Reno's Street Vibrations Fall Rally is the fourth-largest motorcycle event in the nation. Its 18th edition is currently under way through Sunday in and around Reno, Sparks, Carson City and Virginia City.
A fatal shooting last year cast a shadow over the event. This year's event will wisely carry a "no colors" designation, extending from patches on jackets and outerwear all the way to "soft colors" like hats, bandanas, even shoelaces.
The stigma of the gang-member stereotype in motorcycle rallies is studiously avoided by Street Vibrations organizers. The fact is, most riders are not members of gangs, but just love the open road and enjoy showing their bikes off to anybody who wants to see.
That's why one of the best ways to enjoy Street Vibrations if you're not a rider yourself is simply to walk around the main venues, look at the bikes, talk to the riders, check out the vendors, and enjoy the entertainment. Reno's Virginia Street and John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks (where security will most likely be increased since that was the location of last year's shooting) are the centers. The Nugget's west parking lots will become Chrome Alley.
Among the most popular attractions are shows in which motorcyclists ride at top speed in all directions within a giant sphere. Two such shows will be seen this weekend, with John Stotts' version in downtown Reno at 3:30 and 7 p.m. today and at 12:30, 3:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday. Movie stuntman and daredevil Monte Perlin brings his "Globe-O-Cross" to Chrome Alley at 5:30 p.m. today and 2 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
It is entirely possible there are riders out there who enjoy attending Michael Bublé concerts and listen to Broadway shows on their CD players, but the entertainment lineup at Street Vibrations tends to be rougher-hewn than that, as you might expect.
The biggest attraction is Crosby, Stills and Nash, who will appear at the Reno Events Center Saturday (ticket availability is limited at $39.50, $57.50, and $89.50 for the 8 p.m. concert; Ticketmaster.com). George Thorogood and the Destroyers will play at the Silver Legacy tonight (8 p.m.; $40, $65; 800-687-8733 or silverlegacy.com). One of the more popular tribute bands, Journey Unauthorized, will play the Nugget tonight (9 p.m.; $15; 800-648-1177 or janugget.com).
Free entertainment includes the Buddy Emmer Blues Band, the Jason King Band, the Blues Monsters, and Cheating Daylight at Chrome Alley; and the Jacks (an AC/DC tribute band), Rebel Soul, and Skynnyn Lynnyrd at Harrah's Reno Plaza. Arm wrestling is also back at 3 p.m. Saturday in Reno.
Almost all of the hotel- casinos in the area will feature specials; some will even set up bars outside the properties. The Eldorado may also have one of the more intriguing displays with the Paul Jr. Designs and FIST Enterprises (which specializes in fingerprint authentication) custom bike, the first biometric chopper ever designed. The Silver Legacy hosts America's Finest Custom Bike Expo daily through Sunday.
Out and about
Two bands noted for their live performances will be featured at the Grand Sierra. Gov't Mule returns to Reno, celebrating "By a Thread," their first studio album in three years, Saturday (8 p.m.; $27.60; grandsierraresort.com). Wilco, last seen in the giant Harveys Outdoor venue in 2009, plays the Grand Theater Sunday (7 p.m.; $39.50).
Thunder Valley kicks off a big weekend of entertainment in its amphitheater tonight with the "King of the Accordion" and four-time Grammy winner Ramon Ayala (8 p.m.; $23.50, $29.50, $39.50, $52.50, $62.50; thundervalley resort.com). Saturday, it's "Cirque du Thunder," the Imperial Circus of China, offering the usual colorful and energetic array of Chinese acrobatics hoop diving, plate spinning, lion dancing, pole climbing, and chair stacking, among them along with clowns, of course (8 p.m.; $22.50, $27.50, $39.50, $52.50, $62.50).
The Reno Events Center will host Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller (previously Easy Mac) Wednesday (7:30 p.m.; $31.75 general admission; Ticketmaster.com); followed by Train, who saw its "50 Ways To Say Goodbye" chart this past summer, on Thursday (7 p.m.; $35.50, $49.50, $59.50; Ticketmaster.com).
Some of the Street Vibrations participants this weekend will be riding to Tahoe and many should enjoy the Canned Heat concert Saturday at Harrah's Tahoe (7:30 p.m.; $27.50; Ticketmaster.com).
Boomtown, about 10 miles east of Reno, is under new ownership and significant upgrades are promised. Among them is a monthly concert. The September concert happens Saturday and features the Romantics. (8 p.m.; $15, $25; 775-345-6000; boomtownreno.com).
Northstar California will be hosting the Tough Mudder event series Saturday and Sunday. Tough Mudder competitions are 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British special forces. They are known for the innovative nature of their courses and so far have raised more than $2.5 million for the Wounded Warrior Project (toughmudder.com).
Reno's Knitting Factory features Buckcherry and Lit tonight (8:30 p.m.; $28 general admission standing, $70 reserved seating); and emo-indie-punkers the Used, along with Twin Atlantic and Star in Stereo on Sunday (8 p.m.; $27 general, $50 reserved; KnittingFactory.com).
Carson Valley Inn Cabaret Lounge: Steppen Stonz, through Saturday; Paul Covarelli, Tuesday-Wednesday; Stew Stewart, Thursday-Sept. 29; Dale Poune, Oct. 2-3; the Motifs, Oct. 4-6; Paul Covarelli, Oct. 9-10. (775) 782-9711.
Eldorado, Reno Great Italian Festival, Oct. 6-7. Showroom: "Jersey Nights," through Nov. 13. (800) 648-5966.
Harrah's Reno Sammy's Showroom: "Persuasion," Thursdays-Sundays. Comedy at the Zone: Mike Wally Walter, today-Saturday; Best of Reno Comics, Thursday; Brian Diamond, next Friday-Sept. 29. (800) 427-7247.
Harrah's Lake Tahoe South Lake Tahoe Food and Wine Festival, Oct. 5-7. South Shore Room: Canned Heat, Saturday; Penn and Teller, next Friday (800) 427-7247.
Harveys, Lake Tahoe Improv: Rocky LaPorte, Marc Price, through Sunday; Scott Record, Marianne Sierk, Wednesday-Sept. 30. (800) 427-8397.
Horizon, Lake Tahoe Illusion Fusion starring Alex Ramon, Thursdays-Tuesdays. (775) 588-6211.
MontBleu Resort MontBleu Theatre: Matis- yahu with the Dirty Heads, Thursday. (888) 829-7630.
Silver Legacy, Reno Street Vibrations , through Sunday. Grande Exposition Hall: George Thorogood and the Destroyers, today; Joe Walsh, next Friday. Reno Events Center: Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Saturday; Train, Thursday. (800) 687-8733.