This has actually been a summer full of concerts. If you recall, I previously posted on the Alice Cooper concert (link here) we attended on our anniversary. Next up on the list was the Mississippi Valley State Fair. This year’s rock act … translated as NOT a country band… was our boys from Chambana. Anyone that has ever attended the University of Illinois (like say me) is very familiar with one of the Illini’s most famous music products. If you are thinking the Elvis Brothers are even Hum at this point you need to think a little higher on the charts. Need another hint? How about they were a “rock” band until the lead singer lamed out and started putting out top 40 love song crap — I Can’t Fight This Feeling .. SHUDDER. That should be more than enough clues to know we went to REO Speedwagon. REO is actually one of those bands that brings back a lot of memories – first, they have that whole college connection, their lead guitarist and writer for a large majority of their non-lame years is from right here in Peoria (actually I believe it is East Peoria, but Wikipedia had it as Peoria) and their High Infidelity Tour was the first concert my brother Ron ever took me to. I was still in high school (81) and he took me up to Champaign to see the concert (my brothers and I all received degrees from the U of I although some are more impressive than mine). I can still remember just about everything about that night – what a blast. This is one of the reasons I get ticked off every time they play their lame crap on the radio – marring up my memory.
There are some interesting things about the Mississippi Valley State Fair held in Davenport Iowa. For one thing they do their concert tickets in a very creative way. You basically buy a fair pass that let’s you in to EVERY concert they schedule during the fair. As a result, the ticket to the fair runs in the 30 or so dollar range but depending on the lineup it can be an extremely good deal. It should be pointed out that you can share your passes – we actually share the pass with Linda’s family and friends on the dates during the week. This ticket process works quite well – the fair is always a revenue generator, the bands are guaranteed their money and they get good bands that actually WANT to come and play. Our own HOI fair needs to take a few lessons. Add in the fact they understand the profit machine and encourage alcohol purchases you have a recipe for fun and entertainment – if not on the stage, then in the crowd – they actually sell multiple beers to people and hand them out in bags of ice). Oh, when it comes to crowds.. these shows are packed!
Now REO happens to be one of those bands that sound a lot beefier live than they do on their studio albums. I recollected this from the concert back in ’81. I am unable to put my finger on it, but I think it is the deeper base and drums that tend to get overpowered by the guitars and keyboard mixing on their albums. In contrast to the previous concert, they are now officially OLD. This is probably more of a statement on us than them, seeing as how we bought tickets to see them – hehehe. All in all I thought it was a pretty good concert. They know why the people are there and accommodate them by playing all their classics – in our case everything except In Your Letter which I amuse myself by singing it as “Henrietta” – try to get that out of your head the next time you hear that song – I also use My Pool Hall Ace for the Police My Poor Heart Aches which brought a big laugh to my Sister-in-Law Eilish who pointed out my error while singing along in the car – it stuck! It was well worth our money and the crowd (it was packed in the stands and on the track) was in to it. This despite a major screw up by Cronin at the beginning of the concert. Note to performers – LEARN THE NAME OF THE TOWN YOU ARE PLAYING IN. Sure, you travel to many towns throughout the tour, but how hard is it to have a roadie ask a local before the start of the show? Included in some banter with the crowd are “Davenport [cheer], Moline [cheer] and Bettencourt [wtf?]” Where the hell is Bettencourt? – nowhere around us, that’s for sure. I would let it go if he would not have said it AGAIN later in the concert. Hey Kevin.. it’s Bettendorf.
Hit the jump for some comments on scenes from the crowd.
So on to the crowd. As mentioned previously, their ticket and beer approach leads to a very diverse crowd since essentially everyone has paid to see all the shows. It always brings a smile when I look into the crowd on rock night and see a large number of gray hair, canes and walkers throughout the grandstand. About 15 minutes into the show there is usually a mass exodus of old people who decide they want nothing to do with the crap kids listen to these days. The free flow of beer also tends to result in an interesting mix of people types. Case in point is an individual that ended up taking a seat close to us. A quick profiling (yes, I do that just like every other individual on this planet) led to an opinion it was going to be a interesting night. The concert was 30-40 minutes away from start and this dude was already having problems walking to his seat – while holding 4 more 16oz beers in his hands and pockets.
I was cleverly acting like I was taking a profile shot of my wife, but in truth the camera was tilted toward the guy. Up until the concert started he was quite docile, just chugging away on the beers while sitting there in a slight stupor. Once the concert started it changed a bit. That is when he started yelling out at random times during the show – not words, just a very annoying YEAAAHHHHHHAAAAHHHHHAA. If that wasn’t annoying enough a certain song ended up sticking in my head:
You’ve got your problems
I’ve got my ass wide
You’ve got your big Gs
I’ve got my hash pipe
No, this wasn’t because I thought he was a gay prostitute (if you don’t know what that song is about, you might want to look it up before you start singing it in public) – rather because he DID have his hash pipe out. With little concern he took his pipe out… filled it and hit it in plain view of everyone. He did get a little paranoid when I started taking more pictures of Linda’s ear – if only he knew my wife’s brother was on duty with the Sheriff’s Dept down on the track – usually I would mask his identity in the post but since he was breaking the law and smoking in a non-smoking area (a peeve of mine) screw it.
I ended up chuckling out loud thanks to the two guys directly behind me. One of them was already there when his friend showed up and took the inside seat – the one that was there mentioned the guy (in the picture) had his crack pipe out where in turn the new guy goes “Oh, that’s just great, you put me the closest to him and you know I’ve been trying to quit for years now”. They and everyone that heard that around them laughed. So there Mr. Hashhead sat drinking beer and taking hits – by the end of the concert he could barely stand but somehow managed to make it down the grandstand steps – my camera was in the ready for another blog picture!!
Note, I also made the woman ahead of us laugh during the concert. Early on Linda accidentally grazed her with a foot through the back rest – her response “That’s okay, I have a big butt anyway” – not really the case, but a humorous way to say no harm. When they got to the point of singing that damn I Can’t Stop This Feeling I was forced to mention to Linda “Dammit, their gonna play that lame song that broke up the band” – she looked back with a laugh – clearly showing that EVERYONE KNOWS IT’S TRUE! Side note, that lady had the fastest thumb typing I’ve ever seen – I watched her blast out a Facebook entry of about 5 sentences in under 10 seconds (came right after hearing Bettencourt). Linda will confirm this as well.
It should be pointed out that we were not at the fair just to see REO. Nope, a local band we enjoy was playing at a beer tent after the main concert. They are a staple at this fair and as far as a “show” goes, you are not going to find any other local band like these guys. Their name – Love Dogs.
Although from a health inspectors viewpoint they would probably name them Contagion. Their drummer looks like the drummer for AC/DC complete with smoking a cig while pounding the skins. Their bassist looks a couple days older than 16, their lead guitarist is probably the most normal looking of the band. Their overweight lead singer well.. how should I put this…looks like he drove off the farm minutes before the show, complete with overalls with legs that only go down to his calves. The first time we saw him years ago we had to do a double take because the singing voice wasn’t matching the profile. They basically play EVERYTHING ranging from Johnny Cash to the Toadies. They have a very loyal following but likely due to their gimmick. They have a “roadie” if you will who is tasked with handing out cozies and shirts to the crowd – but they generally have to earn it… and how do you do that? The roadie dude passes around bags of what appears to be fruit soaking in what is definitely some form of alcohol (if not full on moonshine). If you eat the fruit and drink the alcohol straight from the community bag he’ll like reward you with a shirt or something. This goes on the entire night – cherries, apples.. whatever, until the crowd is totally hammered. In case you are asking yourself, we do not participate in that aspect of the show. Instead we amuse ourselves people watching and enjoying what is actually a really good sounding band – I’ve paid to see a lot worse (think BOC but that is a future post). If you are ever in the Quad Cities on a weekend and looking for something to do – look up the bar scene and see where they are playing! Warning though, there was blood at this concert — never a dull moment with these guys. To be honest there was blood at the REO concert and one very inebriated chick at the concert the next day whose friend was trying to convince the cops and medics she suffered from “Insomiminomia”. I love this fair.
On closing I better explain the title. We met up with Linda’s brother before the show and he was telling us he and another officer met Cronin earlier in the day. By the way, apparently he has one hot wife for an “old guy”. The other officer asked Cronin if he was the R the E or the O. I cracked up.