On Wednesday morning, I woke up exhausted. Despite our jam-packed Tuesday, I was hyped up after arriving home and couldn’t fall asleep without hearing the opening riffs of “White Limo” over and over in my head. Work went by very slowly, and I left at 2 to pick my brother up.
My brother and I had a really exciting opportunity ahead of us that Wednesday. I hadn’t blogged about it before because I knew the chances of actually getting in would be small, so I didn’t want to jinx myself. A week before, Foo Fighters were confirmed to play at the MTV Woodie Awards, an awards show that honors college radio music. This year would be the first the awards would be held in my city, and 850 free tickets were being given away to music fans. As soon as Nathan told me, I hurriedly put in a request for my brother and me. In the comments section of the request ticket, I wrote a small blurb how the Foo Fighters changed our lives (true), how Dave Grohl was influential to me and was the reason why I started drumming (true), that Patrick started playing guitar because of him (not true – Patrick had been playing guitar at least 6 or 7 years before we saw them in concert…but I figured that saying otherwise couldn’t hurt our chances), and that seeing them perform even one song would make our year (true). Tap put in for tickets roughly at the same time I did. Then we had to wait to see if we would be awarded tickets
Later that night, I received an email saying that I’d been awarded tickets. Tap didn’t get tickets and neither did a coworker, so I knew I was very, very lucky. The catch was that the facility was “overbooked” slightly, and that ticket holders weren’t guaranteed tickets. I knew Patrick and I had to show up early to score a spot in the awards show.
We originally showed up at the venue at three, but no one was there yet, and nobody knew who we were talking about. We left to get an early dinner. Since I had nowhere to drive for the next eight hours, I had a margarita with my dinner (and it was very delicious). We kept checking back at the venue to see if anyone was in line. The MTV employees didn’t know where everyone was meeting at. We decided to check in the garage one more time to see if people had lined up around 6 o’clock. Sure enough, there were about ten people waiting. If we hadn’t checked at that time, we would not have gotten in.
We were separated into two lines – priority ticket holders and standard ticket holders. Patrick and I had standard tickets. At the time, I didn’t know how many “priority” holders there would be – I figured maybe 100 people at tops. And since we showed up so early, I felt our chances of getting in would be reasonably good. I sent happy texts to my parents, who wanted to be updated on our chances of getting in.
I was wrong. Throughout the night, as more and more people poured in, it became clear more “priority” tickets were given than standard tickets. At one point, Patrick estimated at least 500 people had priority tickets. There was a lot of confusion over who would be let in first and when people would be let in the venue. I don’t think even the employees knew. It was frustrating because it was very disorganized. Even worse, I overheard an employee saying that due to fire code, only 650 people would be allowed in. The more priority ticket holders showed up, the smaller our chances grew. I sent sad texts to my parents and Tap. The crowd you see in the picture below is just a small fraction, believe me.
At one point, we were given wristbands and black and yellow towels to wave during the Wiz Kalifa performance “Black and Yellow,” but we still did not get excited. We waited a total of four hours. Four hours. FOUR HOURS. We talked to a group of college kids who were waiting in line with us. Patrick and I complained about the disorganization. The longer we waited, the more dismal and inappropriate our sense of humor became. We were going to dark places. And we didn’t even bother hiding our laughter from people who were strolling in at 9:15, dressed up in ridiculous outfits, and assuming they were going to be let in when people like us had been waiting for hours already. We were definitely enjoying the schadenfreude of watching their faces as they saw hundreds and hundreds of other people in line. And you could tell the music fans from the partiers right away. The music fans wore sensible shoes and outfits. The women showing up to party were dressed in six-inch heels, which I think would be death to wear at a concert.
Finally, groups of priority ticket holders were being lined up. We were told that 500 would be taken from the priority ticket group, then 100 standard ticket holders would be chosen, and then the rest of the pool would be taken from the priority ticket group. Then we were told that only 75 people would be taken from the standard group. We watched sadly as more than 500 people were being chosen from the priority group. As we watched hundreds of ticket holders being let through, we knew that our chances were growing slimmer and slimmer.
Patrick and I were near the very front of the standard ticket line. When an employee counted us off, we hurriedly left the parking garage we had been waiting in for hours. People in the standard line started cheering for us. “I FORGOT WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BREATHE FRESH AIR,” Patrick shouted as we emerged outside. I felt very excited, though my intuition told me that we weren’t in the clear yet.
Sure enough, while we were going through security, we heard a guard say, “You need to cut the group off. We have enough.” I eyed my brother and gestured him to stay close to me. It was all or nothing – I wasn’t going in without him. I don’t know how many more people behind us were let in until the line was cut off, but it can’t have been too many; I am confident that we were among the very last group of people to be let in.
Once we went inside, I found myself feeling excitement for the first time. The venue was much smaller than I thought (it looks big on TV but I can assure you it was not), and I realized I shouldn’t have any problem seeing the stage. Patrick and I went to the left side and found our way to the front without any problem. The two girls who had been talking to us were whisked away to stand in the very front row, which was really cool. For the first time in my life, I didn’t care about being on TV or not. I was just happy to have a chance at seeing my favorite band, even if they were performing just one song.
We had to wait for another hour. Watching the production behind-the-scenes was moderately interesting, but I was so tired and ready to see the Foo Fighters, who were performing first. The awards show wasn’t due to start until 11, and we were let into the venue at 10:00. I tried zoning out to make the time go by faster, but it wasn’t working. I felt like my watch got stuck on 10:33 for another hour. “We’re so close!” Patrick said. “It’s like running a race,” I responded. “You could be on the last mile but you’re so tired that the last mile will feel like it’s five.”
Some musicians started showing up, like Matt and Kim, Odd Future, Sleigh Bells, and Wiz Kalifa. I only found out who they were afterwards – I know a lot more about indie music than I did last year, but that’s still not saying much.
Then we heard, “1 minute to go!” and that’s when my heart started beating in excitement. I gazed out at the stage happily. The band were behind a backdrop to open the show, but I could hear them warming up with “Owners of a Lonely Heart” (lol). We started counting down the seconds with the producers like it was New Year’s Eve. When we counted down to one, we all cheered. The band started playing the opening riffs of “Rope” and the backdrop lifted to reveal them all.
My view could not have been more perfect. I could see Dave and Taylor perfectly (as a drummer, they are the members of the band I am a fan of the most). The song seemed to go by very quickly. I didn’t take any pictures since I just wanted to enjoy the one song they were performing and not worry about my stupid camera. But here’s a video of their excellent performance.
And just like that, they were done. It was five hours of waiting for a five minute performance, but the long wait was worth every second. After that, Patrick and I enjoyed the rest of the show, which was hosted by Donald Glover. Here’s a picture of his back.
We waved our yellow towels during the Wiz Kalifa performance. We watched the minor celebrities make presentations (Pete Wentz, who was unrecognizable without his stupid hair, Aziz Ansari, who I’m a fan of, and Liz Lee, that annoying chick from MTV). The only band I recognized was Sleigh Bells, just because I’m a fan of their song “Rill Rill.” I couldn’t understand what kind of performance they were doing – something with a lot of shrieking. Noise pop. Odd Future had a really strange performance involving garden gnomes and shit, but I found myself warming up to them by the end.
After the show, the MTV employees thanked us all for coming, which I thought was really nice. Patrick and I staggered back across the river, exhausted by the day and not believing what we’d just seen. When we got home, we watched the show again and caught the back of Pat’s head on TV. Then, sleep. We still had another several days of SXSW ahead of us.
It’s hard to believe this was all a week ago. Sitting in a cubicle is quite a different experience, let me tell you.