Staff Column: Local girl braves Dew Tour concert, has fun, not mugged

Date Published: 
July 11, 2014

When I heard that rock band Cage the Elephant was performing a free concert at the Dew Tour in Ocean City, my coworkers can tell you that I flipped out. I’ve wanted to see them at all costs, and here was a concert at no cost!

With no one available to join me, I rode the bus down from 144th Street in Ocean City to the Ocean City Boardwalk. (My friend recommended I bring a bazooka if riding the city buses alone. I brought pepper spray and a very sharp pencil.)

Strains of “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” and “Shake Me Down” slipped through my head all week as I planned the schedule: ride bus, arrive an hour early, stand by stage.

That flew to pieces when a cop told concertgoers, “No purses, no backpacks!”

No purses?

No. They forbade every meager pouch of fabric on a string.

There were no public lockers. My car was 40 minutes away in a parking lot. I didn’t know any residents or shopkeepers.

“Maybe a hotel will hold it for you,” the cop said.

I doubted it. Aren’t people as paranoid about mysterious packages and bombs as I am?

Other options:

• Bury bag in a Jesus sand sculpture.

• Bury bag in a boardwalk flowerpot.

• Give bag to police lost and found, then claim it later.

Risks:

• Someone might dig it up.

• The police might be angry and somehow charge me with false report.

Desperate, I decided to hide it in a dark parking garage. But on a whim, I stepped into the nearest business instead.

I told the employees of my plight, and they kindly expressed indignation at such a rule.

“I guess it’s for safety,” I said. “People could bring anything in. Actually, I have pepper spray, so it makes sense.”

After grabbing my license and health insurance card (yes, I left my credit cards with a stranger), I skipped merrily into the concert, passing other deserted backpacks on the beach.

I found myself about 10 feet from stage, where we all waited for an hour.

After 15 minutes, people were antsy. They began throwing things, including glow sticks, flip-flops and each other (at least it wasn’t tacos, which I have experienced).

After 30 minutes, kids were crowd-surfing, and all I could think was “How’s he gonna get back to his friends?” and “Will she break her neck when people inevitably drop her?”

I didn’t personally get any crowd-surfers until later. (A nearby crowd had refused to catch anyone, acting as a seawall that waves of crowd-surfers broke upon.) But my neighbors were still uninterested in passing people around, so I wound up physically catching a few folks. (And, no, they did not get back to their friends very quickly.)

But you know who did crowd surf successfully? Lead singer Matt Schultz.

When Cage the Elephant took the stage, he did everything a rocker should: danced, stomped, swished his hair, ran around topless and leapt into the crowd for the finale.

The people loved it.

He crowd-surfed within 2 feet of me.

I loved it.

I always wondered if I could handle the summertime sweat of the front-row of a concert, and the verdict is yes (preferably with a nighttime sea breeze).

I don’t mind sweating next to people, or getting stepped on, or (mostly) being nudged by people unsure of what to do with their hands (that question plagues me, too, but that doesn’t mean I’ll try to hold your waist).

I was terrified of the cigarettes being passed around in front of me, but only because of my conviction that someone would bump into my face.

But I came away unscathed, and my purse was right where I’d left it. So, thank you to the kindness of strangers who guarded my belongings and to the Dew Tour for bringing such a killer concert to O.C.