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Late Friday evening, word leaked that the Rolling Stones would be playing a surprise show at Los Angeles's 650-capacity Echoplex that same evening. Serving as a sort of "warm-up" to their soon-to-commence U.S. tour, it was rumored that tickets would be going for the bargain-basement price of $20.
Starting as early as 1am on Saturday, people began lining up at the El Rey theater several miles away from the actual venue, where it was confirmed that tickets would be sold. Following a random lottery, several hundred fans gained access to the once-in-a-lifetime event, and the show was, by all accounts, spectacular, with Mick Jagger and co. playing an hour-long set of hits including "Miss You," "Street Fighting Man," "Start Me Up," "Brown Sugar," "Midnight Rambler" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash."
While LA Times music reporter Randall Roberts was lucky enough to gain access - you can read his full roundup here - HitFix's Chris Eggertsen came away from the fan lottery empty-handed after standing in line for several hours amongst a swarm of other hopeful concertgoers. Below is his personal account of the on-the-street madness.
I stepped out of my apartment building to see a line of people winding around the corner from the nearby El Rey theater. Having lived near the historic venue for over six years, I'd seen my share of mad pre-sale rushes - but nothing approaching this. Something different and exciting was happening.
"What's the line for?" I asked a twenty-something girl in sunglasses who had queued up with several hundred others.
"Tickets for the Rolling Stones," she replied quietly.
My interest sufficiently piqued, I retreated back to my apartment and did a Google search to discover that the rock legends had scheduled a surprise show at the Echoplex, a small basement venue on Los Angeles's Eastside, for that same evening - at the unbelievable price of $20 a ticket.
Thirty seconds later, I had taken my place in line.
Stretched out before me was a mob of fans of all different ages, chattering away eagerly at the prospect of seeing the Stones in a 650-seat venue. I tried to estimate how many people had beaten me to the punch but had difficulty gauging. Reports came back with numbers ranging from 300 to 600, possibly more. I cursed myself for not waking up earlier.