A few months after the most glorious concert experiences of my life, a friend of mine was offering around extra tickets for the last leg of Springsteen's tour, which included a mini-residency at Giants Stadium. These concerts would be the last for Bruce in the venue that vaulted him into worldwide arena rock superstardom, as the new Giants Stadium (and I'll be calling it that regardless of whatever corporate name gets stickered all over it, so deal with it, Jets fans) is set to open in 2010. Clearly I had to be there and jumped at the chance. I was met with an interesting choice: General Admission floor seats for the second-to-last night, or 100-level seats for E Street's last ever Giants Stadium show? For some, it seems like a no-brainer. Go for the tour and stadium closer, where the band is bound to pull out all the stops and, given the historical significance of the venue, there may even be a special guest or two. However, recall my Bonnaroo epiphany and you'll see why I made the choice that I did. It simply had to be the floor. After being so close to The Boss that I could see the sweat flying off of his pumping Jersey fists, there was just no way I was opting for the seats, even if it meant gambling that the second-to-last E Street show at Giants Stadium would measure up to the finale. Observe below to see why I clearly made the right choice.
My favorite part about this is that more than once in the video you can clearly hear me muttering, "Where's The Boss man? Where is he?" only to have him emerge into view mere feet from our position. My second favorite part is the fact that we somehow managed to not notice the mini stage in the center of the floor just to our right until Bruce was standing on it. We were just in the right spot at the right time, and you're just going to have to believe me that it worked out that way. Oh, and 60-year-old Bruce crowd-surfing a solid 40 yards. I guess that's my third favorite part. It's the story of 2009 in a nutshell, really. All-time highlight memories sporadically cropping up amongst an otherwise murky sea of confusion and doubt.
This now puts us right smack in the thick of October, my favorite month of the year. If ever there was a saving grace for 2009, it was October. Not only did it include the aforementioned Bruce experience, but the YANKEES WON THE WORLD SERIES! If you know me or have read this here blog at all, you'll know how much the 2009 MLB Playoffs lifted up my Worst Year Ever. Some of you reading right now may have been there for this guy's birthday celebration, watching me jump for joy during Game 2 of the ALDS as A-Rod tied it with a HR in the bottom of the 9th and Teixeira walked it off with a wall-scraper in the 11th.
In the next round, I was able to score tickets for the Littlest Bro (who is ironically the biggest of we 3 Schiff Brothers) and I to see the Yanks take care of the Angels and capture their 40th pennant in Game 6 of the ALCS. Of course, our first attempt to see the game was rained out, but, as we saw time and time again in '09, out of the FAILstorm emerges a WIN. Because of the rainout, Littlest Bro was forced to head home, so myself and Middle Bro went to drop him off with our Aunt and Uncle who were heading back to Jersey after seeing John Stamos star in Bye Bye, Birdie on Broadway. That's right, folks, Uncle Jesse himself. Here at Schiff Happens, we have sung Stamos' praises before, but never did we expect to actually meet the proprietor of the Smash Club.* However, the stars aligned that night, leading to one of the greatest pictures ever taken of the Schiff Brothers.
Yes, I'm well aware that only half of my face is visible. I stand by my statement. Note to all of you out there who will now attempt to stake out the Stamos: Try to avoid saying "Uncle Jesse on 3!" just before you snap the picture. Ask Littlest Bro about it.
As October turned into November, the Yankees ended nine long years of frustration with World Series win number 27 and another parade down Broadway. Yes, I'm well aware that complaining of the Yankees "struggles" is ridiculous. I apologize for nothing. I also should probably mention that I was in the house to watch the Bombers take down the Philthadelph in Game 2 of the World Series alongside Middle Bro, which was especially satisfying since we got to chant "Who's your daddy?" at Pedro Martinez all night. Probably should also mention that it was free. Hey, I said the highs were all-timers.
The final positive of 2009 was Phish's fall tour. For the first time ever I decided to try and check out an entire multi-night run, procuring tickets for Wednesday and Friday nights at Madison Square Garden, and Saturday night at my alma mater, The University of Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena. Of course, Thursday - the one night of the four I went into without a ticket - was the night of note. I joined my friends at the bar near MSG for their pregame, and just as I was about to go do a lap around the arena to scour for an extra, the guy next to me at the bar leaned over and said, "You need a ticket? Here you go." He pulled out a mail order ticket, I managed to mutter something along the lines of, "Are you serious?" and he said, "Sure, why not? I was gonna eat it anyway. Buy me a beer and it's yours." So, for the price of the beer I was able to ensure that I saw "Fluffhead" for the first time live. I'd call that a victory. Of course, that was also the night I learned that Jonathan Larsen, creator of RENT, died of an aortic aneurism, and didn't even have a little bit of AIDS. I'd call that a loss. A major loss. I have never felt so bamboozled in my life, and to be honest, I'm still getting over it a little bit. The story will have to wait for another time, because I'm getting emotional just thinking about it, and because quite frankly, it's 8:30 on New Year's Eve and we've all got some drinking to do.
So before you head out to whatever loft party, watering hole, or slump buster you're hitting up tonight, take a minute to view perhaps my favorite video of 2009. I call it, "How Not To Shoot a Concert Bootleg," and when you consider that this hilarious piece of pure, unadulterated FAIL was shot just moments after the incredible joy and good fortune captured in the "Hungry Heart" video above, it's the perfect sendoff for 2009, the Worst Year Ever. May 2010 be the most epic of WIN for all of us.
Happy New Year.
*Wow, definitely didn't remember that the original Stamos post was Yankees-related. Weird. Awesome.