Saturday started off as a great example of how Topeka perseveres. Although we would all have loved to live up to one of Kansas’ many mottos of ,”if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes”, there was an enormous stage and rockin’ band that needed to get settled in sooner than that. They started putting the stage together on Thursday. I’m not an engineer but I would venture to guess that it would have been difficult to move it once it was in place.
In the end, it was raining from the time Maria the Mexican dazzled us with the voices of angels, to Zach Harmon showing Topeka was blues music is all about, straight through to our native sons jumping in Bill and Ted’s phone booth to bring back their former selves. Make no mistake, Kansas rocked the house Saturday night and if you weren’t there you missed out. The crowd was on their feet the entire time. It was a surprisingly electric atmosphere inside the Expocentre. Better yet, I think the band was equally as amazed at how endearing Topeka was to them. And they deserved it. They played with the emotion one could only summon by coming home and performing in front of friends and family. Their heart and soul went into every set and they gained at least two new Wheatheads in the process. Soon, you will be seeing John Brown and their catchy “Keep Calm and Carry On…my wayward son” t-shirts worn with pride throughout Topeka.
Ultimately, it only rained a little over a half inch during the concert. But the lightning made the decision a no brainer. Every person that left the show with ringing ears and goosebumps got wet running to their cars and lead singer Ronnie Platt was most likely appreciative that he did not have to hold a metal microphone stand on a stage outside in the lightening.
The show ended around 11pm which is really a perfect time for any large event to end. It still gives concertgoers time to head out for a nightcap and enjoy the evening without burning the midnight oil. Now personally, I am not one to stay out past 10pm. I like my sleep and Game of Thrones reruns. But when there is an event like Saturdays celebration, you make a night of it. Unfortunately, I don’t think the rest of the 7,000 in attendance got that memo. We initially stopped at Skinny’s Sports Bar. There were about 20 people there but the DJ was blaring music for 200 so we left. I will add that I am a fan of Skinny’s during sporting events and the bar gets busy especially for our regional sports teams.
The Burger Stand at College Hill is close to our home so it was the perfect place to stop. There was a decent amount of people there but not what one would expect for a Saturday night that just saw a major rock band finish a show a mile away. We really wondered where everyone was. I would put Burger Stand and Skinny’s as two of the more popular bars in Topeka. If the crowd wasn’t there, they must have gone straight home. The bartenders name was Wes and he is never one to shy away from a conversation. From 11pm to midnight, a burger and fries is only $5…and have you ever had a burger and fries from there? Lets just say I like my fries with a side of marshmallow sauce. This $5 deal may be the best in town. The addition of some cheap drink specials didn’t hurt either. The Burger Stand at College Hill is laid back in that you can actually hear the conversation with the person you are with.
Zach Harmon and his band were there eating those cheeseburgers and even came up and talked to us. We talked about how so many people did not realize that he is a frequent guest of Suki and Uncle Bo’s in the lower level of the Downtown Ramada. Maria the Mexican has also played there. You should be following the Uncle Bo’s Facebook page and checking their website frequently because they have a great eclectic mix of musicians weekly. We were out the door at Midnight and in bed by 12:30.
Overall, it was a great evening in #TopCity that could have been worse had the concert not been moved to the Expocentre. Downtown Topeka Inc. made the most of the hand they were dealt like; just like Topeka has before. Vince Frye took that lemon and made some righteous lemonade.
The Urban Slide and Freedom Festival have been moved to July 30 and 31 along with our first ever Cyclovia event. Look for some more entertainment to be announced soon for that weekend. I could make an argument that the Cyclovia weekend will be a better all around weekend to get downtown with a wider range of things to do; especially for families. What’s better than packing your kids bikes into the car and heading downtown for bike rides, food trucks, 500 ft slip-n-slides, and a bit of history about our city and state? Maybe a little music you say? How about we look into it.