We knew it was a beautiful sunny day the second we woke up, thanks to a gaping hole in the vinyl siding “curtains” attached to the outside of the Airbnb bedroom windows…
An early start to a long day following a long night that involved a broken phone, delayed flight, 3 laps around the car-horn filled parking lot called “Orlando Flight Arrivals” and finding out the Airbnb was not actually in Cocoa Beach, but in a sketchy, trailer park littered neighborhood across the bridge that was completely closed, including the gas stations, and eerily dark by 11pm.
Well, except for the biker bar that proudly displayed the tagline “We’re a full throttle bar & grill” and had the motorcycles outside to back it up.
But none of that mattered, because we were there for one reason and one reason only: Koe Fuckin’ Wetzel.
Just a few weeks ago, Koe posted a weekend run of shows in Florida (where I live), and before my girlfriend had any time to react, there was a pair of concert tickets and a flight from Virginia (where she lives) with her name on it. We hadn’t been to a concert in 2 years, it was time to pony up and get back in the saddle.
First things first, breakfast. We hopped in the car and drove over to actual Cocoa Beach, which has way more than a Full Throttle Tavern and 9-5 gas stations, where we found a breakfast spot. Just coffee to start the day’s beverage consumption, but enough food to feed an army. These people were not messing around with portion sizes.
There was a whole day to kill before the concert, so we headed over to the beach. We picked up a 6-pack of local craft beer, paid 5 bucks to park at some weirdly named Masonic Temple Club (can Florida be normal, just once?), waddled our overly full selves to the beach and crack the first beer of the day.
There were families with little kids all around us, but that didn’t matter, we cranked up Koe loud and proud on the bluetooth speaker, sat down and crushed those beers. They didn’t stand a chance. We were getting ready for Koe Wetzel, nothing was going to stop us.
With the 6-pack and a few hours gone, we packed it up and headed back to the Airbnb, stopping for a Pub Sub (IYKYK), a case of Bud Light Orange and a bottle of Jack Daniels Honey. It was time to turn the day up a notch.
The Airbnb was a converted boathouse, right on a river that flowed out to the Atlantic. Sliding doors opened up to the old concrete boat launch and dock, where there were two chairs looking out over the water. It was a truly gorgeous scene, trees overhanging the dock and running along the edge of the riverbank.
It was also a great place to do some pre-game drinking. Bud Light Oranges went down like water and Jack Daniels Honey is extra dangerous outside and knowing full well that Koe is also getting after it somewhere close by…
I don’t know what time it was when we went out there, but 7 o’clock came pretty damn fast. I went to take another swig of the Jack Honey before calling the Uber, realized it was almost gone. I had done the heavy lifting cause my girlfriend is smarter than me, so I knew I might be in for it tonight. We cleaned up the cans, also more gone than expected, and called the Uber.
Heading out the door I ran through my mental checklist and checked my outfit: Wallet and Phone? Check. Koe Shirt, Jorts, American Flag Converse? All on, let’s go.
As we climbed into the Uber, I remember thinking “I don’t know how I’m still this sober.”
The Uber drops us off, we walked to the entrance, scanned our tickets and went in. Kolby Cooper is already on stage opening the show. “Kolby’s on already? What time is it? How are we late? Where did the day go?”
There were people everywhere. General admission is a nice way of saying a free-for-all, every man for themselves. Instincts kicked in. We were at a concert, we needed a drink.
We walked over to a beer tent and found out they also sold shots, because it’s a Koe Wetzel concert in Florida and this makes sense, so we order what any sane people would: 4 Miller Lites and 2 warm shots of Jim Beam, which were very heavily poured.
I’m no stranger to whiskey shots, but for some reason, this one did not sit well. Maybe I wanted it to be sweet like Jack Honey. Maybe it was the day’s volume of consumption. Maybe it was the warmth of the shot. Maybe I’m not the man I used to be…
All I know is that shot burned like no other and left me standing in the middle of this crowd doing my best not to puke and immediately get thrown out of the concert I just got into. My body said “We deal with a lot of bullshit from you, but is too much” and put me in a de facto timeout. I couldn’t move, could barely breathe.
Good News: I didn’t puke.
Bad News: It absolutely put me over the edge.
My stomach settled in a minute or so, but my brain didn’t. The ground started moving. Pieces of the earth were falling away under my feet, causing me to do little staggers to avoid falling into the pits of the planet. I heard Kolby singing about a night stand, but he could have been singing from heaven and I wouldn’t have know any better…
Fortunately, a cold Miller Lite is known for it’s healing properties, and sipping on one brought me back to reality, or at least some semblance of it. We moved as close to the stage as we could while still having some space and watched the rest of Kolby’s set.
As they changed the stage for Koe, it was time for a bathroom break. My girlfriend is like most girls and thinks she absolutely has to make friends while in line, so next thing you know I’m talking to 2 girls from Alabama who drove all the way over just for the show.
Some guy was pushing a cart of Coors Light cases, we all chanted at him. I talked to two other guys in line who were just here to drink, they had no clue who Koe was (I wonder if they liked the show?) The inside of the porta-potty was remarkably clean for what it was, which really surprised me.
On the way back, we stopped and got 4 more Miller Lites and 2 T-Shirts, tipping heavily on both purchases. What was money anyway?
We made our way back toward the stage, moving closer than last time, cause Koe would be on soon and people were still scattered about, doing whatever they were doing. As far as I knew, we were the only two people there. A group of girls yelled at me for taking up their space, but I didn’t see their name on it and I had just as much right to Koe as they did, so I ignored them.
We ask a couple next to us to take our picture. As we posed, the music started and the lights went down. The man himself was coming on stage. Picture secured, let’s rock. (blocked my girlfriend’s face out because she’s a teacher and apparently you can’t let people know you drink…)
First song, “Sundy or Mundy,” which I totally called he would open with and proceeded to brag to my girlfriend about for the rest of the night. I’m in heaven. The music sounds so good, the show is crazy, the lights are great, I’m in the zone. We’re screaming every word and Koe is absolutely crushing it…
Then… I black out.
Literally have no clue what happened, or how long I was out of it but when I come to I’m face to face with another dude, both of us screaming at each other. What are we fighting over? Did I start this or did he? In my head it was definitely his fault and the people around me seem to agree with that, but why is this happening? It got to the point where people backed up and started filming. This is not good, a fight seems eminent. I need an exit strategy.
Then… I blacked out again.
When I came to, and everyone was happy as a clam singing “Ragweed.”That guy was nowhere to be found and me and the guys around me were all buddy buddy. What happened? How did it stop? Who knows, but hey, looks like it all worked out. I’m a lucky guy.
The rest of the concert was fantastic. Koe crushed it, sang all the songs you’d expect and even broke out an album cut favorite of ours “What You Deserve.” He made everyone laugh with some very Koe one-liners between songs too, like “I don’t have a brother, but if I did he’d probably fuck my girlfriend.” and, after “Drunk Driving”, a very meek “Yeah, don’t drink and drive tonight guys…”
We all went wild at that one.
The concert ended with an encore performance of “February 28th, 2016” which was just as surreal as you’d imagine a Koe Wetzel encore at most people’s first concert in a very long time to be.
One of the best experiences of my life. There were so many little things that happened that are drowned from my memory that I’ll never know, but it was sure as hell a blast.
Next time, maybe I’ll stick to beer though… was almost that guy that interrupts a show and I DO NOT want to be that guy. Everyone has their moment, but still…
Now I need to see Koe in Texas. If Florida was this wild, I can’t even imagine…