Thursday, June 2, 2011

But I know I'll go crazy if I don't see U2 Saturday night

This Saturday, my girlfriend and I are finally going to see U2 at the Qwest Field in Seattle. I had originally purchased the tickets for her as an anniversary present back in December 2009. The show, scheduled for June 2010, seemed quite a ways out, but very doable.

Then Bono hurt his back, and the show delayed a year, making things less doable, but still bearable. And now, finally, that bearing year is complete.

So I encountered a slight hitch in the whole Bono-seeing endeavor. But as I said, it was a slight hitch, it doesn't compare to the massively awful, no good, bad bad bad bad experience that ultimately turned out amazing from the last time I saw the band.

At the time, I lived in Madison, WI, and U2 played 70 miles away in Milwaukee that weekend. On Wednesday afternoon I decided I'd purchase some tickets off of Craigslist, Greyhound over on Saturday, crash at a friend's house and enjoy the show.

The only ticket you can bring is all that you can't
leave behind
Ostensibly, I did do all of that, but the journey took oodles of twists and turns that had me crawling through garbage, getting drenched and hanging out eight feet from The Edge.

The first few parts of this went all according to plan. No problem with Craigslist, $100 for a General Admission ticket. Greyhound ride, scary, but that's Greyhound. Hanging out at friend's place, tons of fun. When the U2 portion of my U2-centric trip started is when problems arose.

I arrived six hours early, because of the way the General Admission system worked. People with floor tickets would go through a line and scan their tickets. The laptop attached to the barcode scanner then showed one of two messages. Either the “We like you, but not all that much. Please proceed to the normal floor with all the normal people who do normal things, but they do it several hundred feet away from Bono.” It also said the far less common “VERTIGO, VERTIGO, VERTIGO,” which is some sort of U2-language for “You're going hella up front. This is not normal.”

It made most sense to get there relatively early, because in the (likely) scenario where you received the first message, your spot wouldn't be too terrible, you'd still be near the stage.

Six hours of sitting outside might seem like a long wait, but as long as it didn't start raining, I'd be a-okay.

When it started raining, I realized I was not a-okay. Luckily, the line allowed you to seek shelter when the organizers weren't doing a line check. During one of these breaks, I headed to a local sports bar to dry off / drink alcohol. While there, I took the tickets out of my (drenched) wallet, and noticed said tickets had somehow become drenched as well. For some reason it struck me that the best thing to do with the tickets was to place them on the table. Not just on the table, however, but wrapped up in a napkin, looking like common garbage, but they weren't garbage—they were U2 tickets, which are inherently worth more than napkins. Regardless, I finished my drink and headed back to the line.

When the line checkers came through the reassembled line, I reached into my pocket, pulled out my wallet and was about to pull out the tickets, when I realized what I had foreshadowed earlier—the tickets were back at the bar, on an unbussed table, wrapped in a napkin.

I let out some profanity as I jumped out of the line and sprinted to the bar. I run to the bouncer and I'm no longer able to form sentences in coherent English. I struggle out something like “I... just here... while ago... U2 tickets. Need! Show!”

At this point, holy Bono spirit calls out to
me, pointing out how I still haven't found
what I'm looking for. Well duh.
Despite this apt description of my current situation, the bouncer could not follow my line of U2-deprived insanity. I took a deep breath and tried again. “I was just here,” the bouncer nods that he remembers me, “and I set my tickets to U2 on the table. That table over there.”

As I point, to the exquisitely bussed table, I realize my tickets aren't there. Finally, the bouncer figures out my situation and let out his own profanity preceded b an “Oh.” He recruited the waiter to help me. He asked where the waiter bussed the table to. The waiter knows he put it in the garbage can behind the bar... the garbage can that had just been emptied.

There's little the bar can do for me now, except let me dig through their dumpster out back. I came a long ways, I sat through rain, I was chilled, tired and raring to see a show with one of the biggest bands in the world. You bet I'm going to dig through that garbage!

My enthusiasm quickly waned—digging through garbage is not the most fun of tasks. Oh yeah, and remember how it was raining? Well, digging through garbage WITH garbage juice is even less fun. After about 9 bags, I give up. I'm now tired, wet, probably have several STDs (Go garbage chlamydia!), and I'm not going to my show, which is the only reason I came to Milwaukee. But it could be worse, it could be raining. Oh wait.

I try one last ditch effort. I go to the box office and ask if there's anything they can do to reprint the tickets. After punching some keys, I'm informed that nope, they can't. I then ask if there are ANY seats available. More key punches, but instead of the cheerful “Nope!” I get a “We have a floor seat available for $59 total.” I give him my credit card and smile on my little bit of good luck. And hey, it's actually less than I paid on Craigslist.

Back in the line, my spot had been graciously held by fellow concertgoers. As they saw me coming back in line with ticket in hand, 20 people from the surrounding spots started clapping. This round of applause lifted my spirits. I figured, I had lost my ticket, against all odds, but I had found another one, against all odds. I even picked up a distinct new odor—although that was kind of expected. Who knows, maybe I could beat the bad odds and get a VERTIGO spot. I had earned it. I crawled through garbage.

This sense of confidence ebbed as I approached the line and saw not many people getting VERTIGO and proceeding to the normal floor. I went up and scanned my recently acquired ticket. The screen seemed to take forever to process, I had already resigned myself to the normal floor when the screen popped, “VERTIGO VERTIGO VERTIGO.”

Being eight feet from The Edge eased the whole situation.
U2, I don't expect this same amount of crazy for Seattle, but I know I'll go crazy if I don't see you Saturday night.

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