This is the Night we riiiiiide -- cos This Ain't the Garden of Eden
Pity that they said "No Cameras." (What, Cheap Trick doesn't want to be photographed? They were the headliner, we and the standard horde of bikers were there to see Blue Oyster Cult.) The River Park in Beloit is a gorgeous city resource. The view of the Rock River is wonderful, and there are parts of it landscaped beautifully. There were tons of photo ops to show off Beloit's offering, but I was a good girl, following the rules, and didn' have my camera.
Boy, I hate to criticise city festivals, but we've been to ones run by smaller towns and you'd think Beloit could have ratchet this one up. Overall, they've got a great location and they're bringing in the standard county/state fair lineup of bands coming through but, first off, the only beer available was Coors. We just couldn't bring ourselves to drink Coors. So we ended up getting one of those frozen daiquiri things in a souvenier glass for $12 that came with a free refill. Too bad it didn't come with much rum (if any) in it. Then, they have "reserved seating." At an outdoor festival, reserved seating. Reserved seating works in a Marcus Ampetheatre kind of place, but it doesn't work on on outdoor stage with fold up chairs to see Cheap Trick and Blue Oyster Cult.
Beloit River Park has a beautiful children's play area, with apparatus around a boat theme and plenty of climbing to explore, but the kids could only stare at it, because it was closed off. Probably so that you'd have to spend the $$$ to keep them occupied on the inflatable rides (well, that's my cynical explanation) and that was a shame. We wouldn't have spent the extra $$$ already, and this only served to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Overall, for the level of festival this was, it was rather pricey, both for food, admission, and beer. There was a smaller stage that had some mildly interesting local act on it, but that was taken over later in the evening for some kind of American Idol local version.
Blue Oyster Cult opens with "This Aint The Summer of Love" and they're off and running. No Allen Lanier. Lanier seems to tour with them every OTHER year. Rudy Sarzo is sitting in on bass. ("He's played with everybody," Brian fills me in, everybody being Ozzy during the Randy Rhoads years, and rattles off a bunch of metal names, clearly Sarzo has the metal bass cred.) Sarzo musicaly winks at us during his bass solo by pulling off the rip from Stanley Clarke's "School Days". Buck Dharma is holding down all the guitar tonight, and Eric Bloom is filling everything else in. They're all great, but since they're the "opening" band on the bill, they only get 75 minutes to play. The bikers smile knowingly as they crow out the choirboy intro to "The Golden Age of Leather" as the Cheap Trick fans are all "huh?" They remind the Cheap Trick fans who they are by getting ""Burning For You" out of the way early in the set (as they've been tending to do over the last few times we've seen them.) They pop off a few of their more obscure favorites, but not all of mine. No "E.T.I." No "Before the Kiss a Redcap."
But Stella loves "Summer of Love" and by the end of the set, the cowbells in the audience are raised for "Reaper." Besides the anniversary shirt, the big shirt to get this year (which they ran out of my size) is the one with the BOC logo on the back, and the immortal words "More Cowbell" on the front. And then, to Sammy's joy, they do "Godzilla." And then they're done.
We walk around the grounds once more, still looking for something more to this festival and we're not finding it. I'd like to say Summerfest has spoiled us, but again, Sheboygan puts on a better fest and they've half the size of Beloit. Maybe there were better parts and we just didnt' find them.
Earlier in the day we'd driven around the town, looking for a place to catch a bite. It's a sleepy little town, a downtown that has a yuppie district complete with gay bar, artsty shop, and a few bars. We drove past this lovely neon sign for a joint called the 88 tavern, and we had fun debating if it was an old man shot-and-a-beer house, or a pool shark place. Had lunch at a great little spot called the Rock on the River, where the all you can eat fish fry was pretty good, the chicken wings had bite and meat on 'em, and the pesto coated grilled tuna over a salad was quite interesting. (Never would have thought to coat a tuna steak with pesto before, now I will). But that was pretty much it. Beloit seems to have some great local resources, but they're unclear how to exploit them to their best. Blue Oyster Cult drew us in, but somehow the city, unlike Sheboygan, never showed us why we should come back.
Oh, by the way, the tavern turned out to be a biker bar.