Yesterday was the first time I was out at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden, NJ, for a concert (or for anything, really). Months ago, I picked up some tickets for the Beck, Cage the Elephant and Spoon Night Running Tour. It’s always a risky move to plan an outdoor event in the thick of summer. You know it’s either going to be super hot. Or super wet. In this case, it was both.
That venue was interesting, to say the least. The BB&T Pavilion is located just across the river from Penn’s Landing in Philly. Probably the best thing I can say about the place is that it’s pretty easy to get to. If you’re coming in from the PA side, your best bet is to park near the Riverlink Ferry, which will set you back $20 for all-day automated parking, and pick up a round-trip ticket for $11 per passenger. Otherwise you have to pay like $40 for the privilege of fighting traffic in and out of the arena.
The ferry leaves at hour intervals at 1:00, 2:00, and so on, and it comes back at 1:30, 2:30, etc. If you grab a ticket and have some time to kill, just walk south a bit along the river shore and you can find some food vendors, a park with swings and hammocks, and even a little arcade.
Or, if you’d rather, you can tour some nautical vessels or head to the Seaport Museum.
Once you get over the river on the scenic ferry ride, you really ought to stick around the immediate area surrounding the pavilion or park. Just outside of that is um… pretty fucking rough. We walked around the stadium and there’s really not a whole lot going on other than some run-down houses, a liquor store, and the 76ers Training facility.
Although after a short walk to the north, we found the Victor’s Pub, which was good and cheap and, best of all, it was very well air conditioned.
We stayed there for beers and cheesesteaks until about an hour before the concert started and then walked back to the pavilion. One of the cool things about that place is they allow you to bring in up to a gallon of water (sealed), a gallon-sized ziplock bag of food, a blanket or very low lawn chair, and an umbrella or ponchos, and even a backpack to carry it all, subject to search of course.
Security is decent, as well. They have metal detectors at the entrances and processed people rather quickly.
I’d for sure take advantage of the snacks and water allowance, because beer, drinks and food at the venue is absolutely bonkers expensive. I’m not proud of it, but I paid $15 for one large 24oz can of Leinenkugel. Good lord.
Like I mentioned earlier, summer is just so unpredictable. Even up until the day before the concert, the forecast only had maybe a 10% chance of rain anytime that day. But just after the opener (Sunflower Bean, quite good) the sky opened for 30 minutes, drenching anyone out in the lawn, including me.
I didn’t mind it too much, it cooled things off and, well, there was going to be plenty of time before the end of the concert to dry off. I do wish I would have brought a large umbrella, or a poncho. Something to keep in mind in case I find myself there, again.
Spoon was great. Cage the Elephant was mesmerizing. Beck was fantastic. But 4 songs into his set, the torrents returned, your could see a vague fog sweeping from the city to the stadium. Lightning and thunder. We grabbed everything and made a beeline for the covered entrance and waited through the worst of it with dozens of drenched strangers.
The one thing that had me worried was making it back to Philly. The ferry runs on a modified schedule for concerts, the last one leaving back to Philly 30 minutes after the end of the concert. But that’s such a vague timeframe. And if it’s pouring down rain, when do they say that the concert is over? Or postponed? It’s a short walk to the ferry from the pavilion, but when you’re waiting 20 minutes for the rain to end, it’s easy to start worrying that you’re going to get left behind.
Fortunately, we made it with plenty of time to spare, and getting back to the car was easy, too.
I wasn’t exactly thrilled to have to drive home through a flooded Philly at 11pm. But all the same, it’s a pretty chill place to lay down on a blanket and see some bands… if you can dodge the lousy weather.