For those unaware, all sorts of calamities befell U2 fans when an online presale began on 25 January 2005. The end result in the UK and Europe was a system riddled by delays and errors that ate presale access codes only able to be used once, while in the USA, tickets seemed to have vanished before they even went on sale, leaving most fans out in the cold, unable to buy tickets, especially not if they were seeking General Admission.
Axver Enterprises (comprised of myself and my collection of U2 bootlegs) realised there was more to this disaster than meets the eye. High demand, poorly designed systems, and a low allocation of tickets to the presale were not the only factors at play here.
No solid evidence was even required to begin this investigation - the presale took place via computers, the computer geek of U2 is The Edge, and the connection is obvious. All we needed to do was find out just what Edge had done. Was it malicious? Was Edge deliberately stealing tickets to sell under the desk for large sums of money? Had he recently argued with Bono and decided to create untold mayhem? Or was it simply all an accident?
As Axver Enterprises is almost solely comprised of bootlegs, we obviously have many contacts in the bootlegging world, and in this investigation, we exhausted almost all avenues before one of our contacts finally proved useful and a set of DVDs of footage of Edge's behaviour - filmed via a beanie-cam inserted by an enterprising bootlegger at the Brooklyn Bridge show - came to be in our possession. The footage is almost useless as much of it is out of focus and not aimed at anything interesting, informative, or revelatory, but the audio is startling.
We first meet Edge having breakfast with the rest of U2 at the house of their manager, Paul McGuinness. After toasting the impending success of the upcoming U2.com presale and general public sale, both of which had been organised to perfection, the band members ate a scrumptious gourmet meal before parting ways at approximately 9:15am, Greenwich Mean Time, forty-five minutes before the commencement of the presale for the first European dates. This fragment of conversation is the first piece in the puzzle:
Edge: Hey, Bono, you should check out this new computer game Morleigh gave me yesterday. You get to kill people who are screwing over the Third World!
Bono (excitedly): Can I come and play ... now?
Edge: Why not? The U2.com servers are at my place - we can play the same on the high speed system while watching the success of the presale!
Thirty minutes later, with only fifteen minutes remaining before the presale, we find Bono and Edge sitting down at terminals attached to the U2.com servers, with Edge assurring Bono that the two computers they're using are connected via a private cable that will not infringe upon the public's presale access. It would appear he sadly misjudged the resources that would be required to conduct the multi-player game, and both men became so engrossed in eliminating virtual sources of Third World oppression that it wasn't until an hour later that Edge looked up to notice his connection with Bono was churning through the majority of the bandwidth of U2.com. At this point, Edge releases a succession of words unsuitable for publication, and once the situation is explained, Bono lets loose with similar language before smacking his terminal and turning it off in anger. Bono and Edge are then heard to both yell "YOU FECKING IDIOT!" at each other - Bono because of Edge's error of judgement, and Edge because Bono turned off the computer, throwing the system's resource allocation into chaos and sending evil error messages of presale-code-eating doom to thousands of computer screens throughout the UK and Europe.
We were delighted when the camera suddenly came to be in focus and the members of Axver Enterprises reviewing the footage were amused to watch Bono flee from the house as Edge chased him, wielding his 1976 Gibson Explorer fearsomely. After screaming profanities as Bono sped away haphazardly in his Maserati, Edge then returned to the house and spent a number of hours repairing the damage done to the system, hoping to appease fellow Europeans while making sure the system was stable in time for the first US concerts to go on presale. When he completed his task with an entire hour to spare, Edge decided he deserved a reward and considered a bit torrent was in order - a download of a high quality DVD of a concert performed by a band he knew well. He knew the band well because, surprise of surprises, he was the guitarist. Some days his curiousity got the better of him and he would download bootlegs to inspect the quality of recordings made by members of the audience. He left the programme to run and went to have a drink and a snack. In his exhaustion from frantically stablising the U2.com servers, he completely forgot to ensure the bit torrent used a private line into his personal computer.
An hour later, fully refreshed and content from eating his fill of snacks while watching British comedy, Edge decided to return to his computer to watch the beginning of the presale for concerts in the east of the USA. He sat down at his computer just in time to see a display flick from one second remaining to a flashing "00:00:00" - the presale had begun. His eyes then went wide when he noticed his bit torrent displaying a litany of errors, and then he almost fainted when he saw the bit torrent had just downloaded almost every single General Admission ticket to his desktop. Instead of falling off his seat in horror or screaming "WTF?" and other Internet abbreviations, Edge sprung into action, seeking to end the flow of GA tickets to his desktop. He was fast, very fast, but it was already much too late - although he stopped the download within five seconds, barely any GA tickets were left on the servers and they were snapped up by a very small and select number of individuals before the presale had even been live for ten seconds. This time, Edge really did faint.
Thirty minutes later, he finally picked himself up off the floor, hoping that maybe he'd just had too much Guinness at breakfast, and upon arriving home, he'd collapsed into a drunken nightmare. One look at his computer screen confirmed otherwise, with almost every GA ticket allocated to the U2.com presale cluttering his desktop. From here on, we can only speculate what happened, as Edge ripped off his beanie, threw it into the servers, and the heat of the cables from the high demand caused it and the camera to be reduced to ashes within seconds. If it weren't for the fact all the footage was broadcast to permanent storage on memory chips hidden in a computer just off Edge's property, we would have no footage at all.
At this point, we at Axver Enterprises believe the vast majority of General Admission tickets to U2's US concerts remain on Edge's hard drive. A few hours ago, we received reports that Larry, Adam, and Paul McGuinness were speeding out of Dublin in Bono's Maserati in the direction of Belfast - a relatively safe destination in light of the events at Edge's house - while Bono himself remains unaccounted for. The occasional yell of Edge-y anger has been heard to echo over the entire city of Dublin.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what resulted in the disastrous U2.com presale of 25 January 2005, as best determined by Axver Enterprises. It is our hope that these findings will prove informative and hopefully calming to all involved.
For the record, I have seating tickets to 24 May, Boston and I am determined to have tickets, any tickets at all, to 21 and 26 May (New York and Boston respectively). There are still some nosebleed tickets available for 26 May (the fact 21 May is the only show fully sold out for the presale should mean a second New York date is a certainty), but I want to try my luck in the general public sale for General Admission tickets first, as I'm sure if that fails, there will still be nosebleeds available in the first few minutes.