[Warning: VERY mild spoilers]
Briefly, prompted by many questions from anxious fellow-fans, here are a few of my reflections regarding lining up for General Admission, GA, spots. For the current U2 tour, the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour.
Some of my favorite U2 experiences have occurred in the GA line. I wouldn't want to discourage that activity. By all means, meet up with your friends, have a BBQ/Picnic, throw around a Frisbee after a long ride. Basically, U2 has gifted fans with the opportunity to queue in a relaxed fashion - no line nazi required. In my opinion, unless you want a very specific spot, it is completely unnecessary to line up at all.
Thursday night I had seats in Vancouver. Showtime was 7:30. I sauntered up to the venue around 6:45. I had plenty of time to use the facilities, get a snack, and make my way to my seat (nearly in the rafters). The show didn't begin until around 8.
Friday night I had GA. My friends and I walked up to the arena around 7. It was more than plenty time to get to the EXACT spot I wanted on the floor. If I had wanted second from rail anywhere along the catwalk that could have been mine as well.
I've never seen anything like the stage set up before. There seems like miles and miles of rail. What looks like a catwalk connecting the "A" stage and "B" stage is also used as a stage by the entire band at certain points during the show. Bono spends a lot of time traversing this area. Some of the most impressive photos of band members have been taken by fans along this section.
The entire band spends some time on the B stage as well. Those on the floor wanting some face time with any number of band members will likely be happy to have some rail at that location.
You may not believe me but I do not believe rail will not be the most coveted spot by the end of this tour. There is a multi-media presentation that occurs in the section above the catwalk. They may look like simple, if impressive in size, screens. Without giving away the trick of it all I will merely say it needs to be experienced to understand what is happening. I do not believe photos can even capture the impact. That area is not entirely visible from the rail. Those on the rail are essentially looking up the front plane of the screens. It's pretty hard to see the impressive visual story presented there.
I heard quite a bit of rumbling from the Red Zone folks when the floor diagrams began circulating. I think the band really had your best interests at heart when designing these special sections. You get lots of un-crowded rail with a fantastic vantage point for the action on, and over, the catwalk. Red Zone ticket holders may come and go as the please. If one wanted to get a closer spot it would be relatively easy to get within 3-4 people from the catwalk or B stage if you wanted a little closer facetime.
Individual venues may vary, but Friday we went through security check (a pretty cursory bag check), then had our credit cards scanned (we had ticketless entry - painless for me), then received wristbands. According to our tickets we were either "N" or "S" which corresponded to the Northside (Adam) or Southside (The Edge) of the catwalk.
I think it will vary by venue but I'm assuming night 2 in Vancouver, a Friday night, before a (local) three-day-weekend, was really close to capacity. It was really easy to move about. GAers are not necessarily entirely free to move around the entire floor however. Once on the floor you stayed on "your" side. Some people were able to freely move from side to side, some were only allowed pre-show, and some were not at all. I'm sure it varies by venue, capacity, and the proclivities of the security on the floor.
I think the "end zone" seats are the least desirable seats in the house. Only the first few rows get any band face time and the multi-media experience isn't really visible from these vantage points. They have provided screens that show a feed from various cameras throughout the venue, including some cool ones on on band members' wrists, but the multi-media experience is pretty much unavailable to them. However, if you're interested in seeing how some of the sausage is made these are the seats you want. You can't see the face of the screens but you can see INSIDE them. That is a lot cooler than it probably sounds.
I wouldn't want to trade the experience I had on the floor Friday night for anything. Ever. However I believe this show is best experienced from the seats. Luckily my next several shows are seats in 100-teens sections. I cannot wait to see the show from those locations. I truly believe these are going to be the sweet spots for this particular production.
The sound from my upper-tier seats was great but at the second song, Out Of Control, I was reaching for my earplugs. The high end was chimney, and echoey. On the floor, from the first opening notes I needed earplugs. The sound, especially the high-end, was particularly painful. I cannot say whether it was because of my change in location within the venue, or whether Joe O'Herlihy made changes. I can only say this: BRING EARPLUGS. If you use earplugs meant for listening to music (I like Etymotics) it will sound great. In fact Thursday night I heard, and enjoyed, Adam more than ever.
If you still don't have tickets it may not be too late. As the stage is assembled in each venue, and invited guest comp tickets are sorted, they will release the remaining tickets for sale. I learned about the Vancouver "ticket dump" at 4:30 am Thursday morning (on Twitter). I was able to buy my Friday night GA ticket from Ticketmaster Canada from my hotel room. Keep your eyes out, be flexible, be persistent. Please avoid scalpers. Good luck.
Note: there is NO OPENER this tour. There's no telling when the band will take the stage but know it will be U2, unless it's The Dalton Brothers (hey, a girl can hope).
Have a great show everybody.