Two women found what they were looking for when they lined up for a U2 concert in Toronto last summer: an introduction into U2 fan culture.
These are not your typical fans. These people line up days in advance to see the Irish rock stars in concert.
“I had this vision that everyone was going to be in line with guitar and drumsticks and singing and happy,” says Tami Falus, who lined up with Dayna Shereck for 2-1/2 days before the show began.
The two women came equipped with video cameras and lots of patience, ready to record their weekend as they waited for the doors to open. The two documented their experience in the film General Admission: Layin’ It on the Line for U2.
The first-time filmmakers arrived Saturday morning and grabbed the first spots in the line for the Monday night performance.
The first day went smoothly, fitting Falus’ expectations of the early birds, listening to music and chatting. However, the next day, they ran into an unexpected problem: line politics.
“There were people who showed up who had done it time and time again,” Falus says. “They considered themselves line leaders and it got a little political.”
These line leaders had experience camping out and had put a system in place, Falus recalls, explaining that they weren’t too happy about missing the front spots in the line.
“They were trying to take the power and control and weren’t thrilled that Dayna and I were doing this without doing it before,” she says, explaining they had specific systems to make the lineup smoother. For example, everybody would receive a number, which would allow fans to take breaks from the line and regain their spot when they got back at designated check-in times.
However, the line leaders’ experience came in handy when security at the Rogers Centre kicked everybody off the property, and the line disbursed. With the system in place, everybody was able to get back into the original order when the official line opened.
Despite being kicked off the property, Shereck and Falus didn’t rest. They say they spent all night documenting the experience before arriving in the official line at about 6:00 a.m. on the Monday morning.
Shereck says these diehard U2 fans stand out from what you might see in other concerts. For example, most of them are professionals who had the time and resources to take the time off to see this expensive performance. She says many fans even came from other parts of the world specifically for the show.
“We kept finding out new things about them, that fans are just so enamoured and what lengths people will go to see them,” Falus says, adding that they even came across one man who had been to all 80 shows on that particular world tour.
Another common aspect to the fans is their tendency to follow the band’s lead in promoting charitable causes.
“One of the themes, if you look at people’s threads through their lives, a lot of them were involved in humanitarian causes,” Shereck says, including herself in this group.
“When I was young, I was influenced by the music I was listening to and the values I got through it,” she says, explaining that she now works at an organization focusing on helping people with AIDS and HIV.
She refers to the concept of “U2 karma,” which concerns how U2 fans treat others.
“Bono talks a lot about karma, and there’s this feeling that as a U2 fan, you need to treat other people at a certain level,” Shereck says. “You have to be good to people.”
This involves actions like not cutting into the line, offering up a place to sleep to fans travelling from far away places, or giving away extra tickets to fans who can’t necessarily afford to see the concert, she says.
“It was all along the fact that we’re good to each other because of this feeling of U2 karma,” she says, adding that U2 tends to attract these kinds of fans more so than many other bands. “We’re going to treat someone else who’s in a new city, or is out of money, the way we would want to be treated.”
So was spending almost three days outdoors worth it in the end?
Falus says she would gladly do it again, but only if she was seeing a concert in another country.
“I think the experience would be much different,” she says. “I hear in Mexico they lined up for a week. It’s more of what I think I envisioned of people lining up, playing instruments.”
But both women say they loved the feeling of standing right up to the stage, looking around and seeing all their new friends.
“With the people we met, and being part of such an international thing,” Shereck says, “it was very much worth it.”
For more information about General Admission: Layin’ It on the Line for U2, visit www.generaladmissionthefilm.com.