Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, N.J. rarely sees a quiet night, and Friday, May 12, 2017 was no exception. Rock band Mayday Parade put on a 19-song concert for the night’s sold out crowd.
My sister and I were part of that crowd, which held around 2,500 people of all ages.
The concert was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., but people were lined up well before then. By the time we arrived after 6:30 p.m., the line to get in edged the parking lot all the way up to the road even before they started letting people in.
As we approached the doors, a security guard split the line into people over 21 and those too young to drink. My sister and I are under 21, so security sent us to the line in front of the building. Those of legal drinking age entered into the bar area, the only spot in the building permitting alcohol.
Minors walked through metal detectors and people over 21 were scanned with wands. Security gave legal drinkers Bud Light wrist bands and marked an “X” on the right hand of those who cannot legally drink.
Once inside, there was a corridor where employees sold band merchandise. Everything was above $20, so there weren’t many people eager to spend more money. The hall emptied out into the main ballroom, which looked more like a nightclub during concerts with a more adult audience. Spotlights and laser-lights protruded from the ceiling on either side of the stage, but the wings were prepared with normal recessive lights for more tranquil events.
Freshman Angela Gugliotta says, “The Starland Ballroom is one of my favorite venues! Since it’s small and has no reserved seating, everyone has the same chance of getting to the front row. It just depends on how long you want to camp out in the parking lot.”
By the time most people, including myself, were inside the main room, the first opening band, The Milestones, were nearly finished with their set. By this time, people separated into those willing to be crushed in the crowd and those in the wings looking for a less rowdy group, as most small venues tend to be clamorous.
As the second band, Knuckle Puck, took the stage, the floor crowd surged forward, and as the set progressed, a circle pit formed in the center back. More enthusiastic attendees were lifted above the crowd toward the front in a traditional crowd-surf. A few people and I lifted a girl over the crowd, but unluckily the same girl kicked me in the head on her way up, not unexpectedly.
The crew took a 40 minute intermission between Knuckle Puck and Mayday Parade to prepare the stage, lighting, and sound check. During this time, a slideshow highlighted the upcoming 2017 summer performances and advertised local businesses, including IHOP, which was meet with more cheers than any other advertisement, even for Mayday Parade themselves.
The band opened their set list with one of my personal favorites, “Jamie All Over.” As a tribute to their 10-year-old-album, they included every song from the album on their setlist. The concert in its entirety lasted about four hours, ending around 11 p.m.
Mayday Parade is a rock band from Tallahassee, F.L. 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of their debut studio album, “A Lesson in Romantics,” giving cause for the year’s tour. The members include Derek Sanders, Alex Garcia, Brooks Betts, Jeremy Lenzo, and Jake Bundrick.
Junior Nina Carey says, “I like and respect Mayday Parade because they don’t rely of cursing and sexual appeal to sell music. Their lyrics tell a story and that’s why people can relate to them.”
The songs “Terrible Things” and “Yesterday” were both played at a slower tempo and were accompanied by lighters and flashlights as per tradition with most venues and bands. Mayday Parade covered “Yesterday,” originally written and composed by the Beatles.
With less than an hour left, we decided to give crowd-surfing a try. Crowd-surfing is quite simple if not a bit risky if you want to hold on to all of your belongings. I kept my property in my zippered jacket pockets.
In order to get on top of the crowd of people, one must simply find two tall people, get their attention, and then point up. Usually they will get the idea and lift said person. If all goes well, the people in front will pass the person along. That’s what my sister and I did, as there had been two very tall men standing in front of us the entire time. If we couldn’t see, at least we could crowd-surf.
The best way to crowd-surf is to stay stiff as a board and just let the people below pass you along. The security guards at the front by the stage will pick you up fireman-style and put you down behind the gate, where you run back off into the crowd.
As I discovered shortly after getting flipped over the gate, finding my sister was very difficult once we had been separated. We made our way back to where we started and bumped into each other about five minutes later. I found out that we ended up on opposite sides of the room, which happens quite often.
After the 18th song, the band left the stage. This was followed by minutes of cheers for an encore and the audience chanted, “One more song!” The band came out and played the song “Oh Well, Oh Well” to end the night.
Overall, the concert was a fantastic experience. The crowd was very diverse, apart from the shared feature of liking the music. In comparison to the fun and adrenaline one would experience at a general admission concert like this, the hours of sweat and deafening music seems almost blissful. My sister and I left feeling “pumped up” with our ears ringing. Waiting in line, buying tickets, and trying to find a parking space were all worth the wait for the fantastic music, venue, and all-encompassing experience.
Would you ever attend a general admissions concert like this? What are the best types of venues for concerts? Overall, what is the best part of attending a concert?