I went to see Bruce Springsteen in concert last night at the Richmond Coliseum in Virginia. Let me state up front that I am not a raging Bruce Springsteen fan. That would be my darling husband, he who bought the tickets and still has the t-shirt he got from a Bruce Springsteen concert TWENTY YEARS AGO. Oy. Anyway, here are my reviews of ‘the Boss’ in concert.
First, the short review:
IT WAS VERY, VERY LOUD!!
Now the long review:
Okay, so we had just gotten back from a trip to Pennsylvania to see my cousin’s daughter get married. Honestly, I need to get up there more often, and it’s a shame I don’t because my aunt Adele is like the sweetest person in the world and she always has something ready for folks to eat whenever they come over, although we stayed in a hotel, not at her house, so we didn’t get to gnosh like we would have had we actually been the–
What? Oh right, the concert. So anyway, we got back from Pennsylvania the night before, and that was a nine-hour drive with two screaming kids in the back seat, and both Michael and I were sick with some sort of weird flu bug (yes, I know, you want to hear about the concert. Hold your horses, I’m telling a story here!) that had us hacking up our lungs like a couple of old geezers, and we didn’t get home until after 10 PM. So we were not in the best shape the next morning when we got up, and we just draaaaaaaaagged through the day until the babysitter showed up and it was time for us to leave. Now, the Richmond Coliseum is about an hour away from where we live, so that meant another road trip (joy) after the one we’d done the day before. Fortunately, we had a babysitter for the evening, which meant NO SCREAMING KIDS in the back seat. Even more fortunately, this was only an hour drive, which was good because Michael wanted to play Bruce Springsteen all the way to the concert and I did not because hey, weren’t we going to be hearing this guy in a few hours anyway? But Michael insisted so I pulled out my iPod and listened to Phil Rossi’s “Notes from the Vault” which is an awesome collection of horror stories and quite frankly Phil Rossi could read a grocery list and I’d get goose bumps. Seriously!
So where was I? Oh yeah, the Bruce Springsteen concert. Anyway, we got to Richmond and found a place to park that didn’t cost us an arm and a leg and yet still looked like we would find our car with all four wheels still attached when the concert was over. We parked and walked over the Richmond Coliseum and saw lots of people with wrist bands on milling around the place. The wrist bands apparently meant you had bought a seat on the floor. Only there were no seats on the floor. I know this for a hard cold fact, because that’s what Michael bought us — two not-seats on the floor, for the bargain price of $99 a ticket, not including those ridiculous fees that darling hubby got charged for the **convenience** of buying our tickets online. The **convenience** of buying online? What kind of assbackward idea is that? Of course it’s more convenient to buy online! Who the hell would want to stand inline for hours on end to buy a ticket from some snot-nosed rude little punk at the cashier’s window when they could simply buy the damn thing online? And yet, because we’re smart enough to buy online, we’re going to be charged **extra**? Have these people not heard of Amazon or iTunes or the rest of the frikkin’ digital age? Sheesh!
So anyway, if you had a grey armband, you paid for the privilege of standing for three hours on a hard cement floor while listening to ‘the Boss’ and his band play. And if you had a pink armband, that meant you were dumb enough to show up five or six hours earlier to stand in line so you could stand for another three hours even closer to ‘the Boss’ on the same hard cement floor. Thank god the babysitter couldn’t show up until 4PM at our place, ’cause if Michael had insisted on showing up that early to get a pink band, you’d be reading his obituary instead of this really cool review.
Which has not even gotten to the actual concert yet. I know. But I want you to fully understand what I went through last night, and if I had to suffer through all that crap, so do you. Okay, where were we?
Oh yeah, the concert. So anyway, even though we had floor non-seats, we had apparently arrived too late to get our grey wristbands, so we just sashayed over to the nearest door that did not have a line a mile long in front of it and there we waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. And then a couple of people who were definitely not anybody important showed up and pushed their way to the front of the line that had formed behind us and tapped on the door and some jack-ass inside let them in, and man, you could feel the air conditioning coming out of that place, but WE who were also not important but apparently didn’t know the secret knock on the door, could not get in so we just had to stand outside and make faces at the jerks who got in ahead of us and stood there ignoring us while they enjoyed the AC.
And then one of those jerks, a woman, came in and out a few times to smoke a cigarette right in front of us and oh that was precious. Look, a bottled blonde who’s so addicted to nicotine she has to come outside every fifteen minutes to blow smoke in our faces. Or up our asses. Or whichever direction the wind blew.
And this went on for half an hour until some of the event staff came out and everybody cheered. Only the event staff didn’t come out to let us in. No, they came out to hand out grey wristbands to those poor fools who had paid $99 for a non-seat on the floor. Oh wait, that was us. Yea, I got a wristband. It was grey. How lovely. And then the event staff went back inside and locked the doors again, except to keep letting out that stupid bottled blonde who just had to have another half a cigarette every five minutes. Geez! Not even a whole cigarette, just half a cigarette and she left the rest of it smeared on the pavement!
After another half hour of waiting, just about the time when the mob behind us started getting really ugly and talking about things like breaking down the doors and crushing everybody in front of them (like me and Michael), the event staff opened up the doors and let everybody come screaming in. Michael and I hurried inside and found our way to the non-seats on the floor and discovered that we would be spending the rest of the evening lined up behind enough people to fill a small country in Eastern Europe. And all these people were taller than us. And that meant we couldn’t even see the frikkin’ stage. So it was a good thing that there were these HUMONGOUS TV screens overhead, because otherwise we would never have seen the concert.
And Michael paid $99 a person for those tickets.
So anyway. We found an unoccupied spot on the floor and Michael claimed it and I went back out to find a potty (and yes, I call it a **potty** — I have two kids five and under and we’re still dealing with potty training so that’s what we call it, now go soak your head) and something to eat because we left for the concert at 4 PMish and it was now going on 7 PM and I was hungry. And while getting into the potty was no big deal — the Richmond Coliseum actually has enough stalls to deal with a mob of women all doing the potty dance — finding food was not so easy. Everything offered for consumption had a huge line going out the doors, except for…
Pretzels and Dippin’ Dots. And since I cannot eat Dippin’ Dots for religious reasons (and no, I will not explain that because if I did, we’d never get around to talking about the actual concert) I bought two pretzels and two bottles of water. The price was actually half-way decent, but for some odd reason (religious perhaps) the cashier would not let me have the tops to the water bottles. So I had to veeeeeery carefully pick my way back down to our spot on the floor without spilling two open bottles of water, which made me realize that it was not for religious reasons that they had kept the bottle tops; it was a marketing plan. Because if I dropped my water bottles, I had to go back and buy new ones. Very sneaky.
Anyway, I got back to our spot and Michael took off for the potty (yeah, he calls it a potty too), and then he came back and we ate our pretzels and drank our water and we…
And waited some more.
Apparently the concert was supposed to start at 7:30 PM. Not. 7:30 came and went and there was no sign of life on the stage, or at least I think there wasn’t any, because you know we couldn’t actually see the stage from our non-seats. So we kept waiting and the floor kept filling up and slooooooooowly the actual seats started to fill up. Then around 8PM I heard a guitar riff and a wild roar went up from the audience and I jumped up and down with everybody else struggling to see the stage and guess what?
I saw a roadie tuning a guitar.
And this happened about eight or nine million times. Some guy would come out, fiddle with one of the guitars, the crowd would go into a feeding frenzy, and then the guy would leave the stage.
After about two million years of waiting, I decided to make another break for the potty. I got in and out in under five minutes, which made me think that if I could move that quickly, why couldn’t Bruce? But just as I was thinking that, guess what happened?
Yep. Another roadie tuned a guitar.
Eventually, the crowd got so big I could pick up both my feet and not fall down. We were wedged that tight. And wouldn’t you know it, some jackass still found a way to shove himself through the crowd to stand right in front of us. Not “right at the very front of the part of the pit where if you only got a grey wristband but not a special pink one that was as close as you were allowed to get to Bruce,” but right there in front of us. He was big, and he was religious, and he kept making jokes about “wouldn’t it be great if he held up a sign about some weird Bible verse,” and wouldn’t you know it he brought his PARENTS with him and so he shoved around some more until he made enough room for them to stand in front of us too! Wasn’t that special. Oh, but what really made it all special was that he ended up standing right next to me and that was when I discovered that I had a new, least favorite smell and it was…
Big guy who shoves people around and smells like rotting baloney.
Oh. My. God. The odor was just strong enough that if I turned my head in this guy’s direction, I could catch a nasty whiff, but not strong enough to make me vomit on the spot which actually would have been good because maybe then this jackass would have moved someplace else! But no, the best I could do was turn my head away and ask Michael (who has NO sense of smell) to switch places with me So I turned my head turned away from him, only just as I was about to do that someone cut the lights, and I thought, “Oh my god!! We’re all gonna die, packed like rats in this place!”
And yep, there was a bit of crowd surge as finally, FINALLY, the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band, FINALLY showed up on stage.
And I would love to describe what the music was like at this point, but after the first opening chord, I was stone deaf and bleeding from both ears.
My GOD it was loud. Bruce came in and he hit hard. I mean, that music just felt like a fist to the face, and it drove me right back into Rotting Baloney Guy. Eeeeeew. And this went on for about 20 minutes straight. I can’t decide if it was just one really long song or a bunch of songs run together. The Boss just kept hammering at that guitar, and then Clarence Clemmens (or was it Clarence Thomas? I always get those two confused) kept screeching on his saxophone and some chick with big blonde hair kept shaking her maracas like there was no tomorrow, and Bruce had not one but TWO skinny bald guys on either end of the stage playing piano and keyboard, and those guys sort of reminded me of George Hrab, who is an excellent musician and songwriter and has never made my ears bleed, and you know what? I’d pay $99 for a seat, or maybe even for a non-seat, to see George Hrab (and Phil Rossi too for that matter) because I know I’d enjoy that show. But then just as I was thinking about how awesome a combined George Hrab/Phil Rossi concert would be, Bruce started doing high kicks!
Oh my god, no Bruce, don’t do it! Don’t kick! It was terrible! It was like watching my dad trying to stomp on a possum that got into his barn and ate all the horse feed. It was like watching George Bush trying to be funny! It was painful, it was agony, he’ll never make it into the Rockettes so my god why does he keep kicking, and oh my lord did the Rotting Baloney Guy just FART?! Oh! It’s disgusting, my eyes! My nose! My ears!! Why is Bruce Springsteen trying to beat the audience to death with his music?! Oh the humanity…
But. BUT! After the first twenty minutes of all of this torture, Mr. Springsteen actually did something that I thought was rather cool.
And took requests.
Yep. He waded into the audience (well not actually into them, more like above them on a catwalk, and I don’t blame him because quite frankly I think those people would have eaten him alive) and picked signs from people, and each sign had a request for a song on it, usually accompanied either by the reason why that person wanted to hear that song or some weird freaky decoration to get the Boss-man’s attention. And after picking up a bunch of signs and chatting with the audience (and he really was kind of funny when he was chatting, I have to admit), he picked the first song from the pile of signs he collected, set it up in front of his mic stand, and he and his band played that song.
And it was the first song I heard that night that I actually liked, and I will probably go out and buy it if my Springsteen-obsessed husband doesn’t already own it. It was called Stand On It, and it was a really good rock-a-billy song that I could have danced to if I had had room to dance. As it was, I was still squashed up against Rotting Baloney Guy and I didn’t even have room to breath.
And so the concert went. It was a lively show, and I heard some stuff I liked and the Boss did give a very enthusiastic performance (but my god, those flat-footed high kicks! **shudder**) and the crowd absolutely loved him, and I did manage to save some of my hearing by pressing my left ear against Michael’s shoulder. I would have taken turns with my ears, putting the left one down for a song and then the right one, but anytime I put the right one down on Michael’s shoulder, I caught another whiff of Rotting Baloney Guy and that sort of killed that idea so now you know why I’m completely deaf in my right ear.
Oh, and Rotting Baloney Guy farted at least six times during the concert and I think it’s a wonder that you aren’t all reading about how everyone who attended the Bruce Springsteen concert in Richmond last night died from asphyxiation or carbon monoxide poisoning or something. Really, something crawled up inside this guy’s ass and died. But not before making a nest under his armpits, which I saw every time he raised his arms as he sang along with Bruce. Ugh.
The show lasted three hours, and by the time it was over, including the encore which was a really rollicking version of “Twist and Shout”, it was closing in on midnight. We got out of the coliseum pretty quickly, found our car with all four tires still attached, and headed home. Miracle of miracles, we did not spend hours in traffic waiting to get onto the interstate. Someone was smart enough to bring out the traffic cops to direct the exodus and so we managed to make it home by 1:30AM to wake up the babysitter and send her home.
So, in conclusion, I spent a lot of time on my feet in overpriced non-seats standing next to a guy who smelled like rotting baloney and farted a lot. And if you see me yelling at my kids this week, it’s because I AM STILL DEAF from the horrendously loud but otherwise enjoyable music. It was a good show, even for a non-fan in a non-seat, and I would do it again but only if my husband pays for real seats and I have ear plugs and nose plugs for the concert.