The Joshua Tree Tour 2017: Buenos Aires
Mothers of the Disappeared in Buenos Aires, 11 October U2017
The “In Matt's Country” Leg: South America
- Buenos Aires, Argentina, Estadio Unico de La Plata — 10 October U2017 — General Admission
- Buenos Aires, Argentina, Estadio Unico de La Plata — 11 October U2017 — General Admission
The Out of Office Message
I'm taking a quick break to continue my own lyrical rendition of personal rock 'n' roll history. To make that happen, I'll be out of the office Friday, Oct. 6 - Friday, Oct. 20, with limited access to email.
If you need immediate assistance regarding digital stuff, please contact [redacted]. Otherwise, I'll get back to you after I return on Monday, Oct. 23.
U2 / Continent 3 / Country 14 / City 29 / Shows 48 & 49
"No particular place names, no particular song
I've been hiding, what am I hiding from?
Don't worry, baby, it's gonna be all right
Uncertainty can be a guiding light."
Zooropa, from the album Zooropa
Cut to 8 June U2017... The tour is extended even as I head out to Florida.
The presale for Buenos Aires 1 happened as I finished breakfast at Denver International Airport. Snagged a GA via Ticketek Argentina while on cellular data on my iPad Pro. Cool. A virtual piece of cake, even while navigating the site in Spanish. The San Diego presale, though, was a fiasco — once again through TicketMaster. It never properly recognized my presale code and field tickets were never offered, only pricey ticket packages. And that was while I was en route to Fort Lauderdale, in the air on United Wi-Fi. Perseverance prevailed, however, and during the general public sale I was done within 2 minutes, during a quick break while visiting the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami.
Then there was Buenos Aires 2, which I found out about while in Havana. Crummy Wi-Fi at the Hotel Ambos Mundos while sitting at the bar? Yep. And good enough to grab a GA during the presale, once again through Ticketek Argentina.
And so it is I left for Miami with tickets to two U2 shows in hand and returned home with tickets to three more.
I had heard about U2 fans in South America. Rabid. Ecstatic. Electric. I had to check it out, even after a chance encounter with a fellow U2 fan at the Garbage & Blondie show at Fiddler's Green in July. She told me a story about being in Buenos Aires during the PopMart tour, right off the rail. She overheard a couple thugs plotting to beat her and her friends senseless in order to get to the rail. Since she spoke a little Spanish, she picked upon the impending danger and had a local friend step the guys down. A cautionary tale, but surely that's not how things roll these days, right?
Well, after two nights on the field of Estadio Unico de La Plata, I could hardly move. The first night, I was only a couple people off the rail, in front of Bono's mic. There was a really young local band, called Joystick, that opened the show, followed by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. Then... There was what at the time seemd like some sort of delay. On the far-right end of the ginormous Joshua Tree screen, they started broadcasting the Argentina v. Ecuador World Cup qualifier match. I saw a roadie fiddling with one of the stage cameras and figured they were working out a glitch.
It wasn't until after the show, while perusing some screen shots I had captured, that I realized it was a planned break. The entire match was presented by design. As shown in a screenshot in the above photo gallery, there was a long break between Noel Gallagher's set and U2 taking the stage — a full 3 hours and 20 minutes from the time Gallagher took the stage to U2's appearance. And, in between, Argentina whooped Ecuador 4-1.
So there was that. I can still hear a young woman's scream as she stood next to me, in rapt gameplay attention.
Then U2 finally took the stage. I was lifted off of my feet by the sheer force of the crowd rushing toward the stage. I have never, ever experienced anything quite like it. And I spent the bulk of the next 2+ hours barely able to move, the crowd was so tightly packed. It was just as well I didn't bring my trusty camera that night. I wouldn't have been able to use it, anyway. I didn't bring it, though, because the stadium was so far outside of downtown Buenos Aires, where I was staying right off Av. 9 de Julio. I wasn't sure if the camera would be allowed in and didn't want to risk it.
For the second night, rather sore and not wanting to put myself through that kind of mad crush two nights in a row, I thought I'd get clever. I very strategically and deliberately held back a bit, placing myself in front of Bono's main stage mic, but also directly to the side of the B stage. That should offer a nice, well-rounded view of the whole show.
Yeah. It was worse. Much worse. My body traveled all over the pitch the night — a rush toward the B stage, the catwalk, the main stage. It was a constant swirl of humanity.
But, as I looked around at people, I saw joy on their faces. The shoving and crushing was borne of excitement. Sure, there was the random hooligan here and there taking advantage of the mob scene, but it was the excitement of the crowd that was respsonsible for this stunning, unique concert-going experience.
After the band played each song off the Joshua Tree album in sequence, they broke out a range of more recent hits and even You're the Best Thing About Me, which had just dropped as a single ahead of the release of Songs of Experience. But it was when they pounded at a sequence of hits that things went off the charts on the pitch. Beautiful Day. Elevation. And, for the love of God, Vertigo! The crowd was in a frenzy and my 200-pound mass was tossed around with alarming ease.
When I woke up the next morning, I could hardly move. It worked out well, then, that I hadn't made any firm travel plans. I had to switch hotels because the Eurobuilding was full, but I managed to find another spot with a whirlpool — something with which the Eurobuilding had spoiled me. I could relax with the therapeutic water jets massaging my aching body while admiring the view of B.A.
Where the Streets Have No Space
Those two shows represent a special adventure in all of my U2 travels. The logistics were a pain in the butt. The organized event busses would arrive too late for my taste, having general admission tickets. So I did something that, at least for locals, is considered illegal: I took an Uber to the stadium for both shows. A little pricey, but also the most convenient. By far. And they were enjoyable rides with helpful drivers.
Returning from the first show, I lucked out. I nabbed the only Uber in the area. Even had to run down a couple blocks in order to meet the driver. (He was a little confused about which street I should meet him on, but I got the drift and texted him the correction.) It was an epic ride back to the hotel. I got in around 3:00. The roads between the stadium and B.A. were totally clogged by the concert traffic. I felt so bad, I gave the guy some extra - extra - cash for his efforts and patience.
The return on the second night was slick. Not an Uber to be had. No doubt, nobody wanted to endure the traffic nightmare surrounding greater La Plata (back in the '60s it was called Eva Peron City). So, as I walked the dusty, crowded streets of La Plata, I thought it was time for a reckoning. Time to pay the freight and call it a night on the sidewalk. No ubers. No way to get back. But then I heard some girls ask a security guard about busses to Argentina and he pointed down the street. This is where immersion takes over. I don't speak Spanish, but I was in the zone and understood what was going on.
Sure enough, though, in the throngs of humanity, I lost sight of those girls. But, as I made my way down the steet, I stumbled on a mini bus (or large van, depending on your point of view). The driver was shouting out "Obelisco!" and I knew right then I had been spared pulling up a slice of sidewalk for a bed. It was a packed van — and I managed to gain shotgun by offering up my seat so another group of girls could sit together.
The driver made it back to B.A. in relatively good time. I was home around 2:00 (granted, no futbol match, but more time procuring a ride).
I spent the better part of the next couple days wondering what was wrong with me. I was stiff. Could barely move. It was all I could do to slowly stroll around B.A., eat steak and drink beer.
Then, as Friday afternoon rolled around, it all became clear: I was frickin' sore and it was finally working its way out of my system. I was back to my good ol' spry self again.
That could mean only one thing: time for more steak and beer!