Wednesday, November 4, 2009


this is a long post. i figure you can handle it because i have been so sporadically posting that this one can count as like 5 posts. 

you may recall that about two weeks ago i went on a super impulsive, slightly crazy roadtrip to phoenix, arizona with my two brothers. lucky for me, my husband is awesome and fully endorsed and backed me up on my insane plans. i figure it's good for my daughter to learn that her mom still rallies.

mission: see U2 in concert. 
and by see them in concert, i mean, be this close:

(all pics by my brother aaron. he snapped, while i sang my little heart out)
mission accomplished.
and by that, i mean for reals
not in a fake 
sort of way.
here's how it went down.

brother aaron picked me up around 6 pm, 
and we headed to brother jonathan's house to get on the road.
a few hours in we still look awake and excited.
i don't know how many years it has been since i went to carl's jr., 
but we stopped off and i indulged in a western bacon burger. 
i don't know, it did the trick, but it didn't taste quite as good as it used to in high school.
ready to get back on the road. 
3 hours down, and about 9 to go. 
i pseudo crashed in the back seat and my brothers drove the whole way. 
i declined to post the extremely flattering photos that aaron took of me while i slept.
don't worry- you aren't missing anything.

we got to the city of surprise, arizona at around 5 am. 
we drove straight to my friend brandon's house.
(by the way, this post is dedicated to brandon, because he is the one who made my voyage to the concert possible. he's the one who, after i found a single general admission ticket on craigslist in arizona, picked up and paid for my ticket. in case you are wondering, i know practically no one in the state of arizona, but brandon just happens to live in the same exact city as where my friendly craigslist ticket seller also lives. how awesome is that!
anyway, not only did he schlep over to get my ticket for me, but he woke up bright and early to pass the ticket off to me so that we could head straight to the stadium to get in line for the show.)

here's the thing. 
i need to explain this first. 
U2 general admission ticket holders have this whole routine. 
my friend nancy calls it the fake U2 government.
(just don't tell anyone in the line that it is fake, because this system becomes the rule of law.)
U2 always has general admission tickets, as in no assigned seats. 
they are usually the cheapest tickets, and if you get there early enough to wait in line, 
and race up to the stage, you can get very close to the band.
even though the show is in a massive arena or stadium, 
it feels like you are as close as you would be in a club, 
with the benefit of tens of thousands singing along with you.

this is how fake U2 government goes:
  • 48-24 hours ahead of the show, people start showing up to start the "official" general admission line. usually the line is across the street from the venue, because the venue won't let you camp out.
  • whoever shows up first has a pad of paper and a sharpie marker.
  • that person gets to start the line by writing their name on the paper and writing 1 on their hand with the sharpie.
  • every person who shows up after that writes their name on the list, with a corresponding number that they are in line.
  • throughout the day, the line "leader" has people line up in numerical order and comes down the line to check people's names & make sure they are in the right spot.
  • the line leader also comes by to tell everyone to police themselves. as in, if someone cuts, it's your job to deal with it.
  • throughout the day you can leave to get food, or go to the bathroom, or go on a walk, or just take a break. at a certain time mid-afternoon (about an hour from when you can get let into the stadium,) everyone in line takes their chairs, food, books, sleeping bags, etc. back to their cars. then you can just get back in line in order again without worrying that you'll lose your spot.
crazy, right? crazy, but it works.

we got to the stadium at 5:45 am and the little pack of waiters was across the street from the stadium. we didn't even park, we u-turned and hopped out to get our numbers and names on the list. we were #100, 101 and 102. 

people are more insane than i am, because the first people had gotten there 36 hours before. um, what!?!

at 7 am, the stadium opened up the gates, 
so we dutifully lined up in order in the designated spot.
it is seriously comical, and i would laugh harder if i wasn't camped out in line myself. 
people have little boomboxes blasting U2, they spend the day reading U2 photo-books, reliving other concerts, talking about other tours, comparing old tour t-shirts, reconnecting with people they met at other shows, discussing strategy for where they want to stand during the concert. 

looking a bit beat down at 7 am, after driving 11 hours.
johnny crashed on the concrete for a while. and did i. 
i think i napped about 3 hours on that sidewalk.
sneak peek in at the stage.
mid-day after our naps and snacks.
by the way, one of the funny things is that people in this line will leave 
and get all gussied up as the time to get let in nears. 
i think maybe they think if they look hot that they'll get pulled onstage to dance with bono.
i just kept my no-makeup, stringy hair, rumpled road trip look going.

the frenzy begins when the security guards tell everyone to line up because they are going to let us in.
(since this is becoming a novella, 
i won't even get into the drama that ensues when lame-ohs try to cut the line despite no name on the list or number on their hand...suffice it to say, the self-policing begins!)
it gets a little crazy as we get our wristbands and people begin to push down the long ramp to be able to run for the stage. it is a frenetic 20 minutes of being herded down to the stadium floor. lucky for me, my brother jonathan links arms with me and i am not trampled by the masses.

we wait.

after the slow, claustrophobic descent, the guards finally release us. 
two thousand people start sprinting all the way across the stadium to the front. 
oh my quads! i haven't run like that since presidents fitness testing in 8th grade p.e.

we are front row, center stage. 
we stake our claim and settle in for the two hours before the opening act comes out. 
the strategy is to get as much space as you can at the beginning, 
because as more people arrive, 
they push you forward and you have less and less room.
waiting, with my aung san suu kyi mask

after 2 plus hours of waiting..
black eyed peas came out!
they were a great show.
fergie is my new favorite. 
that girl can belt it and shake it!
i had a personal dance party-they put on such a good show, 
and it was perfect after a day of waiting.

the stadium kept filling up...
another hour of waiting...
we made a new friend, ernesto. 
his favorite band is U2 and he came with his family from mexico to the show. 
we let him move in front of me to the very front, and he was our buddy through the show. 
he plays drums, so we'd lift him up so he could see larry on the drums.
when his glasses broke underfoot half-way through the show, aaron went all macgyver and found some gaffer's tape stuck to the floor to fix ernesto's glasses so he could watch the show.

suddenly, they were all there:

the edge
larry mullen jr.

it was an amazing show. 
a U2 show is, for me, a spiritual experience.
and i think that after the year we've had, it was just what i needed.
obviously their songs resonate with a lot of people, 
as there were over 70,000 people in attendance singing along.
yet somehow it is still intensely personal.
i know that they are incredible showmen.
but there is something more meaningful embedded in the music than just a good show.
there is something healing to me about singing those songs-
 songs that speak to love, faith, justice, and hope. 
anthems that speak for the forgotten and love songs that have been my life's soundtrack.
these are songs and lyrics that shaped at a young age my understanding of human rights, 
and gave me a glimpse into a world larger than my own experience, that i played when my young heart was (oft) broken. 
they also contributed to my belief that art 
can be integrated with a an emphasis on social justice 
and still retain integrity and beauty.
plus, who doesn't like to sing along to a U2 song?

as you can see, we sing along.
hi friends!
would you like me to come onstage and sing with you?
i know all the words.

my two favorite moments:
  • bono singing "amazing grace" acapella
  • the moment when the edge couldn't remember how to start a song. he tried like 4 times before he got the first measure right, as bono and adam laughed at him. i loev being so close and getting to see those little moments in the midst of a massively & precisely engineered production.
they were filming a dvd, so they definitely played up to the cameras by a post-concert all-band lovefest. i think the edge is winking at me in this picture.
three happy siblings, hearts sung out and filled up.
ah, the bittersweet end as the stage instantly gets dismantled. 
lucky for us, we didn't have to drive home. 
we crashed at aforementioned brandon's house & 
got to say hi to his wife and daughter in the morning before driving home. 
i think i fell asleep in about 5 seconds...


  1. Yeah for you!!! This sounds so amazing - once in a lifetime!

    In addition to singing at U2 concerts, I also cry. Unavoidable.

  2. I have SO MUCH to say about this fabulous post. I am SO glad you took this inspired road trip. I am so fascinated by the details of the fake (but not fake) U2 government. I love seeing you sing your heart out in THE FRONT ROW. Love that kid Ernesto. And The Edge is totally winking at you.

  3. Let's get some people together and camp out for a Zoostation show. I'd love to go with you and your brothers!

  4. you are so cool.
    I have always dreamed of a moment like this happening to me. Know that I lived vicariously through you as I read your wonderful post!

  5. a few things....
    a) loved this post
    b) could not believe how close you were!
    c) western bacon cheeseburger also brings back HS and college for me
    d) loved what you said about U2
    e) loved loved loved this post


  6. P.S. Jonathan took the pictures of you sleeping

  7. awesome. worth every minute and every penny! you sooo deserved that.

  8. You ROCK !!! Loved this post

    mommy marsh

  9. I absolutely loved this post. And in response - I just bought tickets to the show with 3 other couples. I cannot wait to see them here in Seattle. And sadly have to wait until June 20, 2010!!


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