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The 5h Guide to the
13th Annual Bridge School Benefit

Shoreline Amphitheatre
Mountain View, CA
October 30 + 31, 1999

The 1999 Bridge shows are over ... they were great!
Read this review.

This guide has been updated for 2001: check it out! new

late updates

Click for San Jose, California Forecast
  • Daylight Savings Time: Remember! We "fall back" one hour this weekend!
  • Bridge School site: The Bridge School is (obviously) a great info source. Visit the events subpage for updates and info on this year's events.
  • Weather: It is cold at night, but clear and warm during the day -- and keep thinking "no rain"! Don't be fooled into leaving your warm clothes at home!
  • 5h portable guide to the '99 Bridge School Benefit

    Keep watching this space for late-breaking updates!

where we are

Mountain View is in the heart of Silicon Valley, California, located in between San Jose and San Francisco. It's about 10-20 minutes from San Jose, and 45 minutes-1 hour to San Francisco. (This is when there is no traffic, and there is almost always traffic in California.)

getting there:

Plane: San Jose (SJC) is closer, and in most cases significantly cheaper than flying into San Francisco (SFO), not to mention less of a nightmare. (SFO has so much traffic that on-time arrivals and departures are somewhat of a rarity -- not to mention fog-related delays. We've circled for an hour and a half when it was clear and sunny.) If you're just flying in for the show, we strongly recommend flying into San Jose if you can. You *can* fly into Oakland (OAK), but it's fairly inconvenient and not worth it unless you're saving a significant amount of $$ (or have no other choice).

If you're looking for airfares, we (once again) recommend Expedia; however, we've also had excellent results lately with Cheap Tickets and Orbitz; we'd strongly recommend checking them both (Cheap Tickets found a ticket for $316 that Expedia had for $658, for example). If you want to call airlines directly, two cheep airlines that fly to SJO and SJC include America West and Southwest, if you don't mind multiple stops and/or late night flights; friends have done well finding inexpensive flights from the Midwest on Continental.

Leaving Sunday night: Many people have no option than to leave Sunday night. You won't be alone: many people will make the hard choice to forsake Neil's set (and the encore jam session) and hightail it out of the venue after PJ's set in order to catch a 10 or 11pm flight home. You cannot reasonably do this if you are flying out of Oakland, and remember how busy airports are on Sundays. It is doable if you can keep an eye on your watch, time how long it takes you to walk to the venue from your car, time how long the drive is, and figure in returning a rental car (unless you've got someone dropping you off, of course). If that's your only option, then by all means go for it, but yes, you will miss some of the show.

A Note on Car Rental: If you reserve a car from one of the more inexpensive rental companies, and arrive at SJC on Saturday, be prepared for a LONG WAIT. It never fails. You might want to have a backup, even if it's a few dollars more, in case there's a line, long wait, or no cars (even though you've reserved one; it's happened).

Bus: Greyhound to San Jose or San Francisco. But, then you have the problem of how to get to the venue.

Public Transportation: From San Francisco, the easiest way to do it is to take Caltrain to Castro Station, and then take bus #40 right to Shoreline (or take a cab). Caltrain is a train that runs all the way down the peninsula from SF to below San Jose. You can catch it from SF, SFO (there are shuttles from the airport terminals), San Jose and a number of points in between. Check out the Samtrans web site for schedules for Caltrain as well as bus service on the peninsula.

The other problem with that bus is that it stops running EARLY, around 6 or so on the weekend. You can take the bus from Caltrain to the venue but will have to take a cab back.

The biggest problem with this scenario is that the show on Saturday will likely run too late. You're advised to closely check out schedules of trains and buses (and keep the starting and ending times of the shows well in mind) before deciding to rely on this method.

For local transit info, see the list of helpful links below.

Car: Shoreline is right off Highway 101 in Mountain View. There are two exits: Amphitheatre Parkway (Rengstorff Ave.) is the northernmost, Shoreline Blvd. is the southernmost. Follow the traffic east from either (take a left if you're coming from the north, a right if you're coming from the south). A tip from a local: take the 2nd exit whichever direction you come from -- that is, if you come from the south, drive past Shoreline to Amphitheatre, if you come from the North, drive past Amphitheatre to Shoreline.

Parking at the venue: infomation is below.

The Shoreline web site has a basic map.

where to stay

San Francisco: Without a doubt, one of the world's great cities. However, hotels are significantly more expensive than the San Jose area. You can stay down near the venue and day trip up to SF if you are so inclined, but we don't recommend staying there if you're just coming out for the weekend.

NEW! San Jose: IN OUR OPINION, San Jose is not a particularly pleasant, interesting or remarkable city in which to stay or spend your free time, nor is it the closest locale to the venue, nor is it particularly cheap (and therefore worth the drive). It is a major convention locale, so there are tons of hotel rooms to be had at various prices. It is very convenient getting in and out of the San Jose airport.

Our recommendation would be to find something along 101 near Mountain View - Sunnyvale, Palo Alto - there are cheap hotels by the score to be had. An AAA guide to California along with a good map is a MUST if you're unfamiliar with the area and looking for a hotel close to the venue and not in one of the closest major cities.

You can also go to the aforementioned Expedia and look for hotels by plugging in the address of the venue (One Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA); it will then give you a list of hotels that are near the venue. However, this doesn't exactly give you the most budget-conscious accommodations; an AAA guide would be a better bet for the cost-conscious.

the venue

Seating chart: Originally appropriated from a "ticket broker's" site, this seating chart is the best one we've found (the seating chart on the Shoreline web site being completely useless if you are playing the upgrade game).

Parking: You have two choices -- park at the venue in their lot, or in the area around the venue:

At the venue: This season there is a new tiered parking system, with premium parking available for $20 in A lot, regular parking for $12 in B,C,D lot, and parking in the dirt E lot for $8.

Around the venue: Shoreline is surrounded by office complexes, and you can safely park on any of the surrounding streets (NOT in the office parking lots) and then hoof it to the venue. You'll have a long walk there and a long walk back, but it's probably less time than waiting in the traffic jam to get out of the parking lot, and it's certainly cheaper. If you've never been to Shoreline before and you want to try this, don't stress: we did this in 1996 not knowing a damn thing and easily found a legal and free place to park - once you make the turnoff from 101 and start heading towards the venue, pick a side street and just start looking. (Another reason to get there early!)

Background: Shoreline Amphitheatre was designed and built by the late Bill Graham. It is a very cool venue to see a concert, and is regarded as one of the country's premier venues. The 'legend' goes that it was built "specifically for Deadheads."

The lower half of the pavilion and the stage are covered by a canvas canopy. The upper half of the pavilion, and the lawn, are open. The seating area itself is surrounded by walkways and open spaces with food vendors and the like and places you can just hang out. There are video monitors all over so you can follow what's going on inside while you're grabbing a beer or getting a bite to eat (or more likely, RUNNING to the bathroom in-between sets or during the set of a band you don't particularly care for -- this is a long show, and as the night goes on, the lines get longer and longer. Tip: head for a bathroom further away from the seating area, you'll walk farther but the lines will be shorter.)

If you don't like the act that's onstage, the polite thing to do would be to get up and take a walk, especially if you want to talk to your friends instead of watching the show. This is an all-acoustic show, so it's a quieter than your standard rock show, and a conversation can really disturb your neighbors' enjoyment of the show. Also, it's generally considered good Bridge manners to get up and leave in between songs and not smack in the middle of them.

Standing/Not Standing: This goes on every year, and we're warning people now so they know what to expect: depending on where you are sitting, you may very well not be able to stand up during your favorite act. There's always some incident somewhere where enraged yuppies are calling security over to make someone sit down, or where someone starts throwing things at the people standing up. Expect this to happen during PJ's set. Hope that the people around you are going to stand. Personally, we'd rather sit down against our wishes than have to waste precious time during the sets arguing with security or our neighbors; however this is absolutely only our opinion and we realize it differs widely with others.

Weather: No matter how much we say this, how much we stress this, people aren't going to listen. If you've never been to Bridge before, and you're not a local, you may get off the plane or out of the car and it's warm and sunny, and hey, you're in California, right? It's still warm in October! It was warm in November when we went out to see PJ open for the Stones in 1997!

Right, and wrong.

Shoreline is built on a coastline. Once that sun goes down, it gets COLD. We're not talking cold by Southern California standards, we're talking cold by ANYONE's standards. In 1996, we heard this, and brought a bunch of warm clothes down for Bridge, only to leave them behind in the hotel because it was sunny and warm at 4pm.

It ended up being so cold that year that the merchandise stands sold out of the $50 Bridge School thermal shirts, and there were huge lines at the espresso stand (and none at the beer stands).

In 1997, we were a little smarter, and brought the following articles of clothing:

We ended up using every bit of that list of clothing except for the hat, and the shawl (which was loaned to a friend who wore shorts and sandals). (It was not nearly as chilly in '97, either.)

This year, we're bringing blankets and some polar fleece in addition to the list above; Bridge is fully two weeks later than it usually is. (You can bring blankets into Shoreline, even [and especially!] if you're on the lawn. We know this is different than many other venues that PJ have played in.) This year, Bridge is also held two weeks later than it usually is, so it is really going to be damn chilly once that sun goes down Saturday night.

The point is: bring your winter clothes. Bring a blanket or two. You can dump it at your seat while you wander the grounds or use it to claim space on the lawn. It's not very fun nor enjoyable to be shivering. And bring rain gear, at least a poncho or something, just in case it drizzles.

Is the lawn worth it?: We keep getting this question and it keeps being debated in many online forums. There are video screens, and there's some debate as to whether the sound is really loud enough up there. The Shoreline web site has a little app where you can put your mouse cursor over the various seating sections and see the "view" from there.

In the end, only you can answer the question of whether it is "worth it" to see PJ's only 1999 performance (with the Who and Neil Young and Tom Waits) and sit on the lawn, or to not go and listen to the tapes later.

GET THERE EARLY: Traditionally, Neil opens the show by welcoming the crowd and playing a song. That means you will probably want to be in your seats by the time marked on the ticket.

On that note, if you have to pick up tickets at the box office day of show, REALLY get there early. The lines are always, always horrendous, and they get worse the closer it gets to showtime. The box office opens at 10am, so you could swing by there any time after that, get your tickets, and then go about your business and come back later.

frequently asked questions

NEW!Can we bring food and water inside the venue?
The answer is (surprisingly) - yes! The only prohibition is on glass bottles. You are allowed to bring outside food and drink into Shoreline. (And before you ask, no, we don't know about coolers, and we're at the point we don't want to keep bothering our source about this, if you have definitive info please let us know).

Can we bring binoculars?
Binoculars are allowed.

What should we do if it rains? Uh, bring raingear? There isn't much area at Shoreline that's under cover besides the front of the pavilion.

What about this webcast?
Details are still being finalized, when we have full information, we will let you know.

What time do the gates open?

These times are approximate as we're still almost a month away, but if you're on the lawn it should give you an idea what time you need to get there.

When do PJ go on?
One of the charmingly irksome things about Bridge is - YOU DON'T KNOW! They will most likely go on towards the evening.

Is there a taping section?
Well, PJ don't have a taper's section anyway, but no, there is no taping section, and yes, if you plan to tape, you should expect to stealth, as this is not a Pearl Jam show. Arguing with security at the gates will result in resounding laughter.

Are cameras allowed?
No, not officially. We've seen them bust people down front, and we've seen other security guards offer to take photos from the front for you. Be discreet.

What night are Pearl Jam playing?
PJ are playing both nights. The Who are playing both nights. Right now, the only artist playing only one night is Tom Waits.

Is the show sold out?
Saturday is completely sold out. Sunday still has lawn tickets available. You can check the BASS Tickets web site to see if tickets get released, or if you want to buy lawn for Sunday.

What time will the shows start and end?
Saturday starts at 5pm, and is over around 12pm. Sunday starts at 3pm, and is over by 8:30pm or so.

Can we go on the lawn if we have reserved tickets?
Yep. But it doesn't work the other way around.

Will there be any "surprise guests"???
Historically, yes. But that's why they're called "surprise guests" -- you won't know until they show up! That's one of the great things about Bridge. (For those of you still bound and determined to put Chris Cornell on the same stage as Pearl Jam, we'll point out that he's in Europe during the Bridge shows.)

Will there be any tickets released at the box office day of show?
There has been in the past. However, this year seems more hysterical than ever, so if there are, there will certainly be stiff competition for them. Good luck.


mail us if you have other questions

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