Sean McKeough, who co-founded Riot Fest, one of the best punk rock festivals in the country, died on Tuesday (Nov. 29) at the age of 42. The cause of death is unknown.

“Sean was Riot Fest’s pillar of strength,” Michael Petryshyn, his partner in Riot Fest, said in a statement. “I loved him. I admired him. And to lose him is a lonely and barren feeling. I miss my friend immensely. Without Sean and his belief that a little fest could make a positive impact on people’s lives by doing things differently and left of the dial, Riot Fest would have never become such an intimate family. His Herculean-sized heart and volition made that all possible. Anyone lucky enough to have witnessed his kindness and compassion knows Sean’s muddy work boots will never be filled. It’s impossible… he cared when no one else did. He worked when no one else did. And, he believed in Riot Fest when no one else did.”

Petryshyn expressed his support for McKeough’s family and partner Erin, and closed by saying, “Sean, I will forever be indebted to you. I love you, brother and I’ll make sure that Riot Fest never loses its purpose or vision… the one you saw before any of us.”

Riot Fest began in 2005 in numerous venues throughout Chicago. Over the years it consolidates to that city’s Humboldt Park (although it has since moved to Douglas Park), added a carnival and expanded into other cities. In 2013, they secured the reunion of the Replacements, a feat they also pulled off this year by bringing Glenn Danzig back into the Misfits for the first time since 1983.

In addition to Riot Fest, McKeough also owned the Cobra Lounge, a punk club in Chicago, and recently opened All Rise Brewing Company in the same location.

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