Thursday, September 29, 2005

Stones/Pearl Jam - PNC Park

I drove 4 of the "regulars" to the Rolling Stones/Pearl Jam show last night. Obviously, this was a BIG one. I take that back. It was THE BIG ONE. I snagged them early but they opted for drinks in Robinson township before the show. I was a little worried but we got basicaly got there at crunch time. Everybody had already parked so the ride in was surprisingly effortless. I dropped them off and then parked the limo about 3/4 mile in the distance. I booked down to the stadium and briefly hooked up with Josh, Jess, Fuzz and G Max. The band had just started with the song "GO". There were plenty of extra tix, as expected. I asked a few people - one woman was adamant that she wanted $400. I replied, "C'mon let's go $20." She was not amused. I ran into my scalping buddy Brian and he set me up with a single from one of his other scalper buddies. Boom! 20 bucks! I think he did it more as a favor. I always set him up with food/water/beer at Starlake. This has to have been a first - with droves of extra tix in the parking lot, I bought mine from a black guy. Ironic.
Anyway, G Max and I went to the lower level directly opposite the stage. Good view, good seats. Since this is primarily a restaurant review column, I'll refer to the quality of seats we had in terms of chain restaurants. These lower level seats were probably $125 or so. I'd call them Outback Steakhouse seats. Anyway, Pearl Jam rocked as they always do. They played a sugarcoated set that lasted exactly 1 hour 7 minutes. They tended to play mostly their video hits, most of which I don't really care for (Black, Jeremy, Animal, Better Man). My favorite tunes were Alive and Corduroy. But I think they wanted to keep things a little familiar since most people were there for the Stones. Pearl Jam had a pretty big turnout of fans as well - pockets of them all over the ballpark. I'd say it was about 72% Stones/28% Pearl Jam. Needless to say, they closed with Rockin in the Free World which got everybody up. I think most of the older Stones fans began to realize just how much these guys rock.
Anyway, me and G Max went to see where the others seats were - Section 301. I made it up there and was in disbelief - I told them that these were the worst seats in the entire place. You couldn't see any portion of the big screen. Then, I softened my stance because there was about 12 rows behind them. So they were in the 12th worst row of the entire stadium. Not the place you want to be for the BIG one. Josh seemed to come around. The others opted to stay behind - comparable to riding out Hurricane Rita. Oh, I forgot - These seats were Elby's (I'm talking a vacant one 4 years after they went out of business). Anyway, I pointed to some good chunks of seats down below. Josh said he was going to make the move. Oddly enough, after having ridiculed the seats, I was like, cool let's roll - then, I started walking further up to the even shittier seats. Josh amusingly beckoned me and I quickly turned around. I think I was still in a daze from the opening act.
Anyway, we make it down to the first level about 20 rows up. Back to the good seats - let's call them Olive Garden. We sat around for awhile and strategized about how to get on the floor. They were checking tix very carefully. We were hoping for a surge but none was in sight. G Max went to about the 7th row off the floor. This would become the staging area - let's say Cheesecake Factory. We had a variety of ideas about how to get down. I suggested the double beer approach - just have your hands full and nod and say "It's cool, we're over there." That idea was dismissed - probably because that second large draft would have gotten pretty warm. Then, I offered the "Let's just discreetly hand him a five dollar bill approach." This one never even got off the ground. I think we were both hoping for a surge when the lights went out. Crunch time was approaching. Then, I noticed that a few people weren't showing their tix, just their hand stamp. I carefully examined the hand stamp of a floor goer. It was a simple light green circle. I started asking if anyone had a marker or a pen. The girl next to me offered an ink pen and a black sharpie. Which one should we go with? This was a tough one. G Max opted for the pen and I agreed. I adorned his hand with a circle and he went for the smear approach. Good move, G Max. Then, the lights went out. I quickly did mine and handed the pen back to the girl. I think she thought we were nuts. The girl behind us thought it was crazy we were from West Virginia. She laughed uncontrollably about the usual themes - incest, trailors, blah. Then I told her that 2 days ago, there was a man arrested in nearby Lafferty, Ohio for having sex with a neighbor's dog. This was on the FRONT PAGE. That really sent her into hysterics.
Anyway, I looked at G max and I was like it's now or never. Let's Roll. He said, ok, lead the way. I was like, fuck it Wolfman Bezerker style. We both zipped down the steps and showed the guy our temporary tattoos. BOOM! On the floor. Not even the slightest problem. We briefly celebrated and made our way to the back of the floor. We found a partially open section that was near perfect. These were probably the $250 seats. I'd say they were The Biltmore. For those of you who don't know, that's a wicked, upscale restaurant/resort in Scottsdale, AZ. We watched about 6 tunes and then went to take a piss. In the shuffle, I lost G max. Regrettably, I planned to leave aorund the 12th tune or so and make my trek back to the limo. I decided to look for Josh, just in case he was back at the Cheesecake Factory. Sure enough, there he was. I told him how we got on the floor and he was amused and eager. I found the same girl with the pen and we marked him up. I'm like, just follow me to the promised land, much like Moses leading the Israelites. Once again, smooth sailing. We went back to the Biltmore but G Max was nowhere in sight. I'd later learn that he made his way to the front area through a slight hole in the fence. Stuck around for 2 more songs and then had to bolt. I grudgingly left and snagged the limo. There must have been about 140 limos all jockeying for position. I'd never seen that many in my life. And there were still more parked up from the stadium. I picked up the crew at the home plate club with perfect timing and we made it through the mess of jubilant fans in 10 minutes. Outta there - West End, 279 South, 79 South, 70 West. Home in an hour. Then, the limo malfunctioned in Woodsdale, but that's a whole different story and this blogger is exhausted. PEACE

Other rankings (scale of 1-100):

Scalping - didn't have the time.
Parking - controlled chaos. These idiot parking attendants are still on strike. Kind of like the George Costanza line - "THESE PRETZELS ARE MAKING ME THIRSTY!"
Stones - sounded great for a bunch of 60 years olds. Let's give them an 88.
Pearl Jam - I'm biased. The best opener of the tour. My favorite touring rock band. Even though they played a pretty boring short set. Sounded great though - 93.
Tailgating - didn't have the time and it's irrelevant because I'm the designated driver.
The Stage show - The clear winner. 99 - I've never seen anything like it and I've seen a few stadium shows in my time.

To sum it up:
This show made me realize that you can always get what you want.

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