Arizona Bike Week has had a wild ride over the past 22 years.
Only a few hundred bikers were in attendance when the annual event launched in the late '90s in Avondale. That number has grown exponentially since then, as has the event itself.
“It started out as this small gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts who just wanted to get together,” says Bike Week co-owner Lisa Cyr. “Not a lot of people knew about it or went to it back then.”
Things certainly have changed over the past two decades.
Arizona Bike Week has become a multi-day festival celebrating motorcycles and biker culture that takes over WestWorld of Scottsdale and attracts upwards of 70,000 people each year. There are stunt shows, special displays, wild parties, group rides, and hundreds of vendors.
There's also a great deal of live music at Arizona Bike Week each year, including performances by well-known bands and musicians that take place in the event's RockYard venue. Local bands also get a chance to shine.
This year's Bike Week festivities, which take place daily through Sunday, April 15, will feature gigs by ZZ Top, Chevelle, and Shinedown, as well as variety of local acts and artists.
Here's a look at what's happening and who's performing at Arizona Bike Week 2018.
When and Where: Arizona Bike Week runs from Thursday, April 12, to Sunday, April 15, at WestWorld, 16601 North Pima Road in Scottsdale.
Times: Operating hours for the Bike Week festivities vary depending on the day. Gates open at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 13, and Sunday, April 15; and at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 14.
If you’re going just for the big concerts, those take place each night to Saturday at 9 p.m. in the RockYard.
Tickets: Admission is $33 on Friday and Saturday, and free on Sunday.
Age Limits: It's an all-ages event and children 12 and under get in free.
Weather: It will be warm and sunny during each day of the event. Temperatures will either be in the high 80s or low 90s. Dress accordingly.
Getting There: The quickest way to get to WestWorld is via the Loop 101 Freeway. However, Bike Week organizers recommend using one of two different entrances to the venue, depending on what you're driving.
Those on motorcycles (or in a vehicle with special passes) will want to take the Loop 101 to Exit 38 for Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard before heading north on Pima Road. The entrance to WestWorld is half a block past the intersection on the right (look for the horse statue).
A photographer will be taking “ride-in” photos of motorcycle rides just past the entrance which will be available for sale inside the event.
Bike week patrons who are coming by car should take Loop 101 to the Pima Road/Princess Drive exit. After the second light, go east on Bell Road until you reach 94th Street and then turn right and follow the signs to WestWorld entrance.
Parking: Patrons are encouraged to park their rides in the large lot just north of the main entrance at 94th Street and WestWorld Way. It’s free for motorcycles (natch), and $5 for every other type of vehicle.
Getting Inside: Cyr says security will perform bag checks and possibly pat-downs at the main entrance. Beyond that, she estimates that it won't be much of a hassle getting into Bike Week. "Compared to many other events, we have very few incidents,” Cyr says. “Generally, there isn't much trouble. People come just to have a good time.”
Food and Drinks: Patrons will be able to purchase a wide variety of eats from food vendors at the event. "We got everything from different types of barbecue to street tacos and wood-fired pizzas and more,” Cyr says.
Full bars will also be available throughout the venue with an assortment of beer, wine, and spirits, including Jack Daniels and Miller and Coors brews. The biggest drinkery at the event will be the HandleBar Saloon, the massive temporary structure that will also host live music from local bands and other events through the weekend.
Water: Bike Week patrons can bring a single unopened bottle of water into the event. Vendors will also have water for sale.
Vendors: Cyr estimates that there will be more than couple hundred vendors at Westworld during Bike Week. “They'll cover the whole scope of the motorcycle world, from accessories to helmets to sunglasses and different kinds of gear,” she says. “But we'll also have a wide variety of things, like real estate [brokers] and biker-friendly lawyers. Even the Musical Instrument Museum will be out there for the first time.”
Bring: A government-issued ID, a fully charged cell phone, a bag for your items, and all forms of sun protection (ranging from hats and sunglasses to sunblock). Every vendor will accept credit cards, but bringing some cash wouldn't be a bad idea (since it speeds things up).
When it comes to biker gear, items like chain wallets are also allowed. “Yeah, we don't make anyone take the chains off their wallets,” Cyr says. It's also cool if you want to sport your colors, cuts, or other biker regalia. “We don't ban colors or cuts from our event,” she says. “Pretty much everybody is welcome at our event.”
Don't Bring: Weapons aren't allowed inside the event. Neither are outside food and drink, drugs or other illegal substances, or anything else potentially dangerous or disruptive.
Live Music Lineup and Schedule: More than a dozen bands are scheduled to perform at WestWorld during Arizona Bike Week, including both locals and nationally known acts. (Thursday, April 12, already featured performances by School of Rock Sugar Skulls and Chevelle, among others.)
The HandleBar Saloon will feature gigs throughout the day and evening, ranging from rock and blues to country and Americana. Meanwhile, the 25,000-person RockYard outdoor venue will host concerts starting at 5:30 p.m. with an opening band followed by a headliner at 9 p.m.
Here's a breakdown of who's playing and when:
Friday, April 13
Joel Maze and Kung Fu Grip
As the somewhat silly name indicates, the members of this cover band tend to have a lot of fun during their sets. Expect to her plenty of crowd-pleasing hits like Tom Petty's “Running Down A Dream,” Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers “Banditos,” or "Hard to Handle" by The Black Crowes when Maze and his band plays the HandleBar Saloon at 11:30 a.m.
The powerful vocals of its namesake frontwoman fuel this alternative/hard rock band and its array of original songs. They'll also light up the HandleBar Saloon on Saturday afternoon starting at 2:30 p.m.
The Black Moods
A longtime favorite of the Valley music scene, The Black Moods create rock 'n' roll songs that are both powerful and positively listenable. On Friday night, they'll take to the RockYard stage at 5:30 p.m.
Long after many nu-metal bands have bit the dust, Shinedown continue to thrive. Besides touring constantly, they've released a number of hit records, most recently 2015's Threat to Survival, which hit No. 8 on the Billboard charts. (Their newest album, Attention Attention, is due out early next month.) This weekend, Shinedown visit the Valley for a set at the RockYard at 9 p.m. on Saturday night, which will feature such travels bring epic rock songs as “Second Chance,” “Devour,” and “Sound of Madness.”
74th Street Band
The HandleBar Saloon will host an after-hours party starting at 11 p.m. that will feature adult-oriented games and a set by local Southern rock outfit 74th Street Band, who recently released a new EP filled with racous songs like “Skunk Butt Stew” and “Comin' In Hot.”
Saturday, April 14
The veteran musicians of Rock Land pay tribute to the hits of both yesterday and today by covering a variety of rock 'n' roll songs from the '60s onward. They'll perform at 10:30 a.m. in the HandleBar Saloon.
Stop by the HandleBar Saloon during Organ Grinder's afternoon set, which starts at 2 p.m., and you might start singing along with the band as they perform covers of famed rock bands, ranging from Aerosmith to ZZ Top.
Influenced by bands like the Black Crowes, Lynyryd Skynyrd, and Blackberry Smoke, Christopher Shayne and his backing band fuse Southern fried rock 'n' roll with metal, grunge, and bluesy elements to create their own brand of dirty desert rock. And it will echo through the RockYard starting at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday evening.
Their ain't nothing broken about this band, as the five friends that make up this Valley band perform like a well-oiled machine as they perform a mix of classic rock, outlaw country, covers, original songs, and whatever else they feel like playing. They'll take over the HandleBar Saloon at 5:30 p.m.
The renowned rock band, which has been doing its thing for almost 50 years, was an influential and groundbreaking act back in the '70s and a staple of MTV in the '80s. They've sold a gazillion records over five decades, ascended to legendary status, and are still going strong to this day. They'll headline Saturday's live music lineup at Bike Week with a show at the RockYard that starts at 9 p.m.
Wild times will be afoot in the HandleBar Saloon beginning at 11 p.m. during Bike Week's annual wet T-shirt contest, which is pretty much guaranteed to draw a huge crowd. Providing the soundtrack will be four-piece hard rock cover band Drop Diezel, which features KSLX's Pete Cummings on drum and the former members of local band Souldriver.
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Sunday, April 15
The final day of Bike Week kicks off with some hootin' and hollerin' in the HandleBar Saloon starting at 11 a.m., courtesy of this hell-raising “hillbilly cow-punk” band that specializes in rollicking tunes about moonshine, wicked men, and wild times.
Rock 'n' roll act Undecided Youth perform original songs, as well as an array of classic rock covers. Catch them at the HandleBar Saloon starting at 2:30 p.m.
Dash Cooper rocks just as hard as his legendary father as the lead singer of CO-OP, the five-member band that offers a hard-charging mix of grunge and metal. They've opened for the likes of Motley Crue, KISS, and The Hollywood Vampires and will have the honor of closing out Bike Week with a 4 p.m. set at the HandleBar Saloon.