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Column: off the record..., vol. 12-513

@U2, May 06, 2012
By: Matt McGee / @mattmcgee


off the record, from @U2

"Why are U2 fans in the U.S. so lame?"

Almost as soon as we started posting U2 360 tour videos on our YouTube channel, we started getting comments like that (and others much less gentle in their word choice) from U2 fans around the world. For example, if you dig through the comments on our video of "Bad" from the Pittsburgh show, you'll find one fan saying this:

Why are the american audience allways so dead and borring? Why dont you guys try to sing maybe just a little bit and go crazy like we do in europe.. Come on!

That sentiment is pretty common in our video comments. (As are spelling mistakes and typos!) And here's the thing: I generally agree with it. The crowds at some shows I saw were really great, but other crowds ... not so much.

If you compare videos from U.S. shows versus videos from shows in other countries, I don't think there's any comparison in the crowd. It's why I'd really love to see a show in South America someday.

But I think there are some very logical explanations for why the U.S. crowds were "so dead and borring" during some of the U.S. shows:

1.) U2 has played a ton of shows in the U.S. After 30+ years of touring, it's not at all unusual for U2 to be on tour here. Needless to say, a crowd of U2 fans in a country where they've played 10-20 times (or less) is going to be more into the show than a crowd of U2 fans in the U.S., where they've played hundreds of shows. We're spoiled. No doubt about it. And it sometimes shows in the concert videos on YouTube.

2.) On the 360 tour, the crowd wasn't always full of U2 fans. Because they played stadiums and toured behind an album that didn't sell well here, tickets were not that difficult to find in the U.S. That meant a lot of casual fans and non-fans were at the shows. Consider some of these tweets from the second leg of the tour:

I saw a lot of things like that while I monitored Twitter before and during shows. A lot. I wrote about it a bit earlier here on @U2 -- see item number six on this U2 Lists essay.

3.) The stadium environment was full of distractions. I'm not a violent person, but at every show where I had GA/field tickets, there were countless times that I wanted to punch the beer salesman as he walked in front of me shouting "Beer here!" right in the middle of "Stay" or "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" or "Streets." They also had food booths right on the stadium floor, and ... you know ... it's probably hard to clap and cheer during a song when you've got your hands full of hot dogs. Me? I'd never go eat dinner in the middle of a U2 show, but when you have a stadium full of casual/non-fans, they eat. (I also wrote about the concession issue in that same U2 Lists piece.)

So, yeah. There are a lot of die-hard U2 fans here in the U.S., but we don't make up the majority of concert attendees when U2 is playing stadiums on the back of a relatively low-selling album. Lame crowds? Yeah, sometimes. But I think those are a few of the reasons why.

(By the way, if you're going to watch that "Bad" video in full, I recommend the HD version that we uploaded a bit later than the version I linked to above.)

As long as I'm on the subject of the 360 tour, a London-based fashion company called CuteCircuit has written a bit of the story behind those LED jackets that U2 wore on the final leg of the 360 tour.

The one thing they didn't include: an "Add to Cart" button.


Back to something more recent: the 2012 U2 Fan Survey. If all goes well, we should start posting some of the survey results this week. The plan is to post the results in stages, so it may take a little while to get it all done. But stay tuned to see how your votes compared to more than 3,000 fans around the world who finished the survey.

And finally ... did you know there's an archive of every time Bono has appeared on the U.S. cable network C-Span? It's true.


See ya next time!

(c) @U2, 2012.

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