My Week With Bruce

Part 1
The ePITome of the happiest place on Earth.

The Pit and BeyondThere is not an inch of my body that is not sore. There is not a cell in my being that is not exhausted. This is not a complaint. This is the morning-after effect of a person who has spent the previous evening in a prime spot in the pit of a Springsteen concert.

This week, my husband, Greg, and I did something we always wanted to do, and that was follow our Rock and Roll hero from one city to the next. More hard-core fans than the two of us have managed to do this dozens, if not hundreds, of times. While we are dedicated fans, hard core even, we are either not wealthy enough, too frugal or too lazy to travel city to city for Bruce. So we watch him live on the Ustreams that the more robust fans post, or follow #Springsteen on Twitter for a tweet by tweet update of the set list.  But this week, we managed a two-city trip, and drove to Anaheim, CA for his December 4th concert, then flew to Phoenix for the last show of his 2012 US tour.

The stars aligned and blessed us for both shows this week. We tried twice to get in the pit, and twice we succeeded. For the uninitiated, the pit is the area in front of the stage where anywhere from about 300 to 500 fans stand to see Springsteen and the E Street Band do the magical, musical voodoo they do better than anyone. To get in the pit, the fans arrive hours before show time,  line up to get numbered wristbands, and hope that their number is picked in a lottery. It’s like Hunger Games without death and with a big, emotional payoff.

If we sound like geeks, then get this: This is how we choose to spend our honeymoon. We even made poster board signs, requesting “Burning Love” in Anaheim, and “Drive All Night,” in Phoenix, and on both signs, we wrote “For our Honeymoon.” We were close enough that Springsteen got a look at both signs, but, being The Boss, had different ideas about which songs requests he wanted to play that evening.

It didn’t matter. When Springsteen took the stage in Anaheim, he asked in a sing-song, part-gospel, part musical-emcee greeting, “Gooood evening Anaheim! Are you ready to be transformed?” And, all of us, every person in the pit and in the seats, cried back, “YESSSSSSS.” By the end of the evening, many of us were–and those that weren’t? They were in seats, up high, away from the Pit.

To fully experience a Springsteen concert, you have to be in The Pit. It is the congregation. It’s wear you receive the Spirit in the Night feeling that you can only get from being strategically located at a Springsteen concert. A good rock concert can leave you happy for days. A great Springsteen performance can energize your soul. Yep, it can transform you; albeit, temporarily, until the normal drags of life start tugging and pulling again, and then, the only cure is, for someone like me, at least, another Springsteen show seen from the pit.

The pit is also the place where you meet friends and enemies. The enemies are the people who block your view. At 5’1 (after a lot of yoga and stretching) in my bare feet, tall people are my enemy. At my height, I have a lot of enemies in the pit. So I befriend them. A man who had to be 9’0 feet tall even though he was probably actually 6’5 stood smack in front of us before the show started. We had strategically planted ourselves dead center in front of the ramp, where Bruce walks out to sing a few songs. Giant guy, as Greg and I had started to secretly call him, stood between us and the center stage. There was no way I’d see–or Greg as pit people naturally move in their spot, whether dancing or trying to get a better view.

So I tapped the guy  on the arm. “Would you snap our photo, please?” Greg looked at me as I handed my iPhone to Giant Guy. He snapped our photo and we held up our Anaheim sign: “Burning Love for our honeymoon.” Giant guy handed my phone back, and we struck up a conversation. I learned his wife was my height, and didn’t like coming to shows because she, too, considered the tall folks of the world her enemy.

Hug a short person. We need it, especially if we love Springsteen.

Giant Guy became our friend and seemed determined all evening to never, ever, not even for a second, get in the way of our view. To the left of us was a friendly couple, to the right of us were two women. The women were chatty and through them, we got alerts on celebs in the audience, and even in the pit. Rob and Chad Lowe were braving the pit, and fans were polite enough not to bug them too much, though the brothers amiably posed for photos. We thought we saw Joel McHale, but none of the reviews of the show mentioned him among the many celebrities listed.

Around 8:00, the stadium was nearly full and the aisles were jammed with late comers getting to their seats. The hum and buzz of the audience was getting louder, and the excitement was building. It’s like any concert. In the pit, though, people seemed anxious. In part because they knew they were about to see their favorite musical artists, and honestly, the other part was because most of us had been standing since 4:30, if not earlier, having lined up to be one of the winning numbers that got to be right here. We knew we had three more hours, at least, of standing and dancing. At 8:25, the lights went out, and the audience roared. The time had come. We were ten minutes away from the happiest place on Earth, Disneyland, but the location had moved for one night only.It was fitting then, that as the band came out onto the stage, and the roar of the audience turned from loud to thunderous, Bruce and the E Street Band launched into “Land of Hope and Dreams” . . .

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