Sunday, July 8, 2018
If you like standing for hours in the hot sun to get through the gate, and several more hours waiting for the music to start, you’ll just love The Stone Pony’s Summer Stage.
While my experiences this week might not be the prime example of how the outdoor arena in Asbury Park is run, it certainly was the experience hundreds of us got to enjoy when we braved in-season traffic from Northern New Jersey to see South Side Johnny perform in historical home turf.
There are huge differences between the indoor and outdoor venues at the Stone Pony.
For one, the indoor performances generally start on time.
Gauging from the performance scheduled to start at 5 p.m., the Summer Stage clearly runs on what is sometimes called “Rock and Roll Time.” This means the music starts hours later than the ticket claims.
And this isn’t even the main act, but a cheesy immigration of the classic movie band, The Commitments, an egotistical, over the top, slopping band with too many members, all of questionable talent, pausing in Asbury Park on their national tour to torture other more remote parts of America.
The other significant difference between the indoor and outdoor venues is the access. The indoor concerts allow you to come and go. With the outdoor venue, you are largely trapped in what amounts to a large parking lot with seating for the handicapped only, a kind of tailgate party without the tailgate or the coolers.
This is part of the outdoor venue’s charm. You are trapped for hours sometimes with mothering more to do than drink overpriced alcohol and devour an unhealthy seaside menu – which is probably the intention of management and from which it derives its most significant profits. While some clever people waiting our line for hours prior to the 5 p.m. start time wisely sent friends or family off elsewhere to purchase liquid libations or finger food, most are not so wise and wait until the gate finally opens where an army of vendors bearing overpriced drink and food wait patiently for the participants, and since the music still won’t start for hours even after the gates open, many consume a lot of alcohol – which man be the best way to fully appreciate the experience since it numbs you against the fact that you are being taken to the cleaners.
Although most of those who come bear cellular telephones with which they can take photos as mementoes of the occasion, anyone bearing a legitimate camera (including a professional journalist) is either asked to leave or required to check their equipment with coat clerk to be picked up after the event is over (and charged a fee for the privilege.) Apparently, management has given exclusive photographic privileges to particular local photographers for its events.
Fire code limits the number of people who can attend both indoor and outdoor events. Since management can stuff in many more people in the outdoor arena than it can indoors, the tickets are somewhat significantly cheaper. But do not feel too sorry for management since they make up the difference by high priced foods and drink.
This standing around for hours on hot asphalt with almost nothing to do is nothing unique to the Pony’s summer stage. I enjoyed similar accommodations recently at the Fourth of July festivities in Jersey City recently where people were corralled into pens where they waited for hours for the main act to start, unable to come or go, or even get out to get something to drink.
This last was no the Pony’s problem and since so much booze was consumed during the long wait, the audience even seemed to enjoy the long interlude. But fear not, safety was utmost in the Pony’s mind as it provided an army of black-shirted security to make sure the drunken crowd behaved.
True, it has been an old adage that concert going is a young person’s game, allowing individuals with endurance to fully appreciate the hardships associated with going to see live music. In our time, Woodstock and Altamont were good examples, only in this event at the Pony’s summer stage event, the crowd was not young, most hoping to relive old glories of a classic Asbury band. Pony management, however, did not have to issue us Depends with each drink sold (instead of bar napkins,) there were plenty of portable johns within each reach, and these lines were far shorter than the ones we had to wait on to get refills on our drinks.