Browsing Tag: u2

    u2popmart
    Featured, Music

    The Birth of @U2 – 15 Years Ago Today

    February 12, 2012

    By definition, @U2 was born on October 23, 1995. That’s the day we use when celebrating the site’s birthday, and we’ve had a couple pretty good parties over the years (even on different dates).

    October 23, 1995 is the day I put my first website online — “Matt’s Mostly U2 Music Page.” It was a site dedicated to U2 and a couple other bands I liked at the time, but it was about 75% U2 content. The header image looked like this:

    matts

    But in another sense, @U2 was kinda born 15 years ago today: February 12, 1997.

    That’s the day that U2 announced its PopMart Tour from inside a K-Mart store in Manhattan. And it’s the day that the 16-month-old website really became a legitimate and popular online source of U2 news. On that day, I knew that it was going to be something bigger than a normal hobby site.

    Before the Announcement

    In the days and weeks leading up to the tour announcement, there was incredible buzz on Wire — the major U2 listserv of the day — and on other U2 communities like CompuServe and AOL. Fans were looking for any bits of news they could find, which mostly amounted to rumors.

    I recall posting articles and bits of information on the website, and then sending out the link to the various online communities … and the hit counter always went up when I did that. (Yes, I said “hit counter.”) Now, I’d been posting U2 news on the site since the beginning, but with the tour approaching, any little nugget of info became breaking news and drew a lot of traffic.

    So, as the 12th approached — and it had been known in advance that U2 would be announcing the tour on this date — I had to think about how @U2 was going to cover the news.

    1996I was the Sports Director for KEPR-TV at the time — the local CBS affiliate here in Tri-Cities, WA. I did the sports weeknights at 6 pm and 11 pm and was mostly a one-man department. That meant getting sick or taking a day off was a real pain in the arse for the station. They’d have to pull someone else away from their regular tasks to do sports.

    Nonetheless, as the 12th approached, I decided that I was going to play hooky. I didn’t think I had much choice, actually. There were a lot of U2 fans online that would be visiting the website looking for news, and I felt more obligated to report that than to report the day’s local sports.

    To this day, it still amazes me that I decided to call in sick from my job to update a website with U2 news. Did I really do that? Yep.

    The Announcement

    I called in sick that morning, and then turned on my TV and fired up the computer. I think it was an Apple Performa 450 at the time, and I might’ve had a 14.4 or 33.6 modem. Good times.

    My memory is shaky, but I vaguely recall that the announcement would begin at Noon at K-Mart — or 9 am my time. MTV wasn’t airing it live, as I recall, but they’d certainly report it pretty quickly in those twice-an-hour MTV News updates hosted by Kurt Loder (or whomever it was then).

    But there was a huge problem: we didn’t get MTV live in those days. It was delayed; even if MTV News had the story by 12:30 pm ET, I wouldn’t see it until 12:30 pm PT … three hours after the fact!

    So, TV was pretty useless. But there were numerous music news websites at the time — All Star Magazine, Addicted To Noise, JAM Showbiz (which still exists) and others. MTV even had a website then, as did a few major news publications. Google didn’t exist yet, but there was Yahoo and a few other search engines that I’m sure I used … probably Excite, Northern Light and others.

    I kept an eye on all the music news sites I could find, and all the U2 forums/communities/mailing lists. I must’ve hit refresh 200 times that morning. I don’t know where I first found the tour news, but I remember posting a couple shorter bits of info and then …. BAM! …. MTV News had posted the entire list of dates and details online. They also posted some video from the news conference, and I had software on my Performa that made it easy to do screenshots, so I took a few of those. I posted the news, emailed the mailing lists, notified the online communities and the rest is history, as the saying goes.

    You can still, to this day, see the original MTV News story (and my screenshot) on @U2. (Yes, an early form of content scraping! Remind me later to write a post on that topic.)

    The Aftermath

    Even though I’d been posting news for ages, getting the full list of PopMart tour dates online really established @U2 as one of … maybe THE … go-to sites for U2 news online. I recall the hit counter was off the charts that day, and for several days afterward. And it never dropped back down.

    A couple weeks later, Triple J radio in Australia had me on-air to talk about the tour news. And then they did it again in April; they called after the first concert in Las Vegas so that I could give a live report/review to their listeners. (They had me on again in early 1998, right before the tour arrived in Australia.)

    Later in 1997, Ireland’s Hot Press magazine mentioned @U2 in one article and also published a guest article that I sent in to preview the PopMart shows coming to Dublin. (You can read that on @U2, too.)

    And, maybe the most important result of all was that, as more people visited the site and sent in news to share with other fans, I was able to start growing out a staff. For a while, it was just me and one other person posting news. Then it was 4-5 people. Then 8-10. Then a couple dozen. And today, we have about 40 people involved in one way or another. All volunteers, me included. It blows my mind.

    So, yeah. February 12th will probably always have a special place in my heart and mind. It’s not @U2’s formal birthday, but it’s the day that it started to become what it is today. Thanks, PopMart.

    u2popmart

    Featured, Music

    My U2 360 Setlist

    November 21, 2011

    U2.com is letting fans pick the track list for U22, the new 22-song CD set that will be included as part of the 2012 members’ package. Out of 46 possible songs that were played during the U2 360 tour, fans can choose 22 and the songs with the most votes will be included. It’s a pretty neat idea. (Note: There were actually more than 50 songs played during the 360 tour, but only 46 are listed as choices on U2.com.)

    Along with that, U2.com has invited a handful of people — fans and associates of the band — to submit articles describing their 22 choices. Mine was posted last week and I’d like to reproduce it here in case that URL goes away at some point.

    u2360

    So this is how Dr. Frankenstein felt, isn’t it? But instead of building a monster from disparate parts, I’m trying to build a Best-Of-U2-360 setlist, pulling in songs from three quite different tours that spanned more than two years.

    Let’s see… I’ll take the heart of this tour and match it with the brains of this other tour, and then throw in some of the muscle from that other tour. Voilá! Our 22-song creature lives!

    I’m not usually big on debating set lists, dreaming up set lists, or anything along those lines. I prefer to count myself blessed that U2 is still touring and that I’m still able to see a few shows each time.

    But here’s a confession: Before the 360 tour began, I secretly harbored a desire for U2 to start each show with a barrage of songs from No Line On The Horizon, a Zoo TV-like salute to everyone who bought tickets wanting a greatest hits show. So, now that U2.com has invited me to play Dr. Frankenstein and build my own version of U22, that’s how I’ll begin! Ready to meet my monster?

    No Line On The Horizon
    Get On Your Boots
    Breathe
    Magnificent
    Unknown Caller
    I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight
    I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
    City Of Blinding Lights
    Beautiful Day (the Mark Kelly version)
    Your Blue Room
    Zooropa
    Until The End Of The World
    Bad
    Where The Streets Have No Name
    One
    One Tree Hill
    Ultraviolet
    The Fly
    The Unforgettable Fire
    Moment Of Surrender
    Out Of Control
    40

    Miscellany

    U2 Fan Fail

    July 16, 2010

    I love U2 fans. I’ve spent the better part of two decades defending U2 fans (whenever needed) to others who think we’re all a bunch of Bono-worshipping nutcases. In the mid-1990s, I almost wrote a book extolling the virtues and awesomeness of U2 fans.

    U2 fans are, for the most part, Good People. “Cool U2 fans” as a percentage of “all U2 fans” is a much higher number than “cool people” as a percentage of “all people.” So you can imagine my disappointment and general WTF? reaction to seeing this in the daily analytics report for U2diary.com, the web site for my book:

    u2fanfail

    (facepalm)

    Some U2 fan did a web search hoping to find and download a free, digital copy of my book. S/He wanted to steal the book, basically; to get it for free.

    Pretty sure no such digital copy/torrent exists, so I hope this “U2 fan” (using the term loosely) instead found the section of U2diary.com where I’ve published almost 10 book samples.

    Music

    How old does a song have to be to be called “classic rock”?

    April 4, 2010

    u2-bdayWhen I was at the gym this afternoon, before I had put in my iPod earbuds, I heard U2’s “Beautiful Day” on one of the local classic rock radio stations. No complaints from me, of course, but really … how old does a song have to be to be called “classic rock”?

    “Beautiful Day” was released less than 10 years ago — September 2000. Partly because U2 has really slowed down its pace of album releases, that song was the lead single just two albums before the current one. Just doesn’t seem like it belongs next to 25-year-old Van Halen songs, 35-year-old Zeppelin songs, and things like “Freebird” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”

    Is it just me? Shouldn’t “classic rock” have to be, like, at least 15-20 years old?

    Music

    My Favorite Albums of 2009

    January 2, 2010

    With each passing year I realize that the album is a dying product. Years ago, I’d buy a new album and play it non-stop until I knew all the songs and could sing half the lyrics. Now, I buy an album and listen to it once, maybe 2-3 times, and then go back to the “shuffle” option on iTunes and listen to whatever songs from my 2,000+ songs it chooses. Now, I have to make a conscious effort to listen to an album enough to get to know it. So choosing favorite albums is much different now than it would’ve been, say, 10 years ago.

    With that in mind, here are my choices for my favorite albums from 2009. I’m not even sure all of these were released in 2009, but they were new to me this past year and that’s what counts.

    noline1.) No Line On The Horizon, U2

    This one did come out in 2009, and you could’ve guessed it would be high on my list, if not at the top. I do love this album, but still don’t know where it fits among U2’s greatest albums. As I said in my @U2 review, it doesn’t really matter if this is better than Achtung Baby or The Joshua Tree. What matters is that this album speaks to me for the place I’m at in my life — just like those earlier great albums spoke to a younger me.

    boxer_union2.) Union, The Boxer Rebellion

    I had this and the number three album switched a couple times. But I’ll leave this at #2 because it’s still so intriguing to me. These are songs that don’t let you easily wrap yourself around them … at least not me. I couldn’t even name half the songs on the album, and can sing even fewer, but more often than not, when I decide I don’t want to put iTunes on shuffle and would rather listen to an album, this is where I start. So, on that basis, it gets the number two slot.

    collective-soul-rabbit3.) Collective Soul (Rabbit), Collective Soul

    My winner for worst album cover of the year! But it’s got some pretty darn good songs on it, too, so the album is well deserving of a spot in the year’s best albums. “You,” “Staring Down,” and “Welcome” are some of my faves at the moment. I heard a bunch of these songs when I saw Collective Soul back in June; of course, the album was still two months from being released, so I didn’t know any of them. Would like to hear them again in concert now that I have the album.

    vibgyor4.) We Are Not An Island, Vib Gyor

    This is the first official release from Vib Gyor, a band that’s been around a long time. I saw them in a tiny Seattle club back in 2007, and a lot of the songs they played then are on this album — just newer versions that were re-recorded. “Fallen” is a great, great song … but the album version isn’t as good as some of its previous incarnations. But what do I know? The album version was named “Best Alternative Single of 2009” when iTunes released its Best of 2009 lists a month ago.

    muse5.) The Resistance, Muse

    Despite only being #5 on this list, Muse was easily my biggest musical discovery of 2009. I had one of their songs in my iTunes collection for a year or two, but didn’t like it; I only knew I was supposed to like Muse. It wasn’t until I saw them open up for U2 twice at Giants Stadium in September that I actually did start to like them. They put on a great show, full of swagger and bombast — the Queen kind of stuff you don’t expect bands to be doing these days. Sean bought this album shortly after we saw them live, and since then he’s bought (or received as a gift) two other Muse albums, and I bought another one online. So I’ll be listening to new Muse for a while to come yet.

    Honorable Mentions

    • Backspacer by Pearl Jam — just got this one for Christmas, so it’s too new to make the list. I do like what I’ve heard, but need more time to get familiar with it.
    • The Script by The Script — catchy pop songs by an Irish group
    • Thriving Ivory by Thriving Ivory — more catchy pop songs, but not an Irish group as far as I know. In fact, I think this one may have been one of those iTunes recommendations … “if you like The Script, try Thriving Ivory.” And so I did.
    • LeftRightLeftRightLeft by Coldplay — this is the free live album that Coldplay gave out during its tour. Good stuff, but pretty basic and straightforward.

    What were some of your favorite albums and songs from 2009?