Thursday, August 19, 2010

getting Consoled

Getting "consoled" is the act of being placated. A consolation prize? I've seen them given out on The Price is Right. It's usually high end dishware and a years supply of laundry detergent. How quaint. Well, those definitions took on an entirely new meaning Wednesday night.

Gig and I hit up the brand new Consol Energy Center for the huge Paul McCartney opener. It was the first night of a totally sold-out two night stand. I had a hunch that there would be a slew of extra tickets on the street. I envisioned the sidewalks teeming with 50+ year old men and women trying to dispose of overpriced tickets for next to nothing. Ohhh, how I was severely mistaken. I'll start from the beginning.
I zipped up to her place around 3pm. I hadn't eaten anything all day and was a little out of sorts. Gig seemed a little off as well. She had some minor wardrobe dilemmas and without getting too descriptive, I had a mild degree of abdominal discomfort. We had some grilled salmon and a light vegetable salad which I scarfed down. I wanted to get to the venue on the early side. I figured traffic would be a bitch since there was a Pirates game that night as well. Gig assured me it would not be an issue. So we headed up the back way - down through Millvale, 28 South, Shadyside, Polish Hill, deep through "the hood" and parked directly above the now vacant Mellon arena.

We had some vintage wine-to-go in the form of indestructible water bottles. A little Banrock Station Cab (my personal cheapo favorite) and some Menage A Troi red table wine. Sounded good for general imbibing, all purpose no-nonsense high-end concert libation and ease of consumption.

It was around 6pm and the scene was pretty congested. Nothing in the way of extra tix. We ran into my favorite scalping brother Tim. He was hopeful but said things were kind of slow. Just not a whole lot of action. I had already figured that a Paul McCartney show doesn't exactly cry out "big walk-up crowd." Most of the crowd was impeccably dressed and appeared to be in their mid 50's. At age 40, I guess I was one of the rebellious youth.

We surveyed the scene and headed to the bottom entrance. There are only 3 entrances into the venue and it had a spattering of well-guarded employee entrances. Needless to say, it's a pretty secure building. Everything is computerized and state-of-the-art.
A woman in line complained to security, "People are dying out here. It's too hot." The crowd was eager but well behaved. As the sun beamed down, we walked to the box office area. All 5 windows were closed since there were no tickets for sale. We watched a few employees enter the lobby area. I noticed the door never completely shut but I was hesitant to just walk in. I knew we'd still need actual tickets. About a minute later a courtesy van pulled up curbside and about 16 men and 2 women jumped out. They looked like corporate brass. All suits and ties and the women looked sharp in their sundresses. One of them opened the door and began to usher the crew inside. I glanced at Gig - alright, this is it. Simply put, we joined the group and walked in with them. In the lobby area was about a dozen people lounging around on over-sized furniture. We both felt out of place. Gig stared intently into her cell phone and began to fake text. So we're both nervous as hell and we rehashed a prior conversation about Sir Paul's flight being delayed and how he probably doesn't fly coach on Southwest Air. I notice one of the suits having a large stack of tickets being scanned by an elderly female usher. I figured, THIS IS IT! The guy glances at the crew and asks, "You guys ready?" I nudge Gig and we walk along with them towards the elevator. We're both a little shaky but we just join in with the group. The first elevator fills up with about a dozen. No room left and I think to myself - sucked. But we were with the next group and within seconds, the other elevator lights up. I jostle us both forward and we stroll to the back of the second elevator. CHING! We is in! We get kind of shuffled to the back and we're on our way up - that's MOVIN' ON UP via fucking George Jefferson! Let me clarify - to a fucking deluxe apartment in the Burgh!

The elevator stops at the suite level. We get out and Gig says she has to use the restroom. I don't blame her as I nearly pissed myself as well. Not too mention the fact that we smuggled in 2 water bottles filled with red wine. Nice. Anyway, we reconnect and laugh like giddy schoolgirls for about 20 minutes. We watch the commoners/suckers enter through the main entrance. It's hard to keep a straight face. Then, I noticed a ballroom filled with our elevator crew. They were all from California University of Pennsylvania. We make some small talk with one her ex-broadcaster/construction friends for a bit and then do a lap around the suite level. Everything is pristine and all the workers are incredibly hospitable. Apparently, Mario Lemiuex walked right by me and I didn't even notice. I guess I was still a bit distracted.

Anyway, we decide to abandon the suite level and hit up the side of the stage. We find some seats on the absolute corner edge of the lower level. Then, two girls show up. We're in their seats. I confide with the usher girl that our seats are scattered (Yeah, right). We talk to the people around us and they seemed pretty cool. Much to our collective chagrin, another usher shows up and asks to see our tickets. She had obviously ratted us out. That's okay. We move to the opposite side of the stage and find some new seats in basically the same location.

Possibly, the all-time lamest effort at a "wave" takes place. This could rank as the saddest, most pathetic moment in the history of the new arena. I'd estimate that 1.3 sections participated for a grand total of 3 minutes. Weak. An hour late, around 8:30pm, the lights go out and the crowd erupts. Sir Paul comes on and launches through Rock Star into Jet. Everyone on the floor is on their feet. But just about everyone on both the lower and upper levels remained ardently seated. Except for about maybe 100 people, the crowd of 20,000 stayed seated as though it were a church service. I'm not talking inner city black church. I'm talking lame ass mainstream Presbyterian reserved shit. But we're up and committed for the duration. Since we're on the side, we weren't blocking anyone.

The concert was completely bad ass. McCartney is in rare form. Highlights for me were Jet, Somebody's Knockin (or whatever that song's called), Dance Tonight, Live and Let Die (great pyrotechnics), Back in the USSR, and the rarely heard Paperback Writer. As expected, it's a greatest hits Beatles/Wings/solo show. We finally finish our wine and go to snag some fresh beverages, but alas, the concessions are closed. That's cool though. During the second encore (keep in mind, he played almost 40 songs for about 2 1/2 hours), we zipped down to the some of the best seats in the house just off the main floor. As the confetti is launched and the show winds down, they take their bows and Paul calls out for a girl to join him on stage. She wants a tattoo of his autograph for which he's more than happy to oblige. Very poignant moment.

The show finally ends and the lights come on. As everyone makes a hasty exit, we just chilled out. I snag a ticket stub lying on the ground ($250 + 11.50 entertainment tax + $12 service charge). I figure, alright! We got a pretty good deal. We eventually bolted and Gig found a print-out ticket for her collection as well. I had earlier suggested she just carve out McCartney's face from some "no-meat/vegan promotional crap." After we made it outside we ran into "tattoo girl." she was still basking in the glow. I suppose we were too. What a fucking bad ass concert! I think it was the free mode of entry which really provided the exclamation point. Truth be told, it would have been a really tough ticket. Every seat was filled. I honestly thought it was going to be an easy one based on the ticket brokers buying up the whole arena and then they added an additional show. Wrong/Fail.

The entire experience forced me to arrive at one unmistakable conclusion. The more someone spends on tickets, the more completely fucking lame they are. I'm not suggesting everyone try to sneak in or snag tix on the street, but seriously, I think it's directly related to arrogance, laziness and bragging rights. Ooooohhhh, I spent $250 on great seats and another $200 on dinner and $25 on parking and bought a t-shirt for $50. Not too mention some gay-ass monster limo for a grand and drinks inside that cost another $100. Yeah, I know... I'm a Jew. Well, atheist Jew I suppose. But I think it just speaks to the overall arrogance and sense of entitlement from so many people in this country who equate wasting vast sums of money with how cool they think they're perceived. Let me explain - if you think like this, you're a complete douchebag. I've seen it so many times before.

Here's the truth. You spent $2,000 last night and told everyone you had the best time ever. Well guess what... we spent about $2.00 on gas and we're the ones who had the best time ever. I think my next blog will focus on some of my all-time favorite concert sneak-ins. There's some strong material.


Anonymous said...

The "Somebody's Knockin" song is called Let'em In. And I forgot to mention the killer version of Helter Skelter near the end of the show. SAF

Anonymous said...


If you don't mind me adding...we witnessed 1/4 of the BEATLES!!!

Two of Us, I'm Looking Through You,
I've Got a Feeling, Something, these were songs I still can't get over I heard...LIVE!
(I loved Helter Skelter and Sgt. Pepper with the confetti...very cool ending).
Great time, My Love.
Consol ENERGY Center? Hell, yeah!!!

Mary Lynn said...

While Sir Paul is certainly a draw, I think a big part of the sellout and lack of any street tix was that it was the first event at the new arena.

Larry said...

So do you go down in history as the first person to sneak into the new arena?

Anonymous said...

Mary Lynn - I think the lack of street tix can be attributed to 4 things:
1) median age of concert goer was around 50. People that age generally don't show up empty handed.
2) McCartney sells out EVERY venue.
3) People are willing to travel to see him. Lots of people from outside Pittsburgh.
4) Like you said, first ever event at Consol.

Larry - Gig and I discussed this. We guessed that maybe 40 or 50 people probably gained illegal entry, but the majority of those did it with assistance from security or Consol workers. I'd say about a baker's dozen or so made it inside w/o any help.

And considering that we were in about 1/2 hour before they opened the main gates, and Gig was following me.... Fuck Yeah, I think I was the first person to sneak into Consol. SAF