Road Blog: Saturday May 14, 2022 - Rockford, IL
May 14, 2022
After a quick soak in the hotel hot tub and a shower, we headed back south towards Illinois. Jacob was driving, I was shotgun, and Gabriel was in the back as we commiserated about Friday’s show and vowed that last night would be better. We queued up Cheap Trick At Budokan – The Complete Concert, Night Two as we hit Rockford. Our first stop was Culture Shock - Clothing and Records where we met Skyler and did some shopping. It’s a fantastic store they are awesome people and I had to force myself to leave before I spent too much! I landed a Thin Lizzy reissue I’ve been looking for forever and a Record Store Day leftover for a buddy back in Detroit. We had a great chat and they’re carrying our records now so head on over there if you didn’t snag one last night!
From there it was a beeline to Beefaroo – a regional fast food joint that once had a franchise in my home town of Marquette. This was a new restaurant – almost classy even – a far cry from the retro greasy burger stand I loved in South Marquette. But the menu was the same and the olive burger sub white cheddar for swiss plus a side of cheese curds was really good. We drove over to an adjacent strip mall to Binny's – an alcohol superstore. I failed at my goal of spending less than I spent at Culture Shock, but the prices were right and the selection was unique. It's the only place I've found ROCK'N Vodka, endorsed by Rick Nielsen. I still like to support my local, home-based party store back in Plymouth, MI, but it’s nice to see some different stuff occasionally too.
We went to check in to the Red Roof Inn across the highway and the lady behind the counter said it would be at least an hour as they were doing a housekeeping check. Since no one else was there she ran off to do the check herself, and by the time she came back there was a line forming. While I was waiting, a rather agitated woman in the lobby started chirping about seeing the manager and some money she was owed a week ago. The front desk clerk said she’d help her as soon as she got me and a couple others checked in. The discussion quickly turned aggressive and into “don’t give me attitude” and “I’m not the one with the attitude here” and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. There was an inked up, trailer hauling metal band trying to check in too, and they seemed about as amused as I was.
In our room Jake and I watched Legally Blonde and learned that we don’t share an affinity to the same rom-coms. He hates my favorites and I’m not a fan of his, but in the interest of cohabitation and diplomacy we agreed that we could get past it and still be in a band together. We surfed the internet for a while wile watching Reese Whitherspoon clash with her peers while attending law school and becoming equally obsessed with fashion and style. My takeaway from one of the scenes where she’s consulting an incarcerated woman was that jail hair doesn’t look like that, and this movie is dumb and we stuck with it `til the very end.
On the way to the venue we parked illegally in front of a gated mansion, which I’m sure they love, on Rick Nielsen Parkway for a selfie. Rockford is one of those cities for me that is more than just another show. The music of Cheap Trick has been ingrained in me since I was just a little guy and it’s still a very present influence. A couple cars honked and hollered as they drove by, we got our pics, and we headed to the venue. We loaded in at Marys Place, which is a square venue with a bar on one side, slot machines on the other, and a stage in the back corner. There was a good crowd of day drinkers, and everyone was very friendly – holding doors and welcoming us to Rockford. It’s the oldest bar in the city and has a rich history of shows. I’ve been trying to get in there for years, and finally something clicked and here we are! Tossing out names like our friends from Montreal, Dany Laj and The Looks – who are loved in Rockford – helped seal the deal I think.
We had dinner at an adjacent brewery where Gabe talked me out of the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich and into a cobb salad. He said they’re just always disappointing unless you’re in Nashville. Throw in my lingering heartburn from the terrible road diet this weekend and I knew he was right, so I went with the damn cobb salad. After dinner we headed back to Mary’s Place for soundcheck. My friends Shauna and John drove in from Algonquin with their friends Kevin and Shala and we had a few minutes to get caught up before we went on.
If you’ve been keeping up with the blogs, you’ll know that we were due for a good night. We’ve met some good people and played some good rooms, but the crowds have been thin. Rockford delivered. We went on a little after 9pm to a respectable audience that grew through our set. People were up front rocking out, hanging back and hooting and hollering, and sitting at the bar attentively bopping their heads. We played for about 90 minutes and it was not only best crowd we’ve had, but our best performance in a while. After us Half Hawk went on and did a couple sets of punk originals and covers. They are super nice dudes and their music is energetic and fun. We watched them while we packed our gear up, sold merch, and mingled with the locals. They wrapped up a little after 1am and we loaded out. The van was again on fumes as we coasted into a gas station for another $100 tank. Back at the room I scarfed down my leftover cob salad from the brewery and crashed out.
We left Rockford at 9:30, Egg McMuffins in hand, the rest of Budokan getting us well onto the Illinois Tollway. Gabe crashed out for a good part of the drive while Jake and I DJ’d and navigated through the western suburbs of Chicago, into Indiana, onto I-94 back into Michigan and home. Thanks again Mary’s Place and Rockford – we needed that! We’re back at next weekend in Fort Wayne at The Brass Rail, Marion at John Brown's on the Square, and Auburn at Slauterhouse Brewing Co.! Xx