And that’s a wrap on 2023’s Riot Fest. Sunday, the final day of the festival, didn’t go off flawlessly but it ended up being one of my favorite days of the festival. Unfortunately, a nasty rain storm wreaked havoc on the festival grounds creating a muddy mess and a necessary rain delay. Although many people took to social media to complain about the delay, I took advantage of a couple extra hours of sleep and some quality time with my friends who I felt I had neglected throughout the previous two days just with running around and covering as much as I possibly could.

As you may suspect, with two less hours of music on the schedule, I didn’t quite catch as much as I had on Friday and Saturday but I’m going to still lay this post out like the previous days so, without further ado, here were my picks for the muddy yet beautiful Sunday of Riot Fest:

L.S. Dunes: Fronted by Anthony Green (of Circa Survive, Saosin, and The Sound of Animals Fighting), this is one of those bands that is somehow both nostalgic and fresh. Anthony’s voice is distinct and was super on point as the band powered through a forty-five minute set. Everyone else in this super group (including Frank Iero of My Chemical Romance, Travis Stever of Coheed and Cambria, and Tucker Rule of Thursday) sounded absolutely flawless and definitely brought the energy to a crowd that was still trying to wake up. It was cool to see them at Riot Fest again after their performance there last year was their debut performance.

AFI: Friday was clearly a day of nostalgia for me and that feeling was loud and proud as I spent a little bit of time watching AFI. Vocalist Davey Havok took the stage with an energy that could only be compared to firey passion and never let that falter. The way he intently stared at the audience was something that I will never forget. It was as if he was making sure that you were not just hearing his words, but feeling them and that was the icing on the cake to their flawless set.

Finch: I have a tattoo of the Finch logo front and center on my shoulder. They are one of my favorites. Have been for years and always will be. Although I just saw them a couple of months ago at The House of Blues in Chicago, I just could not resist another chance to catch this band that literally saved my life. Much like they did last time, they sounded flawless as they played through the songs that I would play on repeat night after night to literally just stay alive. It was an emotional set for me but a perfect way to spend 45 minutes on Sunday even though it meant I missed The Dresden Dolls.

The Used: This is where the schedule got even more rough for me. I had to choose between The Used, The Gaslight Anthem, and The Mars Volta. I’ve never seen The Mars Volta, only seen Gaslight a handful of times, and just saw The Used a couple of months ago down at So What?! in Texas. Even though the logical answer would have been to go see The Mars Volta, my heart told me I had to be at The Used and it didn’t not lead me in the wrong direction. The amount of passion and love that this band brings to every stage thy play is truly incredible and they brought it all to the stage at Riot Fest.

The Cure: Closing out Sunday night and Riot Fest 2023 was The Cure. I know, like so many other bands I’ve written about, I just recently saw The Cure up in Saint Paul but seeing them at a festival rather than an arena is completely different and I honestly think it was better. I was left super impressed with their performance at Xcel Energy Center recently but the way their music hit me on Sunday was just a bit more powerful. Maybe that was my proximity to the band from the photo pit or maybe it was just the emotional reaction I saw so many people having to their iconic music. Regardless, it led to an absolutely amazing way to end an amazing weekend.

I did Riot Fest differently this year. I took a leap and was given the amazing opportunity of doing photos along with my writing. On day one, I absolutely felt like a fish out of water but, by Sunday, I felt like I was a pro and it led to many mini breakdowns in smelly porta-potties throughout the day for me. I just can’t believe that I had such an amazing opportunity and, after all of the hustle, bustle, and stress, I think Sunday finally gave me a chance to reflect on it all.

I go by Girl at the Rock Shows because I go to concerts almost nightly. I’ve been doing that for damn near twenty years and have been writing about them for almost ten. I’ve had many a sleepless nights and have had to witness many a questionable show but I felt all of that hard work and that exhausting grind pay off this weekend at Riot Fest 2023. It’s cliche, I know, but follow your dreams. You never know where it may take you– you could end up in a photo put shooting Robert Smith and The Cure.

I want to send some love and praise to all of the staff at Riot Fest. Sure, the music was great but without the staff, Riot Fest would be nothing. From the way they handled the rain delay to just the day-to-day operations of this extremely large festival, I feel like Riot Fest is easily one of the best run festivals in the country. Cheers to the real MVP’s of Riot Fest and cheers to Riot Fest 2024. I hope to se you there!