Monday - Jay-Z announces that he's doing a 7 stop tour in one day. I look for details / tickets and there are none of either to be had.
Tuesday - The first tickets start showing up. I e-mail everyone posting them, but they're always sold.
Wednesday - More tickets on craigslist / ebay. I am still e-mailing them, almost get tickets, but don't.
Thursday night - Right before I go to sleep I check for tickets again. Someone posts two for sale with her phone number. I call and it's a done deal! I have tickets. I book a flight to Chicago and arrange to stay with my friend Phil who will use the other ticket.
Then the scheming begins. Two people from each show get to go on Jay-Z's Gulfstream V jet with him afterwards. I am determined to get on there with him. I pack $4000 in cash to bribe someone to take their spot.
Saturday morning I wake up at 7 and miss the shuttle to the airport. That's ok - I'll pay for parking for Jay-Z. I drive to the airport, get on the flight and make my way to Chicago. We eat a quick lunch and head to the line.
It's 4pm, and there's already a very short line. The temperature is 45 degrees, moderately windy, and the show doesn't start until 7:15. That's ok - it's Jay-Z. Ever since he announced his (now recanted) retirement, I've been trying to get to one of his shows. The only problem is that if I'm going to be flying into another city just to see one show, I want to buy the best tickets available. None of my friends want to spend that much for a ticket.
Time passes as we chat with the people around us. Two of the girls are Asian and look suspicious. They later manage to get next to us, and ultimately they cut in front. Finally after two hours in the cold the doors open at 6pm and we hustle in. We have the choice between being in the front row all the way to the side, or second row dead center. We go to the center and wait another hour. While we wait they have a DJ playing. Now that I've had to DJ I appreciate how he transitions from one song to another. I should learn how to do that.
Right before Jay-Z is about to perform, a girl working the show walks through the moat between us and the stage looking for someone - the winner of the Jet ride. She finds her and pulls her over the moat. I didn't win! CRAP! I forgot to bribe her. This constitutes the biggest regret of my life.
Jay-Z finally comes on and the whole crowd goes crazy. He runs to the center of the stage, six feet away from me, and starts singing. The set was meticulously planned - he manages to sing all of the songs I was hoping to hear. It's only a 35 minute set, but he cuts off excess choruses, intros and outros to fit all of the hits in.
Halfway through I stop jumping around and getting into it, and start analyzing everything Jay-Z is doing. The whole crowd is jumping around against me and I'm standing in the sea of people staring. He looks at me a couple times and I imagine that he's confused.
A few things occur to me. First - he's really good. Rappers often sound weird in concert, but he sounds dead on. He also has a way of dancing / moving that makes him seem really cool. It's hard to explain, but he only makes little movements. I try to memorize how to do it.
I also notice that he doesn't seem like he actually wants to be there. He doesn't care that the crowd is there. He stops for a minute and talks over the cheering, as if he can't be bothered to accept the admiration. I get slightly offended. Maybe it's just that he's been touring for 12 hours and he's tired, or maybe he just has a super tight timeline to stick to. Even though he doesn't seem to like it, I imagine myself up there. It's a small venue, so it's not much of a stretch. It seems like it would be fun. The next day I contract one of the best rappers online to ghostwrite an album for me.
Before we leave, Sway from MTV interviews him on stage. All I hear is " ... you just have to feed off the energy of the crowd". That one comment really irks me. It was a scripted response, and a lie. He didn't feed off the energy - he ignored it and gave the response people want to hear. It's not that I expected anything different, it's just that I secretly hoped that he wasn't like that.
All that said, it was an amazing show. I'm glad to finally see Jay-Z! Here are some crappy pictures :