Before there was rock and roll, there was Marlon Brando, the rebel biker in The Wild One. The 1953 film influenced bad boy Elvis Presley to do "Jailhouse Rock." Then there was Easy Rider, with its soundtrack blaring Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild," Jimi Hendrix, and the Band. Even before parents said no to rock and roll they were saying no to the motorcycle.
And when those bikers come through Austin for the annual Republic of Texas Biker Rally, they expect all that music to be here waiting for them.
This year's ROT Rally lineup landed even beyond the scope of riders planning a weekend of bikes and beer. Austin music fans have turned to the internet trying to get into the Travis County Expo Center to see the bands. Music blogs are lined with questions from fans looking for single day tickets because of the interest — and the $60 weekend pass.
Thursday night headliner Gov't Mule drew a sizeable crowd spread across the sloping lawn. Casual fans sat in chairs while a small group of big fans pushed to the front and belted out the blues-heavy set. The band also nodded to the biker audience, playing a cover of Bob Seger's "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man."
Front man Warren Haynes has the pedigree, having played in the Allman Brothers Band since the 90s while impressing big crowds with powerful blues-driven rock. GM is no stranger to Austin. They recorded their last two albums, "High and Mighty" and "By a Thread" at Willie Nelson's studio in Pedernales. Warren Haynes' solo band just released their ACL Moody Theater performance on CD.
Blues guitar slinger Kenny Wayne Shepherd opened for GM and also joined them onstage to wind out Albert King's "Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home."
Friday night the music continues with hip highwaymen heir Shooter Jennings. Jennings, the "son of a rebel saint," is no stranger to Austin. He made waves while playing to picky fans and industry buffs during this year's SXSW.
Also Friday is up and coming SC rockers A Thousand Horses, who recently signed to Interscope Records. Look for their Black Crowes brand of rock to get an Antones gig or an early ACL slot in 2013.
Saturday turns to classic rock stalwart Ted Nugent. The Motor City Madman is not a stranger to biker rallies, having played the massive nine-day Sturgis Rally in South Dakota multiple times since the 90s.
To catch a glimpse of the chrome without the weekend pass or the trip to the expo center, the parade rumbles into town and lines Congress Avenue on Friday night.