Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"mommy, i wanna see more bono"

oh, don't we all, my sweet little m.
(i swear my daughter said those words unprompted)

it's the moment you've all been waiting for, i know. (cough, cough. maybe not)
you can all collectively exhale, my u2 post is here.

first of all, if you aren't well acquainted with the unofficial rules of the fake u2 government, take a quick look-see here (which also includes the play by play of the last u2 show i went to back in 2009; i had shorter hair, was with child and across state lines, & it's a good story)

then, thanks to wise people in my life who told me, "don't be ridiculous. of course you are going. you'd be so sad if you missed it", i decided to figure out how to make it work, kids and all. yes, i would have been so sad. (especially since my husband could hear the concert from our house. yep. that's right. he texted me with song titles as he heard them and was spot on. can you imagine if i was at home and could hear the concert in the distance? breaking my heart already.)

we had general admission tickets for the stadium field, which means that depending on what time you show up, you can either be front row, really close, or smack dab in the midst of the sweaty, teeming masses. 

my brother jonathan crashed at our house so that we could go get in line early tuesday morning. i nursed ruby somewhere in the fives, and then we headed to the stadium around 6 am the morning of the concert. the stadium gates were opening at 7 am. as we drove up there were less than ten cars in line at the stadium gates.

drama immediately ensued. 
normally, there is a list, and order, and a self policing system for u2's general admission line.
we got out of our car to sign in.
no list.
some random sleazy guy who smelled like stale beer was reassuring us that we were with him & 
that we were all adults and would easily get a spot in the line.
oh, except the "official" non-official line was over at the BART train entrance with about 150 people signed in already. 
of course some of this drama is what is great about sitting in line for a u2 concert- 
you're there for a while so it might as well be interesting.
i'm not going to lie-i forced random sleaze guy to write numbers down on a list & 
then i got my own sharpie out of the car and we wrote the numbers on our hands.
as 7 am approached we hopped in our cars and lined up at the gate to race in and park, 
and then to race to the line where we'd figure out whose line was official or not.

7 am:
the slowest person ever in front of us, chit chatting with security guard as the other cars zipped into the lot and parked and the now hundreds of people lined up at BART ran through their gate and sprinted to the line. my poor brother was so thrown off that when it was our turn to go through the gate he sped right past the parking people without paying the $40 to park (side note-our ticket was not much more than that. ridiculous.) we could hear them screaming behind us "$40! $40!" it reminded me of the 80's movie better off dead when the paper boy is always yelling "i want my $2!" (also, we did go back later and pay them) 

7:05 am: out of the car and we sprint to a line! only to discover it is not a real line, so we sprint for another line, where we settle in and wait. for a long time. so much craziness over the numbers and the line and who should be where and we finally all just stay put and claim a spot. (is this comical or what? i know it is kind of ridiculous.)
me, sleepy, camped out.
luckily we had lots of visitors throughout the day: nancy (who witnessed u2 government firsthand,) amy (who just gave birth to a baby this week!) along with her son judah, my brother aaron, matt and my girls.

is it scary that i recognized people from other tours and other shows?
kind of.

it's pretty fun to go with my brother. the first time we went together was back in 1999 when he showed up at my place where i lived with my roommates and he had general admission tickets to the popmart tour. i'd gone that night to the concert with my roommate amy, and we'd sat all the way at the tippety top of the stadium in the nosebleeds. johnny surprised me with tickets for the next night and we started a tradition of going early to line up to get in as close as we could. every time is an adventure. over time our other brother aaron came too, and at this concert all four of us went! (i still want to drag my mom along sometime!) 

7:10 am-3 pm: wait. intermittently security would come by and tell us when we'd have to get our stuff put away, when we'd get our wristbands to get in, when they'd open the doors, or just to mediate between line cutters and the rest of us. wait more. listen to people tell their stories of flying around the country to go to u2 shows. listen to people strategize their spot. listen to people discuss the set list. (meanwhile i read trashy celebrity trash magazines, textedbono to pull them on stage.

around 1 or so matt came with my girls & my brother aaron to visit, which was my favorite part of the day. i wanted m to come stand with me in line for a bit, but right then some line jumper was wreaking havoc and the security was getting all crazy. (i contend that if fake u2 government had worked properly this skirmish wouldn't have happened)

they post a map of the stadium, so checked it out to decide our strategy for getting in to the front row.

i've already gone on way too long in this post, so i'll spare you any more details of our wait. wrist-banded, and lined up single file, they opened the gate at 4 pm on the dot and with the sound of "walk, walk, don't run, please walk, slow down" from every security guard, we fast-walked through the ticket area and to the field. insert my brother and i into this video below and this is exactly what it's like:

we got blocked on our side of the stage so i grabbed johnny and we raced across the stadium to the other entrance...still speedy enough to end up here:

against the barrier in the front row!
here's our view of the stage:
the funny thing is, once you race in to the field then you wait again.
we waited from 4 until 7:15
(oh wait, there was an opening opening act somewhere in the sixes, but they were awful)
no leaving to pee or fro drinks or food.
(well if you are in another spot you can, but then you always risk losing where you are)
lenny kravitz came on around 7:15 and put on a really great show.
(are you gonna go my way?
uh, yes lenny, i am.
by the way-lenny weighs a hundred pounds and looks 25.)

and then, we waited some more as the stadium filled up behind us.

so maybe we did some singing along
you have a really different view of the stage from the front- you can't see the rest of the stage or video screens at all really-so i think it is probably a very different experience.
there was a lot of this:

and here's the thing.
i loved it.
(shocking newsflash i know)
it wasn't my favorite u2 concert ever, probably because there are other albums i've liked more where i wanted to hear every song off of the album. but i loved being there with my brother, and i loved a bunch of the songs they did play- especially some of the older ones. (they didn't play my fave songs from their most current album) 

of course, i realize that there are plenty of reasons to think u2 and their concerts are over-hyped: i know it is stadium rock, and that they do the same things at every concert- have lots of singing along, play these anthems with catchy choruses, shout out the name of your city to get a collective woo-hoo and tell you what great lives they've had thanks to you being a fan. many elements are formulaic (but they work), and there is no doubt it is a spectacle.

i've thought in the last week about why there is something that happens for me listening to this band. you know how a song or a smell or a certain food can bring a moment in your lifetime rushing back at you? u2's songs bring back so many moments in my life- from the first hand-me-down tapes i got when i was 10 years old, to meeting one of my best friends at my new high school during p.e. when i overheard her singing a u2 song, to my mom driving me to see rattle and hum in another town when i was 13, to my first amnesty international membership i signed up for in ninth grade thanks to bono's encouragement....(well, you get the idea, i'll stop there since i am old and this post is long enough)  suffice it to say, i can mark so many small and big moments in my life accompanied by this band.
(love this song-we were right in front of whoever filmed this clip)

and so maybe there are over 60,000 people surrounding me, and the massive stage apparatus looms above me streaming video and lights, but somehow i'm transported back to my house on brookside road in elkins park on a saturday morning in 1986, where i'm rewinding and replaying sunday bloody sunday over and over in between dusting the livingroom furniture. it's just me learning the words, singing along, and wearing out the cassette.


  1. Wow, what a saga. I know what you mean about the curious feeling of being so wrapped up in something that has tremendous appeal for you, despite its obvious commercial apparatus. I spent my adolescence in a state of abject Beatlemania -- still am, actually, although it evolved into subtler forms. And even though almost every aspect of the Beatles experience was commodified by someone trying to make a buck (and a fair amount of my allowance ended up in their hands), I could see through that to the underlying artistry and authentic human narrative. Yeah, even in the Beatles, the quintessential "pop" group. My best friend was similarly obsessed with Peter Gabriel, but that was a little easier to defend intellectually. A U2 obsession is practically cerebral by comparison. Sorry to hijack your blog yet again -- glad you had stellar seats and a great time. If the Beatles weren't 50% deceased, I'd be lining up for reunion concert tickets.

  2. I had fun with you too Sooz! Just reminded me that the first time you and me rocked out to U2 was when you were still rocking the "Siouxzie" name. I don't think we could ever sit in the seats anyways. Aaron, You and I were meant for G/A. I mean Mumford Yes..... Edge no.... Glad I could spend that 24 with you.

  3. bless their 50+ year old hearts. i hope they never stop making music. i luff them. and living vicariously thru your u2 gov sagas. and ps i totally remember our horrible pop mart seats. but felt so cool to be there.


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