A fan’s-eye view of Howard Stern’s Birthday Bash

If you’re still suffering from the heartbreak of not scoring tickets to Howard Stern’s Birthday Bash, I am warning you with peace and love to close this browser window immediately after you read the following tweet (please ignore the hashtags) … because nothing else I’m about to say is going to make you feel any better about not being there.

You’ve been warned, my friends. Proceed at your own peril.

* * *

I had braced myself for the possibility that my Howard Stern Birthday Bash experience might fall well short of all the hype and anticipation … because that’s just the kind of neurotic killjoy I am. Turns out I had nothing to fear; from beginning to end, it was everything a hardcore Stern fan could have hoped for.

For starters, this happened less than 30 seconds after my wife and I stepped out of our car in front of the Hammerstein Ballroom:

Two seconds after that, this happened:

For those of you scratching your heads: I could explain to you who those folks are with whom I’m posing, but if you need such an explanation, learning their identities would mean nothing to you. If, however, you do know who they are, then you will likely get a kick out of hearing that some of them knew who I was. (There are few things more surreal than receiving a warm and friendly greeting upon being recognized by High Pitch Erik.)

After our Wack Pack encounter, my wife and I joined the ever-growing line forming along 34th Street … and then we waited (and waited … and waited) for the gatekeepers to let us in. Fortunately, the time was broken up by various meetings and greetings with some of the new friends I made during my appearance on the previous night’s edition of “Howard Stern’s Super Fan Roundtable” (an experience deserving of it’s own separate, soon-to-come blog entry), as well as some fellow contest winners I’d “met” on Facebook in the days leading up to the event. (Hi guys!)

The previously announced 4:30 entry time came and went. The line didn’t move. Darkness began to fall on the city. My wife’s feet began to freeze (which was for the best, really, since the shoes she was wearing were torturously painful).

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Seconds after receiving my tweet, Howard dropped what he was doing, came outside, found my wife and me, and personally escorted us to a table on the floor, where we were seated next to Robert Downey Jr., who asked if I’d be willing to do a cameo in “Avengers 2.” (I told him to call my people.)

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OK, not so much … but the line did eventually start moving, and we were among the first folks to enter the check-in tent, whereupon we each received our golden ticket:

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We also each were given one of these:

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This device was a stroke of genius, and whomever at Sirius came up with the idea of giving one to every partygoer deserves a raise, because having the ability to, for example, clearly hear Howard’s interview with David Letterman over the drunken shouts of the ignoramuses in attendance who couldn’t handle having access to an open bar was a major plus.

And speaking of the open bar: There was an open bar! Several of them, in fact … so my wife and I quickly secured our first of several margaritas made with [Steve Grillo voice] “top shelve ligor” and then struck a pose in front of this amazing backdrop:

Not long after that, the show began the only proper way it could have: With Rob Zombie and his bandmates delivering a kick-ass rendition of “American Nightmare,” the studio version of which has for years signaled the start of Howard’s morning-radio program.

For every Super Fan in attendance, the message was clear: This was “The Howard Stern Show” on steroids. If the show’s average morning edition is Bruce Banner, then the program we were about to experience was the motherfucking Hulk. (Shout out to My Geektime.)

From that point on, it was like a four-hour highlight reel. I managed to do a bit of live-tweeting, during which I captured the following random moments:

Please note that I have never been a huge Maroon 5 fan … and, while I’ve always enjoyed Adam Levine’s appearances on Howard’s radio show, I wasn’t exactly pining away for him to appear at the Birthday Bash … and I certainly wasn’t pining away for him to show up and do a cover version of Prince’s “Purple Rain” … which is why it is with no small degree of surprise that I tell you Adam Levine’s rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain” was one of the night’s most unexpectedly amazing musical moments. Even if he hadn’t nailed the vocal (he did), it would have been unforgettable just for the way he positively shredded the guitar solo. (Adam Levine plays guitar? Who knew?)

That’s right, bitch: Heisenberg crashed the bash.

Two words: Dave. Grohl. ’nuff said.

* * *

Listen, no laundry list of celebrity moments I provide here will do it justice … and god knows there are more than enough write-ups floating around the Internet already (like this particularly well done piece that Andy Greene wrote for Rolling Stone). Suffice to say that this four-plus-hour show flew by, and my wife and I spent the entire time oscillating between total enjoyment and total amazement at how lucky we were to be there.

Sure, it would have been nice to be seated on the floor with the tsunami (pronounce the “t,” please) of celebrity VIPs … but, hey, not everybody got an up-close-and-personal encounter with a seemingly annihilated Tan Mom, now, did they?

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My wife also had the pleasure of running into Tan Mom in the bathroom, where she overheard this scintillating conversation:

Random Woman: “Hey, Tan Mom! How’s your daughter?”

Tan Mom: “Pale!”

No, I’m not even kidding.

Shortly thereafter, we watched Tan Mom get ushered out of the venue by some of New York’s finest … which inspired this exchange on Saturday:

So, no, we didn’t exactly rub elbows with the stars … but we did experience firsthand the greatest event in Stern Show history … and came away with some great stories to boot.

The massive “Walk This Way” jam at the end of the night — complete with Steven Tyler and Train’s Pat Monahan on vocals, Slash on guitar and Dave Grohl pounding the drums like his life depended on it — was incredible, as were dozens of other moments from throughout the star-studded program … but I can say without hesitation that the best part of attending “Howard Stern’s Birthday Bash” was watching (and listening) to Howard Stern do “The Howard Stern Show.” The man is a living legend and a broadcasting pioneer who deserves every accolade that was showered upon him during Friday night’s mind-blowingly epic show … and I will be forever thankful that I was one of the lucky few who were there to see it.

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