Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Oxnard, CA
Bikes: '08 Fuji Roubaix RC; '07 Schwinn Le Tour GS; '92 Diamond Back Ascent EX
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I was a Parrothead during my 30s. We'd just had our second child and life was getting a bit too serious. A friend loaned me a couple of Buffett albums (early stuff) and I got hooked. Pure escapism which was very welcome at that point in my life. There was a cover band in the area performing Buffett tunes and some other island stuff. I went to see them and got hooked up with a local Parrothead club. The other members were a diverse group but all got along well and had a lot of fun together. That led me to attending my first Buffett concert.
Irvine Meadows Amphitheater was a major venue for Buffett at the time. Parking lot opened at noon for an 8pm concert. People smuggled in enough sand to build beach volleyball courts, there were tiki bars all over the place and Buffett tunes filled the air. The crowd, dressed in Hawaiian shirts and outlandish hats, was predominantly late 20s to 60+. Lots of people walking around the parking lot admiring the inventiveness of people that had turned a couple of parking lot stalls into a trip to the islands. There was a lot of food, a lot of drinks (I saw my first gas-powered blender at Irvine) and everyone was your friend. As you toured the parking lot, you were offered food and drinks. When you finished your tour of the parking lot and settled in with your own group, you offered food and drinks to those who walked by. It was one huge block party with 10s of thousands in attendance. When concert time neared, everyone headed in to the concert which always turned into a big sing along. After the concert, our group would hang out till the bulk of the traffic left before heading the 2 blocks to our hotel. A quick run to Carls Jr. for a late night snack and we all headed to bed. We'd often do this 2 or 3 days in a row when Buffett was in town.
Then, somewhere in the late 90s, it started changing. The 18 - 25 year olds discovered the pre-concert parking lot party. They were playing their own music (really loud) and many didn't even have tickets to the concert or passed out before the concert started. They were just there for to get drunk. The atmosphere changed from a huge block party to an out of control rave. People puking, cussing and generally being obnoxious. About a decade ago, it finally got to the point that it just wasn't fun any more so I quit going.
I eventually dropped out of the club and found other ways to relax. Started camping a lot more and, eventually, rediscovered the joys of cycling.
I still get the club newsletter. The club continues to evolve as the membership ages. I see reports of fewer concerts but more wine tastings and charity events. Buffett has gone from a little-known singer/songwriter to an empire. His fans have allowed him to live the life they wish they could. I guess escapism isn't as appealing when you're happy where you are at.