No Tailgate For Albuquerque Parrot Heads

Parking lot tailgating parties have been part of the concert landscape for years.  But Parrot Heads holding tickets for Jimmy Buffett’s concert in Albuquerque, N.M., next week will need to look elsewhere for their “Cheeseburgers In Paradise.”

Buffett is scheduled to play the Isleta Amphitheater Oct. 20.  But horror upon horrors, the parking lot won’t even open until two hours before the show, hardly enough time to elevate one’s spiritual vibe and become one with the Margaritaville universe.

Photo: Matt Sayles / Invision / AP
"Jurassic World" premiere after party, Los Angeles, Calif.

But don’t blame the venue, or promoter Live Nation.  According to the Albuquerque Journal, a Live Nation rep said a state law prohibits drinking potent potables in public parking lots while a Bernalillo County ordinance bans open containers in motor vehicles.  The venue is county-owned and leased by LN, according to the Journal.

So what’s a Parrot Head to do?  Tailgating before a Buffett concert is considered by fans to be an integral part of the whole experience.  Colin Howard, who happens to be the president of Parrot Heads Of New Mexico, told the paper that the festivities often begin eight to 10 hours before show time and that Buffett often sends a camera crew deep into the party to shoot scenes that will be shown on a big screen during Buffett’s performance.

How necessary are those tailgate parties?  In 2011, the Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Va. (then operating under the Jiffy Lube Live moniker) initiated a no-tailgating policy, prompted by four after-concert deaths during the previous two years that were attributed to drunk driving, according to USA Today.  When Buffett played Jiffy Lube he found himself looking out at aisles and aisles of empty seats in a venue that holds just more than 23,000.

But there were more factors involved than just the absence of a seemingly endless party.  The show was originally scheduled for Aug. 27 – a Saturday night.  However, Hurricane Irene resulted in the concert being moved to Sept. 1 – a Thursday evening. 

Although Buffett told USA Today that only 300 fans complained about the anti-tailgate policy, he attributed Hurricane Irene for 10,000 ticketholders asking for refunds.

Regardless of the reasons for the light turnout at Buffett’s 2011 Jiffy Lube Live show, the venue reversed its decision in January 2012. Venue GM Matt Rogers told the Washington Post that it was discontented fans that led to the change in policy.

Photo: Josh White / The Washington Post
Jimmy Buffett Concert at no-tailgating-allowed Jiffy Lube Amphitheatre in Bristow, Va.

“Fan feedback is critical to help improve our operations and create the best possible concert experience for our fans,” Rogers told the Post.  “The decision was made after listening to our fans and doing our due diligence.”

Meanwhile, back in Albuquerque, ticketholders do have a Plan B.  Parrot Heads of New Mexico’s Howard told the Journal that Buffett’s fans have partnered with the First Turn Lounge and Patio at the Downs Racetrack and Casino to hold a pre-party. What’s more, Howard says he’s expecting Buffett’s film crew to attend. Just like old times.

“You’ll still see people dressed up in grass skirts or like Carmen Miranda or pirates or other characters in Jimmy Buffett songs,” Howard told the Journal.

Those fans should feel at home. The newspaper reports that the menu for the pre-party includes “Parrot Punch, Margaritaville margaritas, teriyaki chicken sandwiches, and, of course, Cheeseburgers In Paradise.”