Tuesday, November 03, 2009

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.)

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