Last Wednesday, clowns took over the Johnson Hagood Stadium for City Paper’s Best of Party, and it was creepily wonderful. Clowns on stilts, happy clowns, evil clowns, and even the infamous Tier One Wild Hobo Clown Tramps roamed through the crowds as partygoers — many who took the clown-theme to heart and dressed for the party — sipped on margs from Santi's, shot Fireball, and guzzled liquor drinks. (Full disclosure: this writer is terrified of clowns, so much of the party was spent avoiding them, unsuccessfully.)
Walking through the throngs of guests, there was a good chance one of the friendly clowns would escort you, usually to the bar. And if you tried to get to the food from Cru Catering or Butcher & Bee, one would have to traverse a maze of bloodied clowns. Really, the best way to avoid the clowns was to just stay at the bar. T
hat is until Puddles Pity Party arrived. Sitting perched on a chair with an antique suitcase in hand, Puddles, a nearly seven-foot gentle giant, waited for the Dubplates to finish their set before taking the stage, almost methodically. The sad-sack baritone started with a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but Puddles moved his performance forward when he singled out some crowd members. Every so often, he would call one of his “little buddies” to the stage to sing a very melancholic “Happy Birthday.” One of the lucky buddies was a hobo tramp, who got a little handsy with Puddles, prolonging the clowns’ awkward hug. Thankfully, Puddles didn’t make the crowd wait too long before belting out a cover of Lorde’s “Royals.” After one last birthday serenade — to CP’s own Stephanie Barna — Puddles Pity Party was over.
Not having had our sushi fill, we made our way back to O-Ku’s table but found that all the food was gone. Even worse, crackers were all that remained at Southern Season’s charcuterie table. So to the bar we went, and we weren’t alone. Everyone was there to have a good time — even the clowns, like the stilted one who tried to grind on some girls and tumbled. Hard. What’s a Best of Party without a couple of bruises, we say. But the timbering giant soon signaled the end of the party as the lights went on and everyone was corralled out — some with loaves of Normandy Farm bread in hand.
Outside the stadium, a Mellow Mushroom truck was handing out slices of pizza to help make the next morning a little easier for the revelers. We somehow missed it and just made our way to the Alley for a very short after-party before realizing it was best to hop on our bikes and ride home.
The rain held off on Saturday afternoon, so we ventured out to Spring Jam. And even though it was dry that day, there was still plenty o’ mud. It was ripe for mud wrestling, but the only ones playing in the slosh puddle were wearing diapers, except for one tyke who decided his mud-laden Huggies was too heavy and went streaking round the fest. We got there just as the Kopecky Family Band was finishing up, which surprised us since they were one of the bigger names of the day. It seemed odd to have them finish before 4:30 p.m.
Making our way through the crowd, we found one of the beer stations — a semi-truck that opens up into a bar. Centered in the middle of Brittlebank Park, it was a convenient place to sit and people watch. Sadly, people weren’t being that crazy, and the only out-there outfits we saw were astro-print leggings on a gaggle of girls. We decided to move to the local band stage just as The Weeks began their set. But as soon as they finished, a new band — Saints of Valory — started on the other side of the park. And even though Brittlebank is hardly massive, we found that we spent most of our time walking back and forth from one end to the other. As the music played on, the temps dropped thanks to a cool sea breeze. We tried to weather the weather but couldn’t hack it and called it a day.