OH. MY. LORD.
This week marked the first time I have seen BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND in concert! Even though I got to MEET Bruce in New Jersey a few months ago, I had never been to a show before, and let me tell you…IT WAS TOTALLY AWESOME.
First of all, it was the first show for both me and my older sister, Brenna, who is also a Bruce fan. What is interesting about Brenna is her favorite music of Bruce’s, i.e. her favorite song is “Ghost Of Tom Joad” and her love of “Mrs. McGrath.” Of course, she loves the other stuff too, but I feel like the fact her favorite song is “Ghost Of Tom Joad” really tells a lot about the type of fan she is.
Josh and I drove the 3+ hour drive up to San Jose with his parents and siblings and met up with Brenna, where Josh, Bren, and I made an obligatory ~$30 worth-of-Jack-in-the-Box trip before making it to our own hotel. We put on some music (Bruce, of course) and stayed up till about 3am making our song request signs for the concert.
Brenna meticulously making her Tom Joad sign.
Acutal quote: “I feel like I could make 5 more posters!!!” -Brenna at 3am
The next morning was a little rough, considering we stayed up dancing and making posters till the wee hours of the morning, but the promise of continental breakfast woke us swiftly and surely. I made sure to eat some banana to prevent leg cramps during the show later, and then carbo-loaded with Froot Loops.
I had tons of fun just in preparation for going to the venue. We all put on our favorite Bruce shirts (Bren borrowed my Born In The U.S.A. tee), put on our bandanas, and danced/rocked out in the room. I love my outfit that day the most of all three shows. I rocked some frayed jeans, brown knee-high boots with a sturdy heel (to see over the large men that were bound to be in front of me at the show) my “Candy’s Room” shirt, and red bandana on my neck.
We then drive to a super-ritzy hotel in downtown San Jose so that Josh could pick up an extra GA ticket he bought from a fellow Bruce fan for his family. While thinking about what other Bruce fans must be wearing, I said (unintentionally ironically) “I mean, I’m not gonna judge, but why would you wear that to a Bruce concert.” Bren and I just looked at each other, and then laughed when we realized how ridiculous that was coming from someone who was double-bandana-ing and really going for a Born In The U.S.A. aesthetic.
While I’m talking about it, I got something else to say: I didn’t see ANYBODY wearing bandanas like Bren and me in San Jose. Then at the first LA show, I see one or two other people wearing them. Then the second night in LA, EVERYBODY AND THEIR MOTHER WAS WEARING THEM (I wore mine to all three shows.) I am totally taking the credit for Bren and myself for starting this trend.
We get to the venue, get our pit lottery wristbands, and make our way to the back entrance in hopes of catching a glimpse of Bruce entering the building. Josh and his family had great luck during the last tour when Bruce actually came out and said hello to the fans and signed autographs (because Bruce is THE MAN).
Oh, just these songs, you think?…..
Waited for hours, and, because we had to be back for the drawing for the pit lottery, we left before Bruce showed up. However, I think he showed up late, and it seemed like every one who had a pit wristband had to make their way back to the drawing and I didn’t hear about anybody seeing him.
Then, the dreaded pit lottery. Josh had gotten in the pit ALL THREE SHOWS he went to last year. I thought, hey, it might not be that hard to get in the pit. 400 people get to go in, and 1,000 wristbands were given out. Little less than 50/50 chance.
Bren and I held hands as the winning number was drawn. A number that was super high, or super low. That’s what we needed to get in the pit. (We were early 50s, and the numbers circle back around to the beginning it it’s a high number.)
Well, it doesn’t matter the exact number, but I know it was in the 600s. Bren and I were bummed. Josh little sister started tearing up. We didn’t make it. My first show. I was planning on making mean eye contact with Bruce and for him to compliment me on my awesome dancing. I was going to force Bren to go onstage with Bruce during “Dancing In The Dark.” I was going to make it my mission. All these pretty dreams were torn.
After about 3 full minutes of sulking, we actually started to feel a little better. We were hungry, and we knew there were hot dogs inside the venue. And Sprite. We made plans to eat as soon as we got our spots on the floor. Then we realized that since our number was about 100 people after the pit, meaning that we could get a pretty good spot on the post-pit barricade, where Bruce sometimes frequents during the show.
We make our way into the venue sequentially according to the number on our wristbands. I liked this orderly fashion. It made me feel like there was some justice left in the world. We started to get psyched again. I mean, at the very least, we’re still GA at a Bruce Springsteen concert!
We make our way to the right side of the barricade, and we’re about one row of people behind it. Pretty good. There was a nice man in front of Josh who, throughout the show, asked if I or anybody else would like to take the spot in front of them for any particular song. I liked that guy. He had the true Bruce spirit. The lady in front of Bren was another story…
Of course, she’s got both elbows out across the railing. Could easily fit another person in front to see Bruce. The show starts, and of course, people start pushing forward to get closer looks at The Boss. Brenna gets pushed into this space, and puts ONE HAND on the barricade. The lady immediately gets in Bren’s face and yells at her saying, “STOP PUSHIN’ ON ME!” Bren replies, “I’m sorry, people are pushing me, too,” and the lady just throws a bitch-fit, yelling at Brenna, trying to peel Bren’s fingers off the railing, and even just putting her hand in front of Bren’s face trying to block the view (?!?!?!?!). What the hell! Bruce would not approve of this behavior! Needless to say, Bren was not being rude in the slightest, and would not have this shit, she would not have it. Bren decides to place both hands on the barricade. Not touching anyone, not even having her body on the barricade. Just two hands, on the barricade, watching the show. And she refused to take those hands off the whole show. I gotta hand it to ya, Bren, I do not have that willpower. That lady glared at Bren the whole time.
I’m just gonna say it here: Hwhy (yes, extra emphasis on that “w”) would you a) get GA/floor tickets to a Bruce Springsteen show and b) stand at the barricade where you KNOW you will probably be smushed to pieces if you were going to get upset and throw a fit when someone gets pushed up behind you and puts a hand on the barricade that your girthy elbows are taking up? I mean, at the LA show, some guy was rockin’ behind me and hit me in the back of the head a few times. AND I DIDN’T CARE. He wasn’t being obnoxious, he just kept hitting it on the way down from fist-pumpin’/rockin’. We were all pushed together like sardines, and who am I to kill this guy’s moment? I was doin’ the same thing! (Pumping my fist in the air, not hitting people.) He even tapped me on the back after the first time in apology, but I didn’t acknowledge it because I just felt, “Dude, we’re both rockin’, you’re not flailin’ around like some weird drunk ostrich, and it didn’t even hurt. No worries.”
AND THAT’S HOW YOU PROPERLY REACT TO A FELLOW BRUCE FAN.
This lady’s got a lot to learn about being a Bruce fan. Get a seat ticket next time, lady.
Of course, Bruce comes out and rocks our faces off. Patti wasn’t there (sad), and he introduced himself onstage, something along the lines of, “He knows San Jose, and knows to do when he f*ckin’ gets there! The only man who introduces himself, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN!” Which I thought really started off the night with everyone PUMPED. He did not introduce himself at the LA shows. I liked that. He kept it fresh.
He tells us that by the end of the night, our voices will be gone, our feet will hurt, our backs will ache, and…some other things that I DON’T CARE TO MENTION. (Bruce. You know what you said. Bren did not approve.)
AND IT WAS TRUE.
He pulls out “Thundercrack,” “Out In The Street,” and “My Love Will Not Let You Down,” none of which I expected to get, so I was just in heaven. Someone brought a sign for “Mary’s Place,” which I am so eternally grateful he did not play because I think Bren would’ve walked out of the concert had he done so. (God, why would you bring a sign for that song. I will never know.)
THEN, during the Apollo Medley bit, he walks off the stage and IN FRONT OF OUR BARRICADE! I lay my hand out there for a high five, and Bruce totally was revving up to give me the sweetest and most glorious high five a person could ever receive, and of course all the yahoos around me ruin the moment and all simultaneously slap his hand. I watch him make his way down the barricade, and I see one arm go out and give him the SOUL SHAKE. It was at least 4 full seconds long. I was scared the person was never going to let go, and I’m sure Bruce was too.
One o’ these. I like how someone felt the need to illustrate this.
I immediately thought, “Oh god, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, let that be Bren’s arm that just did that. She is the only one I know who would even try that.”
After Bruce passes, I find my way towards Bren and ask if it was her. Her wildly excited expression told me all that I had to know. She said that he also pointed at her bandana headband and smiled. PERFECTION. That was all I wanted.
During “Shackled And Drawn” I pull out my well-practiced personal-bubble dance moves (gotta be considerate, ya know) and a man about 5 people away from me reaches over, taps me on the shoulder, and holds his hand up for a high five. It’s always nice to know someone appreciates your enthusiasm and dance moves. Luckily I was surrounded by friends (Tim and Laurel bringin’ up the rear, Bren and Josh flanking me on either side) so I had a bit of leeway with my rocking.
Going to a Bruce show was the closest I imagine a religious experience/awakening to be. I’m obviously not religious in the slightest, but if Bruce had his own religion, I’m pretty sure I would convert immediately. He was the coolest preacher I could ever imagine. He got the crowed riled up talking about how we help the E Street Band reach higher ground, and the entire venue raising their hands during “My City Of Ruins” was pretty magical. With these haaaaands……COME ON, RIIIIIIIISE UP, COME ON, RIIIIIIISE UP….COME ON RIIIIIIIISE UP, COME ON RIII-III-IIISE UP….Come on, rii-iiii-iiiii-iiiiise uuuuuuup…………
When it came to addressing those in the band who have passed, including Clarence, Bruce just asked the crowd, “Is there anybody missing tonight?” and let the crowd roar. He then asked “Do I have to say their names?” and no, of course, not, Bruce! He breaks it down with a little melodic singing to the “City Of Ruins” drum beat and sings, “If you’re here, and we’re here, then they’re here…”
C’mon Bruce, you’re breakin’ my heart.
During the encore, Bruce breaks out “Dancing In The Dark” and I see the security guard in front of me totally singing along.
At this point, Bren, Josh, and I are just singing our hearts out to this song and “Born To Run.” Everybody was.
The show ends, and as Bruce promised, we were sore from head to toe. Our faces were melted off by rock. Bruce puts on such an awesome show, rarely taking any breaks between songs, streamlining the ROCK. I can’t believe he is 62.
Needless to say, an awesome show, an awesome experience, and I had so much fun at my first show.