Well, got to say, Bader Field is fulfilling its potential as a music festival venue with nary a brush of dirt off its shoulders. It's a little dusty, lots of dirty feet in flip flops, and the tarmac gets a little hot, but honestly, it's a beautiful venue for the Dave Matthews Caravan. See photos and pictures at twitter.com/amysrosenberg and more to be posted here in a few. People are here from all over, and seem charmed by the walk over the Albany Avenue Bridge (one Michicgan group lost their hacky-sack in the bay when the bridge was up ("What river is that?" they said.) Knife and Fork at Pacific and Ventnor set up a two-buck budweiser stand on their porch, people were tailgating at the parking lot at the Boardwalk and Albany. Beautiful view of Atlantic City, the old baseball stadium. All that and Guapos Tacos. Carolina Chocolate Drops had the distinction of performing Bader Field's first ever encore with a rousing Sourwood Mountain. Looking forward to Head and Heart and Ray LaMontaigne and the Flaming Lips. And, I suppose, the Dave Matthews Band. Great use for an old municipal airport, and hopefully more to come.
Happy Dave Day! Yes, the much anticipated experiment in hosting-cool for everyone's favorite down and out but not dead and possibly coming back beachside resort, Atlantic City, begins today, day one of the Dave Matthews Band Caravan at Bader Field, just off Route 40 heading into town. Here's a link to the schedule each day (Inquirer music critic Dan DeLuca recommends today as your best bet, I like Sunday as well).
How will Atlantic City hold up under the pressure of 30,000 blissed out DMB fans coming to town? Will the defunct municipal airport Bader Field take the first step toward becoming the iconic music venue that I, for one, feel must be its ultimate destiny? Bader Field, man! It just sounds right. Historically, Atlantic City has a mixed record as far as big events go, with the boondoggle historically the 1964 Democratic Convention, which history has recorded as the moment the world discovered that the once-grand vacation spot had turned into a seedy mess. It took decades, and casino legislation, to recover.
But this seems like a happy vibe. Mayor Lorenzo Langford, so breezily dismissed by Gov. Christie when he engineered a state takeover of tourism in town, gets kudos for negotiating to secure the DMB Caravan for his town, one of just four venues across the country to be so Dave-blessed. Mayor Langford had a vision, and I think his own easy-going nature will rule the weekend. Crowd estimates are somewhat lower than originally thought (30,000 a day not 70,000 a day, and nowhere near the AirShow's 750,000), but that hasn't stopped entrepreneurs (below) from trying to squeeze a little dough, parking or otherwise, out of concert goers. Still plenty of parking at the Pathmark Shopping Center on West End Avenue, just south of the concert gate, and I just drove back from Mays Landing along the Black Horse Pike and there was no traffic at all. So there, local grumblers. Should be cool to watch it all unfold, great to see life at Bader Field, Ferris Wheel, Craft Beer, music and happy people. Will Dave Matthews be our new Miss America? Hey, why not. More to come.