Tuesday, November 03, 2009

U2 Washington, DC, part 2

Anyway, I knew it would be okay, because our numbers were good and the line was really pretty orderly and calm all day. A really good line. Nevertheless, you get that late afternoon panic disorder syndrome sometimes. Or at least I do. Getting to the venue and then the final final final lineup are big major stress points for me! But E. and I talked about where to be, and we decided on outer rail, and I selfishly hoped we’d be able to be more left on Edge’s side because I never get to be on Edge’s side, but center would be totally great too because E is a big Bono fan too, but of course on the third hand anywhere on outer rail is awesome, right? Right. We were both breathing into paper bags, though, you know how it is.

Eventually they started to move a first group of us to the turnstile area. The security people letting us into that next area used our lineup numbers to kind of regulate how many of us there were, which was great. However, and this is as hilarious to me in retrospect as I’d hoped, as they let us in I like turned my ankle or something and took a mighty tumble. I’m BEYOND lucky that I didn’t actually injure myself or break my camera! It was totally in SLO-MO as I kind of staggered forward trying to get my balance, but momentum won, and I went down fairly hard, knees, then hands, then (oh shit no) I bumped my face on the pavement a pretty good one, too. Luckily I only got from it a skinned knee, some great bruises, sore hand-heels for half an hour, and a sore nose for a few days. MANY people asked me if I was all right, which was awesome, AND since we were so near the front I totally didn’t harm my place in line much by it. E. ended up in the line next to my line, and once she made sure I was okay she was like “Dude, I looked over and you were DOWN.” Secretly I was kind of hoping for a black eye – I bumped my brow, nose, mouth – so at work I could be all ‘totally got a shiner in the pit at the show, losers,’ but to no avail. Hah.

Anyway, then of course it was stand and wait there, too. One security guy told us that he THOUGHT we’d go in and turn left and come out behind the stage – which I thought was weird – and another guy kind of counted down the minutes, telling us we had nine minutes, four minutes – then after it was time, of course, another five or so. God, the tension, you know? Finally what did it was E. asked me for a Tic Tac, and when I passed them to her, it was GO TIME. Scan, in, mob, pack, go left, wait, jam into the usual tunnel, shuffle shuffle, hold up your ticket and wristband, GO. Down steps I did not fall down (been there, fell down that!), and I felt really disoriented for a minute; we weren’t behind the stage, we were in the adam-side corner at the back of the field, LOTS of security, so we hardly even were running. Speed walk speed walk, I headed for the middle, and there was E just ahead of me, heading a bit left, looking at me for confirmation, and WE ARE THERE, rail, Edge side, exactly at the corner before where the rail starts to slope away. Perfection!! Just what I wanted.


I felt like FedEx Field was much smaller than Soldier Field, it seemed like such a short run, but E. said FedEx is actually one of the largest football stadiums. Perhaps it’s because my last memory of entering Soldier Field is running down the whole field and THEN all the way around and into the pit, which is a lot further than just to the rail. Anyway, at that point every anxiety had been hurdled and it was time to just generally freak out. I sat down for just a bit, but not a lot of people were, which makes it awkward, and the douche next to me at the rail seemed to think he could hold like five spaces for people who “should be here in like half an hour,” and E. was too psyched to sit, so there we were, looking around.

And let me tell you, my brothers, it was, once again, wonderful. Watching the field fill up, eventually people coming into the stands, the crews at work. You know how security usually kind of ignores you and like pretends they’re in the military? Our security actually greeted US and was all “how you-all doing this evening?” and we started chatting and found out that all the numerous young, wiry guys at rail security were in fact Marines – I’m not sure if they were getting extra credit or something, but they were so great and so polite. They took a jillion pictures of people for them, “Ma’am”-ed us to no end, had all kinds of conversation, gave each other a hard time, and generally were Dear Boys Far From Home and all that. One from Atlanta, we talked baseball for a few minutes; one from Detroit; I don’t even remember. One of them was telling us how they had some kind of special muster or something and President Obama came to it and shook his hand. So of course I stuck out MY hand and shook HIS hand, and that was kind of cool. They were telling us stories about training and trying to sleep all piled up like frozen puppies in the snow and Quantico and trying to get an Embassy post and hoping for Ireland. Not big U2 fans, but one of them was like “Oh MAN!! MUSE is opening?? Really??” Crack me up. They were a welcome distraction, too, because it was getting pretty cold and windy about then! Brrrrrt.

So we waited and we waited and Muse came and went and we were freezing and shivering and everything. Then it was Energy Drink and SoyJoy Bar time, and I’d managed an extra soyjoy for E., although she’d had her own energy drink earlier in line out of search-fear. The search wasn’t much, though, and besides two food bars and an energy shot, I had the lifesaving bottle of water too, so whew. During the break they fixed one of the light panels that had been on the fritz during Muse; we’d speculated whether they would.


Then, finally, finally the Bowie and the smoke and the hooting and the anticipation and suddenly I forgot to be cold for the next couple of hours and it was TIME. Happy happy happy. E.and I jumped up and down and sang and yelled and shrieked and perhaps wiped away a tear every now and then. One of my early favorite moments was when the bridges started moving for the first time, and gradually … swung … toward us … and stopped. Right in front of us. Our eyes were like saucers. I think E. thought I’d somehow known that THAT was the precise spot, but of course I hadn’t; my geography was shaky. I’d HOPED, yes, I admit to that; I knew where I’d been in Chicago, and adjusted my rail goal a bit, accordingly, but I never thought it would work out so well. For once I could see Edge really well for most of the show:


And Bono, well, and everyone, really. Great views the whole time. Larry stopped right in front of us for the djembe section; actually too close for good pictures, so I stopped trying and just enjoyed it!


A great view afterward of Larry running back to his kit, making an accurate and athletic throw (of the djembe) to his tech.

And as much as we enjoyed everything, and as amazing as Adam was again as always, I think the high point for both of us had to be when Bono came and knelt pretty much in front of E. and rocked back and forth and sang and was there for like A WHILE.


I’ve never been to a show with quite so much paramedic activity. Someone worked their way to the rail quite near us (because they felt ill) and promptly fainted. And those 100 pound 19 year old Marines turned out to be prompt, decisive, and very fast, let me tell you. Someone else went down behind us somewhere. At one point there was a hubbub off to the left and one of the Marines told us that a couple had gotten engaged over there! Can you imagine? And there was even what rumor held to be something of a domestic disturbance not that far from us either. I mean, really.

But I mustn’t forget to mention that Bono gestured down to someone who was trying to toss him an American flag, and got his hands on that, and then pulled Amp – remember him from earlier? – up on stage, and gave him the flag, and there was singing and dancing and some devil horns and flag-waving and general useful symbolism


and at the end Amp and Bono hugged and – remember that morning? About snubbing Bono and stuff? Well, E. and I were laughing our butts off, but who among us is above that kind of participating? Dude, not me.

Also even though we were further from Adam this time and I got fewer good pics of him, here is one, just to prove I still love him too.

Anyway, amazing again. Brilliant again. Uplifting again. Funny and moving and solemn and marvelous again. I’m sorry I thought the Ang Saang Suu Kyii masks were creepy before I saw what actually happened with them live, by the way. As always, everything’s cool with me!

Afterward we ‘omg omg omg’ for a while and watched one of our security guards take a ride on one of the bridges (wheee!). This is how awesome they were; a number of people (including us) waited afterward to say goodbye and shake some of their hands.

After, E. and I found our way out to the loading docks; the first one just didn’t feel very promising, but there were already a few fans hanging out at the other one, so we staked a spot out there and tried to see what was what. Earlier in the day I’d been talking to a security person who’d told me that the band was going to do a runner straight to the airport after, but of course I’m always skeptical. But the ring road around the stadium was packed with pedestrians and buses and trucks and people leaving. So either they were already gone, or else it would be a couple of hours. While we waited, Amp showed up, and I couldn’t resist hassling him. “Oh, screw YOU, Bono,” etc. and to his credit he just laughed and said, “Yeah, I sold out!” Someone else recognized him as the guy who’d been onstage and asked to take a picture with him, and I didn’t hear what they said, but I heard him answer, “Yeah, I gave him some man love.” Crack me UP.

After a while, with busy traffic and staff and security and traffic and paramedics leaving and everything, we talked it over and mutually agreed that, while meeting them would be awesome, it was going to be a long wait to even find out if there was a chance, and we had a “mile” walk in the dark back to the car in the highest crime county in the country, and it might be smart to take that walk while there were still plenty of people around. So that’s what we did, with a lot less gear to haul this time.

And the gates were open to exit the parking lot, meaning my friend didn’t have to swipe her card, meaning we didn’t have to pay! And we hooted and giggled and babbled all the way home, and again, the advantages of being in a real house – microwaved leftovers afterward, and the chance to look at pictures immediately. And all manner of things were well.

Complete Flickr set here:

Set list:
Get On Your Boots
Mysterious Ways
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Your Blue Room, Beautiful Day
New Year's Day
Stuck In A Moment
The Unforgettable Fire
City of Blinding Lights
I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight (remix)
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Walk On
Amazing Grace
Where the Streets Have No Name
Encore 2
With or Without You
Moment of Surrender

(just remembered that I didn’t put set lists in my previous posts, so I’m gonna go back and add them in a bit.)

U2, FedEx Field, Washington, DC, 9/29/09, part 1

Yes, yes, I'm very late. Let's get to it.

I ended up writing a ridiculously long account of my day and night at the show with my friend E., so I'm cutting it into two parts: here's the first half.

On Tuesday 9/29 my friend E. and I went to the U2 show at FedEx Field in Landover, MD (aka the Washington, DC show). We hit the dollar store the night before for snacks and stuff but failed to find those foldy chairs/camp chairs we were looking for. (from what we could tell, neither of us having been to the stadium before, it’s kind of out in the middle of nowhere all by itself – no running across the street to McDonald’s for us, so we had to bring food for the whole day.)

First thing I’m gonna say is that it’s a whole different thing to wake up in someone’s house to get in line. I didn’t have to share the bathroom! AND my friend made us a quick breakfast! It’s very different having some eggs and toast and coffee inside when you’re on the way to it.

We were initially aiming for a bit earlier but got swept up in an epic quest for said chairs. The first couple of stores we hit – drugstore and grocery store – weren’t open, but we finally found one that was; it didn’t have lawn/foldy chairs, but we spotted pet beds and the light bulb went off and we each grabbed one. Better than sitting on concrete all day if it came to that. (In Chicago I was SO stiff and sore the first day.) Then E. saw that they also had milk crates. Pet bed atop milk crate = luxury seating! I admit, I nearly didn’t get a crate for myself, but I’m so glad I did. It was an inspired idea. We were amazingly comfortable all day in our improvised seats, and the crates were handy to carry our stuff TO the stadium in, AND the pet beds made for respectable pillows when we tried to nap later on in the morning.

Anyway, we found the place, and the internet said there was a metro station “less than a mile away” where we planned to park (although it was supposed to be an extra $25 payable on the way out, I believe). We drove past the station on purpose to see if we could get a glimpse or get near the stadium (and, you never know, maybe there was early parking that was open already, or something), but the street was all blocked off and there were a couple of cop cars up there, so we turned around (and we weren’t the only ones) and went back to the parking.

Well. It wasn’t light yet, and it sure seemed like more than a mile to ME. We grabbed our crates and beds and stuff and hiked and hiked. A few joggers passed us, and then one guy passed us, jogging but not a jogger – I knew he was one of us somehow, not dressed like a jogger, had a backpack, etc. It was kind of a deserted area, and even though we were going past normal/nice seeming townhouses, my friend did mention that we were in the county with the highest crime rate in the country. *ulp*

When we got to the grounds, after what seemed like a two-mile hike at least, what with hauling our gear and the early morning haste and pre-line anxiety – the cops/security still had the street closed off a good distance from the stadium, and our jogger was the only person there waiting. So we met him and of course he said there had been a line the night before, etc., but we couldn’t figure out how to get around to consolidate – they wouldn’t let us go TO the stadium, which we’d have to do to get PAST the stadium. We noted our arrival times in case we had to wait there forever, maybe we could try some kind of consolidating later, or something.

Anyway the guy talked to the cops and eventually one of them gave him a ride somewhere, like as the cop went to talk to the other cops – I was kind of confused by this – anyway, so I went and talked to the remaining cop (heat coming out of his car window! Yay!) for awhile and he said they weren’t going to let anyone on the property until – I don’t even remember, until noon? Wasn’t up to him. (he said people kept running over his flares driving up to look, like we had; he’d been through boxes of the things. In fact, I thought I remembered feeling something under the tires, but I kept that to myself.) We talked about it for awhile, and finally the other car came back and said to let us in. WOOT. So my friend and I grabbed our stuff and hustled. A long way, and then around, and then we spotted Jogger again; hmph! Why didn’t the cops give US a ride? It was a long way! A few minutes later the LINE came to join us, with the number people and everything, so we got numbered (wristbands) – my friend and I got 57 and 58, and by that time it was probably quarter till 7:00 at least – and I was like WHEW. I mean, once I get a number, I feel SO much better, you know? Until then I feel like everything’s in doubt.

So we spread down the sidewalk, grass behind us, facing a big empty parking lot and the sun, and the girls behind us offered us blueberry muffins, and we said HELL YEAH to that. It was chilly, but I was giddy at that point, and my friend saw it and totally understood. Once you’re actually on the property, half the anxiety and unknowns and doubt just melt away, right? Ahhhhh. So we had our muffins and they talked about moving the line and taking another roll call and stuff. Some of you probably know the fan named Amp; I didn’t know his name till later, although we’d hung out for a bit in Chicago. (he’s in some of my Chicago pictures, actually.) He came and was talking to the muffin girls, and was totally cracking us up with his rendition of Why I’ve Had It Up To Here With Bono. He said that when they were doing the Letterman stint, he’d been in a fan line with a picture of himself with Bono that he hoped to have autographed, and basically Bono snubbed him somehow, like looked right at him and/or the picture and refrained from signing it even though he was going down the line doing the meet and greet. So Amp was all “Bono is dead to me! I’m here for the other three guys. If I see Bono I’ll just be like ‘Fuck YOU, Bono,’ etc., etc.” It was very funny.

Anyway, after awhile they moved us up steps, onto concrete, and into the cattle chutes, BUT, my friend and I were close enough to the front that we got to be on the end, in the first chute, and that means GRASS. Again. How lucky could we be? I had told E. how everything seemed to work out in Chicago that we were just in the nick of time, if we’d been ten minutes later it would have been too bad, etc., and this was another example of that fine principle coming to fruition. When they moved us up, and when people came into that area throughout the day, that waiting area became a wristband/floor access area; they checked our tix and gave us venue wristbands as we went into the chutes, and then to back-and-forth all day we could just show wristband.


The line went back and forth in the chutes in an extended “S” pattern. Later in the morning there was actually shade, even, although not later still in the afternoon. Everyone was pretty mellow. We weren’t really next to the most awesome people ever, conversation-wise, but they weren’t terrible either; we had some nice moments. E. and I were a party of two, so we had lots of time to sleep and rest and stuff.

There was a circle drive around the stadium, and it filled with red trucks later in the day. I took a walk in the morning around to find the loading docks, and there were not one but two, rather near each other, but still!! Thanks for adding an extra level of wtf to my day, FedEx Field.

Starting in the early afternoon – or even around noon, I guess – they had some vendors outside, with soda and water and coffee and even, I think, hot dogs, although *shudder* it’s hard to imagine ever eating a hot dog again. The coffee guy came by just as it was getting hot: “hot coffee!” No takers. So just a bit later he came past again: “iced coffee!” Crack me up. It was nice that they were there, though; it was port-a-johns all day, so no running water, and (furthermore) I really need some caffeine through the day to feed my addiction and prevent headache and dozing. Even if it’s coke. One thing I learned in DC is that my preference for Pepsi over Coke is getting stronger; I’ve always liked Pepsi quite a bit better, but after a few days of having to settle for Coke, the next time I had a Pepsi it was SUCH a pleasure. Ummmm.

Anyway, the vendors and staff and everyone were really nice to us all day, chatting and joking and such. Except the one I overheard talking about bombs and stuff because we were in DC and Bono and world leaders and so on. Yikes. Yeah, um, we were trying not to think about that? Dude? The Coke guy said he’d worked the Chicago shows – said they transport the workers around to different venues. Which doesn’t make sense to me, but he said he’d been up in the stands for the shows and how neat looking it was and everything. That dude had a long day – I saw him hawking drinks in the inner pit later.

So, you guys know the drill – wait, wait, wait, eat, drink, get nervous, wait. Zooropababy was there too; we weren’t near each other in line, but we had the chance to visit a few times during the day, and I swear she gets cuter every time I see her (which hasn’t been many, but still). That was nice! I don’t think anyone else I really know was there, although I saw a familiar face or two just from fandom and other lines generally.

In the afternoon, you know, it was getting pretty crowded; they had us scooch up a few times as the line threatened to overflow the area they’d reserved for us. My friend E. took to line life like an old hand. She’s really awesome and a U2 fan from way back, and had seen them a few times before, including the inauguration party because she rocks like that, but she hadn’t really done the ga line all day like this before. She was like a real pro the whole time. That said, at the same time I felt a lot of pressure for things to work out really well for us, because it was her only 2009 show and I had done it a few times and knew about the line numbers and stuff. So I had taken advantage of the Chicago shows to job shadow Ally and get a better feel for the whole thing, since I don’t get to do it very often myself. (My husband thinks I’m all insane and extravagant with the shows, and I’m the one of my flist who goes to the fewest shows and is the lamest! Life is pain. But it’s not fair to spend OUR money on my passion; we might want to buy another car or, you know, retire one day, after all. But I digress.)