Mankato Has New Bike Lanes, But Don’t Worry, You Can Still Park In Them

As you may have noticed, Mankato laid down the first phase of downtown bike lanes in late autumn. Thus far, reviews have been mixed across the board.

A vocal minority of aggressive, uneducated motorists threw their usual shitfit via–what else–Facebook comment threads. (My favorite? A call for a petition to remove the bike lanes, as if the city hadn’t been planning this publicly for well over a year.)

Cyclists and motorists alike were confused by the Poplar Street modifications, which were eventually dissected by the Freep’s Ask Us column. Even so, citizens shouldn’t have to depend on a letter to an editor to learn to how use a slice of road properly.

And avid cyclists have felt a little squeezed by the Broad Street lanes’ proximity to parked cars. The risk of getting doored is high, especially in a town were drivers aren’t accustomed to looking behind them (or pocketing their cell phones) before flinging their doors into the street.

So there are flaws. But as a year-round commuter, it’s tough to see the lane installation as anything but a success, if only because it sends the strongest message possible that bikes belong on the road, not on sidewalks. Furthermore, prioritizing these routes shows some serious vision on the city’s part, as they connect to the off-street/multi-use trails around town with ease. I use them almost daily.

But there’s a problem: People keep parking in them. Especially on the weekends.

I tolerated it for a couple of weeks. This is a new thing for a lot of people–especially Buick drivers–so there was bound to be an adjustment period. Also, cramming driving lanes, bike lanes, and parking spots into the Broad and Cherry Street real estate was a difficult task. Some overhang was to be expected.

After a certain point, though, a keen eye can separate the clueless from the lazy. A full-sized sedan parked the bike lane in front of a church? Okay, you’re probably old as hell and don’t know any better. A glistening BMW parked in front of a law office, though?

r3opHZfg

Eat shit, pal.

Immediately after snapping this photo on Saturday, I rode over to the Mankato Public Safety Center, which is a taxpayer-friendly euphemism for POLICE STATION. Typically, I’m averse to contact with cops as they’re usually, you know, assholes.  Yet there was truly a matter of PUBLIC SAFETY that needed attention, and that’s what the front of the building advertises. Parking in bike lanes isn’t just a dick move, it’s a dangerous one:

So, upon arrival, I called dispatch via the telephone in the entryway, and approximately seven minutes later, an officer came down to talk to me. While he didn’t seem particularly interested in the plight of the cyclist, he did take down the information he required: My name and driver’s license number…but none of the identifying characteristics of the offending vehicle.

According to him, their procedure for dealing with this offense is merely to chalk the vehicle’s tires. If the chalked vehicle hasn’t moved in 24 hours, the driver is subjected to a $25 parking ticket.

This is the same penalty for leaving a car parked on the street anywhere in downtown Mankato.

Let me be as plain as possible here: According to this police officer, there is absolutely ZERO penalty for parking a car in Mankato’s bike lanes. You can leave your vehicle in the middle of a bike lane for nearly an entire rotation of the Earth without repercussion.

This is perplexing, because a bill introduced in the Minnesota State Legislature in 2013–and subsequently passed–states that obstructing a bicycle lane with a parked car is prohibited.

Take a quick glance at Minnesota Statute 169.34, paying special attention to number 14:

169.34 PROHIBITIONS; STOPPING, PARKING
Subdivision 1.Prohibitions.

(a) No person shall stop, stand, or park a vehicle, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with the directions of a police officer or traffic-control device, in any of the following places:

(1) on a sidewalk;

(2) in front of a public or private driveway;

(3) within an intersection;

(4) within ten feet of a fire hydrant;

(5) on a crosswalk;

(6) within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection;

(7) within 30 feet upon the approach to any flashing beacon, stop sign, or traffic-control signal located at the side of a roadway;

(8) between a safety zone and the adjacent curb or within 30 feet of points on the curb immediately opposite the ends of a safety zone, unless a different length is indicated by signs or markings;

(9) within 50 feet of the nearest rail of a railroad crossing;

(10) within 20 feet of the driveway entrance to any fire station and on the side of a street opposite the entrance to any fire station within 75 feet of said entrance when properly signposted;

(11) alongside or opposite any street excavation or obstruction when such stopping, standing, or parking would obstruct traffic;

(12) on the roadway side of any vehicle stopped or parked at the edge or curb of a street;

(13) upon any bridge or other elevated structure upon a highway or within a highway tunnel, except as otherwise provided by ordinance;

(14) within a bicycle lane, except when posted signs permit parking; or

(15) at any place where official signs prohibit stopping.

 

In light of these developments, I’ll leave it to the City of Mankato to answer the following questions:

1) Why did you install bike lanes without implementing a plan to educate motorists about their use?

2) Why are public safety officials ill-equipped to enforce state laws in regards to bike lane blockage?

3) What steps will you take to rectify these oversights?

 

We’ll be waiting for the answers.

This Friday in Kato: Past, Present, and…Future?

Nato Coles & the Blue Diamond Band

Nato Coles & the Blue Diamond Band

It’s Thursday already, so let’s get down to business. While most of this weekend’s festivities are going to be quite familiar to locals (more on that later), if you’re into the whole “live music” thing, Kato’s going to be on fire this Friday.

2nd Annual NYDM 5SRC Toys for Tots Drive (Busters, 9 p.m.; $8 cover, $3 with toy donation)

Scheduled well in advance at Busters after the What’s Up Lounge reopened with a “no hip-hop or extreme metal” policy (which has since been rescinded because money), this benefit is headlined by Mankato death metal heavyweights Face of Oblivion. This will be their second (?) show featuring new vocalist Jesse Watson, who replaced ex-Origin vocalist James Lee earlier this year.

It’s rare for a Midwestern town of Mankato’s size to boast a DM act of this caliber, so it’s cool to see the five-piece ramping up their activity.

Rounding out the bill are local-ish metalcore upstarts HeirAfire, Anoka ReverbNationals Beauty of Decay, and MPLS melodeath manipulators Echoes of the Fallen.

The Last Revel & Charlie Parr (Mankato Brewery, 7 p.m.; $7 advance, $10 door)

Sneakily, Mankato Brewery has become one of our city’s hottest spots for live music. (An ample stage, quality sound, and a steady flow of fresh beer seem to be working in their favor.) Bluegrass / folk shredders The Last Revel have been absolutely buzzing over the course of the last eighteen months, peerlessly triggering shoeless sashaying and mirthful pogo-ing amongst artsy Caucasians.

While The Last Revel have styled themselves as a semi-regular attraction, Charlie Parr’s trips down from Duluth are rare, so this is your best opportunity to catch the crusty folk legend without having to endure the Solstice marathon.

[It’s been awhile since I’ve set foot in the Brewery, but if the Mad Butcher IPA is still on tap, CAPITALIZE. While MB may have stumbled out of the gate, the release of this Haymaker killer, along with last summer’s delightful, surprising Kato Lager, means that our hometown beermongers are officially on a roll. Extra bonus: Lola‘s totally righteous food truck is lumbering in from New Ulm, so y’all are SET.]

Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band (NaKato, 10 p.m.; no cover)

This is almost a last-minute booking at the NaKato, with the event page surfacing on FaceDUMBRACISTYELLINGbook just yesterday. At first glance, it looked like this might’ve been another tough Lower North gig for Nato & Co. (their last NaKato appearance was during Boogie on Belgrade and attendance was lackluster), but hey: That Brewery show starts at 7. Nato throws down at 10. If you’re on the right side of the bridge, a doubleheader is mandatory, because this is the best rock n’ roll band that travels to our southern wasteland on the reg. Those that caught their set opening for Cheap Trick at RibFest this summer already know what’s up.

Let’s do this shit…

…again.

Yeah, this entire post looks really familiar, doesn’t it?

It’s not a copy-and-paste job. Our scene is just getting that stagnant.

After a little over a year of writing (sporadically) about Mankato nightlife, this blog has been losing steam. Frankly, it’s not that exciting to write about local and regional music when there hasn’t been anything new or fresh that has blown our doors off in ages.

Mankato’s music scene has been in a transitional period for the past year-plus, but the reaction of bookers and promoters hasn’t been one of injecting newfound adventure and excitement. Instead, they’ve displayed trepidation and restraint. While there have been a couple of highlights in 2015, the last time this town was blessed with truly buzzworthy Minnesota music was the Fury Things / Hardcore Crayons show last winter.

Many were clinging to the hope that the What’s Up would jumpstart the scenery once it reopened under new management, but quality bookings have been sparse. The Kult of the Wizard / Highgraves show was a gem, sure, but we’ve either been subjected to scenester stuff that doesn’t appeal to the 21+ crowd or outdated mallrock for the painfully uncool. Their big “get” to close 2015 is “National Recording Artist” Saliva, whose sole hit, 2001’s “Click Click Boom,” likely only triggers excitement among people that watched Sons of Anarchy for the chase sequences. At this stage, it feels less like a hotspot and more like a reanimated corpse.

Meanwhile, most bars seem to be treating live music as an afterthought. Chopps has been doing well with hip hop, and Moonshiner seems to finally be stretching its wings a bit, but as a city, we’re stuck in a rut. The formulas that are working right now are only going to work for a finite period of time, and if bars and venues don’t take risks, the cautious, cyclical booking they’ve been riding for the past 12 months may wear dangerously thin on an increasingly-jaded populace.

Let’s get out there and light some fires, Mankato.

November Coming Fire: A Requiem for Exhaustion

(October was so crazy I straight-up FORGOT to listen to Type O Negative. Yeah. It was that bad.)

(October was such a blur that I straight-up FORGOT to listen to Type O Negative. It was that bad.)

The only thing worse than opening a blog post with an apology for a lack of updates is continuing that post with a litany of reasons as to WHY said blog has been ignored by its curator.

I’ll meet you halfway by skipping the apologies and getting straight to the excuses.

Before I start whining, it’s best to retrace our steps: The entire premise of RJKT was/is peer into our city’s nightlife and culture. It’s never pretended to be all-encompassing, but its limited scope was usually dependent on my ability and/or enthusiasm for getting out and doing things.

During the month of October, I went full-on hermitcore. I didn’t go out, I didn’t talk to people, and I sure as shit didn’t write. (Well, that’s not entirely true, but more on that later.) Lots of cool things were happening around town, but due to my the seasonal demands of my dayjob–which involves coaxing literally hundreds of temporary laborers into schlepping Star Wars memorabilia at maximum speed, for 60+ hours each week–I locked myself indoors.

Usually, my seclusionary tactics were the result of sheer exhaustion. But often, I felt defeated. My rhythms and routines had been ground underfoot and scattered into warehouse dust. My little pocket of the world had been thrown into chaos and doubt. Would I ever get out to a show again? Would my friends forget about me? Would I ever redevelop a taste for fruits and vegetables after spending an entire month surviving on donuts, Red Bull, and Pizza Ranch?

I was so, so close to losing hope. BUT I NEVER GAVE UP…

…on consuming degenerate art.

Without the therapeutic benefits of human interaction, I was forced to supplement my usual diet of heavy metal and beer with healthy doses of sci-fi in the following formats:

⦁    Last-gen video games
⦁    Hardcover pulp
⦁    Graphic novels

…and honestly, these nerd ‘roids were probably the only things from keeping me from being crushed under the wagon’s wheels.

So, in the interest of getting back on track, consider this the thank-you section of the liner notes for RJKT’s unreleased harsh noise triple-album, October Crust. After we slog through this together, we can return to our regularly scheduled programming: Publicly shaming under-educated bike lane opponents and grown-ass adults that still listen to nu-metal while previewing Kato events that don’t totally suck.

But first, THE SURVIVAL JAMS:

While albums from Clutch, Kylesa, and VHÖL received a ton of pre-release anticipation, the only intelli-heavy record from October to truly cash in on its massive hype was Deafheaven‘s New Bermuda. Next to Royksopp & Robyn’s “Do It Again,” “Luna” was the only thing that effectively charged my batteries when the coffee quit working.

Incidentally, it was an entire pot of dark roast (imbibed at noon) that powered my review of the record, which the Angry Metal Guy himself graciously allowed to desecrate his pages.

While lingering in the AMG offices, my friend and colleague Grymm’s delightfully OTT take on the new Killing Joke album, Pylon, caught my eye. While only a few cuts got me deep–“Big Buzz” being the sharpest–it reignited a love affair with their 2006 opus, Hosannas from the Basements of Hell. New records from living legends don’t have to be revolutionary, they just have to stoke the flames.

Meanwhile, left field winds brought us fresh radness from Beaten to Death, who established themselves as the most effervescent band in grindcore with 2013’s Dodsfest! (which I also ranted and raved about at AMG). Their latest, Unplugged (which isn’t), whips their whims into tighter, more concise assaults, and the result is absolutely batshit.

But against all odds, the month’s king comes from the realm of death metal, as Dark Descent‘s crown jewel, Horrendous, crafted a masterpiece. Old-school DM has been the most played out sub-subgenre for ages now, especially if you still think “occult rock” has legs. But Anareta‘s blend of Asphyxiating vocal delivery, Atheist / Cynic prototech homages, and absolutely bonkers timechanges have prog-pushed the record into AOTY contention. (And actually, everyone’s favorite record-label-ad-revenue-driven heavy metal catalog, Decibel, recently crowned it as such.)

 

And now, some auxiliary acknowledgements, for without these non-aural cathartic devices, I’d have barely survived.

THANK YOU:

The copy of Deus Ex: Human Revolution I swiped from We Got Game for $2.99 (TOP-NOTCH sci-fi stealth / RPG yarn that actually rewards you for not being a murderous shitbag, even when thrust into the cold machinations of a libertarian dystopia), bicycles, Transmetropolitan Volumes 5 and 6 (because the New Scum shouldn’t forget where they came from), bicycles, John Scalzi’s The End of All Things (proving that there’s serious legs left in the Old Man’s War saga), Fargo Brewing Company’s Wood Chipper IPA (get it?), bicycles.

NO THANK YOU / SLIT YOUR WRISTS AND LAUNCH YOURSELVES INTO THE SUN:

My janky bottom bracket, Scott Walker (the shitty one), big-ass trucks with North Dakota plates that don’t use their turn signals, Five Finger Death Punch, people that order Coors Light at Boulder Tap House, Wallace and Gromit, the loathsome old crank in the dark blue Nissan Xterra that tried to start a fight with me last winter (with his seat belt still fastened), solitude.

Whew. That felt good. You ready to do this again, Mankato?

This Weekend in Kato: Let’s Get Doomed

kultofthewizard

Kult of the Wizard

Yeah, things have been quiet around these parts. But it’s about to get LOUD.

This Friday, the What’s Up Lounge hosts a show that I’ve been anticipating since Let It Breathe started kicking up smoke, an event that we should hope is the first brick in a bridge between the Mankato and Minneapolis stoner / doom scenes:

what's up lounge

Before we dissect the lineup and give it the hard sell, let’s make a brief digression.

One of the things I’ve noticed since breaking free from the comforts of Internet music fandom is that, in the real world, loudrock still has a trash-ass reputation. In the last month, the River Valley endured Five Finger Death Punch and Papa Roach–pastiched, corporate rock whores that generate cash by covering classic rock songs that are still embedded in Clear Channel playlists–holding a much-ballyhooed bro-down in our hockey arena; meanwhile, the What’s Up opened their doors to a bunch of grown-ass men that are combining Tool tropes with chugcore nearly 15 years too late.

saul2

Because nothing screams “progressive metal” like tough-guy posturing and guyliner. But, I guess if Geoff Tate’s still doing it…

Nu-metal still lives in the Midwest. The JNCO nuclear apocalypse happened, but there are still Corey Taylor-worshiping cockroaches scurrying everywhere.

Proof? I was having a beer on Monday night in an empty bar, minding my own business, while two thirtysomething white males (in matching camo caps) assaulted the TouchTunes with Metallica‘s asstastic cover of “Overkill,” a whole lot of Korn, and something from Machine Head‘s ultra-maligned rapcore cashgrab Supercharger.

theburningredera

If your favorite band had a shiny tracksuit phase, they probably suck.

Whether it’s fair or not–and it’s not–these are the ambassadors of heaviness to the greater public. Despite the great lengths my friends and former colleagues have gone to promote forward-thinking, intelligent heavy metal via NPR, Pitchfork, PopMatters, and other outlets that have broader, crossover appeal, aggressive music is still standardized by dimwits that stopped challenging themselves in high school.

Don’t let that perception deter you from REVELING IN YOUR DOOM this Friday.

For the uninitiated, the best way to describe doom metal is this: Imagine that the lineage of heavy metal is a straight line from Black Sabbath, and the branches that sprouted from Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Bathory, and Death never took root. All doom and stoner metal bands basically use Master of Reality as a touchstone, retracing the lines and filling in their own colors along the way.

Friday’s Mankato doomcrew consists of WarRooster and Let it Breathe, both of whom have been covered here ad nauseam. (Hey, gimme a break; I like riffs.) The two bands highlight the disparities within the subgenre; WarRooster’s take is peppy and uptempo, loaded with time changes and rollicking riffery, whereas Let It Breathe stretches things out, slow-boiling their strings in smoke while hammering away underneath.

The Twin Cities are exporting a pair of bands on the upswing. St. Paul’s Highgraves are practically infants, with only a single demo on Bandcamp (not ReverbNation; take note, strugglers). But they’ve already played with MN elite like Vulgaari and Wolf Blood, and landed an October gig opening for savage duo Black Cobra and critical doomlings Yob. Their demo is rough around the edges (it’s a freaking demo, people), but the heft is there, and intentionally or not, it’s scuzzy as hell.

But the real treat is Minneapolis’ Kult of the Wizard, who, after churning out a pair of instrumental recordings, made a splash on the national scene last year with The White Wizard. Receiving favorable (if lazy) comparisons to acts like Witch Mountain and The Devil’s Blood from the likes of Cvlt Nation and Decibel–as well as being featured in my former outlet, Last Rites–the band has been getting hyped from ‘heads in the know.

Mankato’s been blessed with the opportunity to watch them grow.

Be there or be doomed. (Actually, you’re doomed either way, BUT WHATEVER.)

The Speed of Things, Episode Nine: Listening Local

elias-hulk2

Earlier this week, I appeared on The Speed of Things, a podcast curated by my friend and former music-scribbling colleague Erik Highter.

We bonded last year over a shared trip to Gilead Fest, and looking back on the months since, that event has proved to be something of a tipping point for both of us. In the podcast, we talk about the grind of running a music publication, the inevitable burnout that led us both to step away from immersion in the Internet-based metal scene, and how RJKT came to exist.

Also, Baxter Holland shines a light on Elias Hulk‘s 1970 proto-metal gem, Unchained.

Listen to the podcast here.

SummerSlam’s Main Event Proved that WWE’s Best Mirrors MMA’s Worst

Lesnar2

Disclaimer: This post is about professional wrestling.

Why?

Well, because. Last Friday, I returned to the repainted n’ rebooted What’s Up Lounge to catch WarRooster–who’ve been highlighted here before–and Nebraska’s Universe Contest, who sounded like a bunch of squathouse anarcho-punks that adopted a violent strain of post-rock instead banging on buckets and ukuleles. And they tore the house down.

Following that, my attorney yanked me away from the SAMCRO-clad Charlie Daniels fans barfing on the Oleander’s patio and threw me headlong into the ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT, where I drank way too much in an effort to compensate for the overall grossness of the late-night / early-morning endeavor and eventually washed up on Saturday’s hungover shores feeling like a withered, soulless, 32-year-old manchild.

Naturally, the best course of action here was to curl up in my bunker and watch a shitload of pro wrestling, because there was a shitload of pro wrestling on television.

WWE hyped their three-day stint at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to near-Wrestlemania proportions, putting on an NXT Takeover show Saturday night and extending Sunday’s SummerSlam card to a full four hours. While that’s an enormous amount of wrestling for any sane human to digest, especially this long-retired indy fan turned newly-minted casual, it largely delivered. The NXT show featured Jushin “Thunder” Liger’s surreal WWE debut, the best women’s title match ever exposed to a national audience, and a superb ladder match between Finn Balor and Kevin Owens.

But Sunday. Whew.

In the aftermath, most of the Internet chatter has directed negativity towards SummerSlam’s glut of screwy finishes. Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev ending in a double count out? Bad. The epic Seth Rollins / John Cena title confrontation ending with a Jon Stewart heel turn? Hilariously awesome.

(Chairshots just aren’t the same in the concussion-awareness era.)

But the false finish / restart that capped the main event bout between The Undertaker, a mystical, undead entity that can somehow teleport, control lightning, AND survive an early-aughts flirtation with Limp Bizkit theme music, and Brock Lesnar, former NCAA wrestling champion and UFC heavyweight titleholder, was the most well-written piece of pro wrestling storytelling in recent memory.

And people hated it.

Here’s why they shouldn’t.

From the outset, Lesnar / Taker matchup had a robust MMA influence running through it, far deeper the mere presence of Lesnar and the character he currently portrays, and unlike anything heretofore seen on WWE programming. Taker has been using an omoplata (known as “Hell’s Gate” in WWE jargon) as a finishing maneuver for years; Lesnar, since his return from his UFC stint, been using a modified kimura to “break” opponents’ arms.

Furthermore, the announcers have been making strides to sell the Undertaker as “the best striker in the WWE,” while Lesnar consistently works double leg takedowns and delivers short shots and hammerfists from side control. While not as blatant as the MMA-style bouts that Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe experimented with nearly a decade ago, the WWE has gone to not-so-subtle lengths to make this particular feud lean more on the “sports” side of sports-entertainment.

(Let's not forget that this feud started way back at UFC 121, when Taker awkwardly confronted Lesnar after he got his ass kicked for REAL at the hands of Cain Velasquez.)

(Let’s not forget that this feud started way back at UFC 121, when Taker awkwardly confronted Lesnar after he got his ass kicked FOR REAL at the hands of Cain Velasquez.)

Rolling with this “sporting” aspect to the storytelling, The Fed needed a semi-plausible way to end this bout with a non-finish, because only a fool would’ve suspected a clean pin here.

Could they go with a double count-out? Hell no; that was a horrible option even in ’89, and when they pulled it on a meaningless undercard bout on Sunday, the crowd took four dumps on it.

Could they go with a ref bump + interference combo? Well, they already did that earlier in the evening with Rollins-Cena-Stewart, and there wasn’t really a logical third party to do the deed and still keep the storyline centered on the duo.

But most importantly, ref bumps don’t happen in actual sports. Shitty officiating, though? It happens all. the. time.

So here’s how the main event ended, after some back-and-forth action that easily eclipsed their concussion-marred outing at WrestleMania:

  • Lesnar locked in his kimura (seen in the header image)
  • Seconds later, the timekeeper rang the bell, signaling the end to the match, however…
  • …referee Charles Robinson hadn’t called for the bell, leading him to chew the timekeeper a new asshole
  • While assholes were being chewed, Lesnar stood in the ring with his back to the Undertaker
  • Seizing the opportunity, Taker kicked Lesnar in the dick and locked in his omoplata, restarting the match that Robinson never actually ended in the first place
  • Failing to escape the chokehold, Lesnar chose to flip Taker the bird and pass out rather than tap, surrendering victory to the old dead guy

brocklesnarundertakerfinger

The live crowd didn’t know what to think, until INSTANT REPLAY–something used in the WWE Universe solely for the benefit of home audiences, not for determining actual match outcomes–showed that the Undertaker did in fact tap out to Lesnar’s kimura, yet outside of the ref’s view. The timekeeper, however, saw the tap on the Titantron, and thusly rang the bell to “end” the match.

It was a botched call.

This happens all the time in the NFL. It happens even more often in the UFC, where athletic commissions often don’t know what the hell they’re doing. Split decisions can go to the losing fighter. Refs can had out iffy DQs (see the records of Silva, Erick and Jones, Jon). But the UFC bout that runs the clearest parallel to SummerSlam’s main event? Yoel Romero vs. Tim Kennedy at UFC 178.

At the end of that fight’s second round, Kennedy rocked Romero with a flurry of punches; the “Soldier of God” was clearly saved by the bell. Between rounds, however, he was gifted extra time on the stool to recover–possibly giving Joe Rogan an aneurysm in the process–and came back to KO Kennedy in the third. Now, he faces Jacare Souza in a middleweight title eliminator at UFC 194.

It was a miscarriage of justice, assuredly. Timekeepers, cornermen, cageside doctors, and referees all dropped the ball. But when humans are involved, errors occur. And that’s the angle WWE was gunning for here: The humanity of sport. Leaps of logic and suspension of disbelief can occur in entertainment, because there are no rules; but to draw lines of logic in an arena that often blatantly defies it is ballsier than fans and critics are giving it credit for.

Want decisive finishes? Stick to baseball.

I’ll be hanging out here in the gray area.

RibFest is a Goddamn Abomination

cheap_trick

We’re over a week removed from the 187th annual Mankato RibFest, and I’ve spent that entire interval in recovery. (Well, truthfully, I’ve just been binge-watching The Newsroom. Which, despite being little more than a self-righteous reboot of Sports Night with less-likable characters, is still pretty damned fantastic.)

Going into RibFest weekend, there was only one night that held much intrigue: Friday’s lineup of Nato Coles & The Blue Diamond Band, The Suburbs, and Cheap Trick. Thursday’s starched-shirt country lineup was mercifully rained out, Live‘s Saturday set was probably more forgettable than the singles from Secret Samadhi, and attending any outdoor event on a Sunday is purely for masochists and people without bicycles.

The intrigue was mostly predicated on the opening act, a band I’d seen a few times already. The plan was to watch the openers, crush a couple of six-dollar beers, and then make a graceful exist. But a few beers turned into several (as they do), and pretty soon, I was neck deep in aging rocker carnage.

The first clue that things were going to get sad popped up during Nato’s set. When the band busted out their trusty cover of “Can’t Hardly Wait,” a salt-and-pepper paunch wrapped in a Cheap Trick shirt peeled himself away from the merch tent and rushed the stage, crackling with “hey, I recognize that song!” hysterics. After engaging in some brief front-row banter with the band, duder stuck around for exactly half of the next song (an original) before bolting to do, presumably, absolutely nothing in a different location.

This kind of behavior–the blatant shunning of new experiences even when they’re unfolding right in front of your face–couldn’t be embodied any more wholeheartedly/halfassedly. Or so I thought. Yet with just a slight shift of my gaze, his histrionics were thoroughly out-boomered:

If you're not Cheap Trick then FUCK YOU #slayer

A post shared by jordan campbell (@lower.northcore) on

 

Here’s some fuel for those “worst generation ever” flames: Straight IGNORING a band while positioned front-and-center-stage is the Baby Boomer Dick Move equivalent of filming an entire song with your iPhone…except way more distracting, way more obnoxious, and way more self-centered. The combination of arrogance and oblivion displayed here is staggering.

But if you look a little closer at this photo, there’s a duality here, displaying the best and worst of RibFest. The jaded fan in the center is obviously the worst, but look to the left: Two teenage girls are leaning against the barrier, clad in Ramones and GNR shirts, giving the band their undivided attention…because this is the best thing they can get. They’ll absorb live music at any opportunity, eager to soak up new experiences and feel the electricity of live performance–any live performance. And that’s why this type of event is worthwhile, not because it’s fan service for a bunch of curmudgeons that want to relive their glory years of being oblivious to punk rock.

Thus, we have two types of fans that attend these shows: Grandparents hellbent on replicating snapshots from their heyday, and kids that haven’t had the chance to take theirs yet.

And then there are the people that show up just to get shitfaced in public.

THOUSANDS OF THEM.

Sure, it’s a bit presumptive to assume that the majority of attendees weren’t there to see The Suburbs, who survived the saddest radio-guy emcee intro ever–complete with “back in my day” and “that social media stuff” jokes–before running out of vocal hooks and adrenaline 30 seconds into their set. Or to see Cheap Trick, who still indulged in full rockstar posturing–Rick Nielsen had a roadie serve him different guitar for nearly every song–yet totally didn’t come off as shopworn, haggard, and obsolete.

But there was ample evidence to back up the speculation that the majority of RibFesters were just there to flaunt their Confederate flag regalia, facilitate awkward run-ins with former co-workers, and chug canned domestics in portable toilets:

#ribfest #cheaptrick #getoutofmytown

A post shared by jordan campbell (@lower.northcore) on

 

Until last weekend, I’d made it a full seven years in Kato without attending a RibFest.

See you in seven more. Stay classy.