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U2 and Las Vegas!

Can words adequately describe this trip?

Well yes- it's whether or not I am articulate and knowledgeable enough about this trip and everyone in it that is the problem: 26 people, of which I vaguely knew one of them and had met one other before. Learning 23 new names and faces and keeping them straight was a real challenge, especially when the composition of the group kept changing.

If you're slogging through all the pictures here, you might as well learn the gory details of the trip, before and after. Actually, after hasn't really finished yet: some of the more intrepid concert-goers just finished another show of U2 Elevation Tour here in Los Angeles about two hours ago.

On to the story.

Friday evening, I'm doing the usual thing with some of my friends when I talk to Pearl and she says they have extra tickets for U2. At the mention of "U2" my friends basically not-so-gently beat into me that I'm stupid not to go see U2. There goes 21 years of rational thought and common sense out the window. Words of Wisdom, to do sane things, do NOT hang around hardcore concert-goers... my will crumbles and it's too late! Pearl says it'll be around 20 people. WOW. Sounds good, I guess!

Friday night... something like 2.5 hours of sleep. Scribble a note for my roomies so they don't think I've been abducted or anything, not that half of them would notice anyway. =) Get directions to the meeting place.

Saturday 5:30am-8:15am: smack alarm clock off at 5:30am, get out of bed at 6am, shower and eat breakfast to meet at 7am. Hmm, what happened to the 6:00am wake-up call from Pearl? 6:30, there it is... hmm she's lagging. Make it over to Den and Jack's place at 7:15am, and we all wait for Pearl and the last of the people until they show up at 8:15am.

pb176016.jpgSaturday until 9:30am: packing luggage into the three cars, packing people into the three cars, swapping CDs for the trip, buying gas, and meeting at McDonald's for breakfast. Various mentions of driver skill and ability with a fully loaded vehicle scare a few. In a telling event for the rest of the trip, one car gets lost somehow. (we won't mention any names...) By 9:15am, everyone is watching Pearl eat as the rest of us have already finished. On the road at 9:30am... I'm in the backseat of Noel's (is that right?) Maxima with the Playstation 2 and fat stereo system as we are now on our way. Traffic and accidents slow us a little.

pb176018.jpgSaturday in the middle of nowhere: Stop at the outlets in Barstow for munchies, coffee, and table football. 30 minutes away from the middle of nowhere: the Maxima stops at a very expensive gas station for a bathroom break. 40 minutes away, cell phone goes off. The other two cars are on a bathroom break. Yikes. = A preying mantis, "Vegas", is found and becomes the trip mascot.

Saturday ~2:30pm, or was it 3pm... we're finally in Las Vegas. Boring drive, but not dreadfully so unless your car breaks down. Find that those wonderful 12-lane intersections in Vegas are PACKED this weekend because of U2, a boxing match, the UCLA vs. USC game (we lost 27-0. waaaaaah! *sniffle*), and various other events... check in to the Treasure Island and try to figure out how we're splitting the three rooms. Needless to say I've forgotten everyone's name again. Pearl and a few people drive off to go shopping. (shopping? people shop in Vegas? Much to my surprise, they actually do!) Gambling and stuff at Caesar's, everyone eventually gathers at Express where we watch the girls try on clothes...........

Saturday evening: To the Mirage for the prime rib/shrimp buffet for the masses, while Pearl and Julie head to Kokomo's for expensive prime rib. Buffet at the Mirage is yummy. Cocktail shrimp and prime rib... mmmmmmmmmmm... so yummy! We take our time eating dessert and at met by Pearl and Julie when they're done. We wander off to the hotel, but in the meantime the food at Kokomo's is being described. Pearl looks like she's in pure heaven when she's describing the food. BIG smile on her face and a speechless expression. The rest of us don't seem to bother wondering what we've missed- it's not worth the effort. =)

pb176034.jpgSaturday night: Wandering through Caesar's again, a few of us get distracted by the animatronics/laser show and then stuck in Express again. I'm pretty sure that store is a deathtrap for those with credit cards... Head back to the hotel. Those of us who aren't going clubbing try to study while everyone else gets ready- that would be Tom and I who were the only ones cursed with urgent studying. While in Vegas! =( Not that we got a lot of studying done until everyone left: it seems even our opinions were valuable in deciding what to wear. I think, anyway.

Sunday ~2:00am... first group of people has long since left for Excalibur, I think it was for clubbing and then gambling, or something. Dave, Pearl's friend (he knows Yanson) arrives, having driven up separately. Second group- Pearl, Miki, Julie, Dave (and who else? or was that it?) leave to meet the first group.

Sunday ~2:10am: Christian walks into the room. I've finally made a small dent in studying... when, uh, I find out that the first group didn't have a good experience clubbing, so they're all back at the hotel now. Uhh... waaaaaaiiiiittttt a second so where's Pearl? Oops on everyone (else's) part! Things promptly turned into a huge mess. Ended up talking about anime with Tom and Christian while waiting, and general stuff with everyone else. Racked up a lot of text messages and phone calls trying to figure things out. Finally, Pearl, Miki, and Julie came back (3am now?) with Krispy Kreme... and sometime close to 4am everyone left again except Miki. She decided to pass out on one of the beds.

Sunday ~4:30am: Bedtime for room 4012. Done studying for me... Miki, Tom, and Brian turn off all but 1 of the lights and lock the door and go to sleep.

Sunday ~8:30am: Jason (?) walks into the room. "Hey are you awake, you guys left the door open!" I wake up, as does Julie... look sleepily over at him, tell him no, and everyone goes back to sleep. I guess close to 8:30am is when everyone got back...

pb186053.jpgSunday around noon, thirst and sunlight starts waking people up. Tom and Miki are pretty much dead asleep, but the rest of the room slowly wakes up. Dave looks half-awake for about an hour. The leftover Krispy Kreme from last night is now breakfast and lunch. Socialized with everyone, made plans for dinner, had a pillow fight or two... around 3 or 4 we walked the strip for a little bit. Winston and some of the others did some more gambling too. Turns out they did very well with craps, and Pearl did good with roulette sometime during the trip. While walking the strip, we encountered three Taiwanese couples getting married. Wow! I got to play cameraman for them. =)

Sunday, dinnertime is Treasure Island's buffet. Slot club memberships mean 2 for 1 coupons, and $7 prime rib/shrimp buffet sounds good to us! At this time our group is growing by leaps and bounds up to its full size of 26 people, so dinner is a total mess. The largest group of us is 10 people and it takes us from 5pm-6:30pm or so to eat. Not that I would have minded the second round of prime rib, but it sure was disorganized!

pb186077.jpgSunday close to 7:30pm, pile into the cars and see U2 at Thomas and Mack center. Winston, Tom, Miki, and I stuff ourselves into Pearl's car and listen to U2 the whole way there. =) =) =) Pearl's going into a frenzy as the concert approaches. The picture actually had Pearl at the far right when it was taken, but as you can see she zoomed by and was basically out of the picture the 1/2 second later when the shutter opened and closed!

Sunday closer to 8pm, a few are outside trying to sell the extra tickets... our group for the concert: Tom, Miki, Winston, and I, go inside and find out seats and watch No Doubt. We get, uh, a lovely view of Gwen Stefani's backside from our seats. Doh. Turns out most of us are scattered on the back side of the arena with a few exceptions. After No Doubt finishes, a few of us meet up again and hang around for a bit.

FWIW, I'm not going to bother with individual songs... as a U2 neophyte I just don't feel qualified... setlist is here: Elevation-tour.com U2 Las Vegas set list

Sunday, U2's playing and the time suddenly doesn't matter. =) Pearl comes running up the stairs and rescues the four of us from our bad seats and we occupy some seats in the row above hers. WOOHOO! I can see the point of the heart now, and I can actually see U2!

Really not sure what time it is... umm... anyway... standing here listening to U2... some songs I knew, some I knew (but didn't know U2 did), some that were new to me... wowwowwowwowwowwowwowwowwowwowwowwowwowwowwowwow... AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Okay! Okay! I understand the U2 craze now!!! And... well... damnit... I DO understand... and well, I'm really sure I don't need another addiction now. Oh boy!

Sometime close to the end of the concert, I'm dimly aware of the fact that we've all been standing for two hours and the energy level has been like it was for Area:one, minus the breaks. Area:one was 3 or 4 hours of pure energy, broken up by 15 minute set changes from New Order to Incubus to Moby. This has been 2 hours straight, people (especially Pearl) are still bouncing off the walls... nuts. Gotta love 'em. =)

Sunday 11pm, concert is over. No Doubt, U2, U2 w/Gwen Stefani, then more U2... lots of singing, screaming, and lighter fluid consumed- but not too many fingers burned from a hot lighter- so now we're outside to buy souvenirs. =) Big, huge crush of people. We leave and the parking lot is a mess. Sitting in the car blasting U2, one of the traffic directors says we're having too much fun, and that we need to turn it off, or turn it up so everyone can have fun! Needless to say we oblige with the latter option.

pb196133.jpgSunday... late: at the Hard Rock Hotel to meet people. Only there's a snafu in the plan, no one told Jack we were meeting there. Meet with Julie and Dave there and browse around a bit. They're playing New Order, then Linkin Park on the sound system so I am happy. Head back to Treasure Island. Things settle down... Tom and I still have to be at classes Monday, so it works out that Marlin (sp?) is going to drive Winston, Tom, Miki, and I back to LA. I think Winston's sort of torn between going and staying, since he's dead tired but still hyped from the concert. Lots of agnozing here. Sorry, but I need to go to class!! *SIGH* Hang out more, or class... umm... hang out, or class... sorry, gotta go to class.

1:30am we're stuffed into Marlin's Sentra and on the road back to LA. I sleep for the first hour or two, but every bump in the road I wake up. Yes, I'm just checking to make sure we're still on the road. =) It's sometime I take seriously... 3:30am we're at Jack in the Box eating a snack, then back on the road! 5am we're on I-10 West, and by 5:30am we're enjoying traffic. Ugh. Drop Winston off, then lots of traffic later it's 6:30am and we finally split up. Thanks Marlin for driving us back! I wonder how he enjoyed work that morning... hehehe!

The rest of the day was <sarcasm>fun</sarcasm>. I somehow stayed awake in all of my classes and got to see a two-toed sloth in Biogeography. =) Everyone else left around 11am, I think. I just know around 6pm, Pearl was trying to get rid of extra tickets for U2 at Staples Center that night. I guess everyone was too tired to go again!

As for why I didn't go... umm... well... my wallet had bled badly enough, and I was tired too! It would have been kick*ss to go again... but that really would not have been a good idea, especially since I drove back home the next day. I don't think I could stand being physically and emotionally drained from U2 for two nights in a row anyway!

Was it fun? Worth the time?

YES! Just, um, give me a while to recover now... if I find out Erasure is touring in spring 2002 I think my wallet will have a heart attack and die! hehehe...

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Setlist from Elevation-tour.com for the show.

Elevation / Beautiful Day / Until the End of the World
New Year's Day / I Will Follow / Sunday Bloody Sunday
Stuck in a Moment / Kite / Wild Honey / People Get Ready
Please / Bad / Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses (snippet)
Where the Streets Have No Name / I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Pride (In The Name Of Love)

Bullet the Blue Sky / What's Going On / New York / 
One / Can't Help Falling in Love (snippet) / Walk On