People started lining up outside the nTelos Wireless Pavilion in Charlottesville, Virginia three hours before the start of the rare concert. By 1:30 p.m., the two files leading up to the small outdoor concert venue stretched more than two blocks of Charlottesville’s historic downtown mall.
The local Obama for America office was giving away tickets for a live performance of Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen—whose band played at the much-larger John Paul Jones Arena later that day.
Around 1:30 p.m., the more than two thousand people in line began entering the concert venue with capacity for about 3,500. David Graham, 58, from Roanoke claimed his spot in the grassy area beyond the large white tent suspended over the stage and surrounding area.
A 28-year sheet metal worker and a proud member of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local 100, Graham said he’s voting for Obama because of statements Mitt Romney made in a 60 Minutes interview last month where the presidential candidate said that it was fair for someone making $50,000 a year to pay a higher federal tax rate than him, who made about $20 million in personal investments and paid 14 percent in federal taxes.
“That did it for me right there,” said Graham, referring to his choice for president.
The first to speak were Charlottesville natives, Afghanistan War veterans, and twin brothers Eli and Seth Lovell, who shared their personal stories and encouraged people in the audience to make their voices heard in November.
“Your vote is important,” Eli said. “Your vote matters. What happens two weeks from now matters.”
Seth added: “In two weeks, remember: Obama has our backs, let’s have his.”
Other speakers included a University of Virginia student and former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine, who introduced the day’s closing act. The Boss walked on stage to the audience’s standing ovation, opening his 35-minute, five-song show with “No Surrender.”
Between songs he said:
I’m here today because I’m thankful for universal health care. I’m thankful for a more regulated Wall Street. I’m thankful that GM is still making cars—what would I write about? I’d be out of business! And I’m concerned about women’s rights and women’s health issues around the world.
And the 63-year-old artist added, paraphrasing a letter he sent to his fans last week supporting President Obama:
And I’m here today because I’ve lived long enough to know that despite those galvanizing moments in history the future is rarely a tide rushing in. It’s more often a slow slow march, inch by inch, day after long day. And I believe we’re in the midst of those long days right now. And I’m here today because I believe that President Obama feels those days in his bones for all 100 percent of us.