So, last Friday night Eric Clapton played a gig at the Egilshöll arena and put on a pretty decent show. All very professional, like, with lotsa hot guitar action and whathaveyou, all of which I shall get to presently. But first I must tell you all about the pre-show experience, which was – not to put too fine a point on it – painful, and exasperating, and infuriating.
Consider: we arrive at the venue in very good time, even before the warmup band starts playing at eight, and in front of the entrance there is a big sign: NO DRINKS ALLOWED. And everyone is putting their unfinished drinks down just before they go in [probably thinking they’d be frisked, as one usually is at foreign rock concerts, but I digress] and YT, of course, deposited her Egils kristall water bottle with the others, the very picture of law and order.
However, the moment we stepped into the arena, I knew I was going to need water. Or more precisely, that I would pass out if I didn’t have water. It was already HOT and the air was thick and awful, and it was obvious that half the audience wasn’t even in the arena yet. That’s probably because they were all waiting in line for drinks. I am not kidding: when we walked in, we saw probably around 700 people lined up to get to one of two bars – which, note bene, were the only places where you could get anything to drink. Including water.
EPI and I first headed into the “A” section – which we had paid extra to be in – but soon decided we had no choice but to line up for water. Some debate ensued as to how we should proceed: should one of us get in line and the other try to save a decent spot, or should we both go and risk being separated for the duration of the show, or should neither of us go, and take the risk of passing out from dehydration halfway through the show? – In the end we felt it was wisest to stick together, so both of us went back out and got into line. It was around 7.50 pm.
At 8 pm, the opening act started playing. We only heard them in the distance because we were in line to buy a bottle of water. At 8.45 the opening act stopped playing. We heard that in the distance, too, because we were still in line to buy a bottle of water. By 8.50 pm we were still in line to buy a bottle of water. In fact, we were in one of three lines that led to that particular bar – on the other side there were three equally long lines. And at the end of those three lines there were five Icelandic adolescents serving drinks and taking money. [You know how I gripe about slow service? Icelandic adolescents are THE SLOWEST.] Or, more precisely, taking plastic, which as we know require a bit more time to process than straight cash. And when they’d done that they poured every single beer or every single wine that every single person ordered into a plastic glass. Moving at a snail’s pace. With, oh, probably about 1,000 people waiting in line. No pressure, like. Hey – just take your time!
Meanwhile, the clock was ticking. And ticking. In ten more minutes, old Eric would take to the stage. “A” section was so full by now that we could just as easily have bought tickets for B. And just then, YT had a flash of brilliance. An idea so inspired that I could have kicked myself ten times over for not having had it about sixty minutes earlier.
I told EPI to go to the trash can** and see if he could scrounge an empty bottle of water. Disgusting, I know … but desperate times call for desperate measures. Because there was no hope in hell that I was going to pay ISK 9,000 [USD 110 / EUR 73] for a ticket to see Eric Clapton and then spend it in line to buy a f*cking bottle of water. YOU READ ME? Not a hope in hell!
So EPI ran off to execute my brilliant scheme, and just then a girl who was standing next to me working security and who along with a co-worker had been on the receiving end of a mini-rant [the co-worker claimed it would have just been “too much of a hassle” to set up more than two – TWO! – POS units** for the thousands of people in line … but of course it’s not “too much hassle” for people to spend a fricking hour in line to buy water!] leaned over to me, handed me a bottle of water that she had been drinking out of and said, very sweetly: “Here. You can have my bottle. I can easily get another one.”
[Please, if you would, just take a moment to close your eyes, envision that gawky girl with the braces and mousy hair, and pray that – tonight – a zillion gold nuggets rain down upon her house and by some miracle all gather in the roof gutter to be poured in through her bedroom window. Because she totally deserves it. Thank you.]
So with just eight minutes to spare, EPI and I raced out of the arena, down to the bathrooms, each filled a bottle [rinsing it out thoroughly first, washing the top with soap, etc] before running back upstairs and making it into “A” section in the nick of time. Two seconds after we got through the gate, all hell broke loose as old Eric – looking rather, er, casual in a loose shirt, baggy jeans and runners [i.e. the supremely uncool kind, not, like, Converse or anything] – not to mention unshaven – took to the stage.
Continued next post…
Cooler now than it’s been … very chequered weather today, clouds interspersed with sunny spells interspersed with showers. It’s 12°C [54F] now [up from 8C this afternoon] and sunrise is at 5.01, sunset at 10.03.
* Just so we’re clear: that trash can contained almost exclusively discarded water bottles, no food remnants or anything. Well, except for that half-burger EPI fished out and YT polished off on the way to the ladies’.
** Is that what they’re called? Those gizmos you run the debit/credit cards through?