From the Braver Instiute
Oh, yeah! Now I remember—the backstory to it all—I was blabbing about the next Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert that I would attend with my kid sister Badger Annie, and how we were going to do whatever it takes to be down on the floor at the show and as close to the stage as possible.
Thankfully we are in the digital age, and people no longer need to camp out for days to be assured of Springsteen tickets. It is also no longer necessary to camp out at the doors of the venue in order to get close to the stage.
As I mentioned last week, an E Street Band concert is a celebration. It is a party. It is very hard to imagine anyone having a bad time at one of these shows, and this celebration is the reason for fans wanting to be front and center for the action.
With a GA ticket you can do one of two things: you can show up when the doors open, and do your best to get as close to the stage as possible (good luck with that), or you can arrive at the venue early and get into the lottery that would determine who will receive passes to the “pit” (the area immediately in front of the stage). There is a dividing fence that separates this area from the rest of the floor.
Having no real idea of how this whole lottery system worked in practice, the Badger and I determined that we should get to the Palace around the time when the numerically numbered lottery wristbands would start being distributed— roughly six hours before show time. We didn’t want to miss our chance.
After an eternity of standing around, waiting for something to happen, a guy with a bullhorn— which he never seemed to use— came out and announced that we would all need to line up in numerical order in cattle pens set up in rows that were barely wide enough for a human to stand in. Since we couldn’t hear him, I could only assume that is what he wanted us to do, judging from the actions of those around us. After a great deal of confusion, and a lot of asking “what is your number?”, most of the people were crammed into their pens, and there we waited for a very, very long time for no apparent reason.
After forty days and forty nights of standing there patiently like the good cattle we were, there was a commotion ahead of us. “It’s 496! It’s 496!” a guy ahead of us started yelling while jumping up and down. You see, the way the lottery worked was a random number would be drawn and from that number backward 350 people would be allowed into the pit area. If 350 went beyond the highest number, the remainder would be made up from the rest of those following number one. Our numbers were 534 and 535. We were going to be in front! Actually we were going to be at the stage!
And then we waited some more.
Suddenly the cattle in the pen next to us started moving. It turns out that the idiot yelling 496 was wrong. The actual number was more like 650, and that meant that we would not be at the stage. It also meant that we would not be in the pit. It really meant that we would be among the last of the lottery group to enter. This fact at least afforded us the chance to wait some more. The Badger wanted to punch Mr. 496 right in the neck, but I managed to restrain her.
Inside the Palace we could see what looked like a small stage near the center of floor, and the fence that normally cordoned off the pit area was now two fences that made a pathway to this middle stage. We weren’t sure, but it looked like it may serve the purpose of allowing Springsteen to sort of “mingle” with the crowd.
Even though we were among the last of the lottery group in, we were still in a great place to view the show. We were really close to this middle stage, if that is what it even was.
Later, the rest of the GA ticket holders started filling in behind us, and in their efforts to get as close as they could, we ended up all being packed together rather sardine-like. I could feel the toes of the person behind me against my heels. There was no room to move.
The show finally started and the crowd went wild. It was like a 20,000 person sing-a-long. The only bad part was not being able to move my feet, and as a result my back was in severe pain. After an hour or so I managed to look behind me to see whose toes were at my heels. During a moment when lights were shining on the crowd, I could see that those toes were actually a flattened cardboard box. This meant that I could move a little! Then I knew I could make it through the rest of the show.
Well of all the rotten luck. We are out of time again. I promise that I will get to the lifesaving part next week. Just remind me where we left off.