A day into a business trip to Colorado my boss asked me if I wanted to go see Collective Soul and the Gin Blossoms in Denver Thursday night. I hesitated for a moment just thinking about the logistics. The problem was that we were in Colorado Springs, which was an hour and a half drive from North Denver when there was no construction or traffic, and for as long as I can remember there has always been construction and traffic at all hours along that stretch of I-25. The concert started at 7:30 meaning we would have to leave the office right after meetings and during rush hour to get there on time, and would probably not get back until 12:30AM. Then in the morning I had to check out of the hotel, get to the office by 8AM, then drive to Denver at lunchtime to catch a 4 o’clock flight back home. However, in the end I decided that I really should just have the experience; I could always catch up on sleep on the plane.
“Sure, why not?” I said.
On Thursday our meetings ended around 5. After dropping my rental car off in the hotel parking lot and stashing my things in my hotel room, we headed out. As expected, the traffic and construction and accidents were terrible. Google kept cheerfully telling us that while we had a 28, then 39, then 45-minute delay we were still “on the fastest route!” As the roads cleared, I looked up parking options in the area. My boss had already investigated dinner options around the venue. But when we got off the freeway it was already after 7 so instead of trying to figure out the “best plan” we just took the first lot that had a shuttle to the hall throwing all planning out thinking we’d just grab a hotdog or something inside.
The shuttle dropped us off a little bit away from the entrance and we had to walk the rest of the way past several parking lots with plenty of open spaces although with a higher price than we, (well, my boss), had paid. Then, a little outside of the main doors, there was a “food truck” area. Even though it was about 7:20 at that point, we stopped to check it out. It turned out to just be one truck selling food, one truck selling ice cream, and two places selling alcohol. The lines were basically nonexistent except for the huge line in front of the singular truck selling food. There was plenty of room for more trucks which seemed like a big missed opportunity given the apparent demand for subsidence. We decided to skip the line and take our chances inside.
As we approached the first checkpoint my boss told me that his phone was charged which seemed a weird thing to tell me until he explained that the tickets were delivered to an app on his phone. Except when he opened the app to present the tickets there was a picture of Collective Soul quickly replaced by a message saying that there were no upcoming events saved. After fiddling with his phone for a bit and letting other by, then asking the lady applying wristbands for help with the app, she just put wristbands on us and waved us through to the next checkpoint. (And even though there were shouts about having IDs out we never got carded at the next stop—I guess we look old.)
After passing through the metal detectors we finally got to the people who scanned tickets. They fiddled with my boss’s phone for a bit then handed us off to a security guard. My boss showed confirmation emails about the sale and the guard fiddled with my boss’s phone, swiped the credit card used to pay for the tickets with his handheld device, etc. All the while he kept shepherding us through various doors and past barriers until we made a circle and ended up back on the other side of security. He then had us exit the building and head to the ticket counter. Another round of fiddling with the phone on both sides, checking computers and IDs, and swiping credit cards commenced.
My boss finally said something about Collective Soul to which the helpful ticket agent replied that last night was Collective Soul and tonight was Weezer. She added that they had tickets left for tonight’s concert if we wanted to buy some.
My boss seemed a little dejected as he had already seen Weezer, but I said that we were here, (I hadn’t seen Weezer), and might as well. He offered to pay for the new tickets, (I had already reimbursed him for the last ones), but I wouldn’t have that. I like having an adventure and a story to tell, and this was already a pretty good one!
With paper tickets in hand we found that the concert wasn’t scheduled to start until 8. While it was about 7:45 at that point, we asked someone if there was food inside and they said we should really go to the food trucks, (truck really). There was still a long line, but this time we decided to brave it. Things were really slow and as we got to the front of the line I could see why. There were three people in the truck: a cashier, a frazzled woman trying to assemble wraps, (they only sold wraps), and a third guy who sort of walked back and forth in a dazed sort of way sometimes putting something in a microwave or wrapping something, but mostly acting confused. Dazed and Confused I’d say—hey, it’s legal in Colorado, although I’d say wait until after work to partake…
At some point the confused guy disappeared probably to probably get a little more confused and the cashier started helping with the food prep. This seemed to speed up the output considerably, although it was past 8 when our name was finally called. We ate quickly and while my boss seemed a little anxious to get inside, I said that things wouldn’t probably start on time anyway. We swapped stories of Guns-N-Roses concerts where they started a couple hours late, but then played for 3 and a half hours. Except this wasn’t GnR and while Weezer must have an opening act, (they didn’t), the important thing is that we didn’t want to miss the music even if it was “just” an opening band. So we wolfed down the food. It may have been really good or totally awful—no way to tell.
This time we breezed through checkpoints, security, and the ticket scanners. Except for me. I would highly recommend that no one get into a line behind me as no matter what queue I choose it always seems to come to a standstill. In this case the person in front of me was having trouble with the scanner reading his ticket. After about 10 people in the line next to me passed through the person managing that line stopped what she was doing, stepped over to scan my ticket to let me pass.
As we entered the atrium we heard someone announcing Weezer, but after the cheers there was just some more talking. I was not sure what was going on, (but certainly no music yet). My boss stopped to buy a round of beers for us before we wandered out onto the main floor. The band and someone else were sitting on couches just talking. It turned out to be a pre-concert Q&A put on by the radio station sponsoring the event.
After moving our way near the front we started to wonder if the “general admission” ticket applied to the whole place as there did not seem to be any seats except some folding chairs and stools in various areas. So we asked someone who worked there about where to go. She seemed really happy to chat and told us that the whole place was GA except a couple places which she helpfully pointed out, and that she would personally go upstairs, gave us directions, and talked about how the acoustics were designed to send the sound upward, and so on. After thanking her we found our way upstairs. After poking around a bit we ended up at the very back so we could sit on a concrete bench and recline against the wall. The space was supposed to hold 3000 or so people, but it was seemed smaller even at the very back.
The interview was still continuing as we settled in. The crowd was getting restless and starting to boo and chant something as more questions were asked. Just when I thought that a riot might break out, they ended the interview and played a video where various people talked about the band as the crew cleared off the couches and set things up. At first people seemed placated, but as the video dragged on they became agitated again.
Then, finally, the music started—some classics, some covers, older things I had forgotten and newer things I didn’t know. At one point a lady walked up to me and shouted something. I had to have her repeat herself twice before I understood that she was asking if I drank. I said yes and she told me that she had ordered a cranberry vodka cocktail, but it was too strong so she had the bartender split it into a couple cups and would I like one. I again answered yes and thanked her as she walked back to where she had been sitting near us with another woman. My boss sort of gave me a thumbs-up, but I guess I missed his meaning as I thought it meant, “hey, free drink!” (He was driving, so just had the one beer.)
Later, during the break when the band leaves the stage and people make noise until they come back out for the encore, the lady walked over to me again and acted out pouring a drink saying that if you want to get wasted that is the bartender to see pointing in an exaggerated manner toward the nearby bar and laughing. She then gave me a hug and wished me a nice night before heading back to where she was sitting with her friend.
On the ride home and then the next day when recounting the night with the team, my boss said something about me getting hit on by a pretty lady. I figured that she was just an outgoing nice person, but maybe I was supposed to go over and strike up a conversation or something. I guess I’ll never know as that moment is gone and I head out tomorrow. But I did get an experience and a story to tell. Which I would not have gotten if I did not say…
“Sure, why not?”