Now I may come across as a bit of a tool for saying this, but that has never stopped my mouth before so I’m going to be upfront and forward with y’all. I love to party. Are you debuting to society in Podunk, South Carolina? Of course, I’d love to attend. Are the Twelfth Night Revelers rolling in New Orleans? If they are, count me present. Does your small town, minor league baseball team have dollar beer nights on Thursday? I’ll stab you if you don’t invite me. There’s just something about a cold beverage and a lively, social environment that gives me butterflies from my Adam’s apple down through my plums. I live for it. Now, I won’t be so bold as to call myself a party expert, or even a soiree specialist, but I would definitely identify as a good time enthusiast. And if there is one event that stands out above the rest in elevating my adrenaline levels, it’s a live concert.
I understand this may be somewhat of a polarizing topic with y’all, because there are a plethora of other merrymaking means available. Weddings are understandably a popular option among my friends, since they usually include an open bar and desperate bridal parties. However, they don’t hold a candle to the enjoyment concerts bring me. Other folks prefer clubs full of recent Top 40 hits, guidos, tight dresses, and Jagerbombs. Sure, I’ll crush Redbull voddys with you until my heart stops, friend, but just know I don’t understand nor do I trust your decision-making abilities. Still, more individuals prefer a more relaxed, spontaneous shindig such as a back yard cook-out with good food, close friends, and a worn out iHome pumping Spotify. While that’s a game I can respect the hell out of and love to take part in from time to time, it still can’t top seeing a singer on stage.
What draws me to live shows isn’t just the music, but the overall vibe they put out. Nothing quite says laid back like rolling up to a gravel lot midmorning with my pals, unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt casually hanging off my shoulders, setting up the beersbee poles and Weber charcoal grill, and pouring some Zing-Zang into my tumbler of Tito’s to start the day. Whether you’re more the type of person to man the fort, minding the grill and jumping into a game of cornhole when the need for a fourth arises, or you would rather walk around enjoying the smells of grilled meats and Bojangles Jumbo Tailgate boxes while listening to the eclectic music choices of other camps, there’s a good time to be had by all. No matter which artist is playing that day, the crowd tailgating a concert is guaranteed to be an energetic group of raucous revelers. If it’s not, you might just have terrible taste in music.
People watching enthusiasts thrive at these events as well. If you’ve ever found yourself lucky enough to be at a Buffett show, you know this to be true. The sheer amount of effort Parrottheads put into their tailgates is mind-boggling. Setups range from sprawling tables full of food and liquor surrounding some of the nicest RV’s on the market, to grass-skirted rednecks posted up in a kiddie pool surrounded by Keystone Light Limes. I’ve even found myself trying to comprehend how somebody can transform an old school bus into a pirate ship complete with party deck and slide out BBQ smoking rack. The commitment here is truly awe-inspiring.
At Dave Matthews shows the crowd varies from washed up fratboy-turned-weekend-warriors like myself trying to relive the glory days, to groupie drug dealers rolling face wanting nothing more than to stumble upon a grilled cheese sammy somewhere. Literally anything can happen. Maybe Alan Jackson is more your style, where you’re likely to find a strange hybrid of NASCAR fans and older families, the fathers of which are tiptoeing the fine line between dad-buzzed and sleeping-on-the-sofa-tonight hammered. These are the environments where I really come into my own. What’s that, high school kid? You couldn’t find anybody to buy you alcohol, but you’ve got an extra joint on you? There’s half a liter of Kentucky Gentleman still in my cooler from 3 weeks ago, I didn’t see anything. Well hey there, old-timer. You’d like to try and funnel your Yuengling out of my plastic bat? By all means, knock yourself out. The possibilities here are endless, like a degenerate playground of all shapes, sizes, and colors.
Once the afternoon gaiety starts to wind down and most attendees are inebriated to a level akin to a disguised Johnny Football, the main event begins. Excitement fills the air as the happenings of the day culminate into the much-awaited finale. The atmosphere is almost static, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand like a possessive puppy’s. Of course after drinking all day, one is elated at the prospect of hearing their favorite musicians put on a show, and any inhibitions to spending $12 for a beer are long gone. Now all that is left is to sit back in the grass and enjoy the band. Honestly, at this point, I could even be content at a Creed concert. (Sidenote: If “One Last Breath” comes on and you don’t instinctively stand on an elevated surface and belt along incoherently, I don’t want to know you.)
I’m not trying to put down weddings, football games, or brunches, by any means as they are all respectable forms of carousing in their own right, but concerts will forever be the epitome of my existence. Whether we’re making a weekend of James Taylor in Charlotte, road tripping to see Moon Taxi in Chattanooga, or even going to get crunk with the Ying Yang Twins in bumblefuck, Hayesville, NC. I’ll be there, and I’ll be in my element.
Concerts are the only place you find all-day tailgates rivaling those of an SEC football game, waiting to be followed up by rolling around in a grass lawn and bathing in a brilliant light show whilst some tasty jams sweetly serenade you and a few thousand of your closest friends. And when the whole thing is said and done, you get to finish the night off by going to a local, late-night eatery and clogging your arteries before hitting the hay. Or you wake up in a porta-potty with some questionable floosy from the night before, wondering what that burning sensation in your loins is, but that’s a different story for another time. .