Thursday, September 17, 2009

U2 Pilgrimage: Saturday's U2 Adventure Outside the Stadium

Here is the recap for Concert #1 in Soldier Field, Chicago (First show of the North American tour):

4:30AM: Alarm goes off...God, it is early! Get that coffee brewing!!!

5:42AM: Jason Nester and I leave my parents house to pick up Chris DeMink from his parents house. On our way, we get a text: "I'm getting my boots on!" Jason, master of incorporating U2 titles and sayings into his everyday speech, already likes my childhood friend.

6:25AM: We arrive at Solider Field ($45 to park). There are around 150 to 200 people already in line. We take our place: one of the last few to have a wall to sit and lean up against. We let people know that a fourth person is coming late, so no one will be surprised.

6:35AM: DeMink moment #1: Chris realizes that he has lost his ID and money. For those
of you who know my childhood friend Chris, you will not be surprised. Just out of the parking garage, upon seeing the people already gathered, Chris takes out his iPhone to take a picture. What he doesn't realize at the time is that his ID...with several $20 bills clipped to it...comes flying out as well. He searches the path, checks the garage and car, and asks the event security...but no luck.

7:30AM: Jason calls Southwest Airlines and finds out that Chris can get on his plane tomorrow with his credit card he thankfully left at home, so long as he summits to a full search. Chris sighs in relief, although not looking forward to the search. I get into a few conversations about being an Episcopal Priest.

9:12AM: Just as Chris steps out of line to go to the restroom, I hear "Chris DeMink! Chris DeMink!" I think it's someone who must know him, but instead, it's a friend of a guy who found Chris' ID! The dude is sleeping in a hammock about 20 feet from us. They not only posted a sign to try and find him (see picture), they actually earlier tried to borrow tape from us to hang the sign!!! All of his money is there, and Chris is very grateful.

9:18AM: We toast the good people in line with are refilled water bottles (notice the Chicago yellow tinge).

11:33AM: We're getting hungry. Chris gets the idea to order a pizza. "They won't deliver here," I laugh. Jason's iPhone comes in useful again, and DeMink calls the pizzeria: "I'd like a large half cheese, half pepperoni pizza, and a small all meat pizza. By the way...will you deliver to just outside Soldier Field???" I'm not very hopeful.

12:25PM: Chris' hears from his friend Roger, who's using the fourth ticket. His plane has arrived, and he's renting a car to come into the concert.

12:43PM: The pizza actually arrives! Unbelievable! We share it with our new friends (everyone around us). Chris saves some for Hammock guy to thank him again. A guy in front of me proclaims that I am the coolest priest he's ever met. My ego stroked, the priest collar comes off for now: to quote Cole Porter, "It's Too Darn Hot!"

1:48PM: I may be a "cool priest," but I feel anything but...why did I wear this black clergy shirt??? My scalp is burning, so I "force" myself to buy a U2 hat.

2:42PM: No Roger...we're getting worried. In/Out privileges in the line have been reduced to bathroom only. Chris calls and finds out that Roger drove by Solider Field to find more affordable parking. Uh-oh!!!!

3:31PM: The line gets crunched together. We think at first that we're about to be let in, but it turns out to likely be a Blackberry sponsored video opt that wanted to show a "massive crowd outside the stadium. So, the couple of thousand people nicely spread out in an orderly line are now a hot, grouped mob of people. Roger better get here soon!!!

(PS: Far left, yellow T-Shirt and beard is "Hammock Guy!" He rules!!!)

3:58PM: Chris is thinking of getting out of line to make sure Roger gets his ticket. Jason and I are not happy with the guy we have never met, and not happy with the idea of Chris losing his spot after waiting all day.

4:03PM: Roger arrives, slips into line. No one says a word of protest. Lucky lucky lucky!!!

4:08PM: The mob moves: chaos erupts as the security guards appear uncertain what to do next. Any sense of a line is gone, except that it's clear that if you aren't in the roped off area, you aren't getting in. Did I mention how lucky Roger is???


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