by M. Sophie Hamad
I’m standing behind a little boy struggling to get a torn clear plastic disposable rain parka over his arms and head. I’m jealous of his torn clear plastic disposable rain parka.
His mother is dancing and singing along in her clear plastic disposable rain parka. She turns around and sings at her son, who doesn’t seem to notice, and her husband, who looks about as thrilled as I feel.
I keep thinking about the month I worked as a cocktail server for Aramark services in the VIP section of Blossom Music Center in 2010. I used to have to run drinks from the VIP drink booth to the VIP section under the pavilion. I’d curse under my breath while running through the rain, trying not to spill the full cups of beer and mixed drinks on my service tray. But at least I wasn’t one of those silly fools watching the show from the lawn.
Now I’m one of the silly fools watching the show from the lawn. And it’s pouring. I’m thankful that at least I decided not to wear any makeup.
Blossom Music Center is a large outdoor music venue in Cuyahoga Falls. It’s the only venue of its kind near Akron. There’s a large outdoor pavilion surrounded by a hilly lawn. If you’ve got $100+ dollars to splurge on a ticket, you can get a nice covered seat. Otherwise—it’s the lawn. The open-to-the-elements lawn.
I bought my ticket back in March, when June seemed warm and far away. Florence + The Machine and Of Monsters and Men held the potential to be a fun girls night out with my best friend, Sarah.
We got a crew together—five girls—me, Sarah, Abby, and sisters Lis and Kait. We packed sandwiches and snacks and drinks, and showed up 2 hours early to get a good parking spot and hang out in the lot before the show. We walked the dirt path to the paved path, and the paved path to the gate, where they checked our bags and scanned our tickets.
By the time we moseyed over to the lawn, the show had started, and the only spot for our giant blue tarp and white sheet were on the outskirts of the grassy knoll, where we could barely see the stage, let alone anyone playing on it.
Sarah convinces Abby and me to follow her down to the front of the lawn to get a better view. Our friends stay behind, where they’ll wait for their other two friends who are supposed to show up any minute.
It’s drizzling already. I don’t mind too much, but my flip-flops are sliding around on the wet grass. I take them off, and we tiptoe between blankets and over beers and around beautiful young hipsters until we think we’ve found a spot we can stand and get a decent view of the stage.
Nope. The girl standing behind us grabs Sarah’s waist and pushes her gently out of her line of vision, shouting over the music something about saving this spot for friends. We tiptoe and hop and dodge around more blankets and tarps and beers until we find somewhere to stand where it doesn’t seem we’re bothering anyone.
I feel so old. I’m cold and wet. I’m not dancing in the rain or hitting the joint that’s being passed around the group of youngsters in front of me. I’m not even drinking—no way am I spending $12 on a beer or mixed drink. I find myself wondering, at several points, when the music will end and we can just go home.
Then, a few songs into Florence, we begin looking for Kait and Lis. I had stashed my purse under the tarp, because it was already drizzling, and I figured it would stay nice and dry there.
We soon realize our friends have moved. We cannot find them. After searching for our tarp for about a half hour, I start to panic about my purse. My phone, the battery for which died about 10 minutes before we left the parking lot, is in there. I’ve completely stopped listening to the last few Florence songs and am frantically looking for a giant blue tarp, a white sheet, and a black umbrella. They are nowhere. They have ceased to exist.
Sarah calls Lis and Kait to find out where they are. No answer. She tries again, once every five minutes or so. Finally she gets an answer. They’re saying something about calling an Uber. They can’t find the car. They are over it. We’re all over it. I’m begging Sarah to please ask about my purse. Does anyone have my purse?
Eventually, we find Kait’s car. Luckily, Abby was paying attention when we walked in, and she saw we were in Lot 1. By the time we get to the car, they’ve found it, too. Their friends have my purse. I’ll have to get a ride downtown to pick it up after midnight, but it’s not lost. I survived Blossom.
Now, I’m sure this is not the typical Blossom experience. I’m sure most people who attend shows there are more experienced, or at least more prepared than I was. I’m not knocking lawn seats at our only outdoor music venue. But I don’t think I’ll be back for a while, and if I do go crazy and decide a band is just too good to pass up, I’ll know what to do differently.
1. Check the fucking forecast. If it calls for rain, bring a fucking rain jacket, don’t wear shoes that will get soggy, and make sure you don’t bring anything that will get ruined by the rain.
2. Come early. Find a good parking spot. This might not mean parking closest to the venue, because then it could take you hours to get out of the parking lot. You could park further toward the exit and hike in, if you don’t mind that sort of thing. Or maybe you like sitting in traffic with a bunch of drunk people.
3. Don’t lose your friends, especially if they are your ride. First of all, you might not be able to ever find them. Ever. Secondly, you might all end up pissed at each other, and you’ll feel shitty for not spending the time with them.
4. Bring a travel-friendly bag for your stuff. More than likely, you’ll want to move around to find a better view, or dance, or hide under a tree if it starts to rain. You don’t want to be lugging around a Coach handbag. Bring that ratty messenger bag you take camping, and keep some ziplock bags inside for your phone, keys, etc.
5. Bring food and eat it in the parking lot before you go in. Seriously. Or eat a huge dinner before you go. Unless you want to drop serious cash on hot dogs and french fries and pretzels.
6. If you want to drink alcohol, take an Uber to and from the venue. There’s a whole spot set up for Uber pick-up and drop-off. Or have a designated driver. Don’t drive home drunk on $12 beers.