rob Zombie, Jimmy Eat World and much more — has something for everyone.
Chicago represents well in this year’s lineup, with Sleepy Kitty, The Walters, reggae rockers Deal’s Gone Bad and northwest suburban pop-punk rockers Smoking Popes taking Saturday afternoon sets.
New to this year’s Riot Fest is the south suburbs’ Marina City, an electrifyingly aggressive pop rock sextet that’s been making some big ripples this year, both on the Chicago scene and nationally.
The band — the epitome of teamwork between Plainfield’s Ryan Argast, Brian Johnson and Matt Gaudiano, Shorewood’s Aaron Heiy, Naperville’s Eric Somers-Urrea and Todor Birindjiev from Arlington Heights — has taken on every challenge. And since they’re self-managed, that means tackling all booking, tours and competitions, promotion and merch duties themselves. They won 2015’s Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands and earned a slot for the West Coast dates of Warped Tour 2016. They’ve been featured in Alternative Press and were named one of the most anticipated bands at Riot Fest. They recently won the Chicago Nightlife Awards Band of the Year. And they’re releasing a new acoustic album — “Lost Doesn’t Mean Alone,” which was recorded in front of live audiences at five different studios in five different cities across the Midwest — Friday, Sept. 16, which has already been delivered to nearly 350 preorders.
We had a chance to chat with Argast about this year’s Warped Tour, their breakout summer and some upcoming events.
Where did your name come from? And what does it mean to you guys?
I loved those buildings growing up. I remember going to the Sears Tower and reading about all the architecture, and it was called Marina City. That’s just a cool name! I went and read more of the story and realized that the guys who built Marina City wanted to create a city within a city. The politicians, the press and everyone laughed at it, saying “How the heck are you gonna make an indoor city?” But it got so big and so successful that it has its own ZIP code and now it’s going to be a historical landmark. And to me, that was inspiration. … Everybody was like “You’re crazy, you’re nuts.” But we hope that we can be big enough that we can have our own ZIP code. We took some inspiration, thinking that was really cool. Dreaming big. And that’s what Marina City is all about.
Are there particular themes or messages you address in your music?
Most of our songs are about real-life problems and how to overcome them. We are always talking about dreaming big, having hope, not giving up, and how success is the best revenge.
Who are your major influences?
We all have different influences. Some of us are influenced by Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake, while others are influenced by A Day To Remember and blink-182. Others love Nine Inch Nails and Queens Of The Stone Age, and another listens to almost nothing but Metallica and Megadeath.
The night of the Chicago Nightlife Awards, did you guys expect to win?
We had no idea that we would win! People knew about it, but it didn’t seem like it was for our scene, for this band. When we got there, we were dressed up all in suits. Dressed to the hilt in suits. And we showed up and we were overdressed. This is how much we knew about this. We’re thinking now we’re overdressed, the artists who were playing and everyone who was talking, it’s just not about the music we play, but we’ll stick around and see what happens. … We really didn’t think we were going to be one of the bands, and when they called our name they actually said “Marinara Clay” or … said it completely wrong, “Marina Clay,” or something like that. And no one went up so we figured that was us. We jumped up there and were like “Are you serious right now?!” It was a really cool feeling, felt like it validated a lot of the stuff that we were doing. To us it was some recognition, even in a scene we didn’t know too much about, that they felt they should give us this award. Our fans all rallied behind us, so we have to thank them a lot, too! It was a really great feeling for us.
You’ve had past experience with the Warped Tour. Tell us about that.
We were lucky enough to play our hometown Warped Tour date last year and it was a dream come true. We had an absolute blast. It was something we dreamed about doing since we were really young.
Tell me about this year’s Warped Tour.
It was an absolutely amazing experience. Going out there every day and playing in front of 200-300 kids, and kids who are super excited about us. Toward the end of the tour we actually got bumped up to bigger stages because of what we had been able to do … the professionalism that we had and the crowds we were having. It was very, very exciting for us and now it’s like, OK, how do we get back to being able to play all of Warped Tour next year?
Note: Marina City is officially releasing “Lost Doesn’t Mean Alone” Friday, Sept. 16, but you can catch a free pre-release show at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Dr. Martens Store, 1561 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago.
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When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Sept. 16-18
Where: Douglas Park, 1401 S. Sacramento Drive, Chicago
Tickets: Single-day passes start at $84.98; two-day combo passes are $159.98; three-day passes are sold out; VIP packages are still available