I’m still very much in recovery mode at this point. Even two days after what could easily have amounted to the most mentally exhausting and exhilarating night of my life, I’m still feeling the irritating chafe of the sunburn that blotched up my skin in the most random locations, I still can’t completely wash off the purple Sharpie number that was scrawled onto my forearm by a turbaned man at around eight o’clock in the morning, and of course, my body is taking forever and a day to recalibrate after going two and a half nights without a single hour of quality sleep.
I’m talking, of course, about the awesomely painful, physically draining and absurdly euphoric experience of having general admission tickets to a rock concert. I’m sure a lot of you have experienced the delirium of temporarily treating your body like a scientific experiment. For those of you who want to relive the joys and minor irritations of marathon sitting, muscle soreness, dehydration and emotional instability, I’ve decided to document my experience in pictures.
My best friend (fellow diehard U2 head-slash-Stony Brook student) and I wandered into the parking lot of Giants Stadium in a trancelike state at around eight-thirty in the morning. We left our hometown (about twenty minutes from campus) at around six. Even so, a solid 176 people had already beaten us there.
(She was number 177).
This would be the pen, (more commonly known as the line) site of countless tour tee-shirts, fold-out chairs, economy-sized snack food bags, sun-shielding umbrellas and several hundred jittery U2 fanatics. Roped off with police tape every hundred people or so, it was really sort of like a corral. Seriously, I’m surprised the staff didn’t throw feed pellets on the ground for us to eat.
This is where we sat for a solid eight hours (in an unusually strong sun, might I add). I got seriously burned through my jeans, if that’s any indication. I’d like to personally thank the weatherman for calling for partial cloudiness for the entire week. Way to go, Fox 5.
In any regard, this is where we sat, drinking from a gallon jug of Poland Spring and anxiously checking the time every ten minutes on my friend’s Blackberry (customized with U2 wallpaper and an unforgivably loud “Pride (in the Name of Love)” ringtone).
Is it just me, or does time seem to pass obnoxiously slowly during the moments in which you absolutely most want it to move forward? Much to my dismay, trying to go to sleep did virtually nothing to beat the waiting game. I tried to doze off a couple of times, (after all, I needed my energy to outsprint dozens of potentially crazier fans than myself to secure a spot on the inside rail by the stage) and I can’t even explain how annoying it was to see that only fifteen minutes had passed after I woke up (and that I was still, say, a good five or six hours from experiencing musical nirvana).
Around three-thirty, we finally got the okay to start queuing for the security check. Although I probably would have appreciated if someone had bothered to tell us that we were going to be standing there on the hot asphalt for another two hours, I must admit, being crammed into a small, uncomfortable space with hundreds of uber-fans did allow for some pretty good photo op.
Ah, the tour shirt-staple cotton emblem of the dedicated tour bus-chaser. There was certainly no shortage of them at this show, some of them dating back to the Joshua Tree Tour of 1987.
Easily the most amazing jacket I’ve ever seen (modeled loosely on Bono’s signature black vest from the War Tour of 1983, although, believe it or not, he actually wasn’t so big on the shades back then).
I’m sure that by this point, the owner of this bag was getting pretty suspicious of the sunburned college kid who was aggressively photographing her fully amazing Bono tote. I have to say, G.A. ticket-holders are a pretty insightful group of people. This woman’s tee-shirt actually read “Bono for President.”
“Walk On” was a standout track from U2’s 2000 album “All That You Can’t Leave Behind.” This suitcase is a standout tattoo from a very expressive uber-fan.
Starting around six o’clock, things got serious. I have to say, after nearly two years out of the track scene, I had completely forgotten what it was like to stand on the starting line before a race. In any case, after waiting around-completely idle-for eight straight hours on a baking concrete slab, you can imagine the anticipation we all experienced as we waited for the staff to open the gates. Not that they didn’t mess with us, might I add. I can’t even count the number of times that they completely faked us out just by moving in the general direction of the lock.
In addition, my best friend had spent about ten minutes briefing me on the best strategy to secure an amazing spot on the floor with all the intense, sheltered secrecy of an F.B.I. agent. However, because I had never seen a picture of the stage (truly an act of blasphemy for a fan of my caliber), her complex plot for glory essentially went right over my head. All I understood was that I had to make a left and use my camera to beat down other fans if they happened to get in my way.
After my ticket was scanned, it was a solid 300 meters of hysteria to the main floor past the tired-looking staff members who half-heartedly warned us to slow down. We managed to throw ourselves against the catwalk that jutted out from the stage, and sat on the sacred ground we’d claimed, trying not to hyperventilate for a good ten minutes after (my current fitness level is pretty staggering).
Opening act Muse performed a six-song set that most likely deafened about 80 percent of the audience.
Finally, after another good forty minutes of hang time during which the $4.50 water bottle-mongers cleared out, and I impatiently wiggled my way through a full recording of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” I got my very first glimpse of them…
Okay…so it was a blurry glimpse. The point is that it was the glimpse that I had been waiting for ever since I first heard U2’s “Beautiful Day” at age 12.
I was actually emitting girlish squeals I never dreamed would come out of my mouth (I was, after all, the designated ‘quiet kid’ all through high school) and bopping around Giants Stadium like one of those inflatable punching bags.
Within the first twenty minutes, I had the guitarist and bassist I had idolized since my early teens literally about a foot in front of my very unattractively spellbound face…
The usually discreet drummer who is known for sort of ‘hiding’ behind his drumkit was taking a full lap around the catwalk…
And somehow, enduring eight hours with an impossibly sore butt suddenly became entirely worth it to me. This, I guess, is exactly why we do these things. This is why, to quote the great Seal, “we’re never gonna survive unless we get a little bit crazy.”
Sometimes insanity is what we need to find true catharsis and happiness. Granted, I got obscenely lucky that my first concert of all time happened to be G.A. tickets for U2.
However, I have to put in a good word for those sweet little moments that just remind us ‘why.’ Really, don’t you just love those epileptic fits of frenetic energy that remind us that ‘crazy’ can be worth it? Look, a lot of us are getting ready to graduate, or are at least steadily approaching that point day by day. Now really is the time to have as many of these moments as we can, to really get in as much of that worthwhile craziness as time will allow.
For those of you hardcore bookworms who wouldn’t dream of skipping a day’s worth of classes, (a fun crowd I was a part of literally up until the moment I actually SAW Bono the Great prancing around the stage in platform shoes) when you’re more or less face to face with [insert idol of your choice], you’ll get it, too.
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