If I were to start this tale at the beginning of the day, this would be a long entry. One far too long for my energy level at this moment, so I'll save Sunday morning for another time...
After getting off work at 10:15 am when my roommate/relief got there, I called Chad to tell him I was off, grabbed coffees at Little City, changed, and waited for Mark to be somewhat ready. As tends to happen when a road trip of any sort is being undertaken, Mark was not ready. This being at least the third time the three of us have gone galavanting across the Great State of Texas we were more or less expecting it and were not really bothered by it, nor were we in any particular rush.
For the greater part of the ride towards Waco, we sat trying to guess what the next song would be on the "Hair Nation" (inspired largely by the fact that I'd just begun my detour from McCullough's John Adams that morning and was quickly becoming enamored with Klosterman's Fargo Rock City) and "Movin' EZ" stations on Chad's Sirius Radio, starting with Hair Nation, going to Movin' EZ, then switching back to Hair Nation when it was determined that Movin' EZ tendencies to play more Streisand and Warwick than Bread and Hall & Oates was going to make us gay. In case you were wondering, no, they did not play Minnie Riperton's "Loving You", which was quite the disappointment.
Despite Chad's primal urge to gorge himself on Flying J fare, he was more than willing to forgo a meal there in favor of buying half of Mark's $6 way in to the Dr. Pepper Museum in order to take a gander at the scariest thing ever:
Animatronic Doc Alderton, complete with moving eyes. After being scared sufficiently shitless, Mark met us back at the soda fountain, where Chad and I were trying not to be lewd, which requires herculean effort on even our best days. In no more than ten minutes, we'd shown Mark what he needed to see, grabbed Dr. Pepper soda-fountain-style, and got back on the road.
Our next stop was a brief one in Hillsboro, where we couldn't help but feel bad for the gay young Black man working the counter at Taco Bell, as Hillsboro did not strike us as a town that would be especially open to that. I made sure to be especially nice to him, as I'd imagine most people who come up to the counter at a Taco Bell in Hillsboro, Texas, just look on in shock, afraid that they're going to catch the gay. But I could be wrong. Probably not, though. At any rate, we determined that he'd more than likely end up in Austin within the year.
Back in the car (and following my realization that as a child I had really gay taste in music*, which probably means something), we resumed out retarded guessing game and put in calls to find out the following two things: 1.) Was Lou Gramm the lead singer of Night Ranger or Foreigner (the latter)? and 2.) Who was the non-Paul Carrack singer in Mike + the Mechanics** (Paul Young)? I split on those, so pride was won and then promptly lost, leaving me empty inside, right where I started...
* This was set off when I reasserted my belief that Okkervil River sounds like Counting Crows, whose CDs were in my collection back in the 1990's but were sold at least eight years ago. I then proceeded to admit that I also owned Throwing Copper (I still kind of like "Lightning Crashes" although not nearly as much as I used to and I'd love to watch the episode of Strange Luck that it was featured in). I saved face when I could truthfully say that I hated Collective Soul and that Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid was unquestionably garbage and that Billy Corgan pretty soundly burned them back when Collective Soul tried to knock the Pumpkins. Ryan, if you're reading this, and remember the details, please post the story in the comments section.
** By the way, Rutherford does appear to have co-written almost all of their songs and wrote "The Living Years" with some dork named B.A. Robertson. Both of them had recently lost their fathers.
Eventually, we rolled into the American Airlines Center Platinum Parking Ramp with an hour to spare before we were required to have gotten our wristbands for some retarded lottery that they were going to have for the floor ticket holders for the evening's festivities. Wristbands firmly sealed, we set off to the Victory Tavern and Grille, which you can most definitely avoid, mostly so that Mark could take a dump before setting foot in an arena. Absolutely retarded pricing. I, too, made use of their facilities and believe I got my $28 worth out of that place in one way, at least. Mark said that it was the most expensive shit he'd ever taken and all he got was a bowl of soup and a beer.
Upon settling our bill (and getting the $10 I was almost shorted in change), we headed over to the Floor Ticketholders Retardo-Lottery where we lost and were stuck in the second section of the floor, but it took the Keystone Kops about 45 minutes to get the second flight of floor people, so we got to wait for a year or so before we got to go in.
Once set in our spots on the floor, we waited. While we waited, we wondered to ourselves why we didn't just get assigned seat, but in retrospect we didn't really know that we'd get dicked by some nonsensical lottery system or that we would've been able to see just fine from just about all the seats in the joint. But after suffering through an insanely long sound check and a howling group of fucktards from Vidor*, the Boss finally came on stage and unfurled this set. Anyone who's seen the Boss already knows what I'm about to say, but if you haven't, here you go. He's fucking amazing. He's so high-energy. He's coming up on 60 and could run circles around my lazy ass. And I truly believe he's one of about four artists (Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and Bob Dylan) who have been around since the 1970's or longer and are still producing relevant music.
* For the first time, I was at a concert where I was largely impressed by the fans at the show. It really seems like the only people who were a problem were 20-somethings. In fact, all of the people around me who were more middle-aged were pretty awesome. They were really into everything but didn't let their enthusiasm turn them into annoying assholes. The same cannot be said for about half of the 20-somethings around me. Coming in at the top of my shit list was a guy in an Asbury Park three-quarter sleeve shirt with two trampy East Texas girls, all of whom were extremely fucked up. Unfortunately they were not so fucked up that the tone-deaf, rhythmless choad--who I'll refer to as Wayne from here on out--forgot the lyrics to all of his songs. Nope. Wayne sang out. Loudly. And off-key. And he clapped. A lot. Out of rhythm, like the drunk-ass white guy he was. And he really loved to shove his open hand up into the air, then clench his fist meekly, then lower his hand, wait 30 seconds and then repeat the whole process again. Slowly but surely, these assholes tried to wedge themselves in ahead of me, to which I did not budge, despite the whore-y attempt by Harlot #2 at grinding against me in what I can only assume was a brilliant attempt to use her feminine wiles to gain access to the slot in front of me. And were this a person who was not incredibly irritating for so many more reasons that I don't care to elaborate on I'd have probably allowed them past, but not here.
As far as the set was concerned, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" was probably the song I'd ideally have heard first, so to have him kick off with that was pretty great. The Magic songs really fit in well with the rest of the set (especially "Devil's Arcade" and "Last to Die") and are a testament to his consistency over the years. I loved hearing all but two tracks from Born to Run, an album I used to not be too crazy about (the prevalence of the horns bothered me) but have recently come around on. "Because the Night" was amazing. Clarence Clemons' solo in "Jungleland" was completely arresting and borderline shocking, since he's coming up on 67 years old. Hell, all of "Jungleland" was arresting. You kinda just stood there in awe. "Born to Run" was great, and the Born to Run trifecta to start the encore was golden. The weirdest/best moment had to be when Bruce brought Jon Bon Jovi on stage to sing "Glory Days" with them. And the closer, "American Land" is one helluva knockout punch.
As we walked out, there was no doubt in our minds that we'd spent roughly $100 well. The show was one of the best I've ever seen, if not the best.
In what would become arguably the worst spending of money (Victory does factor into the equation), we decided to hit the Jack in the Box drive-thru, and Mark and I fell asleep, leaving poor Chad to the road and his sleep-deprived depravity. Waking up in Austin an hour-and-a-half later, Dokken was on, and I couldn't believe I'd fallen asleep for so long. After dropping Mark off, we pulled up to my house with Bon Jovi's "Runaway" rattling out of the speakers, bringing the day in which I finally saw the guy whose "Tunnel of Love" became the first tape I ever owned to an appropriate end.
I hope there are many more times.