This past Saturday, I became a virgin again and had my cherry popped all in one day. I’m not talking about sex, mind you, but rather the experience that is Jimmy Buffett.
For as long as I can remember, my buddy Rob has been talking about organizing a group trip to a Buffett show. He’s been a fan for years and years, playing his selection of island tunes to the point we put in ear plugs. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of his music as it’s a bit too happy/cheery/lacking of substance for my traditional tastes. However, the persuasions of the man we called ‘Coach’ finally gave in and I committed to hitting up a show the next time he came around. That day was Saturday and the venue was Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA.
Luckily, some others in our entourage decided to take the plunge as well. A group of seven of us (four Buffett virgins) headed from Portland, ME, as part of the 11th annual Finz Cruise, compiled as part of a two-bus convoy. We had a dj, plenty of booze and food, good friends and approximately 50,000 people ready to get it on.
Thus, in honor of what is called The Big 8 (the eight Buffett mega-hits he plays at almost every show), here is my own Big 8 of advice to those that have never been to a show before.
1) If you’re tailgating, prepare for a long day. The theme of the day was “marathon, not a sprint” and for once, we weren’t talking about my lovemaking skills. We arrived around 12:30 and with seven hours to go before showtime, we had all of things that make life worth living in front of us: chicks, booze and a sunny day. However, indulge into too many too soon and you’re f’d. Drink water, eat food and have a great time. Don’t be That Guy or That Girl.
2) If you’re not tailgating, why are you going? Seriously, I can’t imagine going to this show without partying before. Unless, of course, you are a hardcore Buffett fan and then, I don’t know if you’re actually telling the truth.
3) Take a look around. One of the most eye-opening spans of time we shared was our walk around the massive parking lots we called home. That 45-minute jaunt around the hot tarmac showed me dozens upon dozens of makeshift bars with wheels and various ‘Flash For Tequila’ offers, lots of bright colors, tons of girls flashing and everyone having a good time. I didn’t see a single fight or pull-apart during any of the tailgating and people were sharing everything: food, drink, body parts, etc. While I can’t appreciate the music, I can appreciate the mood it puts people in: a happy one.
4) Don’t go crazy on the food. There will be enough. We brought enough meat, bread and snacks to feed Puma, Wyoming (credit Lewis Black), but ended up taking a ton of stuff home. Why? Mostly because you don’t eat a lot, but you drink a ton. If you’re feeling a bit famished, take a walk five feet and bum a hot dog. Again, I can’t reiterate how friendly everyone is. Don’t be a mooch, but you don’t have to be Caesar.
5) Do go crazy on the tunes. We had our own DJ and suddenly, became a main attraction for those around us and those walking around. This was pretty hard to do considering the mass amounts we were dealing with, but the tour organizer was a genius for bring this ace to the table. Best off, our guy was playing a mix of great songs and not just Buffett songs. Perfect! The old adage “You catch more with sugar than you do salt” seems fitting here.
6) Go with friends. During our stay, I thought how much fun it would be to have Friends X,Y,Z along with us to soak in what we were feeling. Everyone else was feeling the same way, even though we went with a great group. As I looked around, I saw plenty of RV’s of people that headed down for the trip, enjoying each other’s company in this very unique experience. While it may be obvious to say “love the one you’re with,” every experience is instantly accelerated when you’re with your gang. I wasn’t a fan, yet had a blast because of the company.
7) Go once for the show, then just for the party. You probably get the idea by now that I’m not a J.B. fan, but I am now firmly in the camp of recommending this as a GALO: Go At Least Once experience. (Side note: I recently discovered that my friend Clyde is adamantly against visiting Vegas, another GALO destination. I didn’t think this was possible.) However, I know that when Buffett time comes around again, I’ll be down for the party and will probably skip the show. Even though we were in the 3rd deck of seating, I think it would have been tough for me to enjoy the show in any seats. While J.B. does play a long set and almost all of his hits (the Big 8: Margaritaville, Come Monday, Fins, Volcano, A Pirate Looks At Forty, Cheeseburger In Paradise, One Particular Harbor, Changes in Latitudes/Attitudes), there’s a lot of boring island band filler for my taste. Go to say you saw him and then, move on.
8) It’s ok to break loose. Dirty fun is something that I think people tend to have less of as they get older. You get married, have kids, buy a house and then everything that was acceptable in your 20s is frowned upon by other people around you solely because they want to grow up too fast and have others enjoy in their admitted misery. (Phewwwwwwwwwwww!) What I saw on Saturday was people not just having dirty fun, but dirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrty fun. The demographics: most definitely white and skewed to the older 25-36 group and more in-tune with the sect I now find myself in. Best of all, people from all walks of life were just living life and I was very ok with that. I can understand why people look forward to this show every year. It’s their day to break out of monotony and relive a day in their past they either remember or wish they remembered.
For a few glorious hours on Saturday, the real world went away and in its place was an endless sea of colors, sweat and pirate flags. I can’t wait to go back next year.