Walking (in mud) In Memphis

Pete Wentz has been joking on Twitter that Fall Out Boy’s current tour is cursed. Sickness, people getting hurt, bad weather conditions, dead bodies falling from the rigging…you know the drill. OK, maybe I made up that thing about the dead bodies.

I bought my ticket to the Beale St Music Festival back in March, excited to finally see FOB play, willing to make the drive to Memphis, and secretly glad that the openers I would witness would be Three 6 Mafia and Snoop Dogg instead of All Time Low, Cobra Starship and Hey Monday. I was so busy thanking the concert gods that the show wasn’t in the “please kill me” heat of July that I didn’t realize that the concert was in the monsoon season of May. “So, I’ll get rained on. Big deal. I’ll just wear clothes that will dry quickly.”

Wrong.

FOB were set to play on Sunday. It had been raining for three days. Whatever notion of grass there had once been was gone, long gone, under the feet of thousands of people. What had been “wow, it’s kind of muddy” on Friday became “ankle deep, lose your shoes” by Sunday.

All of the port-a-potties that had been set up on the right side of the park had been long abandoned by anyone wearing shoes, so the lines at the port-a-potties on the left side were twice as long, turning the walkways into pedestrian parking lots. Ditto the food stands. A trip to buy a 5 dollar slice of pizza was more of a fool’s mission that required 20 minutes of negotiating through hordes of wet, poncho-clad seething humanity.

Never mind that the port-a-potties were alternating with said food stands. 20 feet of toilets, 20 feed of food, and so on. The olfactory result was a generalized potpourri of urine, fried pork products, and elephants (the mud). The port-a-potty company provided a small bay of port-a-sinks, but they were completely unused, save for the people using the sinks to WASH THEIR FEET.

Yes, some people had given up entirely on the whole “wearing shoes in public” thing. I don’t know whether to applaud their practicality or be horrified and their apparent lack of concern for glass, nails, and whatever bacteria were living in the mud. I don’t know about you, but if there’s a port-a-potty even visible, I feel like I need a hazmat suit made of Purell-lubricated condoms.

It’s over-dramatic to compare this to some kind of Mad Maxian apocalypse, but stay with me. As the day wore on, these seething, stinking, portly, dripping, leg-of-something-eating masses of 311, Hinder, and Snoop Dogg fans…GOT DRUNK.

I don’t know how many Hinder fans you know, I don’t know WHO is still listening to 311 (people with time machines who have come from 1997?), but I know this: these are not people you want to have invading your personal space. Emo kids, I can handle. We’re musical cousins, I can beat the crap out of them, and they’re just so damned pitiful when they’re sopping wet. Not Hinder fans. I can’t fathom that life choice. On the “Amy is bewildered by this behavior” scale, they fall between people who are homophobic and people who think the Holocaust didn’t happen. (Note: there’s probably a lot of overlap between the three groups.)

After leaving the relative safety of the baby-boomer-filled Blues Tent, I ventured down the long, muddy path, determined to suck it up and get something to drink and use the bathroom. Yes, I would pay 4 dollars for a 12-ounce lemonade. I would drink it and try not to think about how it was prepared next to a port-a-potty. Maybe I’d get crazy and EAT something too. Yes, I would stand in a line in the middle of a crowded walkway with the hope of eventually getting to urinate into an over-sized Rubbermaid container. Because these things, they tell me, are how it goes when you want to rock.

Somewhere in the middle of the 30-minute trek to cover 100 feet, I began to ask myself “what would have to happen when FOB take the stage 3 hours from now to make this whole thing worth it? What would make this fun?” My answer:

“Prince would show up, give me a post-show bubble bath, and promise me that I’d never have to do this again.”

This seemed a little unlikely.

When I finally peed and got a drink, I did so at a gas station outside of Memphis. By the time FOB were done with their set, I was almost home. The 3-hour drive took 4.5 hours because of heavy rain and standing water, so I ended up being very glad I wasn’t making said drive three hours later. Was this a lot of time and money for nothing? On the surface, yes, but I think a valuable lesson was learned. Actually more than one:

1. Festival shows result in the mingling of social groups that were never meant to mingle (i.e. me and anyone who enjoys “Lips of an Angel”)

2. No more outdoor shows, unless said show involves Prince.

3. Wet naps and Purell are as important as sunblock. Well, almost.

4. Sturgis boots ARE waterproof to the ankle and worth every penny.

5. In certain circumstances, I am capable of murder. (Note: I’m pretty sure the judge would let me off on the “311 defense.”)

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