A documentation of my first in-person, real-life experience with Improv Everywhere follows, in photoessayic format. You can find the full dearth of pictures here, however I should cover the high-lights pretty well.
It started out a clear early Saturday evening, as I walked up to the steps of the huge Post Office on 8th Ave, on the south side, just West of 8th on 31st. There were a few people already assembled, and over the next 15 minutes or so, a good deal more showed up.
We probably numbered 75 or so by the time the plan was put into action.
Before the plot was revealed, however, as we all sat there like nervous sheep, this urban-warfare-lookin dude shows up with an Asian film crew following him. He starts talking with the guys in charge, but none of us can quite figure out what's going on.
Then, before you could blink, the road was on the show. One of the guys in charge quickly explained that we were going to convince the fans that were flocking to the U2 concert at the Garden that the band was actually filming a pre-show video of some sort on a rooftop just down the street from the MSG. Just then a lone cop showed up and started eyeing us from across the street, but that was the last of the law I saw until they broke up the event, about 45 minutes later. You can see her just behind one of their heads.
We began to hustle towards the front side of the garden, but by the time we got to the corner, the signal had already been given to start the commotion amongst the gathering crowds that U2 WAS ACTUALLY ALREADY PLAYING A PRE-SHOW ON A ROOF JUST BEHIND THE GARDEN AND WHAT, ITS FOR REAL, HANG ON HERE WE COOOOMMMMMEEEE!!! We were in small groups and some of us alone screaming on our cell phones, but well enough dispersed in the crowds that lots of people heard us and saw us take off running. These people were like buffalo, I tell you. I didn't get any pictures of that part because I was too busy playing the part and running and talking on my cell phone and whatnot. People going the other way or just standing around began to see the masses running by and naturally followed. The herd grew. I rolled up to 8th Ave between 29th and 30th, and the band on the roof had already started. They were cleverly set up just a little too far back of the edge for us to get a good look, but every few seconds Bono would peek out and the crowd would go nuts.
They had the distortion up on the mics just enough that you couldn't get a clear read on his voice, and the musicians were half decent, so people were not that quick to catch on. At first the crowd was trickling in...
...but soon the herd effect had done the trick and the sidewalk grew to mostly full...
...and graduated straight to completely jammed. We even had a few lanes of traffic blocked with all the cars stopping for a look.
Those who knew the deal kept screaming our heads off for the band and singing along with the songs, and the growing crowd was a mix of those wondering if it was really them, and people who just went along with it.
People started pulling over cars, peeking out of sun-roofs and windows, trying to figure out what was going on.
I headed to the south end of the block to grab some pictures, and cabs started pulling up right by me. I watched at least 3 cabs in a row lose their fare to people hopping out to see the show. My screaming fanship of Bono may have contributed to that.
They had lots of video cameras on the roof which added to the effect.
People were looking out their windows, trying to figure out what the crowd was about and what was on their roof.
And photographers diligently captured every scene, even when the fuzz rolled up to stop the party.
Before the cops got to the roof, the band had played at least 5 or 6 songs by my count, and the crowd had really gotten into it. We chanted them back for an encore at one point and Bono got out the megaphone for Vertigo. That was awesome. Once the law was on the roof, it was clear the show was over, despite our mighty chants of "Let them play!" And even though it was getting dark at that point, and the music was over, the crowd still stuck around, hoping to get a glimpse of the defining band of my generation.
The gods of rock had smiled upon us and held the rain off just long enough for the whole event to be a flaming success. The skies turned ominous and I started running for Penn Station in nary enough time to beat the thunderstorm.
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