Easy Riders

The North Texas Rock Rally cruises into town

"Come awwwwwn!" the girl on the Harley yelled, lifting up her top in the scorching sun. She was growing impatient; it's not the kinda place you wanna burn.

"You gotta put your shirt down," I told her nervously, proving with one prudish sentence that I know nothing about good photography. "This is for the paper."

"What?!" said a teen boy gawking beside me. "You put that picture on the cover of your paper, you'll sell a million copies!" So she kept the shirt lifted triumphantly, smiling like a sorority girl for the camera.

It was the North Texas Rock Rally in Justin, Texas, where more than 15,000 bikers convened over the weekend for a sweaty spate of music, booze and boobs. There was a motocross exhibition and a chili cook-off. There was a custom bike show and plenty of domestic beer. There were more beards and bandannas than an Allman Brothers concert. "They're scary-looking people," said the manager of Texas Lil's Ranch as she drove me across a sprawl of dusty, rolling hills, "but I have less trouble with them than most."

Over by the Port-a-lets, a man with a shirt that read "Blow Me" leaned over to puke on the ground. It was mostly water.

"Can I ask you a question?" I asked an older guy standing in the VIP area. He had a white goatee and brown shoulders that would make George Hamilton scramble for the Quik Tan. "Why do you come to these things?"

"One word," he said. "Breasts."

I looked around, as if they were right behind me. His wife had the jugs of a Swedish wet nurse.

"Couldn't you just go to a strip club?" I asked.

"Listen," he said, leaning in closer, "I've been drinking all day. I won't remember you tomorrow."

"Good thing you're not writing the story," I told him, not sure what else to say.

"It's something fun to do," said a woman beside him, smiling politely as if to apologize.

Although boasting 30 live bands over three days, the rock rally didn't roll out its headliners until Sunday night, and I wasn't much interested in the Georgia Satellites, whose one hit song, "Keep Your Hands to Yourself," charted nearly 20 years ago. Instead, I caught Dallas' Little Green Men, a handful of late-'70s-era hard rockers who swatted around their long hair as if playing outdoor festivals for 15 drunk people was the greatest hobby a middle-aged white guy could have. Lead guitarist Andrew Williams was a formidable player, but the band came off as ridiculous and preening. Though after catching the dreadful Santana-meets-'80s-synth of a band that seemed to be playing two entirely different sets at once, I longed for the skill of LGM. At least they meant to sound like that.

Later that evening, I found myself watching another group of middle-aged men living out their rock-and-roll fantasies at Dean Fearing's Annual Summer Barbecue at the Mansion (where else but Dallas can you start the day at a biker rally and end up sipping cocktails in Steve Madden heels?). With a grin as big as Texas itself, the brilliant Mansion chef took to the stage with his guitar, eventually joined by Buffalo Springfield's Richie Furay and (Kenny Loggins collaborator) Jimmy Messina. At some point, Al Roker was there. They played mostly square, easy-listening stuff--what else would you expect when half the audience owns a Lexus? But when Rolling Stone founding editor Ben Fong-Torres took the stage to sing Elvis' "Treat Me Nice," I knew what I had to do. I slipped off my heels and danced.


Reports of his death are greatly exaggerated: On Monday, a posting on John Lamonica's Web site erroneously reported that the musician, currently of Tiebreaker and formerly of My Spacecoaster and Polyphonic Spree, had died in a drunken driving accident on Sunday night. By afternoon, a still-alive-thank-you-very-much Lamonica took down the post, but not before hundreds had heard about it.

"It's not really funny," said Lamonica, still a little spooked. He had turned off his phone that morning to work on music. When he checked his voice mail he had 15 panicked messages. "Maybe it'll be funny in a few days. Maybe it would have been funny if I hadn't heard my friends' voices."

Anyone who knows the identity of the prankster, "Joseph," should contact the Dallas Observer. The guilty party will be publicly humiliated and forced to uncomfortably confront his/her own mortality.

 
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