In the Pouring Rain ... Very Strange

Corner of Weil and Meinecke
Originally uploaded by V'ron
OK. Sunday, 10:30 am. "We're still gonna do this?" "Yup." And so the Prom Queens suited up and walked down to join the fray at Locust and Booth, where the Riverwest Beer Run started, as well as the rain. The pouring rain. The buckets of rain. Miss Stery's sash progressively became more and more unreadable in the rain. I (Miss Conception) didn't even bother with an umbrella, and at 11:15 (T minus fifteen minutes), it's coming down in sheets and I'm noticing that the starting line happens to be strung up between two power poles, one with a "high voltage" warning on it, the other stringing a power line that was screaming to be busted up in the storm, electrocuting us all and guaranteeing headlines. But instead, every couple of minutes, when the wave of rain became harder, the crown would just yellow "Wooooooooo!!!!" louder, chanting everything from "USA! USA!" to "Start the race" because anybody who was going to do this was here anyway. Normally the race is kicked off with a traditional pop gun; I don't know if the alderman hit that, or we all heard a bang which could have very well been thunder, but we were off! In the pouring freaking rain, gym shoes sloshing in the puddles, I could feel my feet simply expanding with the water, my dress smelling like the cheap taffeta that it was. (Did I mention that I hate the smell of wet taffeta? Especially cheap wet taffeta?)
Stop one: clearly they were caught off guard. By the time I got my beer my heart rate was already down (yes, I actually ran this) but oh well. At this time I noticed my cell phone camera (as well as all its other functionality) was kaput. Oh well, I downed a beer and soldiered on. Stop two: they're pouring it better, but it's cheaper beer. Yuck. Off through the lake that comprised the corner of Weil and Meinecke, and moving on. Stop three: I'm passing Miss Stery and Miss Laid and I'm like, "Wait. They're walking! How are they ahead of me?" Oh, they cheated. Those bitches! They cut right through. Never mind that Miss Laid had leg surgery earlier and Miss Stery had knee replacement! There shall be no concessions! Stop four: Quality, flavorful beer here. Can't just slam this one. "What, you're worried about your time?" another runner asks. Yeah, he's got a point.

Finally, the homestretch, during which I ran into my cream city photog colleagues Scott and JMF, the latter of whose electronic camera went kaput just like my cell phone. (It's probably a good thing my DSLR's in the shop -- god knows how much more it would have been damaged.)

Almost poetically, the rain lets up just as I'm headed for my victory spring toward the finish line. And what a finish it is! I've finished at least under a half hour, and I don't even care what my time is. I just want to get out of this wet cheap taffeta, letting down all the other queens who soldiered on for at least a good portion of the day in fully prom gear. Naw, I catch a few songs from Floor Model, head back to Miss Laid's to change into comfy festival gear, and remember that I have the most wreched sunburn ever as pull a scratchy wet dress over my head.

OK, the sun's out and shining, and I meet back up with Brian and the kids, and sample this year's offerings at Locust Street:
  • First, theBarrettes. Only caught a song or two, since the weather made for a difficult sound check and the kids were getting antsy to stay in one place for long. If drummer Joolz had surgery on both hands earlier this year, you wouldn't know it: she's strong and as powerful as ever. The whole band's sounding great; I need to see them unencumbered to hear what kind of new stuff came out of their hiatus.

  • Touched base with bassman Dave Gelting, who was backing up an arresting Heidi Spencer -- that girl has a clear voice that sounds youthful, but put together with a mature and edgy delivery. She's got a gig at Linneman's this week which will be her last while she goes on hiatus.Anyway, Gelting was excellent as always, despite being despondent over his primary bass breaking just the previous night, in three places at that. I could feel for the guy. I mean, I shot this whole festival with a cell phone camera and a point and shoot, which I was OK, with, but neither are my primary tool. Ugh. Guitarist extraordinaire, Matt Hendricks, provided additional backup, after turning in a good set of his own earlier.

  • Well, Klinger's made up for last year with this year's best hot chicken wings (followed by Jax's really good BBQ chicken wings) as well as their ever-wonderful bar cheeseburgers. I will always be devoted to Klinger's cheeseburgers. They are cheap. They are greasy. They are not too big or too small. They are perfect.

  • Infinity Is She was another chick band, but they're a) not real festival fodder and b) not my cup of tea. With a name like that, they were either bound to be metal chicks, or new agey types, and they were sort of the latter. They opened with a cover of the Cranberries "Zombie" and then went into some almost Hawkwind-ish stuff. They were good at it, but I get the feeling that this is the kind of band that works best in a dark club, with a dominantly blue and green light show, and a better sound mix.

  • Stealin' Strings
    Originally uploaded by V'ron.
  • Stealin' Strings pretty much stole the show by the Linneman's stage in the later afternoon. A four piece, sort of plugged in acoustic electric thang, they at first started out sounding like just another really good folkie bunch, but then ended up catching our attention with unconventional arrangements and cool string arrangements on their electric instruments. We'll definitely keep them on our "check them out again" list. BUt they were very good for the Linneman's stage -- not too loud, fun to dance to, but still able to have a conversation with your your friendly neighborhood barkeep.

  • It wouldn't be Locust Street without at least one rastafarian keeping the beat, and this year's entry was I Roots and JD, who had a lead rapper who did Reggae with sort of Cookie Monster vocals. Hmmmm. There's a concept: a metal voice singing jamaican style. Good stuff -- kept the raggae crowd happy and were all over the stage, cavorting and having a good time.

  • The rings. I want the rings.
    Originally uploaded by V'ron
  • Finally, one more band before we had to give it up. (Which meant we'd have to miss the Championship and the .357 String Band, but oh well. Next time.)No. today's last band was a cover band called Brother Louie, and we spent half their set trying to figure out the theme of the songs they covered, because they did everybody from Neil Young to Mott the Hoople to Tommy James to Elvis Costello. I approached Louie afterwards and asked him and his reply was "They're all good songs." He was right. Maybe that's why I spent a whole set watching a cover band. (Well, it helps that the rhythm section are friends of ours, and that attracted a whole slew of people to dance and gossip and hang out.). But the kids were cooked, and so were the grownups, and we had to turn it in.

And if we're going to blame the kids on having to leave, we have to credit them for timing, because right when we pulled into our garage, it started raining again. Pouring rain. Buckets. Thanks kids.

Oh, when the sun finally comes out tomorrow, we have the wonderful Uptown Savages at Humboldt Park Chill on the Hill (and next week, former Riverwest Accordion Club members The Squeezettes.) Hope the ground dries up enough by tomorrow for this!


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