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Fall Arts Guide 2008, Best Bets: Riot Fest

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Best Bets

Riot Fest

Unnaturally colored hair and studded belts have been fully embraced by the mainstream, but the bands and fans that flock to the three-year-old Riot Fest rock punk signifiers like they never came into style. About 37 acts play over three days at four venues, among them ska-punk popularizers the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, pop-punk granddaddies ALL, reunited hardcore vets Reagan Youth, Danish psychobillies the Horrorpops, Naked Raygun descendants the Bomb, garage-punk freakazoid Jay Reatard, and the Ramonesy Teenage Bottlerockets. Some highlights: Punk's often considered a youngster's game, but the gruff, Motorheadish patina of scuzz that Anti-Nowhere League (headlining the Double Door on the second night) have accumulated over nearly 30 years in the business makes a decent argument for growing old ungracefully. Locals Das Kapital (at House of Blues the first night), the latest band fronted by 80s vet Marc Ruvolo, mixes heavy political ideology and pop hooks, which sometimes feels like a clever juxtaposition and sometimes hits the sweet spot of the "you got chocolate in my peanut butter" effect. Big Drill Car's string of records in the late 1980s took some of the edge off hardcore, injected a little more melody into the formula, and helped set the stage for the explosion of pop-punk bands that would erupt in the mid-90s, bringing punk into the mainstream (they headline the Double Door on the first night). On the opposite end of the catchiness spectrum, the Chicagoans in Iattack (among the openers for Anti-Nowhere League) strip hardcore down to basics. aAt House of Blues: Fri-Sun 10/10-10/12. Fri, 5 PM, 329 N. Dearborn, $16.50, all ages. At Double Door: Fri-Sat 10/10-10/11, 9 PM, 1572 N. Milwaukee, $14.50-$16.50, 21+. At Cobra Lounge: Fri-Sat 10/10-10/11, 10 PM, 235 N. Ashland, free show with "mystery guests", 21+. At Congress Theater: Sun 10/12, noon, 2135 N. Milwaukee, $25. riotfest.org. —Miles Raymer

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