Now that's more cowbell, baby!
We biked it in, as well. As in bicycles. We knew parking would be a beast, especially if we were planning to go back and forth between Riverwest to catch the Locus Street version of the biker fest, and Water street for a more mainstream version. So we ended up parking somewhere on North Water, got out the kid trailer, and rode up to Riverwest to catch the DH's band, and took in a bit of the Barrettes before getting ready for more cowbell.
We parked and locked our bikes at the corner of Water and McKinley, and before BOC started into a long but still interesting take on "Buck's Boogie" I asked a kindly looking stranger to "Make Sammy's day and please tell us they haven't done Godzilla yet."
"No," the man smiled at my kid, knowing full well just by my question that this was undoubetly this kid's favorite song EVER. He knows this song -- even if he doesn't understand all the lyrics -- he sings them. So we plowed through the crowd, I started snapping pictures, and to Stella's recognition, they went into "Cities Aflame with Rock and Roll." They're doing it up, they're as fresh as they must have been the previous night at the Summerfest grounds, and of course Eric Bloom is priming all of us up for that song about the Japanese monster. The bikers around me know it; (I'd already briefed them on why I brought an almost 5 year old to this show) and they're helping me hoist Sammy on my shoulders for this song. And they all assure me he's singing along. Stella's getting a little tired of this, until they go into "Don't Fear the Reaper" -- and bring out the More-st More Cowbell we've ever seen. One encore and they're done, and we're hungry.
The Mistreaters were on top of their game on the Riverwest Commons stage. Good to see good punk that hasn't gone stale after all these years. Good to see lots of old and new school faces in the crowd, too.
But overall, this wasn't the 100th, that's for sure, in spite of all the people whining about all the noise. By all accounts, it was better organized, and for (from what I hear) all the "No Elton" shirts at the lakefront the musical selection was geared more toward this particular target market. Maybe last time around I only had Stella (I was pregnant with Sammy) and it seemed more dangerous, but this was (and was never meant to be) no Sturgis. But it was still thrilling, something I'm pretty sure few other cities could pull off in terms of hospitality and breadth. I know that many of the riders here this weekend could be accused of being "Rebels with Pensions" (thanks, Fly, for that phrase), but the ideal they're going for is a good one, where people are proud of how many miles they've gone or how many places they've been, especially in this day and age where only the young and unscarred are portrayed at yearning for unencumbered freedom. It was good to see so many people unashamed of wrinkles, scars, a few extra rolls of flesh; they wore these as proudly as they told the stories behind them. Every time this happens (and I've been in town since the 85th anniversary) I realize how much I love when they come to town, rumbling on that sound the HD attorneys tried to trademark/copyright. While I'm too chickenshit to get on one of those bikes with a motor capable of propelling me at 90 MPH for chrissakes I get on my human-powered two wheeler, zooming along on the bike trails, and I'm pretty sure I understand -- if not totally empathize with -- this devotion to a company that has built not only a machine, but a community as well.