I’m kicking off my Fourth of July weekend Friday by exiting Chicago and heading outward (I’m terrible at directions) to the lush Utopian suburb-turned-mini-city of Naperville, hometown of Bob Odenkirk, and the annual orgy of beer, BBQ and classic rock that is RIBFEST. And it’s an over-30 generously tattooed (but professional) newlywed double date!
My teetotalling and non-meat-eating ways disqualify me from 2/3 of the revelry (if we don’t include ice cream, funnel cakes/elephant ears, curly fries, kettle corn, Italian ice and root beer- which I do not), but when it comes to classic rock, I’m bound by blood. Friday’s headliner? A little Midwestern sensation called REO Speedwagon, my uncle’s full-time keyboard-playing job for over 40 years.
Think of the relatives you sadly only get to see once or twice a year, and then imagine those reunions taking place at Ribfest, or Bank of Valeska Amphitheatre or the Golden Orbs Casino. It’s super insanely fun.
REO may be the punchline of a few pop culture jokes (They were excellently utilized in Family Guy epi “The Splendid Source”), but in the Midwest especially, folks are RABID for these dudes. You’ll see 3 generations of families singing along to the songs I used to pretend I didn’t know every word to when I was a little new wave baby or fake punk rocker. Weird, but pretty neat.
So it’s a super-American Fourth of July weekend opening night for me. Just a couple of married couples strolling around the ‘burbs, binging on fair food, people-watching galore, FIREWORKS, rocking out to 70’s anthems and 80’s power ballads, and squeezing in one of those sweet family get-togethers that reliably end too soon. Oh well, there’s always Pabst Theater (that’s actually a real place).
What are your weekend plans? Have a favorite REO song/memory? Barbeque you recommend? Anyone get my Three Stooges reference (fake country of Valenska, and nobody expects you to)?