- Rolling Stones – Even though Charlie Watts is the only one left that can hold it together
- U2 - I am Irish after all
- Madonna - To feel bad about my body
- Lady Gaga – Still pissed she rescheduled her NYC show for a weekend I was out of town
- R.E.M. – Not even a big fan but have heard of the magnetism Michael Stipe can yield
- Justin Timberlake - We all have our guilty pleasures
It was because of this list that I was pretty excited when the opportunity to see U2 with a group of friends came up. So I can now cross U2 off my list and you know what? It was an experience I now recommend to anyone, particularly if you like U2 and/or if you attend enough sports events or concerts where you can take the sheer volume of people you will see the concert with. There are downsides – it is an elitist environment with the VIP packages, the limos lined up, the stadium prices, the box seats, $9 dollar beer night hence the long line, etc. Also, as a person that is a tenured concert goer this was clearly a crowd that was not well versed on the rules of concerts. You get a very different crowd attending then a 300 person venue where the concert starts at 10pm on a Wednesday, etc.
That said, the upsides were immense - they rocked out for 2 hours and 15 minutes, they have such a catalogue to choose from and did a great job of combining the new with the old, the unknown songs with the overplayed (even though it was still fun to sing them word for word). Plus their sound, voices, and stage presence is varsity all the way. They passed the crucial 10,000 hour practice point about 20 years ago so you can imagine how comfortable they are on stage.**
My favorite part of the night was when I pulled a grand caper with my friend Captain Fabulous (actual nickname). We snuck out of our section 404 seats on a mission to get as close as we could to the stage and stay there. We brilliantly made it to section 138, had plenty of room and watched the entire concert from our elitist seats. Here is how we did it and here is how you can too, I have proven this many times over the years:
- When you go to a stadium/arena show there are so many seats that go to season ticket holders, corporations, etc. and so many of them go unused even if the concert is sold out.
- Wait until after the opening act and then go down to the area you are shooting for and wait until just before the headlining act comes on. It is good to get a beer, food and go to the bathroom, it may be your last opportunity.
- Wait until 30 seconds into the first song that the headliner plays, you want to get caught up in the rush of people getting to their seats. Weekend concerts can throw a wrench in the plan because some people hang out in the parking lot until the headliner starts and then rush in after 2-3 songs.
- Power walk and get behind a group of more than two so they will crowd the ticket checker and this is key - quickly, looking straight ahead/stage, power walk to the side and down away from the group and ticket checker. Keep walking but start slowing down after you are in the clear and look for openings of more than 2 that you can get into.
- Only do this with two people, it gets tricky with more. Getting to the floor level is more difficult because they often make you get bracelets and the checkers are more strict. We tried to get to the floor for U2, played dumb about bracelets, acted like we were headed back to get them and spotted an opening of +6 seats two rows above general admission. We were above the floor crowd and had direct eyesight to the front of the stage. No one came to claim the seats and we were super nice to the people around us, acting like we belonged there. It was perfection and we giggled about it all night.
This isn't rocket scientist and don't try to do it every time but have the guts to give it a try when it is a band you really want to get close and experience, be part of the vibe.
**The 10,000 hours of practice is referencing a well-known theory that in addition to ability you must have dedication and a solid work ethic; citing that every top professional, regardless of their field, will not reach their peak before practicing for 10,000 hours. Malcolm Gladwell references this theory in his newest book Outliers. He uses The Beatles and how they obtained their crucial practice hours, check it out!
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