My alarm went off at 5:30AM but I had already been awake, pretending like I was actually getting rest like a little kid the day before Christmas. Another year had passed and it was finally time to hop on a plane to the fucked up state known as Florida for five full days of partying and debauchery known collectively as Pre-Fest and Fest.
The flight to Florida was a blur of sleeping and post-Baltimore layover drunkeness. By the time we landed in Tampa at around 2:00PM, I was feeling pretty damn good after finishing off four out of five 3oz shampoo bottles filled with Evan Williams whiskey mixed with some sweet tea. Time to party. Our power couple, Lindsey and Amanda, grabbed us from the airport and we b-lined to an alcohol store and a Target to stock up on snacks and booze for the weekend. It took an entire luggage cart to haul our treasures up to our second floor room at the Hampton Inn in Ybor.
This year was different from the last Fests I had previously attended. Normally I had enough money saved by this point to throw caution and Hamilton’s to the wind and do whatever I wanted to do. But not this year. This year I had zero cash and a minimum credit limit. But I was still determined to make the best of a poor situation. After finishing a drink in the hotel room, I realized we were about to go out into the real world where we were going to have to overpay for our drinks. I opened a small bag of Funyuns, the kind you get in a pack of twelve or so various flavors, and realized that it makes a good flask. Small, inconspicuous, and it won’t leak. I ate whatever Funyuns there were as fast as possible and then poured some of the handle of Jameson we bought into the empty bag. So far so good. I mixed it with some Dr. Pepper for our patented Dr. Jameo’s, grabbed a straw, and went to town. Minus a tiny bit of Funyuns dust, my experiment in on-the-go alcoholism was a success!
Our first stop in Ybor was what we dubbed “Bad Copy Headquarters” aka Centro Cantina aka the legendary Freezy drink bar. I started off with the classic “Suicide,” or if your not familiar with 7-11 soda fountain terminology, the one where you just mix them all together in one cup. I put down my Funyuns bag of alcohol and discovered the only flaw in my plan as it tipped over and spilled everywhere. Luckily, this was at the end and it was time to go to the second stop, mother fucking Gametime, home of half priced happy hour and the Plucky Ducky claw machine.
A solid three hours flew past as friends from all over the world stopped by and won some rubber ducks and had some drinks. Unfortunately this wasn’t the reason we were all in the dong of the USA, and it was time to go to work. I had a choice between going and seeing Red City Radio and City Mouse, but after seeing the line to get into The Orpheum for RCR, decided on City Mouse at the Crowbar. A bonus was I didn’t have to leave the venue to see the next band on my list, Caskitt. I had recently learned this was going to be one of the last times they would be playing, so despite what anyone said, I was going to be there… and throw ducks at them as they played.
Next up was Direct Hit! back at the Orpheum. We had a superfluous amount of werewolf ducks to toss, but they never played “Werewolf Shame.” A little disappointed, we made our way back to the Freezy drink bar after their set for a quick break. The sleepies began to set in as I went back to the Crowbar for The Murderburgers, but luckily Jesse Hernandez from Caskitt was still lurking around the venue and offloaded a bunch of PBRs onto Kendra and myself. Kendra gave hers to Nik Mitic, and I could barely finish mine before the half an hour set was over. We abandoned the third PBR to get back to The Orpheum for Against Me! I watched them play three or four songs before I absolutely had to throw in the towel. I saw my girlfriend Kaylin leaving the venue, and I caught up to her. We both had the same things on our mind, pizza, and sleep.
The first day of Pre-Fest was over for us, and god damn it, we still had four more days of this.