Jimmy Buffett brought his party to Orlando on his Welcome To Fin Land tour last night. I’ve seen Buffett a few times in the past, and his shows have become predictable. It’s typically that same laid back, feel good, beach party vibe; a formula that he’s mastered. Realizing that the pre-game festivities are typically as much fun as the show, I decided to focus on that aspect of a Buffett show this year.
For this year’s tailgate, our group ratcheted the experience up a bit by booking a party bus. So, for this review, the beers were flowing almost as quickly as the fingers were hitting the keyboard.
- Eight hours before showtime: My wife and I exit the house with a case of Yuengling, a case of water and a few pounds of marinating garlic shrimp.
- T -7.5 hours to showtime: Arrive at the departure rendezvous point. There are 24 of us on the bus and enough coolers, bags, chairs, grills, etc… for a group 10 times our size. We learn the bus has a blown tire and is on the side of the highway somewhere. Pacing myself, I grab a Diet Coke. Need to stay sober for awhile…
- T-7.25 hours: We take advantage of our unexpected break and we pose for a group photo. I suggest all of the women get on their knees. They refuse…
- T -7 hours: Tire still not changed. Crack the lid on beer number one.
- T -6.5 hours: Tire repairman is on the spot, somewhere on the ludicrously expensive toll roads of Central Florida. Bus will arrive shortly. Party in the driveway begins to pick up. Beer 2.
- T -6 hours: Still waiting. Someone passes around some Cuban sandwiches. Not a fan of mustard nor pickles on my sandwich and our raw shrimp is probably not the best alternative. Stick with my liquid lunch. Beer 3. Flexibility is the key to a happy life.
- T -5.5 hours: We’re enjoying the driveway party so much, we make plans to do it again the next weekend. The neighbors hope we are joking, but look up the phone number for Code Enforcement just in case. Suddenly, the pure white bus appears like a vision. Someone yells out “Looks like a bloodmobile.” It does.
- T -5 hours: It takes us thirty minutes to pack. We really have a lot of stuff, more than we could ever possibly need…
- T -4.5 hours: We arrive at the arena. Our driver parks and rearranges the bus three times, as the clueless lot attendants can’t figure out where to put us. Twenty minutes later, we park right where we started. En route, another beer, two jello shots and dozens of photos. No one tries the stripper pole, but the ride is a blast.
- T -4 hours. My wife hears “Escape (The Pina Colada song) at a neighboring tailgate and confesses it was her first 45. Really? Shouldn’t that be disclosed during the dating process? Where was the responsible parenting? Although I think I need a shot, I grab another beer.
- T -3.5 hours. A confused Parrothead named Bridget/Gretchen adds the name of a Buffett song to everyone’s red Solo cup to keep us from getting confused. By this time there are 40 happy people who already have song names on their cup. I don’t know 40 Buffett songs. I’m okay with drinking out of a bottle the rest of the day.
- T -3 hours. Cruise the tailgates and see a very diverse crowd. We visit the tailgate spot for the split personalitied Bridg-chen. Although confused she’s pretty damn artistic. Here’s her posse doing Margaritaville Tequila shots. Is there anything Buffett doesn’t slap his name on and sell? They are in front of her Cheeseburger in Paradise tribute. I passed on the shot. Tequila is bad bad stuff.
- T -2.5 hours. Damn the food is good. The grill is fired up. Awesome brats, appetizers and Jerk chicken wings. Go to cook the shrimp and realize we need aluminum foil to keep them from falling through the grate. Rest assured, there’s a roll in one of the many crates we spent 30 minutes packing. These folks are like Boy Scouts, we have everything we could ever want (and great company, too). The shrimp is pretty damn good, too.
- T -2 hours. David and I kicking ass at beer pong. Well, mostly David, but I still get to bask in the victories. We go undefeated, but the problem with Beer Pong is that even the winners still drink a bit. Afterwards, sit down in one of the 600 chairs our group packed and sip some water. Good idea…
- T -1.5 hours. Last tour through the lots. Very festive group, but truthfully more subdued from past Buffett shows, either because his fans are getting too old to party, or because the new lot under I-4 just doesn’t have the same ambiance. We notice a huge cross on a nearby building overlooking the crowd as we talk to a nice group winding down their tailgate. They’re all devout Christians. Seems like kismet, or maybe just all of the beer I had consumed?
- T -1 hour. The group packs up and most head to the Amway Center. A few of us stay behind, preferring our $1 beers to the $11 beers inside. We watch three people stop our driver and negotiate to use the bathroom. (Note to self on a future business idea).
- T -15 minutes. We’re in the arena, and the place is alive, a very cool vibe. I make a rest room stop just as a haggard looking Parrothead Redneck stumbles in. Someone yells “We have a leaker.” There’s a small wet spot on the front of his jeans. The Dude turns the corner, stumbles, almost regains his balance then goes down. The stain gets a lot bigger. So much for the cool vibe…
- T -3 minutes. We step into the seating area as “Hot, Hot, Hot” pumps through the P.A. with beach balls flying, happy fans singing and swaying; the festive atmosphere is definitely back.
As for the show itself; the concert was classic Jimmy. Clad in boat shorts and bare feet, he seemed to be having fun, and the sold out crowd had a blast. Buffett and The Coral Reefer Band kicked off the show with “The Wino and I Know” and were sounding great right from the start. Shortly afterwards, Mac McAnally slid into Alan Jackson’s role from “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” and the party kicked up a notch. The show was laid back throughout and generally just a fun time.
The two hour set featured all of the hits and a few nuggets, as well (see the setlist below), before wrapping up with a rousing version of “Fins,” “Brown Eyed Girl” and then Jimmy alone on stage with a nice acoustic version of “Tin Cup Chalice,” a great way to put a wrap on two hours of buffet and eight hours of pre-game festivities.
Rock On! Cretin
Check out more photos on RARAsFarm’s FaceBook
The Wino And I Know
License To Chill
It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere
Pencil Thin Mustache
Life Is Just A Tire Swing
Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes
Cheeseburger In Paradise
One Particular Harbour
Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw
Son Of A Son Of A Sailor
School Boy Heart
Last Mango In Paris
Woman Goin’ Crazy On Caroline Street
A Pirate Looks At Forty
Back Where I Come From
Brown Eyed Girl
Tin Cup Chalice