So this is what I did last month: I traveled to California to see U2 on their Joshua Tree Tour! It was an unforgettable experience and a dream come true. I have so many stories to tell about my adventures, so let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
Getting the tickets
Getting my tickets online was an adventure in itself. Back in January, there were already rumors floating about on Twitter that there would be a major concert announcement from U2. The smart people put two and two together and concluded that it had to be a Joshua Tree-related tour because a) it’s celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and b) the new album was definitely not yet done. The Joshua Tree is not my favorite album. It’s probably third behind Achtung Baby and How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. But a tour is a tour. I remember crying while watching one of the Periscopes of the previous one, the I+E tour. I profoundly regret not going to any of those shows. By all accounts, it was one of the best tours of the band, with an ever-changing set list from night to night and some live rarities (at least for me) like “Sweetest Thing” and “Angel of Harlem”. It was just a busy time for me since I had recently changed jobs, so planning a trip wasn’t in the cards. And it probably wasn’t really meant to be because I didn’t realize that my passport had also expired. So I decided that for the next tour, I was going to be there no matter what. (I also went and renewed my passport because my travel plans are 90% driven by U2 shows.)
When the announcement was finally made, I was ready. My passport was up to date, and I knew which city I was going to. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have particularly strong feelings about half the songs on The Joshua Tree. I was going to see them live! I wasn’t going to wait for the public sales, so I headed to U2.com (the official site and fan club) for the pre-sales. And guess what I found out when I got there? That my fan club subscription had expired too! So I had to renew it (and fork over some money, but hey, it’s U2 and therefore worth every penny). Pre-sales were scheduled on separate days for existing subscribers (the Red Hill group), who would have the opportunity to buy tickets one day before us newbies (the Wires Group). If I had only kept my subscription current, I would have had that extra day advantage! But it’s okay, the first step was done.
The one day delay actually helped, because the Red Hill people shared their tips on how the ticket buying went. Apparently the system was prone to crashing (yikes!) so the most common piece of advice was to use incognito browsing. I did my research on the stadium layout and carefully planned where I wanted to sit. It was full on Mission Impossible planning, guys. The shows were also strictly credit card entry. Which means you don’t get tickets to print or scan. The credit card you use to buy tickets is your actual ticket. It was all getting scary because this was my first time to use the fan club pre-sale and there was so much information to digest. By 9 am PST, I was ready with my credit card and promptly forgot to use incognito browsing. So naturally the system was slow and on the verge of crashing every single moment. And this was my first experience with Ticketmaster, which was a shocker.
I never knew that Ticketmaster doesn’t allow you to choose your seat. I had a section in mind based on proximity, angle for photos, and of course budget. But Ticketmaster kept giving me a seat in a section I did not want. I rejected the options offered three times before the system finally crashed on me and I had to log in all over again. At this point I had developed a stress headache and was literally crying from frustration. I finally decided to bite the bullet and accept whatever seat Ticketmaster would offer me next, if I could ever log back in. Eventually I did (after about another 20 minutes), and I ended up getting a pretty great seat.
But why is Ticketmaster such a pill? In the Philippines, if you’re buying a seated ticket, you get to choose where you want to be. It was such a nerve-wracking half hour and I felt drained after it was done. But it was a success!
I was supposed to go to one show only, in Santa Clara. But in the midst of all the pre-sales brouhaha, U2 announced another show in Pasadena. Then it hit me: wouldn’t it be amazing if I could go to another show? I mean, it was in the same state, wasn’t it a sign for me? It would be another regret if I didn’t at least try…right? So I did! But this time, I was going for the GA (General Admission) section. The GA is a whole other world that deserves a separate post. But because it’s a section with no seats, Ticketmaster did not give me any problems at all. On the designated pre-sale date for the additional Pasadena show, I had my credit card ready, my browser was set to incognito, and I was done in 10 minutes. It was the complete opposite of my first ticket buying experience, and the ticket was half the price too! Sweet.
For the next four months, I protected my credit card like it was my most precious possession. It was real now. I was going to see my favorite band and hear them live!
Next up, the Santa Clara Uber adventure!