It's a couple hours before Elton John plays at Webanco Arena aka the Wheeling Civic Center. Since it's a local show, it stands to reason that I'll run into plenty of locals. These are the people who rarely go to concerts, but they just can't resist based solely on the logic that the show's taking place in Wheeling. I will go to the event, because it IS an event. I usually find this line of reasoning annoying/amusing. When they see my sign,
some will invariably ask me this exact question, "Saf, why are you trying to get a free ticket?"
I figured I'd best game plan a response. There are 3 reasonable answers.
A. I will not be attending this concert.
B. I will go to the concert and fork over between $44.45 - $147.80.
C. I will go to the show for free.
Since I'll be standing right in front of the arena, choice "A" seems to make no sense. And choice "B" terrifies the living shit out me. I've always wondered why people use the adjective "living" when referencing shit. So obviously, it's "C" for me.
Of course, I could resurrect the successful sign from the 2011 Elton John show in Pittsburgh...
Seems a bit too crass for Wheeling, WV. I'd assume the lewdness laws are stricter here this deep in the bible belt. Wheeling PD could arrest you for public obscenity, or even worse, charge you with "encouragement of homo-eroticism." With either charge, they'd haul you into the giant RV - The Dept. of Homeland Security / Wheeling Counter-Terrorism Active Response Command Center Vehicle. They usually have that mammoth car on hand for potentially dangerous events... you know, stuff like the Wheeling Chili Cook-Off, Italian Festival and minor league hockey exhibition games.
So it's the morning after and here are my thoughts. As expected, the show was a "dead giveaway." I met up with my "gay-date" for the night (my ex-girlfriend's husband). We felt a bit embarrassed even asking for freebies. It's just something about Wheeling. I feel like my mom is going to pick me up after the show. Considering the 2,000+ trek from Phoenix, that's simply not convenient.
And just like I alluded to, it was a complete freebie. Geezer, elder rock star in Wheeling on a rainy Tuesday night. Sure enough, some guy quickly handed us a couple extra tickets. Bang. I felt horrible for this one dude from Glendale. He had 8 print-out tickets with a face value of $147 each. That's a grand total of $1,176 of worthless ticketmaster garbage. Ouch. Kind of like watching a colonoscopy without anesthesia. It was a lengthy and deliberate process. I wanted to lend a hand but there was zero demand. I'd say there were about 15 people outside who ate tickets, some of them had multiples.
We went inside and grabbed some seats behind the stage. All the Wheeling celebs were on hand. I saw the mayor, a Joelle imposter, and a realtor/ex-politician accompanied by his mother (she turfed my lawn a few years ago). I even saw a family that resembled the Honey-Boo-Boo clan. The older daughter walked by me and blurted out, "People are fucking stupid!" Nice.
Elton put on a strong, decadent performance. I admire the guy for playing all these secondary markets. Or in the case of Wheeling, it's more of a distant, tertiary market. We call these smaller venues... sheds. The dates on the t-shits were kind of amusing. Towns like Savannah, Huntsville, Johnson City (TN). I must give Elton credit where credit is due. I seriously doubt that greed was a motivating factor when he mapped out this tour. He doesn't have to play these tiny towns. But he's a real rock star. Some of the current shit bands (Creed, Train, Urine and other 5 lettered bands) could learn a valuable lesson. Then again, they suck so bad... it just doesn't really apply.
All in all, the concert was decent. Basically a greatest hits package. Compared to last years Pittsburgh show at Consol, the energy level was surprisingly higher. I sensed a deeper level of gratitude with the fans. They seemed to be saying, "Thank you for breathing a little life into our decaying downtown. We really needed it. The last 25 years have been really rough."
My alter ego in Ohio had some song alteration suggestions on facebook. For the locals, instead of Philadelphia Freedom... go with Triadelphia Freedom. For the gas drillers, instead of Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting... go with Saturday Night's Alright for Fracking. For the biker gangs of East Ohio... Rocket Man becomes Crotch Rocket Man. To properly address the chlamydia outbreak in Bell-Dirty, instead of "The Bitch is Back"... I suggested "The Itch is Back."
Some of the orange fold-out chairs had difficulty "encompassing" the morbidly obese. Me thinks it's amusing to watch people pay in the hundreds supposedly in search of the best seats. It becomes a rude awakening when the neighboring flab encroaches into your domain. You paid all that money and ended up with only 2/3 of a seat. I'd like to see a "luxurious, over-sized recliner section" for people exceeding the 300 lb. mark. Problem solved.
I did find a WVU ball cap. It's going straight into the washing machine. Perhaps it's an omen because I was just offered a free WVU-Maryland ticket game for this weekend. We're 27 point favorites. Seems a bit high, even for the Holgerson era. Then again, welcome to the big leagues. If we're going to legitimately compete with Texas and Oklahoma instead of Syracuse and Rutgers, there are gonna be some early monster lines. Instead of LET'S GO.... MOUNTAINEERS, I think the new stadium back and forth war cry should be - LET'S COVER... THAT SHIT!