Monday, July 18, 2011

Montreal!

This is part 3 of my crazy trip series, scroll down for parts 1 & 2!

My original plan for both Montreal U2 shows was to line up early and all day. The whole "the line started the day before I was in the right country" thing sort of threw a wrench into those plans! By the actual day of the show, a lot of my friends were so frustrated with how the lines had ended up that they had decided to just skip the line-up and show up a few hours before the show, hoping for the best.

Since it was my FIRST show, though, I wanted to at least try the line, because I really wanted to get in the inner circle on Edge's side. I'm probably going to need a visual aid here!


This is your basic U2 stadium setup (I stole this from the net, no idea which location this actually is!) General Admission is everything down on the field, inculding the 2,000 or so people that can fit in that little circle around the stage (known as the "inner circle" or just "the pit".) The ring around the stage is a catwalk, where the band (especially Bono) likes to parade around from time to time. Prime real estate (location, location, location!) is either the front rail right up against the stage, the back rail inside the circle, or outside the circle along the catwalk. These are the cool kid lunch tables, to put it in high school speak.

The problem with Montreal is that there was no stadium there, the U2 crew took over the no longer in use Hippodrome de Montreal racetrack and spent $3 Million building a temporary stadium. This stadium was, in scientific terms, fucking ginormous, with an expected 40,000 people in General Admission (GA).

So around 8am, I drug myself out of bed and wandered the mile from our hotel down to the stadium. My group of friends was already pretty divided- there were the people who had been in line since yesterday, most of which having camped out over night. Then there was the group that was planning to show up around 3 and just watch the show from the soundboard. I was the only "in between" person.


I stole this pic from my friend Jem to give you a visual of the line area!

I'd been in town such a short time I hadn't really had time to go buy a chair or shade or anything, so I just found my place in line and plopped down. They normally number people as you get in line, so that if you have to leave for food or something, you can reclaim your place, but since this line was SO CRAZY, they had stopped numbering at #400. By my best guess, I was probably somewhere around #500. At 8am. For the 9pm show. Yikes.

So I sat there on the dusty gravel for a few minutes, thinking about the 13 hours until the show, about the already icky heat, about the fact that I wouldn't see my friends or any of the city all day. After about five minutes, I came to the conclusion that this dusty little spot in line was NOT where I wanted to spend my day, so I grabbed my stuff and walked back to the hotel. WAY better idea!! (And the beginning of a trend!)

I'd planned to spend the morning/afternoon seeing a bit of Montreal, but in reality I spent all day hanging out at the hotel with the rest of the not in line group, soaking up the air conditioning and free internet. It's kind of a shame that I missed out on doing any sightseeing, but the day I had instead was so nice and relaxed, I have no regrets!

I got ready around 2pm, and joined up with friends around 3pm to walk over. We stopped at Tim Hortons right by the stadium for last minute food/coffee/bathroom breaks and then walked over to join the line. I can't even estimate how many people were in front of us in line, since we couldn't SEE the front of the line. Here's what I do know!

*It was hot. Did you know Canada can get really hot?
*They were making people throw away their water, and then selling water for $5/bottle.
*After the metal line barriers ran out, they had used yellow police caution tape as barriers. REALLY BAD IDEA.
*People were already passing out from the heat.

The poor Hippodrome event crew was so not prepared for this. When it was finally time to let people in, it was totally insane. Everyone was crushed together (my group all grabbed on to each other to try to stay together), drowning in a sea of sweaty humanity as we were crushed towards the general direction of the field. All of the people who had been in line all morning had no choice but to leave behind their tents, chairs, umbrellas, coolers and water bottles, which left the thousands of us behind them in line no choice but to precariously step over those things as the herd shoved forwards. (I lost a shoe at one point but managed to get it before being trampled!)

The one good thing security DID do was break up the crowd going in. They would let in around 100 people, and once those people got past say, the bag check, they would let the next group in. I was especially thankful for that because the one thing I can't do is run, and the several thousand people behind me probably would have trampled me as I fast walked in!

I have only the briefest memories of the crazy dash into the stadium, but I do remember pretty much wanting to DIE once we found our spot. The heat, the crowd, the rush, the pushing, the everything was way too much, I didn't stop shaking for about half an hour once we found our place. Eventually, though, I started feeling better and it all became worth it.

Where did we end up? Behold this lovely shot of the stadium taken by one of the news helicoptors that was flying over:


The crazies thing about this photo is that you can't even see the entire crowd.

We got a spot on the rail near the Edge side claw leg. Way farther away than I'd hoped, but better than I expected given that we didn't get in line till after 3. The cool thing about that location is that there was an empty space filled with equipment between us and the catwalk, so my view was pretty good!


I took this pic during soundcheck where you can sort of see the gap between us and the catwalk.


Crowd shot looking behind me! This is looking towards the side of the stadium, not towards the back.


Lets call this the "before" photo of Kristin, Amy and me. You'll see why later.


THIS guy needs to be called out. He kept pushing up against Kristin's back, whacking into her, and generally being an ass for the 3 hours between when we got into the stadium and when the opening act started. Now in a crowd this huge, of course you're going to accidentally bump into people from time to time. It happens, you generally say sorry or throw out a general "Sorry I've been all up on you so much!" now and then. U2 crowds in general tend to be super nice (I have amusing stories from Toronto coming up!) and if for instance you feel like you need to sit down for a few minutes, they'll move over a bit so you can plop your butt on the floor for a while. This guy, however, fails at life. After the elevnty billionth time he smashed Kristin up against the rail, Amy finally said something along the lines of "Could you please stop pushing my friend, you're hurting her back." I don't think the guy spoke English (we were in Quebec), but the woman with him went off about how if Kristin's back hurt, she shouldn't be up front, she should go stand somewhere else. This was NOT an acceptable reply, and I seriously thought we might have to call security for a while. Instead, I snapped the annoying ass's picture with plans to put it all over the Internet in hopes that if you ever see this douche while walking the streets of Montreal, you will punch him in the face or kick him squarely in the balls.

In the next post, we'll actually get to the first show! With any luck, I'll fit both Montreal shows in one post, as well as the tale of the Epic Rain of Summer 2011!

1 comment:

Athenis said...

I've been keeping up with all the posts/pictures since you started talking about it what.. over a year ago? lol Good to see it went down without too many hiccups :)