Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Life's Goal Accomplished: Jimmy Buffett at Toyota Park

Yes, believe it or not, one of my life's goals was to get to a Jimmy Buffett concert. You would think, since he's been touring pretty much every summer for the last four decades, that this would be an easier goal to achieve than, say, visiting all seven continents. But yet I'd still never gone to a show. It would've been ideal to have seen him when he held the first concert ever performed at Wrigley Field, just a few blocks from my place... but I was in Europe at the time. Therefore, last Tuesday evening, the realization hit me that I wasn't getting any younger, and neither was Jimmy, so I better get serious.

That is how I ended up searching StubHub and finding third row seats for his concert this past Saturday night at Toyota Park, a stadium that's a little bit south of Chicago (where the Chicago Fire soccer team plays). Let me tell you, Jimmy did not disappoint. We had an absolute blast and I'm so glad I finally got my act together to see him play live.

As we headed to the stadium, my husband and I talked about the fact that it's actually pretty strange that I'm a Jimmy Buffett fan in the first place. His legion of followers--known as Parrotheads--typically have a few major things in common, and I don't really fit the description. First and foremost, I'm not a big drinker. That right there is almost grounds for dismissal from Parrothead Land. Secondly, I've never even smoked a cigarette, much less other, uh, things that Buffett fans have been rumoured to enjoy inhaling. On top of all that, I've been known to get more than a tad seasick when out on the water. e and sailing don't really mix. AND... it turns out I didn't even know the words to one of his most famous songs, "Margaritaville!" Ever since high school, I thought he was saying, "Blew out my flip-flop... Stepped on a pop tart." Then I saw a guy in front of me on the way into the show and the back of his shirt had that phrase on it, only "pop tart" was "pop top." I said to my husband, "What? What is a pop top? I thought it was 'Stepped on a pop tart?'"

My husband, fearing for our lives, shot me the evil eye and hissed, "Shhh!!! Good God, don't say that around here! These people are SERIOUS!" He then went on to explain what a pop top was. I think I'm going to keep saying pop tart. But anyway, it was just another reason that I didn't fit in with the rest of the crowd.

So why do I love this man? The concert made it crystal clear. The guy is just happy. He is happy to be alive, happy to be doing what he loves, and seemed truly, truly conscious and thankful of the fact that the universe dealt him a winning hand. I like Jimmy Buffett for the exact same reason that Ireland remains my #1 favorite country I've ever visited: both Jimmy Buffett and the people of Ireland know how to enjoy life and have the best attitudes on the planet. Further, the business geek in me can't help but respect the fact that he is a marketing genius. You may remember my visits to his restaurants/bars/merchandising meccas in both Vegas and Orlando. So I love him for those reasons, plus the fact that a few of his songs are about pirates.

Looking around the stadium, I honestly think Toyota Park usurped Disney World as "The Happiest Place on Earth." Everyone was in a good mood. No one was embarrassed at the fact that they had parrot hats, cheeseburger hats, shark hats, leis, grass skirts or coconut bras on. I've never seen so many friendly people in my life. Yeah, a lot of that friendliness surely came from the many beers and/or margaritas consumed in the parking lot before the show, but hey, the world needs positivity in any type of form nowadays, don't you agree? Here's a short clip of the crowd hitting around many, many beach balls at the beginning of the show:

But I need to back up a little bit... here are a few pictures I snapped as we made our way into the stadium. The first is a shot of just one small section of the lot as we were driving in from the highway. Notice all of the tents set up... it was seriously like a tailgating party at Michigan or Notre Dame, times ten thousand.

Here is a "Fins Up!" truck and a mini-luau.

Finally, here's my favorite guy I saw. He reminded me of an older Sawyer from Lost (Jimmy actually referenced Lost during the concert, more on that in a minute). You may want to click to enlarge the picture to get the full effect of his awesomeness.

The concert itself was wonderful. If you're interested in the set list, I found it on another site here. As you may be able to see from this shot we took as we headed down to the field level, there was a huge map as the backdrop on the stage.

At one point, Jimmy asked the lighting guy to zoom in on the Great Lakes. But the Great Lakes weren't actually drawn out on the map... the entire United States was just a big blob. When Jimmy realized this with a bit of embarrassment, he covered by saying, "Perhaps the lakes are like the Island on Lost... they moved!" The vast majority of the crowd seemed befuddled by this comment, but I was in my glory. And THAT is why I love Jimmy Buffett.

This last video goes out to Nerdy P and Crazy Joe-E, who, at a very young age is already a Parrothead and has learned not only the words, but also this dance to the classic song, "Fins":

I've got another life goal now. See Jimmy Buffett in concert AGAIN.

- e


Brian said...


Apart from seeing Jimmy Buffett in concert, what else is on your list of life goals? I thought that had some "My Name is Earl" kinda connotations. I think that would make a nice blog post. Also, I'm embarrassed to say I don't know what a pop top is, but I can take a pretty good guess I think. I'm thinking Kate in the Lost series premiere or Juliet in "The Other Woman," but a tad nakeder.

-your fave Lost stalker

Zach Dionne said...

Well, now I want to see him really badly. Haha. Looks like a BLAST! I love the Sawyer guy and the Fins video. Thanks for an awesome writeup :)