(Recorded on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019 at Sonoma Portworks)
I was the front man for my high school rock ‘n roll garage band, the Boss Brothers.
Dreaming of becoming the next Bruce Springsteen, rocking the arena, my band toured the greater Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. We even created an original song.
It sold 19 copies.
And I gave up my dream of becoming the next Bruce Springsteen, rocking the arena. I wasn’t going to be rocking any arenas.
Fifteen years later, Bruce Springsteen reunites with his original band, the E Street Band. And they announce a reunion tour. Now, I have to get tickets. They announce a show at the Oakland arena, Dec. 15, 1999. So I rush to get tickets.
And it’s sold out!
They announce a new date, a second show. I rush to get tickets.
They announce a third date.
I get tickets!
Third deck, last row. It’ll be great. It’s Bruce Springsteen. It’ll be a great concert.
So, I pick up my date, and we climb the three sets of stairs to the third deck, we go down the concourse and we get to my seat section. Just before we turn into my seat section, this surfer dude stops me.
“Hey man, want to trade tickets?”
“I have terrible seats. You don’t want my tickets.”
“No, no, no. Let’s trade. You’ll get better seats.”
Well, any seat would be better than mine.
“Front row center.”
[Sigh] “How much?”
“Just give me your tickets, and we’ll trade.”
At that moment, another couple walks up, and says, “Are you doing upgrades? Because if you are, we want some.”
“I just promised my last pair to this guy. We’re trading, right?”
“Front row? [long pause] Okay.”
I give him my tickets. He immediately walks away, with my tickets and his tickets. He says, “Hey, follow me. We have to take a special entrance.” So I grab my date, and I follow him down this dark hallway, to a service elevator. He gets in the elevator, and he says, “Come on.” I grab my date, and we get in the elevator, and he pushes the button for the basement. And my date looks over at me, and I get this sinking feeling, as we descend into the bowels of the Oakland Arena.
I think, “Okay, this must be where we get mugged.”
The doors open [makes a swoosh sound], and there’s a security guard there, who lets the surfer dude pass. “Come on,” he says. “Follow me.”
And we’re in this underground party, and I see security tags and guitars, and surfer dude is making his way to the other side, where there is another security guard, who lets him pass.
“Come on, follow me!”
Now he opens a door, and now we’re in this tunnel, and it’s dark, and there’s this scaffolding, and it’s strange.
And he says, “We’re under the stage.”
We make our way to the other side, and he pulls back a curtain, and I step up and see the entire Oakland Arena there before me. And surfer dude says, “This is Stevie Van Zandt, the guitarist’s microphone. This is Bruce Springsteen’s microphone. And here are your seats. Oh, and this man right here, this is Bruce’s personal bodyguard, Benny. If you need anything, just let him know.”
WEST SIDE STORIES
This true story by Jeff Hensen was recorded live on Wednesday, Jan. 2 at Sonoma Portworks in Petaluma as part of the monthly West Side Stories “story slam” competition hosted by Dave Pokorny. Each month, storytellers are randomly selected from the audience to tell short true tales based a theme. This month’s theme was “A New Day,” and the audience voted on their favorites, resulting in a tie between Hensen and John Mattern, whose story follows this one. The next West Side Stories show will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 6:30 p.m. The theme will be “Faith.” For more information visit westsidestoriespetaluma.com.