I raced down the freeway, assuming that every car I passed was trying to beat me to the Seattle Showbox. I parked a stones throw from the venue and sprinted to the doors in my sweats and tattered wool overcoat. I arrived, victorious. It was 12:05 AM. There were a handful of stragglers stumbling out of the Florence + the Machine concert that just ended, but no one was hanging around. There were a couple of panhandlers – who accepted me as one of their own – and a street vendor breaking down his hotdog stand. But the official line for tickets to a secret Soundgarden concert that would be announce in 10 hours consisted of…me.
But let me back up for a moment so you can appreciate just how exhausted I was. You see, I had just been at the Showbox two days before to see Brad in concert – a show that reunited Mother Love Bone, Malfunkshun, Pigeonhed and Brad among others. No one was leaving that one early. Security would have had to carry me out kicking and screaming. And that happened. Kinda. A few of us were asked to leave the concert after (and now I’ll steal a line from a blogger friend of mine) “the crowdy bitch wouldn’t get off my lawn” all night. Fortunately, a kind word from Steve Fisk (Pigeonhed) got everyone back in the show and we missed very little. So after a long night I was in bed by 2 AM and then got up at 5 AM for work. To say that I was tired by Friday morning was an understatement. The dead aren’t tired like I was tired.
Now, you could imagine the guest list for a concert like Brad – filled with Seattle rock royalty. Everyone was there and everyone was talking. Everyone was talking about a secret Soundgarden show. Up to that point, the public didn’t know the show was on. But then Twitter lit up with vague messages during the concert. Okay. It’s out. I was one of the privileged few that were told the week before, but warned that folks were already leaking too many details. Management wanted to control the release of information on this one, so this was the deal; keep quiet and we’ll tell you where to go and what to do to get into the show. They were serious about the leaks too. I posted, “…imminent announcement” on Twitter Monday night and you’d have thought I had released U.S. nuclear codes to Iran.
Later, I was told to be in line at 10:00 AM on Friday morning to buy tickets to the show AND TELL NO ONE. Okay, I’m not on the guest list. I get it. I’m nobody. But I had just been given enough information to assure that I would witness the first concert that Soundgarden has played anywhere in 13 years. Stoked.
Standing on the cold, hard sidewalk outside the Showbox I tweeted, “Nothing sweeter than a ticket EARNED.” Within minutes I was pinged with text messages from friends and encouragement from my Twitter peeps. Hearty Soundgarden fans started to arrive – including most of the members of the Seattle band, Amsterdam. We overheard several different staff members leaving the Showbox, complaining they had to be back at 10 AM tomorrow. We had no doubt. We were in.
There was plenty of talk about Soundgarden albums and shows. We strategize about coffee, bathroom breaks and the ideal ratio of Swedish Fish to Jolly Ranchers Screaming Sours you need to eat at the same time for a perfectly balanced confectionary experience. I learned a lot that night. It was a non-stop parade of working girls, crackheads (who kept forgetting that we met them 5 minutes ago), drug addicts, street hustlers, and one friend of Jesus on a bicycle. Now, I follow Jesus on Twitter, and this guy was nothing like Twitter Jesus. Trust me. One of the guys in our line took off for a long stretch, which sparked a little speculation about the strip club up the street. He claimed that he slept in his car. Sure. Let’s go with that.
Afterward we started laying down rules for the line. Is there line etiquette? We didn’t know. We were all making this up. We didn’t stress it. There were only a handful of us. There was a guy who drove up from California and was living out of his car. Another guy was a hardcore Sounders fan who found me on Twitter. And there was a couple that seemed well connected to the grunge scene.
But I wasn’t taking any chances with losing my place in line by falling asleep in my car and waking-up around noon. I came prepared – dragging around a garbage bag filled with blankets, water, radio and pizza for breakfast. I posted a few more tweets and then powered down my phone to conserve battery life. I spread an old blanket over the least offensive slab of sidewalk I could find and tried to sleep. At this point I realized that I would suck at being homeless. With traffic rumbling so close to my head, there was no way I was getting to sleep. I picked up my blanket and realized where that awful smell was coming from – a crusty outline on the concrete below. I couldn’t do anything but laugh. I just assumed that I had been lying on a vomit stain.
Soon the sun was rising on the day that we were going to see Soundgarden play. Joggers trotted by. Delivery trucks roared past. A school bus filled with young, innocent students paused at a corner stoplight. Feeling the weight of their judging stares, I yelled back at them, “Don’t be like us. Stay in school.” The freak show that was the Pike Place Market at night had been washed away. We were the most frightening things left on the streets. It was morning.
Upon powering up my phone I discovered dozens of direct messages on Twitter. I love my peeps. And a cryptic post from a friend, “Nudedragons” – followed by a rant about Fruity Pebbles. Other people in line got the same message and we quickly cracked the anagram for Soundgarden.
By 8:00 AM the line stretched around the block. There were side deals being negotiated everywhere – in line, on Twitter, via text and phone. Let’s just say I was very popular that morning. Everyone knew that if there was a single ticket available at the Showbox, it was mine.
Then a big Internet announcement dropped, “Tickets would be available at will call and Internet only.” Did that confirm there would be tickets available for us at the will call/box office and Internet? Why didn’t they just say Internet only? Were we reading this the way we wanted it to sound? After standing in line for 10 hours, I wasn’t going to walk away without confirmation. I started texting everyone I knew. No confirmation. Meanwhile I was flooded with Twitter questions that were asking me everything from; do I have an extra ticket to what is the Ticketmaster markup. What? No one could confirm anything. But I felt safe because I was first in line and I had judiciously managed my cell phone battery just in case this all came down to some sorta Ticketmaster roulette. Confirmation would come soon enough.
At 9:30 AM I could almost feel the tickets in my hands when a representative from the Showbox came out and started kicking me to the ground – at least that’s how it felt. Addressing the line he confirmed, “There are no physical tickets in there. We have no tickets. This is officially the line for people who have tickets. Stay here as long as you want, but you’re wasting your time unless you already have a ticket.” Someone turned to me and asked if I was leaving. I told him, “You’ve got to be kidding! I’ve been told to be in line at 10:00 AM. I’m not leaving at 9:30.”
Quickly, we got the rest of the story. People signed up on the Soundgarden website will receive an email with a secret code to buy tickets to the Nudedragons concert. I thought, thank goodness I signed up the day they launched the website. I called a few friends to let them know and posted to Twitter. Sure, I wasted all night in line, but at least I was going to get the secret code any minute. In fact on Jan 1st I wrote a blog post telling everyone to sign up on the Soundgarden website for updates. I predicted in the same post that there was going to be a secret show under a pseudonym. I had got everything right.
But at 10:00 AM tickets went on sale and everything went wrong.