Seduced by the Siren Song of U2; Our Silicon Valley Rock and Roll Odyssey Falls Flat

The U2 Joshua Tree Tour’s recent stop at Levi’s Stadium was not on our slacker “to do” list. When it comes to concerts, A-list prices and world class traffic are big turn-offs. But a week out, on a whim, M-Man took a peek at ticket prices on StubHub and found a pair of nose-bleeders for less than face value. Initially rebuffed by The Geek, he appealed to her inner “fog head” by campaigning on behalf of the opening act – Mumford  & Sons. The Geek caved. A deal was struck. We were going to thread the fabulously gnarly Silicon Valley rush hour to see Mumford & Sons!! U2 would be playing, too.

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The approximate view from our seats.

Would we do it all again? Probably not. Here’s how the evening of May 17 (and the wee hours of May 18) went down:

We are humbled by the Mistress of Navigation

3:30 p.m. – We depart right on time. Google’s virtual assistant, known around our house as the Mistress of Navigation, pegs arrival at 4:58 p.m. Wrong.

4:05 p.m. – Google recommends taking Highway 101. But we know better and decide Interstate 280 will be best as rush hour worsens. Wrong.

4:15 p.m. – The low tire pressure alert illuminates as we hit gridlock at Palo Alto. The Mistress demands we head east across the Stanford campus to Highway 101. Chastened, we ignore the alert and obey.

4:20 p.m. – We creep past the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Your Coastside Slackers are amused. Google shows we are still an hour from our destination. Not funny.

4:30 p.m. – M-Man could use a restroom. He misses a turn while scoping non-existent options and receives a tongue-lashing and alternate directions from the Mistress. The Geek sympathizes.

4:40 p.m. – As we approach the Highway 101 on ramp, Google reports that we are still an hour from our destination. Rush hour has arrived. We’re doomed.

U2 concert map
Our journey.
The God of HOV Lanes Smiles Upon Us

5:05 p.m. – M-Man spots an HOV lane and bullies our Ford Fusion across three lanes of amazing sports cars and luxury SUVs. We actually begin to make up time. Hope!

IMG_21265:30 p.m. – We exit the freeway and flip off the Mistress. Feels good.

5:40 p.m. – M-Man heeds the first “stadium parking” sign he sees and turns left. The lot is closed. Recalling the wisdom of the Mistress, we make a U-turn.

5:42 p.m. – The quest for parking continues. Drafting on the bumper of the car ahead, M-IMG_1511Man cuts a red light a bit to close. Do they have traffic cameras in Santa Clara?

5:45 p.m. – A motorist blocks two lanes of traffic while trying to make an artless left turn. Channeling the Mistress, a traffic cop loudly admonishes him as “a moron.”

5:45 p.m. – We spot the stadium. Parking is $50. Where’s the restroom?

Stadium food and nose-bleed seats

6:05 p.m.
– The security guard is up to her torso in The Geek’s tiny shoulder purse. Lip gloss. Wallet, comb. She’s clean. No hassle. We are grateful for diligent security. Truly.

6:10 p.m. – The Geek secures a glass of wine while M-Man partakes of the spacious lower-level men’s room. Sweet relief for both.


IMG_21346:20 p.m. – We hike to Section 411 and find a concession stand with no line. M-Man snags a craft beer to wash down his chicken fingers. The Geek pairs her wine with a brat.

6:30 p.m. – Show time! Our seats are on the 50-yard line roughly 120 yards from the stage, half of them vertical. The show does not begin.

6:59 p.m. – M-Man goes online and discovers that Santa Clara has no red light cameras. Whew. The Geek leaves to find a second glass of wine. Naturally, the show begins.

Mumford & Sons sets the volume dial at 11

IMG_09437:05 p.m. – Mumford eases into Snake Eyes. Good choice to open the show! The distortion from the speakers is horrendous. Spinal Tap comes to mind.

7:30 p.m. – The Geek returns as Lover of the Light spasms from the sound system. She has missed half the set of the band she wanted to see. But she has wine.


7:55 p.m. – M-Man gets a chill as Mumford closes with The Wolf, a favorite. Out in the parking lot, our right rear tire is flat as the San Joaquin Valley.

8:50 p.m. –  Enough seats are filled for U2 to take the stage. Levi’s Stadium has a 10 p.m. curfew. Just how long is The Joshua Tree?


U2 thrills the crowd some of the time

IMG_22288:52 p.m. – U2 rages into Sunday Bloody Sunday. The crowd rises as one. We have just enough angle get the gist of the video but not the effect. But we do have binoculars!

9:10 p.m. – As the Edge kicks off Pride (In the Name of Love), it begins to dawn on us that none of these songs are from The Joshua Tree. It doesn’t matter. The crowd is delirious.


IMG_09599:20 p.m. The Joshua Tree begins. We are enraptured by Where the Streets Have No Name and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. Party on, Geek!

9:50 p.m. – Except for the two women in front of us, the crowd in Section 411 has taken its collective seat as U2 bangs out the less-memorable back half of The Joshua Tree. #boring

IMG_229210:10 p.m. – After a rousing ovation, U2 ignores curfew and returns to the stage for a six-song encore that includes the mega-hits Beautiful Day and Elevation. The Geek is particularly moved by One. Nicely done, lads.

10:45 p.m. –  The show closes with The Little Things that Give you Away, a song from the new album. For us, it falls flat. Kind of like our tire. #anticlimax

10:55 p.m. – Bono pauses before he leaves the stage and declares that he wants to remember this night for the rest of his life. We file out with a shrug.

There are no tire stores open at 11 p.m.

11:15 p.m. – Our tire is indeed flat. Instead of a spare, our hybrid carries a canister with air and sealant. It has a power cord, two hoses and five pages of nonsensical instructions. M-Man calls the Auto Club.

12:15 a.m. – An hour later, Dustin arrives. We ask him to tow us 42 miles to the tire store in Pacifica. We will cab it from there to Montara and return the next morning.

12:16 a.m. – Dustin is not authorized to leave Santa Clara. We are annoyed and hand him the sealant canister. After flipping through the instructions, he agrees to tow us to Pacifica. Thank you, Dustin!

12:50 a.m. – The tow truck cab is warm. Dustin is amiable.

1:30 a.m. – Dustin informs us that he must stop in San Bruno and cool the tiny wheels on the towing rig beneath our car. Otherwise they will overheat and explode. Who knew?

2:10 a.m. – We arrive in Pacifica. Dustin offloads the Fusion and dismantles the towing rig with the tiny wheels. Best of all, he offers to drive us home. Finally, an encore worth cheering for.

2:30 a.m. – We arrive home, grateful to be warm and safe, and especially grateful to be slackers who don’t have to get up for work in the morning.

Note: Thanks to @scooperpr for sharing his images from the floor.


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