There really is a difference between hearing music live, and hearing recorded music. I’ve mentioned in the past that I love being in high-energy crowds. Whatever is the music equivalent of a vampire, I am that. I feed off the energy. Yet getting to the crowd is often complicated enough that I pass on the opportunity.
Back in the spring on a day I was feeling a bit low, I saw an advertisement for an upcoming Heart concert. I clicked through and saw it was scheduled for a venue about 90 minutes away, it was a double-bill with Joan Jett, it was my birthday week, and I love Heart’s music AND Joan Jett’s music. I had no idea who’d want to go with me, but I bought 2 tickets. Not only 2 tickets, but I made sure they were center seats, under the roof (it was a pavilion venue – BB&T Pavilion in Camden). And then I pretty much forgot about it.
Well last week was birthday week (as well as kidney stone week) and the concert was Friday. I invited my sister to use my other ticket and join me and she agreed. Outdoor venues are tricky – you never know if the weather will cooperate or not. Even if you are under the roof, it it’s raining the air is uncomfortable. I’d never been to BB&T so I tried to get as much information online as possible. Well. I guess it’s true that mostly cranky unhappy people post reviews. “Too Expensive” “horrible view” “traffic was ridiculous” “I’ll never go back”. Oh dear, too late for ME – I already bought my tickets AND my VIP parking. I’ve reached the point that if I’m going to treat myself, I’m going to treat myself and I’m not going to park a zillion miles away and hike in.
The more I looked at the pictures, however, and read reviews, I realized that the complaints were nothing more than what I consider to be realities of concert going. Yep, the prices for EVERYTHING at a venue are outrageously expensive. Part of how they make their money. Yep, trying to get hundreds of cars (if not thousands of cars) out AFTER the event means you WILL be sitting there for a good 30 minutes or more before you should even try to start your car to move. That’s why you bring enough food to tailgate before AND after. 🙂 (And of course you go in your red convertible which makes everything better.)
My brother-in-law packed us a fantastic tailgate: home-grilled seasoned chicken on home made flat bread, and his delicious macaroni salad. We each brought our drink of choice (vodka & tonic for my sister, wine spritzers for me). I had brand new chairs-in-bags and a brand new pop-up table in a bag. My cooler is always stocked with paper goods, plastic wear, cutting knives and napkins. I always have my Swiss Army knife. I packed a cooler of ice cubes and a bag of limes. We were good to go!
Getting down to Camden was not a problem – no traffic on the NJ Turnpike for a change. Our biggest issue was finding the correct place for VIP parking. We waited in a parking line to get into the venue parking, only to be told we were in the wrong lot. We needed to go out and go right-right-right to get to the VIP parking. 🙂 We found the lot and asked WHERE the venue was in relation to the entrance to the lot. The attendant pointed over to her left, said we could park anywhere. I headed left and there were LOADS of spots. This concert was obviously NOT a sellout. We picked a spot next to a no-parking area so we’d have room to setup our tailgate. It was lovely. The online descriptions of the lot indicated it was across the road from the venue. The “road” was barely a road – it was more a driveway. It was a very short walk, probably the closest we have ever parked to a venue. (Yes, it was expensive, and yes, the people parking for $10 less were parking in the same huge lot we were but on the other side of the orange cones. So what – it was one less worry for me in my planning.)
We had a lovely tailgate and then headed in to the venue. It was very much like the pavilion up on the Garden State Parkway in Holmdel, NJ, where we’ve gone many times. This one was better, however, because the concession stands were INSIDE, which meant air-conditioning as well as protection from the rain if necessary. The drinks were extremely over-priced but of course I indulged in the summer cocktail special. It came in a BLINKING GLASS!!!!!! How could I resist? Obviously I couldn’t. 🙂 The only disappointment was the lack of anything that could be considered dessert – we’d forgotten to pack any cookies. 😦 They won back those ‘points’, however, at intermission when they changed the men’s bathroom into one for the women and directed the men to the facilities outside. *grin* They said the ratio of women/men was so skewed they knew they had to address the matter. 🙂
The music was, of course, fantastic. Despite stating that I wouldn’t take any pictures because they never come out well, I took pictures. 🙂 I took videos of some of my favorite songs. The opening act was Elle King (you know – EX’s and Oh’s). The sound crew did a poor job. My sister and I both stuffed tissues in our ears because it was so loud and almost distorted. (Ah yes, we ARE getting old, how tacky of you to mention it.) Joan Jett and Heart both had much better sound quality and no tissues were necessary, thank goodness! 🙂 There were many open seats in front of us so we had great sight, except of course for the couple 2 rows ahead of us who NEVER sat down. *grin* We shifted over so my sister could see something besides their backs. I love the light shows. 🙂 The music is great without a light show but I do like bright shiny glitter and light shows are that and more. There was also a bubble machine at one point.
Leaving WAS a bit of a nuisance. We did sit there the expected 30 minutes waiting for the line of leavers to lessen. Once we joined the departures it was probably only another 15 minutes of moving forward slowly. The annoying part was the inability to get back on the road we used to get there – Rt 38. We were blocked from that direction and had to keep going south onto Rt 676. I have to say that I absolutely loath trying to drive around Philadelphia and Camden – it’s a real form of torture for me because the roads are terrible, they all merge, the signs are terrible, I don’t do enough driving there to know the secrets and you just can’t get THERE from HERE, no matter the ‘there’ or the ‘here’. We ended up driving south for easily 15 minutes or so before we could finally hook up to the road that would go north. I find that annoying. I suppose it’s possible that as far as TIME goes, it took the same amount of time as I’d have spent on Rt 38, but it’s the PRINCIPLE of the thing, you know???? I want to go where *I* want to go. 🙂
All in all it was a great birthday present – great music, great company, great food, AND a blinking cup souvenir!!!