Well, last week I was able to check this one particular thing off my list by going to see the Professional Bull Rider's Association's Madison Square Garden Invitational!
Woody and I went, along with a few of my colleagues, to a VIP reception held by PBR before the show started. There were drinks, a buffet, Bull Riders, sponsors, and us, the music people. We stuck out like sore thumbs, but we loved it! It was such a random way for us to spend our Friday night, it was great!
We were able to go on a backstage tour, which was pretty cool, if only for the fact that we were at Madison Square Garden. Our guide answered all our questions and explained the whole thing to us "PBR virgins." Like the fact that there are 45 bulls at the venue each night but only 40 will ride. Because they get all riled up, they are taken about 15 miles outside of the city (whatever city that might be, that weekend) for the night. One time, one bull was so worked up, he escaped, ran out the loading dock and was caught after damaging three cars in the town they were in!
When we saw them though, they were looking pretty calm to us. And this was just about 20 minutes before the show started.
We were told that Bull Riding is very different from the Rodeo. I don't know anything about the Rodeo though, so I can't really explain the difference. In Bull Riding, each rider has one 8 second ride each night - even if they stay on past 8 seconds, they are scored on just that. The score is out of 100 points - 50 for the rider and 50 for the bull. Because the bull is half of the score, they are treated extremely well and each morning during a 3 day invitational, there is a 'draft' where the riders get to choose their bull (the riders choose in order of highest score from the night before). I have no idea how the judge's can score in 8 seconds.
There is a winner each night and then one overall winner for the weekend. They travel nine months of the year, every weekend. In our tour guides own words, they're "a lot like a circus."
After scoping out the backstage area and catching a glimpse of Jewel (yes, she was there!) We headed out to our seats before it got to crazy backstage!
We were all pretty surprised by the large crowd and the wide variety of people. PBR brings everything in with them on large trucks, except for the dirt, which is apparently local, but I'm not sure where they got it around the city. Maybe Jersey? Anyway, doesn't sound like PBR is very environmentally friendly.
When we were in the pre-show reception, we all commented on how small the riders were. Even though they're small, they must have some killer leg and core muscles. The way they're whipped around by those bulls, they have to be strong to stay on for 8 seconds. I went into this night thinking we'd enjoy the reception, watch a bit of the show and take off early. Well, I was wrong. I was amazed by how entertaining it was. The clown was a bit annoying, but it we definitely got into cheering for the riders. The best part of the night though, was when the little kids got out and rode sheep! It was somewhat of a "time out" entertainment segment, but they chose kids out of the audience earlier in the evening, put them on sheep and sent them flying down the ring! The winner was the one and only girl. She hung on to that sheep's wool like no other. My favorite was this little guy who stopped half way back to the others and started dancing! He couldn't be more than 4 years old. HILARIOUS!
They all got belt buckles, pictures with a guy dressed up as a sheep, and tons of cheers!
As fun as the night turned out to be, I don't think we'll be heading back to another PBR show anytime soon. For us, it was a one time thing, but definitely an interesting and out of the ordinary way to spend a Friday night.
Have you ever been to a PBR show or rodeo? What did you think of it? Have you done anything out of the ordinary lately?