I grew up going to Memphis in May concerts. I went to the free ones on the riverfront and I went to the ticketed events on Mud Island. I drove myself or rode with friends, but I was unsupervised and underage. The events on the river were casual and the police presence was very low key. People wore shorts and t-shirts or they ran around in swimsuits. Everyone sat on blankets and brought a cooler. There was a lot of underage drinking on Mud Island and a slightly smaller amount among the people who brought their own coolers. The music was louder than the people, but everyone was able to talk without screaming. There were food vendors everywhere, even walking through the crowds. The entire area smelled like bbq. The worst part of the events was that you ALWAYS got a sunburn.
We stumbled into the Sundown in the City area last week just to peek at the party. The crowds wandering in and out of the gated area seemed sober and happy. The gates were not to control crowds or charge admission, they were just a controlled way to search what was being brought into the area. This was a ‘buy it from us,’ not a ‘bring a cooler’ event. Once you made it into the gated area, the crowds were absolutely elbow to elbow. It was a giant moshpit, except in moshpits every single person isn’t dangling a cigarette from their fingers. I wonder how many burns were treated in the first aid area that evening. I felt under dressed in my jeans and tank top. Women were wearing heels and going clubbing dresses. Breastfeeding women show less skin than the teenage girls at Sundown. The elbow to elbow conditions worked well for conversations, because talking involved putting your lips to someone’s ear and screaming. It was so loud that the music was almost indistinguishable from the roar of the mass of people screaming at each other. I didn’t have the courage to shove my way down the sidewalk in search of a restaurant that wasn’t elbow to elbow. We ended up going to Cumberland for food. The worst part of the event was that we took our children. The best part was that we learned not to allow our teenagers to attend.