On Monday January 26th, U2 announced there would be more shows in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, London and Barcelona, but only the date for LA was announced. And it was only one show, which goes against the paired-shows theme where the first and second night shows will be different. The entire tour is made of pairs of shows, each city has an even amount of shows. Two concerts, then off two days, then two concerts, then off two days, and so on. I am fairly certain that if these added shows sell out, then U2 will add one show in each of these five cities to complete the pairs. A week later on Monday February 2nd, U2 announced the dates for the added shows in London and Barcelona. And again it was only one added show in each city. Then on Tuesday February 3rd, U2 announced the dates for the added shows in Chicago and NYC, and I started planning again. U2 has added one show in Chicago and New York City, giving them each an odd number of shows. The 5th show in Chicago will be on July 2nd, and the 7th show in NYC will be on July 30th. I must go to the added show in NYC because it is the last show in North America, plus it is only three hours from my house so if I have to go home in between shows I can. So the added NYC show is a no brainer.
The real decision was whether or not to go to the added 5th show in Chicago. I am already staying a week in Chicago going to the first four shows. And I already have two reservations at two different hotels for that week. It is not the cost of the ticket for one more show that is causing me pause because that is only $80. It is the cost of the hotel room for three more nights to go to one show because there are two days in between the 4th and 5th shows. Added to that is the inflated cost of those hotel rooms because it is the start of 4th of July weekend. And if 4th of July weekend in Chicago wasn’t expensive enough, there is a 50th Anniversary Grateful Dead concert at Soldier Field on July 3, 4, and 5. To stay over on the night of U2’s 5th Chicago show on July 2nd, my hotel went from $200 a night to $500 a night. I love my boys, but even I’m not crazy enough to pay that. So I thought maybe I would change my reservations and arrive on the day of the first show (instead of coming in the day before) and checking out the day of the fifth show, driving out of Chicago right after the show and spending the night at a cheaper hotel outside the city. But that would be rather hectic and still paying for more hotel nights, albeit cheaper. I checked Extended Stays in Chicago because they are cheaper, but I don’t want to drive while in Chicago or take an hour bus to get to everything. I even checked the hostels, and I am not a hostel kind of girl, but they were sold out on 4th of July weekends – the deadheads must have already booked it.
After spending all morning strategizing and contemplating, around 1pm I decided not to go to the 5th show in Chicago. You make think it is no big deal because I am going to so many shows. But it is not that I need to go to one more show, rather it is the fear I may miss something. Historically the last U2 show in a set (like Boston4 on Elevation) has been the best show. Plus if this is the 5th and final show in Chicago, then who knows what the show will be like. If U2 add a 6th Chicago show, then I will feel better since it will be just another pair of shows – and I will have already seen the first two pairs of shows in Chicago. So I made my peace with it (sort of) and moved on. But because I apparently love planning so much, I decided to research more hotels even though I already have reservations at two hotels in Chicago for that week. Well, now I have three. All three hotels (before parking) are the same price, and I can cancel them up until the day before I leave with no charge. It depends on three things: whether I drive to Chicago (parking fees), whether I bring my dogs and whether the room has a refrigerator and microwave. I would prefer to drive the 10 hours from Baltimore to Chicago the day before the show, unless I get a really cheap flight. Plus, I can bring more stuff (like copies of my book to sell), and I have to drive if I am bring my dogs. I am not planning to bring my dogs, but I have to have a dog friendly hotel reserved just in case my parents are not home to watch them. Boarding two dogs for a week would be almost as much as my hotel bill. It is very important for me to have a refrigerator and microwave in my hotel room, especially since I will be staying there for a week. I like to have leftovers, so I stretch one meal into two. Plus if I drive I can bring drinks, snacks, breakfast foods and maybe even sandwiches so I don’t have to eat every meal out. I always pack a cooler for road trips.
My three reservations for Chicago from June 23rd to June 30th are at the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro Downtown, the Best Western River North and the Homewood Suites Chicago Downtown. The Crowne Plaza on West Madison Avenue in Greektown was the first hotel I booked when the original Chicago shows were announced. It is located just west of I-90 about a mile and a half from the United Center. This hotel allows dogs, charges for parking, maybe has a refrigerator and microwave in the room and is the closest of the three I booked. The Best Western has free parking, does not allow dogs and maybe has a refrigerator and microwave. It is located on West Ohio Avenue in the great River North district surrounded by restaurants and across from the Hard Rock Cafe. It is an easy bus or cab ride to the United Center and a short walk to everywhere else. The Homewood Suites on West Grand Avenue has a full kitchen, is more like an apartment than a hotel room, allows dogs and charges for parking. It is located just a block off Michigan Avenue (where everything is) and is also an easy bus or cab ride to the United Center. I should probably just cancel the Crowne Plaza, but it is the nicest and closest hotel to the United Center, but it is not in walking distance to all the restaurants and sites like the other two hotels are. If I don’t bring my dogs or if I drive to Chicago, I will stay at the Best Western if they guarantee me a refrigerator and microwave. Or if they just guarantee me a refrigerator, I will bring my own microwave (it’s a smaller one). If they can’t guarantee me that, then I will stay at Homewood Suites and pay $385. ($55 a day) extra for parking. Is having a kitchen worth $385 more for the week? If I bring my dogs or if I don’t drive, I will stay at Homewood Suites. Luckily I don’t have to make a decision until a few days before the show.
I did not have to make a decision whether or not to go to the added 7th show in New York City. I am going. This is now the third ‘last’ North American show of the tour that I had to get a ticket to. First it was Thursday July 24, then it was Monday July 27th and now it is Thursday July 30th. I am pretty sure this 7th NYC show will sell out and U2 will add an 8th show making July 31st the ‘last’ show, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it. So I just keep adding dates to my hotel reservations. Originally, my friend offered for me to stay at her place, but that was when there were only four shows. Now there are seven, maybe eight, shows over a two week span – and that is a long time to have someone stay with you. So I booked a room at the New Yorker, which is reasonably priced for midtown Manhattan. I booked a room for the entire two weeks and also booked a room for each pair of U2 shows, so I have five different reservations at the New Yorker Hotel during those two weeks. This way if I can’t stay in New York City the entire two weeks because of work or money, I can go home in between each pairs of shows. Megabus is only $5 or $10 each each, and it’s only a three hour bus ride. Or another plan might be to stay with my friend during the first two pairs of shows, going home in between them, and then just stay at the New Yorker for the second two pairs of shows the second week. So I made a sixth reservation at the New Yorker for just the second week. Then I got to thinking there is no way I can afford (or should afford) to stay in New York City for two weeks, so I started checking out hotels just over the bridge in New Jersey. I booked a room at the Extended Stay America Meadowlands East Rutherford, right across from MetLife stadium where I stayed in 2011 when U2 was there for the 360 tour. This hotel allows dogs, has a full kitchen, a laundry room, is a few minute drive to the train station (15 minute train ride into the City) and most importantly is half the cost of the New Yorker. So as long as my job is ok with me being gone for two weeks working from ‘home’ (really working from the hotel), then I will stay at the Meadowlands and just take the train into NYC for each U2 show. And if I stay there, I can drive and pack a cooler and eat more cheaply. Also it is more like an apartment than a hotel room, so it will be much more comfortable for a two week stay. But still I am keeping all the reservations until the week before the shows in July.
Now that all the planning was finished (I hope), I was ready to buy a ticket for the 7th NYC show on July 30th. I watched the clock count down to 10am on my computer and had my ticketmaster app open on my phone as that has proved a better method in the past. I immediately pulled all sorts of seats, but around 10am something magical happened. A GA popped up on my computer ticketmaster page and while I was completely that order, a GA popped up on my ticketmast app on my phone. So I bought two GAs for me and my friend. Woohoo! I have a GA to the last North American show – until they add one on July 31st. It’s hard to get a NYC GA, but not impossible. Now I have GAs for 12 of the 13 shows I am going to in Vancouver, Chicago and New York City. The one show I don’t have a GA for is NYC3 Wednesday July 22nd, and it is a great seat in the front row of floor section 3 behind the stage. So I am finished with all of my U2 tour planning and ticket buying until they add an eighth show to NYC on July 31st, but then I just have to buy the ticket. In June, I will make a decision on my Chicago and NYC hotels, but no real thought or planning will be involved, just a few quick keystrokes to delete reservations.
UPDATE Noon 2.10.15 – I couldn’t take the pressure. There were still GAs for Chicago5 an hour later, so I bought one. After all that planning on finding out how to stay over for that 5th show in Chicago without it costing too much and deciding not to stay, I bought a GA for that show. Not sure if I’ll go or not, but I wanted that GA in case I did stay. Because if they don’t add a 6th show, then that 5th Chicago show is going to be something special – I just know it is. Hi, I’m Deena and I’m a U2 addict!
UPDATE 4pm 2.10.15 – I have figured out a way to go to the 5th Chicago show (and maybe even 6th) and only spending a little bit more. I have also dwindled my three Chicago hotel reservations down to just one. I decided to arrive in Chicago the day of the first show on June 24th (rather than the night before) and check out the afternoon of the last show on July 2 (because my hotel went from $150 to $500 that night). I will either drive my car and park at the United Center for that last show or leave my car at the hotel (if they let me) and get it after the show. I made a reservation at a Motel 6 about a half hour outside the city for the night of July 2 and will be on my way home the next morning. If U2 adds a 6th show on July 3, I will just camp out over night in the GA line the night of July 2. Literally leave the show and get in the GA line for the show the next night. So now I am feeling VERY excited that I added that 5th Chicago show. Oh the hotel I have decided on is the Homewood Suites, which actually turned out to be cheaper than the Best Western even with the valet parking, plus it has a full kitchen, free breakfast and happy hour every day and is a bigger room.
In the words of Bono, “This is too long. You should not have time to read this. If you do get to the end of it then you are probably on the same painkillers as me.” Although I am not on painkillers, I do obsessively feel the need to purge all of my OCD planning, so I appreciate you indulging me. And one more thing, if you are going to the U2 shows in Vancouver or Chicago, please join our Facebook groups and U2 MeetUps. We are planning a MeetUp in Vancouver May 13th the night before the tour opener, probably at Moxie’s for dinner and drinks and then walk across the street to Rogers Arena to hopefully catch the band coming from rehearsals. Please RSVP to our U2 Vancouver MeetUp here and join our U2ieTourVancouver Facebook group here. We are planning MeetUps in Chicago. We have already scheduled a U2 MeetUp on Friday June 26th at 6pm at Pippin’s Tavern (across from the Park Hyatt). We are considering other MeetUps on Saturday June 27th (at Fado Irish Pub) and Tuesday June 30th. Please RSVP to our U2 Chicago MeetUp here and join our U2ieTourChicago Facebook group here. I am not sure if we will be planning a MeetUp in New York City just because it’s so vast, but maybe as the date grows closer – we’ll see.