Well, I’m not sure if anyone will read this post, as this is about the time leading up to the concert, and I’m posting it at the same time as I give a review of the actual concert (see the above post). However, the time leading up to it was just as exciting and experiential as the concert itself. No, that’s a lie. But in its own rite, important. So here ya go:
Saturday, 4:30 PM.
We got to the Rose Bowl in the late afternoon, on the off chance that we might see a member of the band, hear a soundcheck, or be able to make friends with a security guard or something. Of course, none of that happened. But we did get to stroll around the stadium and get a good idea of the layout of the grounds…the last time for a long time that we’d actually be able to see ground. And we got to see the top of The Claw, as they were still building it up. And we saw the people already camping out. Awesome. We thought about camping out, but in the end, I really wanted to shower in the morning, because we knew that this concert was going out live over youtube and getting filmed for a dvd. And of course, you’ll be able to make out my showered or unshowered body in the sea of 96,999 other people. Hey, I like to look good.
Saturday, 7:00 PM.
We made it to True Tone in Santa Monica. No Edge. But the chances of actually seeing Edge there were pretty small. Okay…really small. It’s more an excuse to go to True Tone, and for my wife and I to hang out at the 3rd and 4th Street Promenade. Mmmm…True Tone.
Saturday, 9:00 PM.
Stuck in an underground parking structure off of La Brea. Ya, we forgot some stuff and had to go shopping. And it’s difficult to park in LA on a Saturday night. So, we’re in this structure, and all of a sudden lines just start to back up. It looks like the computer-controlled exits all went down at the same time. And then the actual people (you know they still hire some of those?), won’t let anyone out by just lifting the gate arms, even though the first hour of parking is free and the main store there is Target. You don’t stay in Target more than an hour–they don’t sell guitar gear. How much money could you possibly lose just lifting the gates while you reboot the system? Obviously more than I would think, I guess, because they didn’t. We finally found the one lady who was letting people out. My life flashed before my eyes (I don’t think that phrase really works here), as I thought I might spend the U2 concert in a Target parking structure. Ya, the concert wasn’t until the next day. I guess I can get a little bit dramatic when it comes to music. Can anyone say buffer versus true bypass? hehe Hey. It makes a difference.
Saturday, 11:00 PM.
Yard House in Pasadena. My last meal before the next evening. When I get excited, I can’t eat. Yep. It was that bad.
Saturday, 11:30 PM.
At our hotel in Pasadena. And I am of course, freaking out, and quite ecstatic about the morning.
Sunday, 6:00 AM.
Awake. At this point I checked online, and found out that 550 people camped out at the Rose Bowl and were already in the GA line. GA stands for general admission, and is access to the floor of the stadium. However, how close you are to the stage, from first row to the very back, is first come first serve. So at least now I don’t have to freak out about getting in the first 50. The concert is laid out with a ring around the main stage, with bridges to it from the main stage. And that outer ring creates an inner space, with more of a club atmosphere. We heard they were only letting 2500 into that space, so we figured if we showed up by about 9:00 we’d be good.
Sunday, 7:30 AM.
Packing up the hotel room. We had the tv on, and there was a cowboy holding a gun to someone’s head, but I guess the guy with the gun to his head can make earthquakes with his mind? Or, at least make the camera shake in a very soap opera-ish fashion. And now it looks like the young kid in the bad cowboy crowd is saying goodbye to the girl he loves in the town his gang has taken over. He knows he should stay and help, but it looks as if the bad cowboy gang is the closest thing to a family that he’s ever had.
Sunday, 8:00 AM.
At a Starbucks for breakfast. I don’t like coffee. But Starbucks has fantastic water. And my wife adores pumpkin spice.
Sunday, 8:25 AM.
Getting lost. They shut down the 210 west. Which is a big deal. Apparently there’s going to be a lot of people in Pasadena today? Not sure the logic of shutting down a freeway to help the traffic, but…I am not a person who runs Pasadena.
Sunday, 8:45 AM.
In the parking lot, and walking to the Rose Bowl. The Claw is enormous. And you gotta remember that the Rose Bowl has two decks. You can only see the upper one from the outside, because the lower one and the field are built below ground level. And we can still see the Claw.
Sunday, 9:00 AM.
In line. Absolutely crazy. U2 doesn’t go on for about 12 hours, and there’s already over 1,000 people ahead of us in line. What idiots.
And everyone in line has ez-ups, coolers, lawn chairs, ipod docks, barb-q’s (yep), blankets, umbrellas, sunscreen, and board games. We brought some crackers and water. That’s right. You’re not a real U2 fan unless you’re in the pit, completely sunburned and heat-stricken. Rock ‘n roll.
And they played ‘Zest for Love’ about 8 million times. Must be their system check song for some reason. But it was amazing to hear it keep getting clearer and clearer. Amazing sounding system in there. Even from outside the stadium, you could hear every instrument crystal clear…best sounding cd you’ve ever heard. I was very impressed. And I have this weird urge, too, to love…zestily.
Sunday, 12:00 PM.
Well, they numbered us!! We are going to see U2!! And we’re in the first 1250, which is supposed to be the first wave into the stadium, and first shot at the inner circle of 2500 people. So we’re stoked! Supposedly, they’re going to let in five sections of 250 for the first 1250. Rock. Edge, watch out.
Sunday, 1:00 PM.
And the madness begins. There is no more golf course, no more ground anywhere. We’re 1201 and 1202 in line, and then the line wraps behind us about 3 times, and then into another golf course, and we can’t see the end of it. Has to be at least 5,000 people by now. But it is so awesome to be amongst a bunch of other U2 fans. And not just because it’s U2. There are very few opportunities in life just to be with people who are united with a common goal, and common interest. There was a huge energy! Well, and then that energy was balanced back out by the 90 degree heat, and sitting in the sun for the last 4 hours. But people are cool. The people in front of us even let us use their blanket, seeing as we…ya…brought none. I guess I was just counting on my love for U2 to carry me all day. Oh! And every other car was having a tailgate party and playing U2. So rad! But almost every one was playing their B-sides. Almost as if we were all trying to prove to each other that we were the coolest and most ‘indie’ fan of this multi-platinum artist. hehe And there was ‘the guy’; the one trying to audition for Bono’s role during every U2 song played from someone’s ipod dock. Very loudly, and with much vibrato. People rock.
Oh, and the sound-checking guitar is obviously not Edge. I gotta say, I am amazed how much tone is in the hands. That’s his rig, but not his tone.
Sunday, 2:00 PM.
They have now given us all wristbands, in addition to the numbers on our hands. I don’t know why. But it makes me feel more secure. I must see them.
Sunday, 3:00 PM.
Sunday, 4:00 PM.
Sunday, 4:30 PM.
Oh, sweet mercy! So, there’s only so long, I suppose, that you can control a crowd of 20,000 people. Jamianne and I went off to find some water somewhere so as not to die. As we were coming back, we decided to walk up the GA line just to see everything, maybe meet some interesting people. So as we walk by the front of the line, we see them moving the first group of 250 closer to the entrance gates. Awesome, we think. They weren’t supposed to do this until 5. So maybe all the groups will get in early. Apparently though, no one told the next group of 250 what was going on. Or they did, and they just couldn’t take it anymore. Or people were jumping in line. I did talk to a couple who thought for sure that showing up at 4 meant they were going to get in the inner circle. They were more than a little disappointed when I said they’d been numbering us since 8 in the morning, and that the line stretched for probably 5,000 to 10,000 people by now. Whatever the reason, as we’re walking back to our spot, right when we get to it, we look to our left, and the entire line just starts stampeding. So, as any good citizen of any big riotous mob would do, we jump in and start running too! It was like racing through a refugee camp. People just up and started running for the gate. Lawn chairs, clothes, food, barb-q’s, full ez-ups, all just left, and then run over by the mob. When the next 250 started moving, I guess, it just started a chain reaction, nobody knew what was happening, and the safest thing we all figured to do was just to run with the mob. Here’s what it looked like when we stopped, and there’s more people after where it looks like it ends. It doesn’t end there, it’s just a rise in the hill:
Ya. So those numbers on our hands? Yep. Didn’t mean a thing. But it’s totally cool. I mean, in a way, I was stoked on the energy of this crowd. It’s a rock ‘n roll show! (And you might disagree, and I hear ya. But 10,000 people right then sure thought it was a rock ‘n roll show. ) There’s only so much crowd control you can do with a line of 10,000 people (and about 30,000 more milling about the grounds and having tailgate parties) without very large guns. And about one trash can and one portable toilet per every 500 people outside the stadium? And the promise of U2 once you got in the stadium? Yep. It was more than the angry mob could handle. hehe And they’re allowing 2500 people in the inner circle, and then there’s even more incredible places on the outer circle, as U2 spends tons of times walking around during the show. So it’ll all work out, and we’ll all get great seats. We saw some higher numbered hands in front of us; but we also saw some lower numbered hands right next to us. So no worries. Apparently not for everyone. hehe Lots of interesting and colorful conversations. But for the most part, this is a 97,000 person rock ‘n roll concert. You just gotta enjoy the ride.
Sunday, 4:45 PM.
Okay. To make matters worse, U2 starts to soundcheck ‘Magnificent’ right as the mob comes to a halt. And this is the first time we’ve heard the actual band playing, not their techs. So as this one event staff tries to instruct the mob using what had to be the smallest megaphone known to man, everyone is paying absolutely no attention; but instead screaming ‘It’s Bono! That’s Bono!’ So finally…I don’t know if they just put out the word to find the biggest security guards in the Pasadena area who could make it to the Rose Bowl in a half hour or what…but all of a sudden the hugest security guards were out, and of course cops started lining the mob, and we went in, in not so much numbered waves, as random clusters.
Sunday, 5:00 PM.
In the gates. Some security are saying run, there’s too many people for us to move slowly. Others are saying walk, there’s too many people for someone to go down. Most people followed the first advice.
Sunday, 5:10 PM.
Alright. For all my nonsense about touching Edge, and getting pulled on stage by him, none of that is really possible. I know it’s odd, but Edge actually doesn’t know me. I know. Shocker. So in reality, all I cared about was hearing stage volume from his amps. I know the house system is amazing, and I know he knows how to mic his amps, but it does not matter. If I am going to see him play live, I want to hear some sound pure and direct from his speakers. And we did. We got into the inner circle, about 5 feet back from the front rail, in front of Edge. His amps were facing directly at our heads. Perfect placement.
Sunday, 5:30 PM.
Pandemonium. We’re packed up like sardines in here, which is awesome. It’s a show, and we need to be close to feel the collective love from each other. But we are so close to each other, and there are people leaving for food, drinks, and beer, and then coming back and expecting their spots to still be there. hehehe And then there are people sitting. And others falling on top of them…because when you sit in a mob of people, from anywhere other than where you are sitting, your spot looks like empty space towards which everyone else is trying to get. And then there are my favorite people. The ones criticizing how dirty it is amongst all those people, and how rude it is for people to touch them, and how it’s too noisy. Amongst 2500 squished in, sunburned, bedraggled music fans. Hey. You gotta hand it to their optimism, I suppose. They apparently, truly thought the mob would be well-mannered.
Sunday, 7:15 PM.
Black Eyed Peas. And you know what? My respect grew for their musical abilities. Some catchy melodies and beats (mixed with some really terrible stuff, in my humble opinion), and I liked the melding of urban music with actual instruments. Pretty cool. But my respect for the band itself? Not so much. They had Slash come out, and they did the longest and worst cover ever of Sweet Child of Mine. And Fergie danced up on Slash while he was solo’ing. And it was awkward. He could be her grandfather. And actually, the only time the crowd went crazy for them was when she shook something. And she’s got a good voice, too; she shouldn’t have to do that. And they all know that they are really, really cool. Oh. And too many male pelvic thrusts than I normally care to see in an evening. But their drummer was extremely talented, in a very minimalistic way. Cool. Oh, and there were definitely some dancing radios. Awkward:
Sunday, 8:35 PM.
The world stops. Edge’s amps are revealed:
And the rest is just pure bliss. hehe And bliss in the post above. And of course bliss in my heart…forever and ever. Childish? Yes. But so is standing in a living heat stroke for 12 hours to see U2…absolutely worth every minute of it.
Splendid. (A lot.)