Behind the Scenes’s at Bud Light’s ‘Whatever USA’

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You’ve seen Bud Light’s TV commercials for the town it took over to throw the ultimate summer party. You’ve seen photo recaps and summary videos, but now read what really went down in Bud Light’s Whatever USA.

The beauty of the #UpForWhatever trip is that you didn’t actually have to be up for whatever. You just had to be up for drinking Bud Light and having fun. I’m not good at much, but sucking back ice cold beer remains one of my strong suits. The fact that I was rolling solo, unlike the other 1000 or so people, meant those beers were going down even easier.

Bud Light knew their audience, so they had beer waiting on the charter planes that would take people from Denver to Gunnison, CO. Sure it was only a couple per person, but it was also only a 40 minute flight. Needless to say, they were gone before we started our descent. The best part was that I finally acted on my lifelong ambition to join the Mile High Shotgun Beer Club. That’s the one people brag about, right?

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Goose Island Knows How to Throw a Party


Waiting for us at the airport was Big Foot, the monster truck not the large out-of-focus monster described by Mitch Hedberg, and a pink stretch Mini Cooper which seemed like a rolling contradiction overlooked only because there was a hot tub in the back. Sadly neither of these were my ride to the mountain. Why did I even come? Turns out there was a fleet of 20 Bud Light buses that drove all the way from Texas just to shuttle all of our asses around all weekend. I hope they tipped the drivers well because it must have been a nightmare.

I was already a few beers deep, so I had no clue what to do in terms of wristbands upon arrival. I grabbed one from the table for normal humans but also found a place to get a media band. Yes, they classify jackwagons like me as “media.” Suckers. I would later find out that I didn’t actually need both, so I gave my original band to a hot chick outside one of the bars in Whatever USA because I thought it would help get me laid. Fast-forward… it didn’t.

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The opening parade was glorious in that it was everything a parade should be. Chaos. There weren’t floats or tier-3 local beauty queens waving like they just don’t care. There was mayor of Whatever USA riding a blue horse down a blue street while surrounded by 1000 idiots throwing around inflatable giraffes. Like I said, glorious.

Lil Jon was turned up for a DJ set. Say what you will about his three favorite words, the guy knows how to excite a crowd. Picture the Dr. Pepper commercial with Pit Bull throwing a party in a parking garage. It was that level of excitement only the music wasn’t terrible, and we were tipsy not sugar-high. Lil Jon then snuck over to Whatever’s underground club to be the hype man for a karaoke contest. Or at least that’s what was supposed to happen. What really happened is Lil Jon stood on stage and bounced around to a few of his own songs, not saying a word, and then left. All in all a fair deal. I stood 12 inches from his security. He drank Bud Light Platinum. Everybody wins.

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Keeping it Platinum, while Timberlake approved, isn’t the best idea when you’re already a few frat sodas deep. It’s a great way to start a party, but the bonus booze in the 6% ABV classy blue bottle is wholly unnecessary as the evening rolls on. The bartender who imparted this wisdom in me changed his tune when George Washington came out to play though. I headed over to the main stage, but admittedly had no clue who the incredibly entertaining chicks performing were. The media babysitters informed me it was Charli XCX, of whom I’d heard many times but never seen.

Aside: Every bar had to put a sticker on your beer as you left so that if something went wrong the powers that be would know who to blame. The identification was never needed though as the photo below is the one and only time someone got unruly the entire weekend. Now that’s impressive. All around stellar performance by Bud Light and their people.

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I made my way over to the hockey rink turned music arena to get a good spot for Alesso, but was quickly distracted by blinking lights. There was a glowing dragon pendulating in the sky, which I quickly discovered was a carnival ride. What could go wrong with 1000+ party people and a giant swinging dragon? I obviously needed to find out. I chatted up a woman in line and she agreed to hold my hand on the ride. I took an aerial acrobatic flight earlier this year without incident, so clearly this super-lizard was nothing to me, but she didn’t need to know that.

500 or so people were given LED jacks on their way into Alesso, all of which were N-Sync’ed to each other. Tech guys frantically ran around the now crowded arena trying to fix the rogue jackets whose color was off, but instead ended up just taking a dozen of them back from people. Tough shit; it was hot in there anyway. Solid performance by Alesso, but the real highlight was Dougy (of Chive fame) walking through the crowd with cases of Bud Light pint bottles. Did I need more beer? No. Was I going to drink it? You goddamn right I was.

I’ve been known to let a hangover ruin my day, so I chugged 60 ounces of water before scheduling a wake up call for about 3 hours later. Little did I know that instead of a slightly obnoxious phone call that a goddamn fire brigade was going to come sirens blazing into my room to wake me up. At least they brought donuts. The wake up was a good thing, because I had important things to do. Namely – Bacon Appreciation.

— Colin Joliat (@FlintSkinny) September 6, 2014

This wasn’t the sort of bacon you get at Denny’s. This was a bacon-laden gourmet 4-course meal with questionable Bud Light pairings. Admittedly the Bud Light Lime was a refreshing left turn from the standard I had the day before, but to say that it’s subtle hints of lime and whispers of hops delightfully enhanced the complex flavors of brioche french toast and béarnaise sauce is a bit of a stretch. The food was damn good, and eating at a table for once was a pleasant surprise. The plan was to work off my heavy meal the way anyone would… prancercising. That’s right. BL flew Joanna Rohrback to Whatever USA to prance the bacon away. She’s exactly like what you imagine her to be after watching the video too. Instead of actually getting a ponyesque workout in though, I took a Vine of prancercising with Lil Sebastian and then sat in the shade proud of my ability to walk backwards. Not satisfied with just the Vine though, I retreated to the media coffee shop and made a dubstep prancercise video. Prance + Pony + My Pony = Greatness.

 

Have you ever been to an oxygen bar? No, of course you haven’t. Only assholes and hippies go to those. Well, when in Rome. I ponied (no pun intended) up to the O-bar ready to see what the very limited hype was about. The bartender(?) explained the process and was absolutely insistent that I stay for the entire 20 minutes. I had literally nothing to do, so why not? Great choice by me. Not only did a highly entertaining group of uber-bros sit down across from me, so did a local who had many a tale to tell about finding and fighting for a gnome the previous night.

In the ultimate fatty pig fatty move, I went back for round 2 of Bacon Appreciation. You had to RSVP for this sort of stuff, but I knew people probably signed up while drunk and completely forgot about it. Sure enough, I slipped in for another round of swine dining.

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Then came the moment you’ve undoubtedly heard all about. Vanilla Ice serving vanilla ice cream out of an ice cream truck. Talk about being self aware. Then, like a true player, he performed on the platform above the stage instead of on the stage. Good for you, Uncle Vanni. In another self-aware move, he made sure to perform Ice Ice Baby and Ninja Rap, the latter of which got a much bigger ovation. He ended the set with “No Woman, No Cry,” which makes complete sense.

So how do you follow up on a ridiculous performance by Vanilla Ice? With Drag Queen Drag Racing, obviously. People had wasted precious time earlier in the day painting box cars for this race, and now was their time to shine for the couple hundred people sober enough to see. It kicked off with the Mayor of Whatever USA racing the Mayor of Crested Butte. I have no clue who eventually won the derby, but “Space Pussy” was clearly the winner for best name.

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A lot of things happened over the course of the afternoon. I’m not exactly sure in what order they occurred, but I’m certain they did. I dove into a giant inflatable ball and went human bowling, danced with a group of girls (whom I assume were horrified) while ?uestlove spun on top of a 30-foot boombox, and I fell into a hot tub while sitting on the side trying to look cool. What can I say, stellar afternoon.

I cruised back to the hotel to take a quick nap, but instead ended up drinking booze-filled Slurpees with a few girls who “OMG flew ALL the way from FLORIDA! to be here.” I wasn’t sure if they knew how airplanes worked or not because that isn’t all that impressive, but I was entranced by their excitement. They were clearly 4 of the less intelligent people in all of Colorado at the time, meaning they were exactly the sort of people with whom I should have been hanging out.

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Flashback to Friday. Upon arrival, everyone got to pick out their own 70s outfit for the Saturday night. It looked as if BL has cleared out every thrift shop East of the Rocky Mountains and brought it all to one room. The problem? They don’t make guys as small as they used to. Everyone struggled to find something that fit, which in the end turned out even more entertaining.

I headed back down to Whatever USA in my finest disco gear, complete with dick tie, and continued drinking. My Chicago boys, Gemini Club, performed followed by Nico & Vinz. Tremendous shows by both, though neither had anything to do with the disco duds I was wearing. That part was 3 Bud Lights and a mini-parade in the future.

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White boomboxes were wireless synced to the main stereo system and handed out to whomever wanted to pretend they were cool while a giant LED covered roller skate led the drunken moths to the arena. Now it was time to party! KC & the Sunshine band was on stage and disco’d as hard as they did back whenever it was they did it. As the nephew of the man who single-handedly demolished disco in center field of Comisky Park, I was a little torn about the night, but a few more Bud Lights eased any apprehension about really cutting loose and discoing my black heart out. Holy Ghost ended the night, and I assume it was great. I honestly don’t remember much of it due to extreme exhaustion from over-excellence.

Next year Bud Light should host Whatever, Earth in the quaint little town of Amsterdam. I’ll be the first in line for my “media” pass, and I promise to stop making fun of Bud Light Rasp-B-Rita.

All photos taken w/ my Lumia Icon (Windows phone, son!) because I’m too irresponsible to take my real camera while drinking.

Colin Joliat
About Colin Joliat 305 Articles
Colin Joliat is the brains behind this rinky-dink operation. He covers the alcohol industry with two parts information, one part comedy, and one part WTF is wrong with this guy. He's written for Brobible, Guyism, Thrillist, CoolMaterial, Craft, and more.