This story has been updated since Riot Fest President Michael Petryshyn did an interview with Billboard.
DOUGLAS PARK — There are less than 10 days until Riot Fest kicks off — but fans of the West Side music festival have been questioning if it will even happen.
Riot Fest announced its first wave lineup on May 30, but it’s been largely mum on updates since then. No single-day tickets to the three-day festival are available online, and the festival hasn’t released its full lineup or a daily schedule for performers even though it starts Sept. 14 at Douglas Park.
But on Thursday – hours after Block Club published a story about the mysterious status of the fest – Riot Fest founder Michael Petryshyn broke his silence in an interview with Billboard:
“It’s 100% going on,” Petryshyn told Billboard. “New announcements are coming shortly. It’s doing awesome, we’ve never had a down year in Chicago. I think everyone is going to be alleviated shortly.”
Petryshyn did not tell Billboard why fest organizers have been so quiet recently, but urged people to ignore social media rumors.
The radio silence from anyone involved with the fest naturally led to confusion which, in turn, fueled anxiety and conspiracy theories across the internet. Ticket-buyers have reached out to the festival, music journalists and even individual bands to see if they had any insider information they could share.
“God damnit this festival is actively causing my anxiety to worsen,” one user wrote on Reddit, where posters have created threads dedicated to analyzing everything the festival organizers do and commiserating over the lack of news.
“I’m angry now, but I will have the time of my life when I enter the festival gates,” another Reddit user wrote.
Many said their concern stemmed from the cancelation of LouFest in St. Louis, which was called off just days before it was slated to open last year.
The online sleuths, who have posted across social media sites like Reddit, Facebook and Twitter, have speculated the festival will be canceled because it’s facing money issues, bands are dropping out — or even just because the organizers like messing with their supporters (the festival is all about being a punk, after all).
But most signs pointed to the festival happening: Organizers gave away three-day passes as recently as Tuesday night at a Sox game and credentials for reporters were issued on Wednesday, another sign the festival will happen.
Ald. George Cardenas (12th) said “every indication points that [Riot Fest] is going to happen.”
Cardenas, whose ward includes the southern portion of Douglas Park near Sacramento Drive and Ogden Avenue, said organizers secured permits and parking for the event. The 12th ward alderman reiterated that “by all accounts, it is happening.”
Cardenas said he has no idea why the Riot Fest organizers haven’t released their complete lineup but chalked it up to an organizational decision.
Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24th), who also represents part of Douglas Park, deferred all questions to the Chicago Park District, saying festivals like Riot Fest are coordinated through the Park District.
The Chicago Park District did not respond as of the time of this story’s publication. Riot Fest organizers did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
It’s been a chaotic year in general for Riot Fest, which reached a settlement with its online ticket partner, Ticketfly, because Ticketfly was compromised by a hacker during this year’s festival lineup announcement in May.
Riot Fest offered discounts and even free tickets to its fans after the settlement was announced.