We tend to toss the phrase "dumpster fire" around a lot. Honestly, it’s overused. Have a bad inning? Dumpster fire. A cold shooting half? Dumpster fire. Here’s what should qualify as a dumpster fire: A sparsely attended homecoming concert featuring a band popular when current freshmen were toddlers, followed by walking into a stadium and immediately watching your team lose four fumbles in its first six plays, finding themselves down 28-0 before most of the tailgating alumni have taken their seats.
This isn't just bad. It’s watching a car crash into a storefront, shift into reverse, and crash into the store behind it. It’s watching a tall man walk repeatedly into a low door frame. I come to you today to say "Yes. I was there. I experienced those three hours. Let’s walk into this door frame together, shall we?"
1:30 PM: You arrive in the Heinz Field parking lots two hours before kickoff. Please note the ample parking. You cannot actually park or tailgate inside because they are reserved spaces for people (or corporations) who will never actually tailgate or likely attend a Pitt game. Meanwhile, you have parked 16 blocks and one river away, in the only spots that aren't reserved and cost less than a pizza.
1:40 PM: You are inside the concert venue. It is next door to the stadium, which is great. There is a bar with an assortment of TVs playing various noon kickoffs. A stage is set up ahead of you for Eve 6. The drum head looks like it was designed by a bored man with a lot of electrical tape.
1:50 PM: You are able to count the crowd. There are 58 people in front of the stage. The music being piped over the speakers is that same generic stadium-style dance music begging you to Get Ready For This. Oh, you are ready, 2 Unlimited. You’re ready to experience the dream of your 14-year-old self: seeing Eve 6 live. The show begins. You are 30 years old.
You could probably figure out what they were playing, but in truth, it honestly doesn't matter. You've long since forgotten anything about Eve 6, other than hearts in blenders and awkward high school dances. It wasn't *bad*, insomuch as it was professionally created music played with little error. It was better than you could do. It was also loud enough to wash away any sort of tone or imperfections.
The TVs scattered around the room have settled on Texas-Kansas State. The stands show bright, young and happy Kansas State fans. You contrast that with the Pitt fans in attendance, which have grown to a modest 150 or so. In front of you are two dudes in their mid-50s wearing matching Steeler jerseys. The Steelers do not play today.
The lead singer wishes you all good morning. It is 2:15 p.m. The cheerleaders for Pitt and the mascot make an appearance, lining up on both sides and bobbing up and down to whatever song is being played. In about 10 minutes, they leave for other duties. The singer pauses in between songs and wonders where the cheerleaders went. He asks if they can come back, but they do not. He also asks where the "bear or marsupial thing" went. Roc the Panther has likely left for the stadium as well.
2:30 PM: The last notes of "Here’s to the Night" have been played. It is a high school dance all over again. It feels like everyone is staring at their shoes. A few people are intently watching the Texas game. They are losing 13-0. The fans hope Pitt doesn't drop the ball today against Georgia Tech. Boy, will they be disappointed.
2:45 PM: Eve 6 plays an acoustic cover of Ace of Base’s "All That She Wants." The singer explains that the song "may be about real babies or like, lover babies. I’m not sure." A small, school-age child in a panther mascot hat, there since the beginning, begs her parents to leave early. She didn’t exist when Eve 6 was relevant.
2:50 PM: There’s a mosh pit! Well, two dudes start falling against each other before trying to dance, which, maybe counts? They are the only two people really moving right now.
2:55 PM: Eve 6 finally plays "Inside Out." You wonder how many times they've played it. You wonder if they dream about it, or if they hate it by now. You wonder if they intentionally mess up the words to see if they get caught. Maybe they make up verses so they don’t have to experience the same three and a half minutes that have defined their entire lives for the rest of time.
3:00 PM: The concert ends with little fanfare and the crowd exits and makes their way to Heinz Field. Surely the worst is behind you. It’s on to glory over Georgia Tech! Alleghenee-Genac-Genac-Genac!
3:30 PM: Kickoff!
3:35 PM: Pitt almost immediately fumbles. Georgia Tech scores three plays later. This is OK, this is not so bad. Dumb luck.
3:42 PM: Pitt has fumbled again. This time, it was on a spectacular 70-yard run, only to be fumbled into, and out of, the end zone. Three plays later, Georgia Tech scores. A horrible aberration, clearly. Things will get better.
3:46 PM: Pitt fumbles for a third time. Georgia Tech scores on the very next play. It is 21-0, and your seat isn't even warm yet. There is a rotund yinzer gentleman in Youngstown State sweatpants who has the exact same voice as Dr. Girlfriend and a clearly unwashed muscle shirt. He is yelling something about forfeiture. The failure is real.
3:55 PM: Pitt has nearly gone 10 real-time minutes without turning the ball over. On the first play, predictably, Pitt fumbles. They do not recover, because the universe revels in absurdity. Concerned questions about personal safety flood your phone. Georgia Tech scores in three plays. It is 28-0. People are actually getting up to leave, and they are passing by the people who are late coming in. You sink into your seat. Outstanding ineptitude, thy name is Pitt. There are just under 10 minutes left in the first quarter.
Heinz Field Last Weekend
Heinz Field Last Weekend
4:04 PM: Pitt receives the ball. They get a first down! The crowd erupts! The long nightmare is over, and the greatest comeback in recent memory can begin. They complete seven entire plays with possession intact. On to victory!
4:10 PM: Pitt fumbles. Of course they do. Reality begins to blur. Ball possession is merely a fleeting and bizarre concept, making as much sense as a Pollock painting on an acid trip. Pain has long since vanished. There is only madness and the thrill of chaos. Lose. Lose by all the points, and lock this day away forever in obscurity. Bane, come to Heinz Field and become our savior through beautiful cleansing fire.
Georgia Tech would not score on the resulting drive, but they did drive it deep into Pitt territory before turning it over on downs. The damage, however, was done. At 4:30 p.m., the game decided and corpses piled up, the first quarter came to a merciful close. Now, let us never speak of these three hours again.