For more on the nightlife scene, go to www.SunSpot.net/nightlifeIf you're not at the Sidebar Tavern this weekend, you may be missing out on one of the best free local music showcases this summer has to offer.
Twenty-two bands and a handful of disc jockeys will throw down their creative product at the event Saturday and Sunday.
But Sidebar manager Megan Bradford said she doesn't expect the show to turn into a contest that will prove who's the most punk, the coolest or the most unaffected artistic force in Baltimore.
"A lot of these bands have played here before. Basically, it's just a giant Sidebar get-together. I think it's gonna be a blast," Bradford said.
Michael Belt, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the hot-rod rock 'n' roll band Big Daddy Chrome, is also looking forward to the show's down-to-earth vibe and said he and his band aren't worried about a popularity contest, either.
"We're all just showing up to rock out."
"It's really supposed to be about the music," said Belt, who describes Big Daddy's style as "redneck shtick." "Nobody is out to prove who's coolest. Nobody's got time for that nonsense."
A seasoned veteran of the local punk scene, the guitarist believes that competition is contrary to the ideology of the current local music movement.
"There really is this return to a family atmosphere at shows. Presumably, the reason that a lot of us got into music was to escape the very popularity contest that high school brought. I didn't want to play football. I got into punk because it's where all the rejects went," he said.
The resurgence of local music's one-love mantra aside, the festival is worth attending because its lineup is as diverse as it is long.
Several amBiguous CITY! Records artists will be there, with landspeedrecord!, All The Dead Pilots and Pulaski putting in time on stage.
Other acts include the Alphabet Bombers, a Washington/Baltimore psychobilly outfit, and local Tim Kaye, a pianist/guitarist with a jazzy, moody, even quasi-goth style.
Live music won't be the only eclectic element of the weekend festival, though.
Numerous DJs, including Red Menace and Pablo Fiasco, will be taking turns on the decks, spinning sets that will run the musical gamut, from hip-hop and indie rock to reggae and rocksteady.
Also, a flea market will be set up in the Sidebar parking lot. Vendors will be selling a selection of goods that will include clothing, food and antiques.
The Sidebar Tavern is at 218 E. Lexington St. Bands start at 2 p.m. both days, with the last band going on at midnight. There is no admission charge for this event. For more information, call 410-659-4130 or visit www.sidebartavern.com.