Sunday, April 22, 2012

A pilgrim in an unholy land

I had heard of Xfinity live before my visit last night in passing. Considering my penchant for intelligent conversation and good atmosphere while actually having the ability to sit down, I assumed I wouldn't enjoy a carnival-type atmosphere filled with theme bars and drunk, confrontational tourists. However, an acquaintance of my girlfriend happened to be having a birthday there, and I, not one to unabashedly hate something without experiencing it first, reluctantly agreed to tag along. My expectations were low, given that anything with the name Comcast associated with it has a tendency to be excruciating, but I considered it to be an anthropological experiment of sorts.

My initial warning signs arrived during our subway ride to the stadium area. After the Oregon stop, all passengers remaining on the train reeked of cologne and could only express themselves whilst reaching decibel levels that would rival a space shuttle launch, or perhaps having a screaming baby lodged inside your skull. As there were no sporting events that particular evening, I assumed these booming steroid machines would be our compatriots for the evening. No matter, as I'm sure a complex this large attempts to offer something for everyone, and we would have no trouble finding a meathead-free sanctuary. More on that later...

Upon our arrival, we immediately found ourselves at the end of an ever-growing, large line to get inside. As a frequent patron of alcohol-seving establishments, I recognize that there are only two reasons for a large line at a front door; the illusion of exclusivity and poor crowd control, neither of which are high on my list of ingredients for a good night. I, however, gave them the benefit of the doubt and assumed that there was just a bottleneck during the carding process. I had ruled out the aforementioned illusion of exclusivity at that point, considering it seemed at the time there were few people they WOULDN'T let inside.

Once inside, any anxiety caused by the large line was immediately eclipsed by the sheer unmanageable size of the crowd we had to attempt to maneuver through. A circle pit at a Slayer show, a Beijing subway car during rush hour, a Florida Best Buy during Black Friday: these are all practically a free-form yoga space in comparison to Xfinity Live on a Saturday night. Grown men have passed kidney stones with more ease than I navigated the vast throngs of humans who had flocked to the stadium complex to drink cheap beer and make passes at women they were most definitely NOT going home with.

But this place offers something for everyone, right? Sure, if you're a complete schmuck. As it turns out, although schmucks are many, no two schmucks are alike, much like a fingerprint. An incredibly loud, douchey fingerprint. To that end, Xfinity Live is structured as such: there is a large common area in the middle containing various floating bars. This area is useful if you're a beginner at large groups of brodudes and you'd just like to get the general overview. It's like a college general education class; you're not going to get a fine-tuned view of anything in particular, but the foundations are laid for you to move forward with a more specific subject you might enjoy.

Finished your gen-eds and looking to personalize your fist-pumpingly excruciating experience? You're in luck. Want to eat Chickie and Pete's but are unsatisfied with the low price tier of the original establishment? No worries, their satellite establishment at Xfinity offers the same greasy drunk food at a 150% markup! Do you enjoy Victory's fine craft beers but pale at the suggestion of having to drink with quiet, polite individuals? No problem! Xfinity's Victory bar can give you the beer you love with all the top ten jams and shameless female objectifying you've grown accustomed to!

We, however, found ourselves at an establishment called PBR Bar. While at this point I was nearly certain this evening was quickly becoming a write-off, I assured myself while waiting in yet another line that I would at least be able to dull my increasingly assaulted senses with a barrage of cheap beer. Although I don't enjoy PBR, I welcomed the opportunity to change my social dynamic by drinking myself into a stupor. Perhaps I misinterpreted the name, as once inside, we were greeted with some sort of dumbed-down version of Coyote Ugly. I still hadn't figured out the name, although at this point I was certain it had nothing to do with Pabst. Perhaps the 'BR' stood for 'Bull Riding', as the centerpiece was a large mechanical bull with alternating groups of sorority girls using it to create regrettable (non?)memories. I'm still not sure what the 'P' stands for. Perhaps Prophylactic. Or Proboscis. I tried to get a drink for my girlfriend and I, however the bar was blocked end to end with gelled-up drunks nursing the idea that the cleavaged blonde bartender actually DID have a crush on them, and convinced them to keep buying expensive shots based on the idea that they would be together forever. It's like the nameless thugs who continue to shoot at Superman. They've seen everyone else's bullets bounce right off his chest, but they're somehow still convinced that their bullets are special, and if they're just persistent, they will prevail.

After getting my straight whiskey and my girlfriend's beer for the unreasonable sum of $15+ (don't forget to tip your bartender's tits), I found myself exhausted from the ordeal. Keep in mind, by the time we actually managed to get our first drinks, it had been nearly 40 minutes since we walked in the front door. Also, it was becoming increasingly apparent that there wasn't enough alcohol in the entire building to get me to enjoy myself. I resigned myself to sipping my whiskey on the smoker's patio while doing deep-breathing exercises to keep my blood pressure from skyrocketing. We managed some strained, screamed conversation over the loud (and horribly chosen) music before we decided that were were obviously not the demographic this place was built for before we decided to go home, drink wine and talk about space.

Bottom line: Xfinity live was built as a sensory overload chamber for those who would like to be surrounded by other excessive drinkers and want to watch sports while standing on a sticky floor. If these are the things that enrich your life, you'll have a blast. If you're looking for an iota of culture and atmosphere, I suggest you leave well enough alone. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, the worst establishment I've ever entered in nearly 10 years of living in Philadelphia, which is really saying something, since we've got some gems. If you want the same experience, put on LMFAO at maximum volume and jam a needle filled with air into your aorta. You'll save money and won't have to work out the logistics of a $20 cab ride home once the subway shuts down. I would give this zero stars if given the option. I would give it negative thirty-seven stars if I could. However, since I have to give one star, I'll justify it by at least saying the exits were easy to locate.