Held in the lot next to Revolution Café in West Oakland this past weekend, Bike Stock 2010 featured lots of bikes and bands, not necessarily in that order.

A hot September sun (Where were you in August?) beamed down on its punky/hipsterish participants, who were already in full revel mode at 2 p.m. Sunday (Full revel mode = one-third ways into the 12-er of Olympia they’d purchased before going in). 

People sat on benches about 30 feet in front of the stage or took cover under shade just to the left of it, leaving plenty of room for the band members to wade out into the crowd. That was a good thing because some of the performers needed all the room they could get: one band’s lead singer, dressed in a T-shirt and black briefs for the occasion, twisted spasmodically like a demonically-possessed dude with Tourette syndrome, screaming out angst-filled, somewhat indecipherable lyrics.

Watching the afternoon’s bands, I kept thinking that any one of them could be the next Green Day and while most of them didn’t veer too far from a punk/power-pop style, there was a bit of variation: hip-hop, Afropunk, alt.folk, and Latin/ska tinges, along with attempts at abstract weirdness and electroclash.

I didn’t catch the names of all the bands who played, but among them were Belushi River (a side project of Inhaler), Mongoloids, the Careerers (“this song’s about a giraffe with an Afro. It’s called ‘Giraffalo.’”),Sahfari Ra and La Plebe. After being beat down by power chords and up-tempo riffs much of the day, Ra’s lyrical boom-bip was a nice change of pace; as he noted, “I live at 11th and Center. It’s nice to play a show in my neighborhood.”

La Plebe, however, effing killed it, with its horn section providing a nice counterbalance to its guitar-and-vocals attack. A semblance of a mosh pit broke out during its set (which I’d give about a six on a scale of 10). In-between bands, Tony Coleman – founder of West Oakland nonprofit Bikes4Life – remarked on how nice it was to bring the band, bike and the activist communities together, raffled off a scraper bike and gently reminded folks to use the Porta-Potties, rather than avail themselves of a nearby wall or shrub.

As the name suggests, there also was a bicycle component to Bike Stock. There was ample bike parking inside, a fixie competition and a sprint race. Given the proximity of the event to the West Oakland BART – it was right across the street; trains rumbled by on a regular basis – it was pretty cool to see such a strong emphasis on environmentally-friendly transportation.

What was most interesting about Bike Stock, though, is that it provided much the same experience as a larger, more-hyped festival, but at a fraction of the cost. A $3-$5 donation – benefiting Bikes4Life – was suggested, which is a pittance compared to the cost of a ticket to, say, Outside Lands. And, having been to the first two Outside Lands events, I daresay that the user experience at Bike Stock was much better. No hiking 20 minutes past foot traffic moving in the opposite direction just to see the next band; no indeterminable lines for food and drink – BBQ links and ribs were available onsite, beer, wine and more food could be ordered from the Revolution Café next door and there were more options just down Seventh street, from a burrito joint to a liquor store.

You also got to see just as many bands – maybe more, in fact; and best of all, you weren’t way the eff out in the Siberia-like reaches of outer Golden Gate Park when nightfall hit. Okay, most of the bands weren’t marquee names (yet), but I’d trade that any day for a festival that actually is an exercise in community-building, rather than an expensive experiment in guinea pig-training and sheep-herding.