Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Woman of a Certain Age Goes to See Bruce Springsteen: Baby Boomer Concert Tips

As you know, Hubby and I like to go to concerts, mostly of the rock & roll variety. I mean, c'mon, we're Baby Boomers.  We invented rock and roll! 

Every year we go to the outdoor concerts at our local winery, the Chateau Ste. Michelle and the occasional big venue concert (I wrote about one concert year in "What I Did On My Summer Stay-cation: My Summer in Concerts").

That year in a big arena we saw Lionel Ritchie

and Cher

and at smaller venues Steve Winwood, ZZ Top, Ringo, Crosby, Stills and Nash and others. 


Since then we have seen Paul McCartney,


Chicago (yes, that's us with the band),

Gregg Allman,

The Four Seasons,

and of course, Hall & Oates (Hubby's favorite).

There have been so many others I can't keep track. 

Let's just say that even though I don't have a bucket list for life (which I wrote about a couple of years ago in "My Unbucket List"), I did have one for bands - and Bruce Springsteen was one of the last ones on the list.

When I heard he was coming to Seattle (and he hadn't been here since 2008), I knew we had to go even though I have come to loathe the big arenas (more about that later).

But concert-going can be a bit tricky for those of us of a certain age, not to mention getting tickets.

So if you are like me, teetering on the edge of old age, but you still like to rock, here are some tips to help make the experience a good one.


***Baby Boomer Concert Tips***

  • Getting Tickets

So, yes, when musicians come to town and you want to see them, you first have to get tickets.  Now that may seem like one of those, "duh moments," but believe me, that first step to see your favorite artist is NOT a no-brainer.  And for those of us of a certain age, it has become difficult indeed.

Getting tickets for concerts for artists in high demand these days, well, good luck!

The Adele ticket debacle was a wake-up call.  When tickets went on sale, it took 10 minutes just to get onto the Ticketmaster site and by then the tickets were all gone.

Remember that you are competing with not just the Internet bots, but younger people who know all of the tricks for maximizing their computers and smart phones to get tickets.  

At the very least, if you know tickets go on sale at 10am on a certain date, you need to be at your computer or on your smart phone or both ready to rumble so that when 10am rolls around you are competitive.  (Here is what Ticketmaster advises.  And here are some other Ticketmaster tips from a third party). If that all sounds like too much for you, get your grandkids to do it for you.  But you have to be poised and ready, if you want to not only get good seats, but any seats at all.

When you get on the Ticketmaster site, I suggest you choose Best Available and let the site choose your seats.  This is not a time to be picking specific seats or being cheap.  Then you need to decide.  Do I jump on these even if they are not so good?  Or try again?

For a concert like Bruce Springsteen (and considering I got shut out of the Adele concert), I didn't want to take any chances.  I bought the first tickets that popped up.  They were OK seats - top row of the first section at the back of the stadium.  Good thing I did because when I went back in to see if I could do better, the show was sold out!  That was within minutes.

In my experience, no seats at an arena are all that good unless there are chairs on the floor and you get in the first couple of rows.  Unfortunately, these days those first rows are usually held for very high prices or Meet and Greet packages.  In this case, Bruce decided he wanted a mosh pit on the floor so General Admission was standing room.  We learned later that even with that, where you would stand was on a lottery system. 

And for those of us of a certain age, we must decide if we can stand for three hours (and actually in this case, Bruce played for 3 HOURS AND 45 MINUTES)!  Also during the concert, Bruce decided to do some crowd surfing.  It was fun to watch from above, but can you imagine if you were down on the floor and Bruce's body moved over on top of you and you were the one responsible for dropping him? 

And if you can imagine yourself standing down in that crowd for almost four hours, you are more of a rocker than I am!

Bottom line for Ticketmaster:  Have an account with your credit card info already set up (when you find your tickets online, they only hold the tickets for a few minutes), be there when the tickets go on sale and don't dawdle!

Latest news:  Ticketmaster will be selling tickets for some concerts on Facebook. Not sure if that will up us or hinder us.

For smaller venues, some of the same rules apply. 

I mentioned that we like to go to a local winery to listen to concerts on beautiful summer evenings.  Even those tickets are getting harder and harder to get.  We have already have seats for Paul Simon, Don Henley, Steve Miller and Culture Club (Remember Boy George?).  And those concerts are already sold out.  We could not get tickets for Tears for Fears.  Who? I know, what's the deal with that?  Baby Boomers still love the 80's, I guess.  That one is now sold out too.

The seating at the winery is divided between reserved seats in front of the stage and general admission for sitting on the lawn. I call the people who choose the lawn, "Lawn People," and they bring their blankets and chairs and portable tables and mini-fridges, all kinds of things, and set up camp.

The lawn tickets are marginally cheaper than the reserved seats and when you factor in that it's first come first served and ticketholders for the lawn must get to the winery in the early morning to get a place in line for the best spots on the lawn, forget it.  Whatever savings I might get for the tickets would be lost having to get up early on a Saturday to stand in line in the sweltering heat. 

And then there is the actual sitting on the lawn thing.  The spaces on the lawn are over on the sides of the stage and in back of the reserved seats.  So the vantage point is not that good but sitting on the lawn?  No thanks.  I know some people actually enjoy that whole experience and are not interested in the reserved seats.  Not this gal, and if you have aches and pains and creaky knees, I don't recommend it for those of us of a certain age, either, unless you really have your act together with chairs and tables and all of that.  But do you really want to stand in line for hours to get your place to set up camp?

At our age, spring for the reserved seats...and one other little perk for the reserved seats at the winery, reserved seats also include using the toilets in the winery.  No porta-potties for me.  I feel sorry for "the lawn people" when they try to get into the winery to use the toilets and are directed to the porta-potties.  On second thought, I really don't.

  • Check out the set list ahead of time
I had mentioned that Bruce played almost four hours.  We sort of knew this going in because Hubby is obsessed with looking up the set list for the tour's previous performances, which you can do, too, at setlist.fm.  (Hubby is also known to stroll up to the stage when the roadies are setting up and taking a look at the set list which is usually sitting on the lip of the stage). Online, he saw that Bruce played 35 songs in L.A.  Though the set list probably varies somewhat from venue to venue, that site is usually a good indicator of what you can expect.  Bruce's tour is called "The River Tour," because he sings the entire "The River" album - and it's a double album! So when he was in Seattle, he sang that album and then ANOTHER 14 SONGS! 

Bruce is not alone in this.  When we saw Lionel Richie, he warned us that he was going to sing "all night long" and he did!  Likewise, Sir Paul was up on stage for three hours straight! And no intermissions! Bruce is 68, Lionel is 66 and Sir Paul was 70 when we saw him.  Those guys love to perform and you practically have to get a hook to get them off the stage.  Except for Sir Paul, they outlasted us!

So do a little research and know ahead of time how long the concert will be.  You can decide if you will be able to hang or not.

OK, so you have your tickets and you know what you are in for. 

The next important tip is to...

  • Arrive on time
Many people think they can figure out the line-up, as in when the main attraction will start playing, so they can time their arrival just as the headliner starts and skip the opening act. 


For a Gladys Knight/O'Jays concert you would think that the O'Jays would open for Gladys, right?  She was the headliner.  Wrong!  She came out first right at 7pm.  If we had not been interested in the O'Jays and thought they were the opening act and decided to come late, we would have missed Gladys.

I think we will see more and more of that as our idols also get older.  They want to get back to the hotel and go to bed!

And arriving late is also annoying to those of us who go there on time and disrespectful to the performer.

  • Potty Breaks and Drinks

Do whatever you need to do so you don't have to get up out of your seat and make me get up out of my seat while the concert is going on. 

If you can't hold your wine, don't drink it... or wear Depends.  And bring enough liquid enjoyment to your seat (where allowed), so you don't need to get up for more.  I have never seen so much activity up and down the aisles of concerts.  It's not only rude to the performer but it's distracting for those of us who are there to hear the music. Do what you have to do, but don't be crawling over me when I am trying to listen to Ringo singing "The Yellow Submarine!"

At the Springsteen concert, we were probably about seven or eight people in off the aisle and when the show started, in stumbled a white-haired couple.  They ploughed over us to get to their seats and already had the glassy expressions of people who had done a bit too much drinky poo already.  I didn't think much of it, even when the man was up out of his chair rockin' and rollin' like mad, splashing his drink all over the people in front of him.  It started to get a bit irritating, though, on his third trip over us to get more drinks and that was just in the first half hour.  Then he didn't return.  Later, though, security showed up to talk to his wife.  Something must have happened to him on that last wine run.  Unfortunately, his wife was passed out in her seat!  These two were at least in their 70's!

Just remember, sex, drugs and rock & roll looked great when we were in our twenties and thirties.  Not so much now.

  • Standing

And speaking of standing...if you are not in a standing room only area, keep your standing to a minimum.  I know you still want to show your rock and roll cred by standing up and rocking out. That's OK, but please don't do it for the entire concert unless everyone else is up out of their seats. That shows a complete lack of concern for your fellow concert goers.  I don't need to have your big middle-aged butt in my face for the whole concert. 

  • Talking


I can't tell you how many times we have had people behind us who yakked through the whole thing.   I have this theory that some people go to these concerts just so they can say they were there.  They actually don't have any real interest in the show. And, yes, when you are at a winery and the wine is unlimited, it is easy to forget where you are, but if you do and you are talking, talking, talking, don't be surprised if I turn around and tell you to shut the you-know-what up.  Because I do want to hear the music.  Constantly talking can also be interpreted as old people not knowing how to behave at a rock concert.  You don't want that, do you?

  • Get up close and personal

If you have the opportunity to get down in front of the stage (and some musicians allow it), do it.

The lighting is just right to make us women of a certain age look good so you might even get a wink from Harry or a guitar pick from the lead guitarist

or a drum stick from the drummer. 

I have high-fived with Ringo

and been bestowed the drum stick by the drummer from INXS.


And even a sweat towel from one of the O'Jays!

(It was actually a fresh towel)

  • Don't delay.

With the recent deaths of David BowieGlenn Frey and other Baby Boomer rock stars who have died before making it to 70 (we Baby Boomers call this "dying young"), don't put off seeing your favorite rock bands from the 60's and 70's.  Like the rest of us, they aren't getting any younger.  We have had "Who" tickets for almost two years now because Roger Daltrey got sick right before they were supposed to perform here, and they had to cancel their Seattle concert (we see them next month).  Don't think you will catch the band the next time they are in town because there might not be a next time!

  • Look fabulous!
You may be old but you are not dead, so put on your finery and get ready to rock!

Remember, we are the Baby Boomer generation. We rocked, we rolled and we were never going to get old!  So represent!

Here's the bottom line for going to concerts:  If you can't get there on time, you can't handle your booze or your continence, you want to stand up in front of me and shake your big butt or you want to talk through the whole concert, then please, not only don't sit by me, but don't come to the concert.

But if you are there to enjoy the band, look fabulous, and want to have fun, come sit by me!

See you there!
What rock bands are on your bucket list?
Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday
for my review of Melissa McCarthy's new movie 

"The Boss"

The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before

 I Die Project."

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