Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and American Burger Bar

What a weird night.

A little background: If you haven’t been to a recent Springsteen show, they’ve been selling General Admission tickets for the floor, and they have a pit area up front. They hold a lottery every night to determine who gets into the pit for the best spots in the house. If you have a GA ticket, you can get a numbered wristband, and then they draw a number that represents the beginning of the line.

Tim and I had GA tickets, which we’ve had for Bruce’s three previous stops at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The lottery hadn’t worked out for us the last two times, but we were hoping tonight would be different. We arrived at Xcel at 4:30 and got wristbands #754 and 755. We waited on the steps outside, counting Canadian Tuxedoes until they were ready to begin the drawing. (The count at that point? 16, including 3 men who got double points and were not named John Cafferty.)

We lined up in the RiverCentre, near a guy who was celebrating a birthday and was hoping for good luck. They had given away about 1150 wristbands, and they had room for 600 in the pit, so our odds were near 50/50.

Two very inebriated women stumbled up to us asking what our numbers were. We told them we were in the 700s, and they said they were in the 400s. They didn’t believe us when we told them they had to walk a few feet over to the next line. “But it’s so far!” they protested. It’s all about pacing, ladies. But we were amused.

Finally, at 5:45, they drew the number.


Seven hundred (ooh!)….

Fifty…. (oh my god oh my god!)

Eight! (D’OH!)

Everyone behind us immediately celebrates, including the birthday guy who was going to be in the front row. We stand there, stunned. Maybe mouthing a profanity or five.

So, had we arrived two minutes later, we would have been in the pit. I mean, it’s one thing to be several hundred people off. But to be that freaking close.

Did we mess up our karma by participating in the Canadian Tuxedo count? Did I disrespect the usher outside the arena by not high-fiving him? It just wasn’t meant to be.

I wanted to leave that room as quickly as possible, so we headed back out to the RiverCentre lobby. We noticed a guy who looked an awful lot like the manager of the music store where we’d first met fifteen years ago.

In the bathroom, I overheard two very drunk women, possibly the same ones we’d encountered earlier. “You have to pee.” “I’m trying!” It was probably a blessing in disguise for them, because I don’t know how much longer they would have been able to stand.

We wanted to find a place to sit and drown our sorrows, although we knew that the bars along 7th Street would be a complete zoo. (Plus, I didn’t want to take the chance of Tim running into Ron Coomer again and giving him some feedback on his broadcasting skills.)

We walked north on Kellogg Boulevard, through Rice Park, and along a side street until we found the American Burger Bar. There were two seats at the end of the bar, and we sat down, shaking our heads in disbelief. Tim ordered a Captain Morgan and Diet Coke, and I ordered a Cosmopolitan because it was still on special ($5) during happy hour. I was pleasantly surprised, because cosmos can be hit or miss, and the way my luck was going, it could have been a triple sec-fueled disaster. However, the drink was perfectly balanced.

This next part probably will only make sense to me and Tim, but I’m going to document it anyway. As we were sipping our beverages and poring over the menu, we talked about our ex-manager. He and his wife had just had a baby (and I just realized that baby is 15 now), but after we left the store, we’d heard that he’d been having an affair and they’d gotten a divorce. Feeling punchy, I tossed out the comment, “Who would hit that?” and Tim responded with “John,” who had a major man-crush on this manager. No sooner did he say that when we looked down and saw John sitting towards the other end of the bar! What are the freaking odds?

I broke down into a series of giggles not unlike Joy from My Name Is Earl after she’s had one too many margaritas. John left without incident (he either didn’t see us or had no desire to talk to us, and given the previous conversation, which he most likely didn’t overhear, was for the best).

We settled down enough to order food and a few more drinks. Tim stuck with his standby Captain and Diet. I tried the Pear Martini, on a guarantee from the bartender that if I didn’t like it, she’d finish it. She said she’d been experimenting with it for a long time to get the mix just right, and her efforts paid off. It was a light, crisp blend of pear vodka and sour mix, and again it was very balanced. I also tried a Basil Lemon Drop Martini. It took a while to make, but was well worth the wait. Every ingredient was in harmony– the lemon, the basil, right down to the sugar on the rim of the glass. If Gina is working, definitely order from the martini menu.

We ordered the onion rings, which were cut very thick. The batter was excellent, and they weren’t greasy, just bready and delicious. We also got the slider sampler. The Angus slider was just OK. The shrimp cake was quite good, but the Kobe slider was heavenly. I would definitely order a full Kobe burger the next time I return.

We talked to a guy who had been through some rough times in the past year. He’d had eight relatives die, including his mother. Last week was his first Mother’s Day without her, and it was very sad. It put my evening in perspective.

The bar turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It’s nice to have a go-to venue for concerts in the future. And, after all, you know what they say when life gives you lemons…

After a visit to the bathroom (which was quite impressive– it was decorated with blue tile and looked very nice), we headed back to Xcel. We found Tim’s brother, his wife, and our nephew at the back of General Admission by the soundboard. I figured we’d been there for our nephew’s baptism, his first Communion, and now it was only right for us to be there for his first Bruce show. Those are all the sacraments, right?

The show, as always, was an amazing experience. The band started the show with “Badlands” and finished with “Rosalita.” They did “Born to Run” at the end of the main set. Have you ever sung so deeply that you feel like you’re taking a breath from the tips of your toes? That’s what it felt like to sing that song– like every cell in your body was taking it in and then giving it right back.

The final Canadian Tuxedo count for the evening? 27, including 5 men who counted double, so 22 in all. I do have to say that people dress for comfort and not necessarily fashion, and I admire the practicality, especially when you’re standing for over three hours. So give me your blue jeans and t-shirts and Reeboks over your miniskirts and stilettos anytime.

Edited to copy Dave (whose review is spectacular, plus we got to live the pit experience vicariously) and add the setlist, courtesy of Backstreets:

Badlands (w/ Jay Weinberg)

Radio Nowhere (w/ Jay Weinberg)

Outlaw Pete (w/ Jay Weinberg)+

No Surrender (w/ Jay Weinberg)

Out in the Street (w/ Jay Weinberg)

Working on a Dream (w/ Jay Weinberg)+

Seeds (w/ Jay Weinberg)+

Johnny 99 (w/ Jay Weinberg)

The Ghost of Tom Joad (w/ Jay Weinberg)+

Raise Your Hand (w/ Jay Weinberg)+

Good Lovin’ (sign request)+

Prove It All Night

The E Street Shuffle (sign request)+

Waitin’ on a Sunny Day

The Promised Land

I’m on Fire+

Kingdom of Days+

Lonesome Day

The Rising

Born to Run

* * *

Hard Times+

Tenth Avenue Freeze-out

Land of Hope and Dreams

American Land

Bobby Jean


+ Indicates a song I hadn’t seen live before.

A couple additional notes: Jay was phenomenal and filled in admirably. Really glad we got to see both him and Max. I was thrilled that we got as many songs from Born in the U.S.A. as we did, especially “I’m on Fire.” And our nephew was lucky he was wearing earplugs, due to the two crazy people behind him who were singing in his ear for most of the night.


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3 Responses to “Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and American Burger Bar”

  1. » A Sweaty, Dripping, Incoherent Mess Wings For Wheels: The website and blog for Dave Lifton and the Wings For Wheels Podcast. Says:

    […] tells the people in front to put away the Rosalita sign (he played it last night in St. Paul – Michele’s review is here – so I didn’t think he would play it, even though I was wearing my Rosalita t-shirt), and […]

  2. Brian Says:

    I love that the main event of the evening only rates a few paragraphs, but that’s the amazing part of seeing someone like Springsteen.

    My only show of his was on the Born in the USA tour. Three of my older siblings took me, all Bruce veterans. I haven’t gone to another Bruce show, partially because that night had such a special feeling, I fear it will be ruined by another show.

    Glad you guys had fun and got to see Rosalita.

  3. Michele Says:

    I’ll be adding more shortly. I realized after I posted the entry that I didn’t spend much time on the show, but it was all a happy blur.

    Definitely go see another show. I don’t think you’d be disappointed. The reason we keep going back is that feeling of exhilaration and joy. It’s addictive.

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