On the Radar: Riot Fest, Cassette Stores, VMAs

Jimmy Eat World band

What’s been picking at my brain this week? Riot Fest. Cassette Store Day. New Jimmy Eat World music. The Struts, rock’s best new rock band. The good old days, when the VMAs didn’t suck.

Join me for this week’s On the Radar.

Riot Fest

riot fest lineup 1 762x428 On the Radar: Riot Fest, Cassette Stores, VMAs

riot fest lineup first wave

Riot Fest Denver happens this week and the Chicago festival is only a few weeks away, so these have been on my mind for a bit. Sadly, I won’t be going to this year’s festivities, but it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the clamor and excitement surrounding Riot Fest events. Attending in 2014 convinced me that it’s one of the best summer send-offs.

Riot Fest, including Rob Zombie, Morrissey, Ween, and the original Misfits, is sure to be one of the most talked about festivals of 2016. And, if the lineup wasn’t exciting enough, Riot Fest announced the daily schedule and times for the Denver and Chicago shows. They sold out of three day tickets, but still have two day and single day tickets for sale. Get them while you still can; you don’t want to miss one of the last, and best, festivals of the year.

Jimmy Eat World


I like Jimmy Eat World quite a bit. Though I discovered their stellar album, Bleed American, years after its release, I still think it’s one of “pop-punks” finest. But their latter output has been unnotable, especially their 2013 album Damage. This week the band announced their new album, Integrity Blues, out October 21. I checked out the new songs and they seem promising. I really dug “Get Right,” but I’m still lukewarm on “Sure and Certain.” Still, it seems like it’s going to be a solid album with potential to be one of the best records of 2016. It’s great to see the guys back in the spotlight and ready to bring us more awesome music. Let’s just hope it’s more memorable than their last album.

Lamenting the VMAs

2016 mtv video music awards 762x434 On the Radar: Riot Fest, Cassette Stores, VMAs


The 2016 MTV Video Music Awards aired last weekend and I couldn’t care less. I even forgot it was coming up. I watched about one minute of the show before going back to Stranger Things. And, judging from the recaps I saw the following day, I didn’t miss much. The recent VMAs did get me thinking about how much they used to matter to me. I always used to look forward to what was, for me, one of the biggest events of the year. You never knew what was going to happen or who was going to show up.

But in recent years the VMAs have been tame, boring, and very predictable. Aside from the occasional fight or twerking session, the VMAs are just like every other award show. The thing that was supposed to make the VMAs stand out was that MTV produced them, so anything could happen. But this was during an era when MTV actually played music. And, beyond that, MTV had an edge. Now, the event comes and goes, barely noticed no matter how much MTV tries to hype it.

The last time I actually sat through the whole show was 2008. Russell Brand hosted the ceremony. Spoiler: he was the best part of the show. Ever since then, I’ve changed the channel. The VMAs are getting duller and it’s starting to show. Reports show that viewers have been ditching the show in increasing numbers for the last three years. 34% fewer people watched this year’s VMAs than did last year’s. Ouch. Let’s see how MTV is planning to retool the award show. They could actually bother to find a host for a start.

The mystery of Cassette Store Day

Cassette Store Day 2016 Photo 762x434 On the Radar: Riot Fest, Cassette Stores, VMAs

Cassette Store Day 2016

This week International Cassette Store Day, announced it would be returning for a fourth year. This year’s exclusive releases have been revealed. Created by a group of record labels in the UK, Cassette Store Day celebrates the cassette format, instead of shops that sell cassettes, like Record Store Day celebrates record stores. Now, I’m a fan of RSD, but CSD leaves me baffled. Why cassettes? They’ve been rising in popularity over the past few years. Bands like Bullet for my Valentine and Blink-182 even offered their latest albums in tape form. But while cassettes could be cool collector’s items, I still question this trend.

Cassettes aren’t very convenient. If you want an original Walk-Man to play them on the go, you have to shell out a lot of cash. They also don’t have the best sound quality. I remember cassettes being cheaper than vinyl or CD. But now? Not so much. Artists charge up to $14 for a new cassette. But are they worth it? Few people actually listen to cassettes. As a collector, I buy cassettes, but I never pay more than a dollar for them. And I admit, when I see my favorite band offering their latest output on tape, I’m tempted to buy it – for only a second. I’d rather put that money into getting the vinyl, which is far superior in audio quality. Hopefully, this trend doesn’t inspire VHS tapes to make a comeback.

The Struts


I owe Lollapalooza for my newest obsession: The Struts. The retro UK band has been making waves in the States thanks to its killer debut album, Everybody Wants, and its amazing live shows. Though I heard the name floating around the rock scene, I didn’t get the full Struts effect until their 2016 Lollapalooza set. Now, I’m a huge fan. I play their music on repeat and devour every interview featuring the band. Their party vibe, rock star attitudes, and upbeat nature make their music fun and infectious. Plus, frontman Luke Spiller impresses with his insane vocal range and glamorous costumes. He’s quickly becoming my new favorite frontman in rock.

The band is currently touring. Last month they played the opening slot for Guns N Roses. As you sit and wait (im)patiently for new music, I recommend picking up their album. And catch these guys live if you can. They’re sure to provide an unforgettable, glitzy night.

Ashley Perez

Ashley Perez

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on Examiner, The Crypt 1331, Chicago Innerview, Kitty Whipp, and Reality-Comics. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Marilyn Manson, and Green Day.

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