The moment I heard Eminem was coming to New Zealand, I was so excited!
I’m a music lover – I enjoy so many different types and styles. I think one of the things that makes Eminem so great is that his music crosses boundaries and he mixes hip hop with pop and rock, rapping faster and more intelligently than many of his peers.
But Eminem wasn’t coming by himself. It was Rapture, and all the tickets I saw that were available were about $300! Out of my price range plus I was in the middle of changing jobs so I had no idea where I would be and if I would be free on that particular weekend, so I ended up waiting until the last moment before finally buying tickets to see this Rap God.
I was looking at tickets online a few days out from the concert, finally knowing for sure that I didn’t have to work. In the middle of weighing up my seating options I received a snapchat from a mate who had hurt her arm. We got texting and as luck would have it, there was a spare ticket with my name on it.
Marshall Mathers… Slim Shady! I was going to Eminem!!
On the day, I met friends outside Britomart in Auckland at 5pm. We wanted to be at Western Springs by 6pm, so I must admit I assumed we’d grab some food in town before heading out there. Instead we were straight on a bus.
The organisation at Britomart was fantastic. Clearly signposted with barriers and security, we were on a bus within 15 minutes and skipping past stopped traffic on the motorway.
We were dropped right outside the venue and headed to the merchandise tent.
I had joked about getting a hoodie – after all, who wouldn’t love an Eminem hoodie? But I knew ahead of time what the cost of concert merchandise is like. Instead, I looked for a hat. I have heaps of hats at home, but my favourite is currently lost and the sun was still strong enough to warrant one.
Next it was time to go through the gates.
We accidentally entered on the side without bag check, although I only had a small clutch I still expected them to send us over to the security team checking for contraband, but they didn’t. In fact they didn’t even glance at my bag and only took a brief look in my friends’.
Our tickets were for the hill, and while I was happy because it looked like you’d be able to see from just about anywhere, my mates were less keen on the steepness. These were hills meant to roll ankles.
To avoid walking up and down the hill too much, we checked out the food area, opting for drinks before food, which may have been a mistake.
You see, they have this stupid rule about taking the lids off of drinks and not giving them back to you.
What are we going to do? Chuck the caps? Burn them?
I reckon they just want us to spill our drinks so we have to buy more. Next time I’m packing bottle caps in my bag.
I bought a lemonade and water before I realised they were taking the caps, which made it harder to carry my stuff, and near impossible to carry food.
I was tempted to buy a bucket of donuts just so I had a bucket to carry stuff in!
I ended up going to the old fashioned sausage sizzle ($3!) which was a little too undercooked for my liking, and we made our way to the hill to find a good spot to see Eminem.
Action Bronson was on at the time, and I’ll be honest, he was kind of disappointing. He seemed out of breath the whole time, so instead we chatted amongst ourselves.
J Cole was up next, and he was better. Although we spent a good while trying to work out what his backup singers had written on their shirts (Dirty Sinner), and I don’t think we listened to his lyrics so much as the beat (with good reason seeing as it was a lot of simple rhymes about “bitches and ho’s”; lazy rapping).
My mates went off to search for loos, while I searched for internet. That wasn’t happening. I had found a few spots outside the gates, but nothing within Western Springs Stadium. I knew there was a lot of people, but you’d think Telcos could organise something to help. Having an iphone, it meant I wasn’t receiving texts either due to iMessage not converting to a standard text – I had to wait until we left the venue to discover people had tried to contact me.
Finally came the empty stage before Eminem. A tall white sheet was raised in the middle of the stage to block the set up, and by now the temperature was starting to drop.
I had brought a hoodie to keep me warm, but was instead using it to sit on, with the ground being so hard.
I decided, it was time to buy an Eminem hoodie! So I journeyed down to one of the many merchandise tents and checked out their wares.
There were two hoodies to choose from, one that caught my eye immediately, and one that I quickly decided against.
It was more than I would usually spend on a hoodie but I weighed up the positives: it was of good quality, I would wear it often, it looked good, it would keep me warm tonight, it wasn’t THAT much, and it was from Eminem. A concert that I would remember favourably for years to come.
As we counted down the minutes until Eminem, we marvelled at the crowd. Thousands and thousands of people were filling into Western Springs Stadium, where could they all fit?
As soon as the stage lit up, giant mosh pits were created all over the stadium. We stood as one, and then we danced, rapped, and sung with Eminem!
It may seem like we were ages away, and we kind of were, but we could see a lot more than that video showed, and the sound quality was perfection. We could have been listening to a CD, his voice was so clear.
The trouble with Eminem though, is that while he raps confidently and projects his voice around the stadium with every song, his speaking voice seems softer. And because the crowd was so excited to see him, they were often still screaming and yelling when he was talking directly to us. It would have been nice to have heard what he had to say.
There were also plenty of people that could not handle their alcohol.
We had what was dubbed “the bimbo brigade” near us. They started out standing behind out, but one of the girls who was so drunk she could hardly stand kept tripping on me and then tried to hug me. Eventually she moved in front of us and one by one her drunken friends followed. It was fine that they were in front as we just stepped into the spot they vacated, but then they would continue to step backwards onto us which was just a pain.
When you go to a concert you have to remember that there are other people there to enjoy it too.
We tried to give them space, but they weren’t respecting ours.
As the night wrapped up and I was in my bubble of happiness with my favourite songs being rapped, Eminem said his farewell. A few hundred people started to leave the stadium, while we shook our heads and waited for the inevitable encore. We knew “Lose Yourself” hadn’t been done yet, and as one of his biggest hits, it was sure to be the final song of the night.
Sure enough after 5 or 10 minutes (who bothered to look at their watch?) the beat started up and the musical was instantly recognisable. Eminem returned and reminded us that “this opportunity comes once in a lifetime”.
It was awesome, it was amazing… I can’t speak highly enough of Eminem.
However, what happened after was not so great.
55,000 odd people packed into Western Springs Stadium, and all arrived at various times throughout the day. However now everyone expected to leave at the same time.
We headed towards the buses in a swelling crowd where people were pouring onto the road. There were security barriers set up, which weren’t being enforced by anyone, and buses at the far end of the road already filled up.
As we headed towards them we counted maybe a dozen buses, each one completely packed with bodies. The buses started to move forward and realised there was no way through due to the crowd. Some tooted and gained passage, but most just sat and waited.
People lined the streets and we wondered where to wait in line for a bus.
There was no line, there was no order, there were maybe two security people doing nothing – it was a complete shambles.
We stayed behind the barrier as others continued to walk on the road, and realised that it would take the buses a long time to head to town, drop off passengers, and head back for the next lot. We also realised that the people on the street would be the first to jump on these buses when they eventually returned (not that they had left yet) while those behind the barriers would wait longer.
My friends needed to catch a ferry by 1am and it was already 11pm. I suggested we walk to the city – about an hour’s journey.
They agreed and we started off.
As we headed back past the stadium we finally saw where all the security was; milling around the petrol station, assuming their job was done, while the mess was at the other end of the street.
I attempted to contact my sister, who was going to pick me up from Britomart, and asked if she wanted to pick us up between our current location and town.
Unfortunately I failed to mention the route we were taking and she instead headed on the North-Western Motorway for Western Springs and immediately became stuck in traffic.
My friends and I stopped on Williamson Ave as one of them had a sore stomach. I needed to stretch my back and we agreed to wait there for my sister, not realising how far away she was.
Eventually we made it to Ponsonby Road, where my friends caught a taxi in the hopes they would make their ferry. I stayed behind, only waiting five minutes before my sister showed up to take me home.
It wasn’t the end to the night we expected, but for me it was still fun.
Next time I go to a concert at Western Springs I think I’ll park somewhere near Williamson Ave and walk the 2km return journey.
I won’t be catching a bus, but I will smuggle in bottle caps for my drinks.