Heading out to a summer concert? TUCKER HOTTES has a few tailgating tips


The art of the tailgate
Well into the swing of the summer concert season, we’ve got a few more shows and festivals hitting the area before things start to cool down. I’ve got a couple shows under my belt already this season, and I’m still looking forward to a few more before concerts start moving indoors to arenas and other such venues. One essential part of my concert-going experience — and one I hope you enjoy, as well — is the lengthy tailgates before the doors to the show open.
It started back in college when most of us took the opportunity to waste as much time and beer as possible — just a substitute for the regular partying we might have been skipping in order to attend a concert. Since then, for many reasons, tailgates have remained an important tradition for me and many of my friends. Sure, we’ll probably bring a few beers or cocktails along, but it’s a far cry from the debauchery of days past. I never really had an issue, but I know many a story of people who never made it inside the venue, or couldn’t remember a single thing about the show. This week, I’m presenting a few tailgating tips, tricks, and ideas I’ve learned through the years — but the most important things to remember are to be safe, have fun and remember to be respectful to others.

The Canopy
For years, we spent summers ogling other tailgaters and the array of canopies, from the duct-tape and PVC rigs, to the ultralight fancy ones, to the steel behemoths that stand while others crumple in the elements. Whether it’s the show with the pouring rain, or the one with the hours of oppressive 95-degree heat, there’s nothing worse than being the group without shelter. Buying a canopy (I got my basic EZ-UP on sale for around $80) was one of the best things I’ve done, and it’s tagged along on camping trips as a bonus. Whatever you do, though, set it up and take it down at home before you get to the venue. You don’t want to be the ones everyone is staring at while you struggle to read directions in the wind and rain.

Sure, you’ll want to pack a cooler with some soda, water (and more water, and even more water — stay hydrated and remember the wait at the end of the night!), and some adult beverages. That’s fine, but don’t be flagrant. Grab those plastic cups, stash your empties in the garbage bags you brought (don’t litter), and for the love of everything holy, NO GLASS.

Fancy Tailgates
Every once in a while, if you know you’ll have the time, it’s fun to run some fancy tailgates. For example, one year I made several of my gourmet stuffed burgers ahead of time, and threw them on the grill instead of the frozen hockey pucks we usually bring. I’ve seen everything from full smokers to nearly gourmet meals served. The sky’s the limit, and with a little creativity tailgates can be as nice as a fancy backyard BBQ.
Remember, you’re joining a big, public group when you tailgate, so be respectful and try to make friends with your neighbors. Happy tailgates, I’ll see you out there in the lots!

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