Someday My Prince Will Come

Some people wouldn't wait so long for the messiah: Chris Willis and his wife outside First Avenue
Nick Vlcek

When Kathryn Carucci learned early Friday morning that Prince would be playing at First Avenue Saturday night after his Target Center show, she drove into work, put in for a vacation day, loaded up her supplies, and headed down to Seventh Street to be the first person in line for tickets. It would be His Purple Majesty's first appearance there in 20 years. Carucci, who was joined by her friends Mark Marthaler and Kelly Magnuson, began camping out at 12:30 Friday afternoon.

According to several of the unflappable fans who called the concrete of Seventh Street home for most of Friday and Saturday, the First Avenue show was practically historical. "This is the biggest show of his career," said Chris Willis, number four in line. "Everyone's out here for the same reason. The Macy's crowd are the people who laid out the money, the commercial people are at Target, and the die-hard fans are here."

In order to thwart scalpers, the club sold one ticket per person. Wristbands made the tickets non-transferable.

The early comers came provisioned with chairs, cards, water, games, and books. Carucci brought a cooler of snacks, cribbage, a Harry Potter volume, and a heavy iron patio table and umbrella, which lent a cafe air to the front of the Unbank next door to the 7th St. Entry. As the mercury crawled up to the high 90s on Saturday, the umbrella and water proved to be futile weapons against the heat.

Still, Willis was impressed by the way everyone in the line maintained a high level of civility in spite of the heat. "It was a little sense of community," he said.

Carucci admitted that Saturday was tough, but she was driven by a memorable experience she had with the artist: She was an extra in various club scenes in the 1984 film Purple Rain. "It's going back to what he started as," she said.

After some 27 hours in line, Carucci returned to First Ave. for a performance that was unexpectedly cut short, long after bar-closing time, when Minneapolis police pulled the plug on Prince Rogers Nelson Day. Unlike many others, Carucci didn't have tickets to either of the other two Prince 7/7/07 performances. "If we had gone to the other shows, I wouldn't have felt so ripped off when he stopped playing after an hour. Why didn't they check into the limitations on the club earlier?" she wondered.

But Willis was unfazed. The highlight for him was "watching 1,500 people completely go insane when that man stepped on stage. He had already played Macy's and the Target Center, but he was up there like it was his first show. He was there for the fans—the true fans. When the police shut everything down, people weren't even angry."

Carucci also found a silver lining. "It was disappointing, but I did get to see him play 'Controversy' in First Avenue, so I can't complain."

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