The headlines read "State Fair melees produce 11 injuries, 31 arrested", "Racial mob violence rocks the Wisconsin State Fair", and "Did Gov Walker Stage Wisconsin State Fair Race Attack?", so what does one do when given the opportunity to see a music act that one has seen previously? Queue the creepy music because that is exactly what I did.
On August 13th, 2011 I decided to make the 200 mile trek to the Wisconsin State Fair to see Stephen Pearcy and The Rat Bastards perform an outdoor show. Before I talk about the show I have to make mention to the headline above about Governor Walker, are you serious? I realize many people do not like the man, but if you're going to blame him for that, then lets blame him for something else he didn't do something like, oh I don't know World Hunger maybe. Time to go back to the real subject, Stephen Pearcy and the Rat Bastards.
As anyone that has read this blog before, you quite likely know how I feel about Pearcy and his band, they are amazing and they are always worth the trip. This show was no different, the crowd was lively, and to such an extent that Pearcy actually extended his set, pulling songs out of his catalog that for at least a couple I hadn't seen him perform. Pearcy is still a master showman, and his band is very, very good. The crowd was so well behaved, and from my vantage point I could see everything, and everyone for that matter.
There was a security presence, which was increased following the incident on the first night of the fair, some of the security was uniformed, and some of them were undercover (at least they thought they were). Some of the undercover security detail around the bandstand really were obvious (if you paid attention for more than five seconds), but despite that everyone was exceptionally behaved and they enjoyed a great show.
Following the performance I was talking with a few of the concert goers and some of them were expressing their fear for going to the show, they were terrified about the "rioters". One gentlemen I talked with told me that he was under the impression that the "riots" had almost turned into a form of "guerrilla warfare" with roving bands in the neighborhoods and parking lots (I'm not kidding). Actually it really isn't that surprising, and not because the people in Milwaukee are outlaws or guerrilla fighters, rather the inability of the press to squelch such rumors.
To support that last comment, I talked with a member of the security team and I asked him about security and the ugly incidents and he said that there was so much bad press and so many people were terrified because the press didn't attempt to diffuse the situation. I see his point too, the press could have tried to put a positive spin on the increased presence of security (covert and overt) and the police (standing, walking, on bikes, on horses, on motorcycles and in cars). Every officer I talked with was amazing, they were friendly and they were diligent and although I cannot guarantee that other incidents didn't happen on a smaller level but I would be that if they indeed occur they were dealt with quickly.
With the press, and stories I had heard about the "riot", I will admit there was apprehension in going to the Fair but that ended quickly when I saw the security measures that were in place. It was obvious that we made the proper decision to attend and if the quality of bands is as good next year as it was this year, I'll wouldn't have a single hesitation in going again (despite the 200 mile drive one way).
Do yourself a favor, and go see Stephen Pearcy and if you want, I'll gladly meet you at the Wisconsin State Fair next year (sadly the 2011 Fair ended this evening). Inasmuch as that is true, please, please, PLEASE quit blaming Scott Walker for everything! If you must, blame him for something else that he didn't do, something like starting World War I because that is just as ridiculous.