On June 2, 2018, we packed up the old SUV and headed from Maryland to Camden, New Jersey for the highlight of our summer, a long-awaited Dead & Company show.
The show was at the BB&T Pavilion, literally, a diamond in a goat’s ass.
Anyway, I’ve been following the Grateful Dead and its various incarnations since 1981, and my husband and I birthed and raised our three sons to young adulthood as Deadheads.
So we were looking forward to this show despite the threat of rain…
The first set was strong, but had a decidedly mellow vibe, so we anticipated a barn-burning second set. When the boys opened it with Playing in the Band, segued into Uncle John’s Band and then carried us into The Other One, we were grooving despite the rain that begun in earnest and continued to pick up along with the music.
We had rain-jackets, caps, umbrellas and a tarp and it still wasn’t enough. But the band jammed and we were having a blast, so the rain was more of a minor irritation rather than a complete dampening of spirits.
And then midway through the third number, Bob stopped and made an announcement.
We were in RAIN DELAY. There was a strong cell of weather approaching. Dead & Company would resume when it passed.
So, we went down to the pavilion as instructed.
Over two and a half hours later, the vendors had long since closed up, and we called it a night. Management NEVER made an announcement that the show would not go on. Yes, it was still raining, but at some point, call the show.
Like, in the event the musicians leave the arena–CALL THE SHOW. The show will not go on if the musicians have left the building. CALL THE SHOW via the loudspeakers or closed-circuit televisions inside the venue. Not everyone is hipster-douchey enough to be on Instagram.
Which brings me to my next point: John Mayer posted on his Instagram that he left the show right away and made it to New York City for his buddy Andy Cohen’s birthday celebration by midnight.
Excuse me? Oh really? Forgive me for not being happy to hear this bit of news. You don’t want to know where I was at midnight…but I’m going to tell you.
My husband went back to the lawn to retrieve our chairs (that someone was in the process of stealing.)
Meanwhile in the pavilion, I watched a team of security guards haul a dead man (and that’s dead as in kicked the bucket not Dead as in Hell in a Bucket) through the front doors, a posse of guys dragging each limb while the body and head sagged somewhere between. They took the OD victim into a room marked security and dumped him. They all left the room immediately afterward.
Then, we headed out into the rainy streets of Camden. Since we parked in the $30 lot rather than the $40 lot, we had a bit of a hike. My son and his girlfriend went ahead, and my husband and I brought up the rear. We had to cross flooded streets where the water was halfway up our calves and navigate down sidewalks that were more like rivers.
About two blocks from the car, I said, “I’m sure glad I can swim.” Famous last words.
I took another step and there was no sidewalk. Just a hole. Down went Fraser.
Yes, I’m in a hole (or a small lake) filled with disgusting, dirty, Hep A, Hep B, Hep C and MRSA water. And let’s put it this way, everything from my sandals up to my bra was now soaked with a foul, vinegary-backwash rainwater.
I watched my purse floating away. My umbrella now broken and cast off, too.
My husband grabbed me and pulled me out of the hole and I grabbed my purse. Everything in it ruined by water.
I had cuts to my knee and bruising as well, but no serious injury (I hope one of the Hep’s don’t rear their heads later).
And then, as the sober Designated Driver, I drove us all home–Going down the road feeling bad.
All told, a two-and-a-half hour trip between getting out of the lot, getting out of Shakedown Street, and driving in the torrential rain. If the thunder don’t get ya then the lightning will.
So forgive me for not being positively giddy that John Mayer made it to New York in time to celebrate Andy Cohen’s birthday.
This show cost us a bundle. We’re just middle-class Joe Six-Packs. Between tickets, and my husband having to pay someone $400 to run his route so he could get two days off, and parking, and concessions, and…
Oh yeah, the SOUVENIR T-SHIRT…that’s another fresh hell.
To commemorate my son’s high school graduation, we bought him a T-shirt from the vendor inside BB&T Pavilion. A sweet blue and green tie-dye Summer Tour shirt for $50.
I used my debit card and was so busy trying to get the card back in my purse safely between the push and shove of other customers, I didn’t put my reading glasses on when I signed the receipt. Turns out the vendor tacked on $30 extra dollars in a scam to pocket extra money.
I called BB&T and they gave me the name of their third-party vendor and his cellphone number. Here’s looking at you, Paul Loiacono. Yeah, Paul was a real pleasure to deal with. After I explained the situation in a calm, non-accusatory manner, he responded gruffly with, “Why should I trust you?” It went downhill from there.
Why indeed. Like I’m going to waste my time calling Camden, New Jersey and North Wales, Pennsylvania over $30. Just saying. And whatever happened to customer service? I’ll tell you what. Methinks the man doth protest too much.
So that’s the story of Finding the Real Shakedown Street right over the bridge in Camden, New Jersey.
Here’s praying Dead & Company schedule a different venue in the Pennsylvania/Delaware/ Maryland/D.C. area next summer.
And here’s to surviving an occasional bad trip.
Oh well, a Touch of Grey kind of suits you anyway…I will get by/I will survive…We will get by/We will survive.
Susan J. Anderson
Foxy Writer Chick
PS> John Mayer, you’re still Dead to me…I blame the venue, not D&C.