All it took was 12 hours and 50 bucks.
An exceptional concert can be as moving as a first kiss, the birth of a child, or playing on a team that finally wins a championship. This was certainly in that category. It has been nearly a week now and I'm still buzzed from seeing one of the most exclusive shows on the planet.
I was supposed to be on a Coachella Valley Water District bus tour heading off to Yuma. I slept in. I had been on Vegas time and the early morning start got the best of me. I was doing my best to not beat myself up about failing at the ONE thing I had to do.
I was looking at Facebook on my iPad and saw the announcement. Paul McCartney at Pappy and Harriet's. I've been there before. I had a free day. I showered and headed up into the high desert. I first learned about Pioneertown from the Cracker CD, Kerosene Hat. It said it was recorded on a soundstage there. Somewhere in California. This was before Google Maps and the ability to pinpoint locations. I remembered the name. Later on I had the good fortune to attend a Cracker Campout. I’ve managed to take in a handful of indoor and outdoor shows there since. Outdoors is magical. Indoors is nice but the sight lines are poor if there is a crowd. If you go there, and you probably will now, you can check out Cracker’s gold record on the wall.
I drove straight to the venue. There was light traffic on a road that doesn’t have any traffic most days. I was not the only person wanting to attend this event. If I couldn't get in, I knew I could make a nice loop back to Rancho Mirage through Joshua Tree. What could go wrong?
I was lucky to band together with a group of fans who thought it was the right time to start a line. Safety in numbers. I was with Nate and his buddy from work, Kelly, Tim, Todd, Rebekah and her Dad. I didn't get to connect with anyone further behind but I'm sure they all made some new friends over the hours spent waiting for the show to start.
It was a long wait. Eventually Paul McCartney's security team led by Brian Riddle walked us to the entrance. They started handing out blue tickets which meant we were definitely getting inside! A lady who worked for the Coachella Valley Weekly handed out snacks and water to people in the lineup. We were extremely grateful.
I couldn't believe being able to walk into the venue and get right to the very front on the security rail. There were no VIPs in site. There was a technician responsible for every piece of equipment on the stage. Todd came in behind me. I spontaneously gave him a hug. We knew how lucky we were.
I'm relying on Setlist.FM for the list songs that were played as he deviated from the setlist that was taped to the floor and I wasn't writing anything down. Paul's band was amazing and they knew when to ham it up for photographers.
Once the crew started making neck slashing motions and the lights went on it was pretty clear that this amazing experience was coming to an end. Nobody left their position immediately. We were all basking.
Mark Flores asked for “Just one pick!” from any roadie who was within earshot. One of the roadies carefully picked pealed the setlist off the stage and folded the duct tape back so that it wouldn’t be sticky. He handed it out to a lucky crowd member. At this point I thought it would be nice to hit the washroom (since it had been over 12 hours).
I wandered to the back of the bar. There was a merch table! I bought 2 t-shirts. As luck would have it, they still had my size. Then I saw Brant Bjork with a drink in his hand. I said hey - I know who you are! How did you get here? He’s as local as they come.
You can buy great experiences. This one could not be bought. All it took was 12 hours and 50 bucks.