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Riot Fest Founder, Cobra Lounge Owner Sean McKeough Dies

By Stephanie Lulay | November 30, 2016 1:14pm
 Riot Fest partner and Cobra Lounge owner Sean McKeough has died.
Riot Fest partner and Cobra Lounge owner Sean McKeough has died.
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Riot Fest

NEAR WEST SIDE — Sean McKeough, a founding partner of Riot Fest and owner of Cobra Lounge, has died at the age of 42.

A musician and entrepreneur, McKeough also owned All Rise Brewing and co-founded Cobra Music on the Near West Side. He was a champion of the local music scene, friends remembered Wednesday. 

McKeough, who died Tuesday, also co-owned Japonais by Morimoto and now-closed restaurant Moonshine in Wicker Park. 

McKeough's partner in Riot Fest, Michael Petryshyn, issued a statement on his friend's death Wednesday:

"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.

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.”

Larry Fletcher, who co-produced Motoblot, an annual motorcycle and hotrod street fest with McKeough, said McKeough was a tireless, driven worker who did as much as he could to help people in the punk rock scene. 

"People loved him so much because he gave so many people a chance by giving them work," Fletcher said. "He had a reputation for helping people who were down on their luck." 

On social media, friends and musicians who were supported by McKeough over the years shared memories of him — and their shock at his sudden death. 

McKeough​'s cause of death was not immediately known.


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