Finally, after fans lined up for days, overloaded phone lines and besieged scalpers, this is the day of the Boss.
It all happens tonight at RFK Stadium, where Bruce Springsteen will reward his followers with about four hours of blue-collar blues, American dreams and sweaty, old-fashioned rock 'n' roll.
Last night, fans were blessed with a last-minute windfall when Cellar Door Productions, the concert's promoter, made about 2,500 extra tickets available at the stadium box office.
The new seating -- created after workers setting up the stage realized they didn't need as much room for equipment as they thought -- was announced on radio station WWDC-FM (DC-101) at 6:15 p.m. The tickets sold out in about three hours, about twice as long as it took to sell all 52,000 tickets originally offered last Monday. They were sold at the original price of $18.50 each, with a maximum of two tickets per person. Some of the seats are in the top row of the stadium, and some have obstructed views.
But pop music lovers who missed the eleventh-hour chance for the Springsteen concert still can catch another big gig tonight: Tina Turner will be offering leggy soul at the Capital Centre, while Crosby, Stills and Nash will generate some beer-bellied folk music tonight and tomorrow at the Merriweather Post Pavilion.
But there is no doubt the town belongs to Bruce.
Marty McDonnell had been waiting patiently all week, and knew when it was time to make his move.
After scanning The Washington Post's classifieds and calling about seven Springsteen ticket scalpers a day, McDonnell zeroed in on a pair of lower-level seats priced at $250 each. He'd seen the ad in the paper for a while and knew he could talk down the price.
Yesterday, McDonnell, 20, of Fairfax, succeeded. He paid a mere $200 each for the pair, and today he will bring a young woman with him to Springsteen's sold-out concert. His mother wanted the seat, but she said she understood.
Beyond inspiring mass adulation, Springsteen has accomplished something even more breathtaking.
His appearance tonight has persuaded Metrorail to extend its hours past the midnight curfew for its Stadium-Armory station.
Is there nothing he can't do?
Already, he has grossed $952,000 at the gate and prompted more than 200 scalpers to take out ads in the classified section of yesterday's Post, ranging in asking price from $25 to $275 each.
Quite a few people will get into the concert for free, but most of them will be D.C. Police officers, who will treat the concert like a Redskins game in terms of traffic control and security, Capt. Louis Widawski said.
For those interested in less crowded venues, tickets for four-time Grammy winner Tina Turner are still available, as are lawn seats for Crosby, Stills and Nash. If you want to rock, also try Nina Hagen and local go-go heroes Trouble Funk at the Warner Theatre, Simon Townshend at the Bayou or Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers at Club Soda.
As for the Boss, unless you're willing to pay in the neighborhood of $100, you'll have to wait for the potential live album or concert film/TV special. Or you can watch MTV next week, when the station will offer the quintessentially chintzy Bruce fix: Kevin Herbert, a native Jersey boy who won a Springsteen look-alike contest, will lip-sync "Born in the U.S.A."
If you are still intent on getting tickets, they're still out there. Glenn Melcher, owner of the Ticket Connection, said he has a few tickets left for about $90 each.
"Most of the classifieds are dreamers," he said, when asked why his prices seemed relatively low.
Although McDonnell noted that prices are dropping a little, demand for the tickets is still strong. Melcher said he's been working 12 hours a day and, during the first four days, could not make an outgoing phone call because of continuous demand from Springsteen fans.
Melcher also noted that the Springsteen concert "pretty much killed" interest in the Crosby, Stills and Nash gig. He did manage to sell his tickets, though.
As the countdown to Springsteen draws closer, Capt. Widawski advises all drivers who aren't going to the concert to avoid the RFK area, especially Rte. 295. He said police are expecting considerable congestion because of the concert and rush hour.
But for people like McDonnell, who collects old Springsteen newspaper clips and has started a collection of bootleg recordings, the crowds and expenses are worth it. "Considering that I didn't have to stand in line and they're decent seats and how big a fan I am, I think I got a pretty fair deal," he said.