Monday, January 19, 2009

My Inaugural Concert Experience

My mom and I arrived at the concert area around 9:30 a.m., and after going through security, we found a spot to sit on a slight hill on the far right about a quarter of the way down the reflection pool. Security took mere seconds, because we arrived so early. My mom and I both wore lots of layers to keep warm, and we brought magazines to pass the time. Luckily, we never got too cold.

What you couldn't tell from watching the concert on TV was that if you weren't in the seated area, you could barely see anything, jumbotrons included. We could see some of the performance area on the memorial though, if we craned. I saw the Obamas and Bidens for a second in the beginning, and the edge during U2's set- but even then, it was very hard to make out.

The event was very, very crowded, but everybody was in a great mood and singing along. Despite the huge roster of performances, ranging from Josh Groban singing "My Country Tis of Thee" to Herbie Hancock playing keyboards while Sheryl Crow and sang Bob Marley's "One Love," the concert only ran two hours. One of the most engaging performances was Garth Brooks' medley of "American Pie" and "Shout," which had every member of the huge crowd singing along and jumping.

Singers of every genre were represented at the show along with mixing of genres with performances of duets or trios with other artists. Jon Bon Jovi sang with Bettye Lavette, James Taylor sang with Jennifer Nettles and John Legend for "Shower the People," and Shakira sang with Usher and Stevie Wonder on "Higher Ground." Other performers included Heather Headley and Mstr. Sgt. Caleb Green of the U.S. Army, who sang the national anthem to kick off the show.

Overall, it was an awesome experience. Between all the musicians and speakers (such as Tom Hanks, who spoke about Abraham Lincoln; Jack Black and Rosario Dawson, who commented on Teddy Roosevelt; and Laura Linney who spoke about Franklin Roosevelt) and hearing Obama speak live, it was definitely worth waiting for five hours.

My favorite parts of the show included Bruce Springsteen singing "The Rising" with a gospel choir; U2 playing two of their hits; Pete Seeger leading a sing-a-long to "This Land is My Land;" and Beyonce closing the show with "America the Beautiful."

If the concert was any indication of Inaugural events to come, Tuesday's inauguration will draw huge crowds, and it pays to arrive as early as possible. Many of my friends texted me saying they arrived too late to even enter the designated concert area. Also, hopefully there will be more jumbotrons set up around the mall so that everyone can get a view of the ceremony.

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