Sean P. McKeough, Riot Fest cofounder and producer, died yesterday at age 42. McKeough owned Cobra Lounge, which opened in 2006, as well as the adjoining brewery, All Rise Brewing, which launched last year. Riot Fest has grown into the highest-profile part of McKeough’s legacy, becoming a several-day outdoor event in 2012 and expanding to other cities. It has a reputation for catering to nostalgia, for better or worse, which has helped it stand out in an increasingly bland, commercialized festival landscape—it was the first to welcome the Replacements back to the stage in 2013, and this year it hosted the first performances in 33 years by three of the original Misfits. Details are pending on the cause of McKeough’s death.
Riot Fest cofounder Michael Petryshyn has released a statement on his friend’s passing:
Sean was Riot Fest’s pillar of strength. 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.
Our thoughts are with the entire McKeough family and his beloved partner Erin. You were the closest people to him and without your constant love and support for Sean, his unimaginable impact on thousands of lives may have never been realized.
We’ll update this post as more information becomes available.
Update: Riot Fest representatives released a formal obituary on Friday, December 2. It supplied additional details about McKeough’s cause of death: “His death was the result of a stroke, which has been attributed to the after effects of radiation during his successful treatment of throat cancer in 2013.”
Second update: Visitation and mass are Saturday, December 10, at St. Barnabas, 10134 S. Longwood Dr. Further details here. A memorial celebration will be held at Concord Music Hall on Friday, January 6.