Jimmy Buffett & the Coral Reefer Band
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion/International Space Station
May 28, 2015
So, I learned last night that DayQuil, humidity and Jimmy Buffett don't mix all that well. After trying to knock down an early-Summer fever with the powers of pharmaceuticals, I set out to hang out with the Parrotheads, Mr. Buffett, and his Coral Reefer Band at the Woodlands Pavilion. It did not end well. Read: I fainted. And then nearly died of embarrassment.
But I'll get to that. This little sick-as-a-dog concert-review experiment may have taught us that DayQuil and heat don't mix well, but I also learned another important fact: Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band, NASA, and thousands of fans wearing foam Landshark hats are the perfect summer combination, should one not be feverish and hacking up a lung. Yes, we said NASA.
You see, Thursday night's show was not only Jimmy Buffett's 20th visit to Houston — a city he sure seems to know a lot about, what with his Buffalo Bayou references and Rockets shout-outs — it was also broadcast into space. The concert was taped and then shared with unabashed Parrothead and spaceman Terry Virts, as well as the other astronauts aboard the ISS via Margaritaville TV.
Virts even appeared at one point during the show, complete with an Astros T-shirt (go 'Stros!) and talked to the audience about getting involved in outer space. But what with the hardcore Parrothead tailgating that takes place before each Buffett show, most of the audience members were probably already well on another planet.
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It may have been the first time a Buffett show was transmitted into space, but Buffett, hopping onstage barefoot and full of energy in his "Mardi Gras" purple shorts and a bright yellow tee, showed no signs of nerves. They launched into "Ragtop Day" with the ease one has come to expect from the most laid-back band on the planet (or apparently now on other planets, too), the Caribbean vibe thicker than the Houston humidity.
Buffett, a truly charismatic performer, knows just how to rile up those already-rowdy Parrotheads, and pulls out all the stops on his yearly tours. But Buffett performs with 11 other musicians onstage — a steel drum here, swaying backup singers there — all of whom he seems greatly indebted to for his storied career.
And, of course, as always, Buffett and his band carried the night without a misstep. One after another, the fan favorites — "Come Monday," "Son of a Sailor," and "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere," his perfect Alan Jackson duet — were fired out at the audience, and the sea of shark-finned fans ate it up.
Rather, I can attest to them eating it up for as long as we were coherent, anyway. While I was able to play along with my seatmates during "Fins" — Buffett's song about the sharks circling, in which the audience plays along with coordinated (and oft terribly timed) dance moves — about midpoint during the show (during Buffett's brilliant cover of Lyle Lovett's "If I Had a Boat," no less) my pesky summer fever came back with a vengeance.
While everyone else screamed along in their Hawaiian shirts and raised their cocktails high, the sound of the music started to fade in and out in my ears — a sure sign that shit just ain't right — and I raised not my cocktails, but myself out of the chair to try and get out of the aisle before eating serious pavement. Unfortunately, I did not make it.
Perhaps it was the massive crushing and swaying of bodies — those Buffett concerts sell out well in advance, and every seat is filled — or the overwhelming amount of screaming happening as Buffett belted out that impeccable Lovett cover, but whatever it was, I was consumed with the vapors, and passed out not once but twice, trying to make it out of the seats (and those sharks) alive. All while this show was being filmed to be blasted into space. Awesome.
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And I didn't really come around before the show ended, either. After passing out and being wheeled into the medical area by some seriously patient EMTs, I spent the rest of Buffett's concert sprawled out on a naugahyde chair, horrified with the night's events. Luckily, that medical area ain't too far from Buffett's show, and I heard the screams over "Jolly Mon" and a Crosby, Stills and Nash cover from my new seat, though I didn't get to actually see the rest of the show. Still, if the screams and what little I could hear of Buffett during that second half were any indication, he — as always — pleased those Parrotheads quite well.
So yeah. The show — what I saw of it — wound up being so good it probably almost killed me. Maybe next year I'll just watch the prerecorded version with Virts in the International Space Station instead. It's probably safer.
Personal Bias: I've always wanted to be an official member of the Parrothead club. I'm pretty sure my seatmates will never vote me in now. Lame.
The Crowd: Regular customers of Tommy Bahama. These folks live in Bermuda shorts.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Do these motherfuckers EVER sit down?!"
Random Notebook Dump: Dear seatmates, I am horrified. I hope nobody spilled their overpriced drink trying to catch me, but considering about eight sets of arms came at me, chances are good that someone did. I'd buy you another one, but I'm kind of scared that next time I hang out with y'all, it will actually kill me.