Bud Light’s Whatever USA contest kicked off with an ad campaign during last year’s Super Bowl featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Though the commercial was clever and entertaining, I didn’t think much about it, assuming it to be the same smoke and mirrors that is most things advertising.
Then there was this day. It started with answering one question for Bud Light at a local bar on a typical afternoon, (“If you could do anything for a living what what you do?”) Naturally, for anyone who knows me, I answered a Rock Star, you know, the next Tommy Lee. Then I went back to my typical afternoon at the bar. Sometime later, long after I’d forgotten about the interview, I received an e-mail with a 2 hour deadline to accept an invitation for departure to Whatever USA. Departure was less than 2 days away and they didn’t actually say where Whatever USA was, just asked if I was up for the trip. Though hella gimmicky, I accepted the invitation knowing I had nothing to lose. If this ended up being a mass kidnapping, at least I’d have a story to tell, or someone would. What happened next may end up being the most eventful weekend of my life.
We whipped into the airport before the city of Houston woke and flew the friendly skies to Denver where we were then loaded into a charter plane with at least a hundred others, just like us. While waiting to load, we all began introducing ourselves, hoping to gain some sort of insight about the weekend that we didn’t already know from all the “true” things on the internet. We had suddenly become Facebook in real life and probably for others, Tinder, walking around swiping the air left or right. Greeted by Bud Light paraphernalia throughout the plane (these guys went all out), everyone was pleasantly surprised to find a Bud Light in their seat. Cracking open our beers in unison to taste the first sips of the weekend were met with Lil Jon’s “Turned Down for What” over the speaker system, a foreshadowing to the weekend ahead that many of us didn’t catch on to at the time. Have you ever done “the wave” on a plane, front to back and back again? Geezus. Turnt up.
As our destination approached, we all looked out the window in amazement of what became the breathtaking Gunnison, Colorado landscape. Once landed, we were greeted with four Bud Light charter buses, a Bud Light Monster Truck and smiling Bud Light representatives everywhere. The anticipation for the weekend’s events was building inside all of us and so were our blood-alcohol content levels. We traveled another 30 minutes to our final destination which is where the story truly begins.
Day 1 – 5:00P
Crowded into the Main Street of Crested Butte as the Mayor of Whatever USA paced the catwalk, we waited in anticipation of what lay beyond the Blue Tarp. Beers in hand, the tarp dropped and #BudLightLand began…It was like the Wizard of Bud, a road painted Bud Light blue, a gigantic director’s chair, a mariachi band (wtf?!), beach balls and blow up aliens all airborne, the mayor of Whatever USA on a blue plastic horse, mini horses, llamas, a huge camera, massive gorilla, a beach with a King Kong sized boom box, local bars/restaurants that finally culminated into a massive stage at the very end of the road. Lil Jon rose on stage and the place erupted. You couldn’t ask for a better way to kick off a monumental weekend of partying, complimentary at that.
7:00P The “Red Room”
As Lil Jon continued to roll through his set, we moved on to absorb the sites around us. Making our way back to the middle of Main Street, Whatever USA, there it was. A human bowling ball that only needed a human inside to steer it. Shoes off, head first in, rolling away to knock over some pins. Seeming to find ourselves in the right place at the right time, we were approached by an individual who tipped us off that the “biggest hype man of all time” would be performing in the Red Room. A short line separated us from a small door when we got there that led downstairs into a New Orleans looking hole in the wall. One couch fit the width of the front of this tiny stage, and that is right where we parked it to watch 30 minutes of excruciating Hip-Hop Karaoke. All those off-tune lyrics sounded more like a cry for help and their cries were answered as the “biggest hype man” of all time appeared from the shadows. Expecting to see Flava Flav, all 100 people (at best) who were crammed shoulder to shoulder erupted once more to see instead, Lil Jon, an arms length away, there to save us from the wrath of no rhythm. Lil Jon asked all the ladies to give a twerk sample. Maigen’s countless hours of practicing the twerk from YouTube videos (yes, I believe she has a problem) paid off as she caught Lil Jon’s eye who then pulled her up on stage to continue the show. A most proud moment of my life.
10:00P DJ Alesso
After the twerk-out, we slowly collected ourselves and headed to The Arena for Light the Night where we were separated into lines for small, medium, large, or x-large coats. Grabbing another IV of Bud Light we made our way into the venue where house music had the whole place in a trance. When DJ Alesso made his appearance, all of our jackets lit up and began changing colors. It was one of the most surreal live shows we had ever been to. Exhausted by 1:00 a.m, we cashed in. 16 hours of drinking was more than enough for both of us that day.
Day 2 – 10:00A
The next morning we were awaken by a personal alarm clock which was actually evangelists of #BudLightLand pounding on the door. Little did they expect, some people answer the door naked and drink Bud Light Lime for breakfast. Already wide-eyed, we went to see the chaos outside. We rode the ski-lift to the top of the mountain with no snow on it, (far scarier than when there is snow) jumped off a 30 foot high platform into a massive blow up pit, and checked out the 7-11 tent which had Bud Light Strawberry infused Slurpees = sugar rush from hell.
2:30P Vanilla Ice
We checked our Whatever USA app which outlined where events were happening all weekend and headed off to Mountain Music Hall for the Big Sound, Small Space show or at least we thought. We waited patiently for what we thought was going to be the arrival of Vanilla Ice at one of the small local bars off of Main Street. We noticed many folks on the balcony pointing that he was riding up in an ice cream truck and was handing out ice cream to all of the party-goers. Continuing to wait in the bar as if we had arrived on the short bus, we realized that he had boycotted the small stage and was heading to the main stage for his time in the sun, so we rushed down the stairs and up to the stage as fast as we could. He ran through classics while the crowd singed along to “Ice Ice Baby” and “Go Ninja Go.” Once again, Maigen’s passion for tweeting (at least she wasn’t twerking this time) had her shrieking when Vanilla Ice retweeted a panoramic she took at the concert.
After day dreaming about the days of parachute pants, pogs, and slap bracelets we answered our hunger at Maxwell’s Steakhouse. We were told that Maxwell’s had the best steak in town and everyone was right. Not only did they have the best food that we had so far on the trip, but the owners were extremely accommodating and just so happened to be from the Dallas, Texas area.
Back on the street, we noticed cameras and a director shooting commercials for Comedy Central. We walked by slowly, deliberately, and lit up to see our master plan worked as they asked if we would be in a commercial. Since I hate attention so much, I was reluctant (insert sarcasm). The general premise of the commercial was to get our reaction about what we thought of the trip. I told Maigen to do what she does best (twerk) anytime the mic went her way. To our surprise, we found the director and camera crew loving the twerk-up. The joke turned when they asked me to join in on the twerk but it turns out, I’m better than Maigen!
Once filming concluded on the commercial that may really catapult my career in the Energy Industry, we headed back to the resort to change into our Saturday Night Fever outfits that we were instructed to select out of a basement full of 70’s clothing upon arrival to the resort. Bound for #BudLightLand, once more, we went back downtown to have dinner with 1,000 other people on Main Street. They had two forever long tables lined in parallel down the street with more Bud Light than we had ever seen. The restaurants that lined Main Street served collective family style plates all while drones flew high and low around us.
9:00P KC & the Sunshine Band
Once full, the main attraction for Saturday night rolled out, on one big motorized skate shoe; KC & the Sunshine Band. For those of you that don’t know who they are or what they play you can probably ask your Mom. My Mom loves this group and I wasn’t sure what to expect from their show, but free Bud Lights later, we were up for “Whatever”. We hypnotically followed a huge motorized roller skate to The Arena where they would be playing and man, the puff of the 70’s that came out of that arena made us think we’d fallen back into time. They ran through classics like “Get Down Tonight”, “Play the Funky Music White Boy”, and I am going to go out on a limb here but Maigen’s favorite “Shake Your Booty”. We had now officially covered the 70’s, 90’s, 00’s, 10’s on this trip! Staying low to the floor, we again shut the night down around 1:00A but only first after a sea-sickening carnival ride and a couple shots of whiskey and coke with some locals at the Main Street Bars.
Day 3 – 10:00A
We woke up on what we believed would be the final day of our trip. Hungry and hungover, we found our way to a Mardi Gras brunch that was setup at one of the local restaurants with performers, beads thrown everywhere, a house band and more Cajun food than we could eat.
The time had finally come for us to pack up our bags and head back to reality where you can’t just walk into a bar and swipe a free beer off the bar of hundreds more. When we arrived at the small Gunnison Airport we noticed four other buses in front of us and quickly realized there was a problem with getting everyone through the security at the airport. Let Huffington Post tell you more about that chaos –> (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/08/bud-light-ad-stuck_n_5781810.html).
Twerked out, Maigen decided to nap on the sidewalk as the departure for our flight from Denver grew closer. The only problem was, we weren’t in the Denver airport. We were stuck an hour away at a smaller airport. You’d think some of the people on those buses with us weren’t going to see a tomorrow being stranded that way. Talk about people watching. Needless to say, we missed our flight out of Denver, and although being stuck in Denver for the night was an inconvenience, we would have done it all over again. (Maigen says) It was amusing to watch the media work to rail Bud Light for the hiccup that was induced by our government.
Weekend Take Away
Overall, the Bud Light Whatever experience was an amazing one and Crested Butte would be a great vacation spot for skiing, mountain biking or just for relaxing. The town had amazing food and all of the business-owning locals were very welcoming.
To our surprise, most of the Crested Butte Millennials were acting more like Crusted Butts as they heckled the residents of Whatever USA the entire weekend. (Maigen says,) Young bartenders, namely at the Wooden Nickel, exuberated sheer frustration when we standardly asked for a beer, and overcharged us from the prices on their menus when we ordered anything but beer. Oddly enough, it didn’t stop many of them from drinking Whatever’s complimentary Bud Light, riding the free chartered transportation, or enjoying the incredible shows.
The older generations of Crested Butte understood that the economic upside for Crested Butte was worth putting up with 1,000 contest winners in their town for 2 ½ days. Although, most of the millennials weren’t happy with us being guests in “their” self-proclaimed town, we met a few locals our age that were super cool and willing to help us with any questions we had, which predominantly revolved around places to obtain a good whiskey drink.
Thank you Bud Light for taking us to #BudLightLand at Whatever, USA. A tremendous weekend that we will talk about for the rest of our days.