Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Dave Matthews and Friends Cruise

Here's a post I made on WeeklyDavespeak.
From WeeklyDavespeak:

I dreaded looking at the message boards today, because I had such a GREAT time on the cruise and listening to everyone whine was getting old . . . I was so happy to see that most of the comments posted are positive.

Was it poorly organized? Yes.
Was the "private" island not really private, but just the well-known Paradise Island? Yes.
Did it take forever to catch the tenders over to the island? For some, yes. For others, no.
Were there long lines for things there shouldn't have been (drink/food tickets, and then the actual drink/food)? Yes.
Did the weather suck? Yes.
Did the weather really, really suck? Yes.


We were on the Sovereign. We left around 4:15 to catch the 4:30 tender, and were on the island by 5:00. (Some friends were on later tenders, and it did take them much longer . . . but they nevertheless arrived before the concert started). After I stood in a long ticket line for a long time without even a few feet of forward movement, my husband got creative and paid someone at the front of the line to buy some tickets for us. The drink line was long, but moved relatively quickly. I was disappointed that the only drink choices were beer and wine -- I think the Atlantis could have made a killing if they'd served mixed drinks -- but hey, I was gonna see Dave -- I was happy. And when one of the tenders arrived carrying more fans, my husband got creative again and got on the tender after everyone had disembarked and bought a bottle of rum from the bartender on the tender. Problem solved!

There were a lot of angry people on the island because of the tender/drinks issues, but once the concert started, all appeared to be forgotten. There was Dave -- I mean, really, THERE WAS DAVE -- RIGHT IN FRONT OF US -- SO INCREDIBLY CLOSE! There wasn't a bad spot on the beach, and everywhere I looked people were singing, dancing, making new friends, just having a ball.

And then the rains came . . . and came . . . and came . . . I live in Florida, and have been through 2 hurricane seasons so far, and even I was amazed at the amount of rain that came . . .

But did it dampen our spirits?? NO WAY! For most of us, the rain just seemed to add to the wacky, craziness of the evening.

As Dave and the other musicians left the stage, many started to ditch the island to head back to the cruise ships, but others headed to the beer tents to weather the storm. Plastic bags were passed out for everyone to don, and in some tents, the vendors felt bad enough for us to hand out free beers. Despite being drenched and frozen to the bone, everyone in the tents was laughing and goofing and living it up. We had no intentions of bailing if and until someone came back out on the stage to tell us that the concert for over. Much time passed, and we were rewarded for our efforts . . . the rains let up, and some of us spied activity up on the stage. We took off from under the tents and ran to the stage just in time to see Dave coming out and taking a seat right at the edge with guitar in hand. Even when I was in the 2nd row of a concert at Madison Square Garden, I was not this close! It was absolutely amazing . . . .

The night continued -- we continued to sing and party as if the rain had never happened, except now we were wet but a lot closer to the stage!

When it ended, Dave kept making the comment that "maybe I'll have to 'get on the boats' . . .!" I knew then that he wouldn't just say that unless he intended to do it. This feeling was confirmed when after he left the stage, and everyone was screaming "one more song!", one of the stagehands said, "Don't worry, you'll see him again tonight" Wink, wink.

My friends and I were in the last boat to finally leave the island (yes, there was even a line to get off of the island at the end of the evening). But no one cared -- the partying continued. Some played in the water, despite the cold. We made more friends, took more pictures . . .

When we arrived back at the dock where the cruise ships were, we looked like lost refugees . . . As we entered the boat, we received hot chocolate, not beer (maybe that was the earlier groups who came back, or the Majesty folks?). One of the boat's officers was greeting us, and I asked him where Dave would be on the boat. He said "Dave's not staying on the boat" and I said, "I know, but where is he playing?" and he quietly said -- "Go to the Follies", which is the name of the largest music venue on the ship.

We returned to our rooms, took a quick hot shower to thaw our bodies, and headed to the Follies. The doors opened, we ran down to the front, and a bit later, we were once again rewarded for our troubles --- DAVE came on stage and it was like watching him in a small, smoky bar. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. My only regret is that I didn't get a center stage seat, because he shook the hands of those in the center at the end. But I can't complain about my spot on the side -- still right in front of the stage. I'm still smiling . . . . Thank you, thank you, thank you, DAVE!! You proved you were everything I thought and MORE.

The next day was interesting, to say the least. At breakfast, you could tell just by looking at someone's face whether they'd seen the whole thing (all 3 parts) or not. Some people were pissed -- and I'm sure I would have been too -- but in the end, I think I would have blamed myself for not sticking it out. Yet even the angry people chilled as the day went on. They started playing DMB on the pool deck, and because we couldn't go to Coco Cay (because the seas were too rough), everyone ended up at the pool drinking and dancing and just being silly. I suspect we all had much more fun than we would have had on Coco Cay, where everyone probably would have split up. Instead, the whole ship (or a large part of it) partied together on the pool deck listening to Dave.

To all of you who were there, THANK YOU FOR CONTRIBUTING TO AN INCREDIBLE TIME! It'll take a lot to top this one . . .
Life handed us lemons, and some of us made lemonade . . . And boy oh boy, was it GOOD!