The Basement Files


My ‘Xcel’-ent concert adventure

In the spirit of timeliness, I’m going to write about something that happened last week. I could have talked about in my previous column, but didn’t because I was being lazy since it was Labor Day. So here goes.

Last week I was invited (or rather, dragged kicking and screaming) to the sold-out “Mumford & Sons” concert at thee Xcel Energy Center. I have never heard a song by these guys, had no interest in them since I’m a progressive-rock fan, and couldn’t really see myself having anything close to a good time because most new music doesn’t appeal to me.

Now, I’m not going to review the show since that has been done enough. I will say that I went to the show crabby, but left a fan. It was an awesome show and I’ll go back to the “Mumford & Sons” show when they return to town. While the show was epic, the rest of the trip was, well, lackluster.

First, I must say I am biased against Minneapolis and St. Paul. I absolutely loathe going to either city, but if I must, I prefer St. Paul. Minneapolis, I avoid like the plague. On the trip in, traffic wasn’t an issue until we got close to the arena, when it came to a halt. During a lull in actual driving, I was able to take note of the crowd making their way to the “X”, and as I thought, it was full of college-age hipsters. I will not fit in here. Fortunately, hipsters are poor, as I am, but unlike me, they are cheap. This provided prime parking that cost me an arm and a leg. But I sure wasn’t walking six blocks to get back to my car after the show.

Parking worked out, so the night was looking up. As we headed to our nosebleed-section seats, I began noticing that it wasn’t just hipsters at the show. Although I’m pretty sure that “skunky” smell was coming from them, whatever it was. But there were three distinct groups of people: hipsters, folks that were way too overdressed and the college co-eds wearing next to nothing. I totally supported that last group.

The crowd might not have been the hippies I’m used to at a concert (who I still don’t get along with, but at least they know good music) but they seemed to be keeping to themselves, which was good. But now I’m kind of thirsty. Water is how much?

By the time I climbed to my seat I was able to come to terms with remaining thirsty through the concert. Fine, I can do that. As least I won’t have to go to the bathroom. As I shimmy to my seat, I take a look down at the stage. While vertigo inducing, the seats weren’t bad for how far away they were, and would have been perfect for a Wild game, until I sat down. No leg room is something I not only expect, but plan for in a place like this. If you are not going to give a person leg room, could you at least give them some butt room? Three-quarters of my rear-end was very comfortable in that rock-hard seat, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t know where the other 25 percent ended up. By the end of the show it was so “asleep” that it took a good half-hour for feeling to come back.

Although my seat wasn’t bad, the duo directly in front of me were. I’ve covered public displays of affection and my severe irritation at them before, so I’ll spare you that. These two, however, were just barf-inducing. One was the spitting image (and same approximate size) of the James Bond villain “Jaws,” and the other was wearing far, far too much perfume, far, far past its prime. These two fell directly between “a peck on the cheek every now and then” and “late-night Cinemax.” It’s not exactly what I want to see while my rear’s asleep. Fortunately they stopped once the opening acts were over and actually watched the concert.

After the show, much to my surprise, I was able to get out of my seat without the aid of a crowbar. In a much better mood, I didn’t even mind the nasal-accosting mix of B.O., perfume and run-over skunk. Unfortunately, the walk was short and I was right back in the car, which always sours my mood, because only about eight people in this state know how to drive, and none of them went to this concert.

After dodging traffic and people for a good 20 minutes, we finally made it out of the single level roadside parking lot and were off to the highway for the long, arduous trip home. Taking note of the time, I knew McDonalds was still open. Well, the non-24-hour one. So we stopped. While this short trip could be a column itself, and I am quickly running out of space, I will say this: Dear McDonalds, I ordered BBQ sauce. I’ve ordered it several times because I, like most children, like your McNuggets. But I ordered BBQ sauce, I even paid for extra sauce. Where is it? I never get it, ever. Can someone please address this breakdown in communication, because it isn’t hard to throw a packet or two (even if I ordered four) in a bag. BBQ sauce, it’s on the receipt, it’s on the computer screen, PUT IT IN THE BAG.

But I digress. at this point in time my rear had feeling again and the concert was great, so I’m not going to let my barbecue sauce-free McNuggets ruin a decent evening. Now I’m hungry for McNuggets again. Let’s see if I get BBQ sauce this time.

Chris Hamble is a freelance writer and humor columnist serving newspapers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is a lifelong Stillwater resident.